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Hi all. So much great information. I am on my second read of Rod Gervais’s book. It has been a dream of mine to have my own studio and the time has come. Here is some information and my plan. I am completely open to suggestions. I do not have my designs drafted on yet partly because I haven’t had the time to learn the a program, and I was hoping for some feedback prior to meeting with my contractor who would draft the design that I can post later.

Background information: I teach percussion (Western classical and Non-Western world) at our State University and I have a six-piece Afro-Cuban Timba band consisting of electric bass, drum set, keyboards/guitar, steel pan, congas/timbales, and bongos/various other percussion. I also play a fair amount of samba percussion instruments from large surdos to small tamborims and much more. I occasionally teach groups of drummers and drum set in addition to my university job. I live with my wife and eleven year old son in our three bedrooom 1800 sq. ft home. I mostly practice at the university, when I can fit it in. If I can build a soundproof detached space, I know I will practice more, and be able to teach both private and group lessons. Plus my band can rehearse there if needed. By the way, my wife has very sensitive hearing and my practicing often drives her crazy. She loves working outside, maintaining her gardens and fruit trees, so soundproofing is essential to keeping the peace and staying married. My son is playing drum kit, so I can see him using the studio more as he gets older.

Location: Northern California, Humboldt County, 6 miles east of Pacific Ocean, 270 miles north of San Francisco -USA
Rural. 2/3 of an acre parcel. I have a corner lot. The “main” road borders one side and the road adjacent to it is where we turn to get into our driveway. Both are pretty quiet. The location of the studio would be about 60 ft. from our house and main road, and about 25 ft. from my closest neighbor’s house, but only 6 ft. from the fence separating our properties.

Estimated Studio DB & TL Levels: The band peaked at about 90db. A drum class I taught at our local elementary school gym peaked at 108db. So I would assume 100db. The lowest frequencies would come from the electric bass, kick drum, and floor tom.

Noise Issues: Typical neighborhood noises around 60 db. However, our volunteer fire station is about 200 ft. away with a siren that blows whenever there is a need. Not very often. Siren measured 90 db at our house. Otherwise normal stuff like cars, motorcycles (occasionally), barking dogs and geese, riding mowers, and weed whackers.

Weather: It is pretty temperate all year long here. Average low of 41 degrees Fahrenheit and high of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Record low was 20 degrees and record high was 87 degrees. Rains on average 45 inches per year. Rarely snows.

Goals of project:

To make the most sound-proof and energy-efficient room/building possible on a reasonable budget. The space would be mainly for practicing/rehearsing, teaching individual and group lessons, and recording occasionally. I envision an open one-room space set up for band rehearsals with a PA, cabinets and shelving for percussion instruments, desk for computer and monitor speakers.

Project Status: I met with one contractor friend of mine and we mainly discussed the mass-air-mass concept and drew some pictures of room within room ideas. I am planning on meeting with another contractor friend who has done a number of ICF buildings. His company will work on a design, but I am not sure if they will actually have time do anything other than the ICF. So I am just in the beginning planning stages trying to get a design I can furnish to this and other forums for feedback. My goal would be to have a studio done in one year from now.

Project Description: Build room within a room from scratch. ICF construction for shell. What do people think of ICF?
· Studio Dimensions 12’ height x 19’ width x 26’ length. I got a positive reading from BBC calculator. Shell would be larger by 18 inches all around and 4’ attic. My contractor suggested 10’ walls and my wife is worried about the building being too tall. For my application of mainly rehearsal studio, would lowering the ceiling to 10’ and adjust to 18.5” width with the same 26’ length be compromising the sound too much? With this lower wall height, would a vaulted ceiling help with room modes?

· Floor – Monolithic concrete slab with radiant heating.

· Walls - From outside to inside would be siding over a 6” core ICF. Then a 2” air gap followed by a 2x4 framed wall o.c 24 filled with R13 insulation, and two layers of 5/8 drywall, the first one screwed in, and the second green glued on top of it. Total wall thickness would be 18 inches. All measures would be taken to isolate the inner wall from the shell.

· Roof/Ceiling - The roof would be vaulted or tent like with plywood sheathing and shingles resting on the ICF walls. The studio ceiling would be flat (or possibly vaulted if wall height is 10’), using joists/trusses (not sure of correct term) resting on the 2x4 studio walls with 2 layers of 5/8 drywall, then insulation, 1B-1 clips with hat channel and 2 more layers of 5/8 drywall on the truss bottoms. This allows for a vented attic and the studio ceiling would be isolated from the shell roof.

· I would attach a mud room entry (it rains a lot here) around 8’x8’x8’ with a small sink, counter, and small refrigerator, leading to a super door for entrance into the studio.

· HVAC – Not sure. Will discuss with contractor or local HVAC company. Mostly I will be alone in studio, but I need to have plan for band rehearsals and occasional class. So I am thinking of 8 people max in room at one time. I won’t have a lot of heat producing gear. Perhaps that will change over time though. Definitely separate systems with heat from radiant floor. The attic dimensions would be 22’ x 29’ x 4’ (unless I vault the studio ceiling, which would reduce the gap between shell roof and studio ceiling). I believe I could use insulated flexible ducting with bends and s-shapes in attic and then drop intake and exhaust through ceiling. How would I isolate the ducts going through ceiling? Or is it better to build a decoupled soffit in studio room? Any advice? According to ASHRAE journal, Arcata, the closest city has 0.1 + 0.0 tons-hours per scfm per year. I think that means I don’t need much in dehumidification and cooling. Again fuzzy on this.

· Electricity – I will follow Rod’s and others’ suggestions and have lights and non-gear electricity on a separate circuit than the outlets that amps etc. would be plugged into. I will wire from above and down walls for lighting circuit and wire from floor for gear to keep them perpendicular and not parallel.

Known Construction Challenges:
Not much. The land would need to be prepared for the slab. Our property naturally slopes towards my neighbors property, so we don’t get much standing water, even with all the rain we have. That said, I would rely on my contractor’s advice. If need be we could put a French drain in. I have about eight trees some of which are dying, so they will need to be cut down. Finally, my wife works at home. She has a schoolroom she teaches in, so finding an appropriate time to do the construction so it does not interfere with her classes poses another challenge.

I have read Rod's book, and I've spoke a few times with John Hile of He sent me some nice sims for ventilation, wall & ceiling construction, and more. I have been reading posts here at, and at John Sayers' and Gearslutz forums, all of which I am now a member.

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