Finishing Basement / Home Theater Lessons Learned

I wanted to compile a list of all the things I figured out (often too late) while taking on the ridiculous basement project we just recently finished. So, here goes.

  1. HDMI over Cat 6 is a thing. Its utility isn’t immediately obvious, but consider this; You can take **all** of your AV equipment and house it somewhere else just by running the patch cable. This can resolve heat and noise issues without a lot of work. Also, if you have it connected to a HDMI switch, you can attach a bunch of random sources, saving a lot of space and keeping clutter from your living room.
  2. When you decide to put your stereo receiver in a cabinet, make sure the cabinet is the appropriate depth. I didn’t include the volume knob or cable protrusions in the rear in my measurement, and now its a real problem, because I cant shut the cabinet door.
  3. Have a handyman in addition to your contractor so they can work on the little details while other things are going on.
  4. Error on the side of caution when picking your paint sheen. We went too flat and now the tiniest touch leaves a mark that we cant clean off. I didn’t want light reflection from the projector on the walls, but the tradeoff isn’t worth it.
  5. Consider heating the bathroom floor. Katie mentioned it, I laughed it off. Being in the basement, against the concrete floor, the tiles are like ice cubes. Didn’t expect it to be so cold.
  6. Insist that the contractors work within the infrastructure you’ve already had set up. Our electrician (and home theater guy, long story) and general contractor didn’t even think about making sure the new smoke alarms would be connected to the existing hard-wired network of smoke alarms. We had to push and pay more for it.
  7. Without direction, your general contractor will use extra supplies he has stockpiled from past jobs (of variable quality) or the cheapest thing he can use to reasonably accomplish what he set out to do. Random things have been replaced as they’ve been discovered.
  8. Use Amazon Warehouse Deals for supplies. This is a great thread to monitor for things you know you’ll need.  Way cheaper, but a lot of it is unusable.
  9. If you’re not carpeting a huge area, shop remnants. We got a good deal on some nice carpet and used the savings to buy a better pad. Don’t cheap out on the pad.
  10. This is a great time to have z-wave switches and dimmers installed. They work just like any regular switch does, but give you some really cool home automation possibilities later on. I only did one like this, and I regret it. I’ll be replacing all of them at some point.
  11. Examine the contractors work closely every day. They will guess, make mistakes, assume things, and need to be corrected.

I’ll add more as I think of it. We’re happy with the results, but just because you’re not doing it yourself does not mean it will be easy. We still haven’t brought in furniture, finished the cabinets, or put anything decorative up.

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