Any advice on building a backyard studio?


#1

This will be the year that I bite the bullet and build myself a decent space for recording and mixing. I have a space in the backyard that will be suitable, so I will be building it (or possibly having some or all of it built for me) from the ground up. Of course I want to be economical, but I also want to end up with something that will add value to the property rather than being something I’d tear down if I ever put the house on the market. Which I think means getting the proper permits, a licensed electrician for power and heat, etc.

My needs don’t require a huge space to accommodate a full band rehearsing or anything. A main requirement is that it’s a good space for recording acoustic guitars and also enough room for instruments, mic stands, and eventually a V-Drum kit. I’m also considering a smaller room to house any loud equipment. Thought about a bathroom, but I expect that would double the cost and then my family would never see me again :slight_smile:

Anyway, has anybody ever done this, and if so can you share a few details about the structure (for instance, what kind of foundation did you use, did you get a pre-fab structure and modify or build from scratch, etc.)?


#2

All I can say is that you want to make sure no walls are parallels, but I am sure you know that already! :smiley:

And if you do have the room to create a shack big enough to accommodate a full band, you might want to do it anyway… you never know what the future might hold for you. And also, you could rent the place to other bands for rehearsal or even to record demos… heck, you might even get your money back on your investment in the long run.
Plus I am guessing that in an artsy town like Portland, a backyard studio would definitely be a plus and add to your property overall value.

A friend of mine did so, he converted an existing carpenter workshop he had in his backyard into a nice little studio. All the equipment he owns (a bunch of cool vintage instruments and mics), ultimately ended up being paid for.

Food for thoughts…


#3

I’ve thought about these things, but never went through with it since i move around so much anyway! But what crossed my mind is buying a huge shed :smiley: and converting it in to something. It is just an idea but it might be too small for you. I was just thinking about a single person use, not a band :smiley: but they do sell BIG HUGE sheds too :smiley: just gotta compare the costs of what and how!


#4

I have not done this personally, but Stuck in the Basement is right… try for no parallel walls… Gearslutz has a ton of “one room” studio designs… a la Daniel Lanois… You may want to think vertical too… good sounding rooms are usually taller than 8’ ceilings…

A random idea, have you looked into the “tiny house” movement?? Some of those little structures would make a cool small studio space, with some height, or maybe a yurt? there is one company that builds “hobbit holes” also… those might be too small, but I think that idea is super cool…


#5

I’ll recommend what I always do when I see this asked (and good thing you’re asking! Can’t imagine tackling a studio build with no info in hand), gather as much info as possible about the area you have to work with, your desired outcome of the studio, and budget; then take it to John Sayers forum and/or gearstlutz acoustics sub-forum and present the info to them for some guidance.

You won’t get it designed for you, but they’ll really help you avoid common pitfalls and mis-information. All this could save time and money in the end. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen guys build something, it not work, and then post in those forums wondering what went wrong. When told to “knock down the wall and start again”, it’s kind of sad to see their reaction.

Lastly, buy a copy of Rod’s book (Home Recording Studio Build it Like the Pros, by Rod Gervais). I bought it. It’s WELL worth the cash. It seems pretty much “standard issue” in the DIY studio building world. And the author frequents gearslutz, so you can ask him particulars about something in his book you don’t understand and often get an answer.

Hope that was of help!


#6

Thanks for the answers, all!

@stuck - You’re right, Portland is a pretty artsy place - provided I build something nice (and conforming to code and all that) it could definitely be seen as a plus by a lot of buyers. And I had heard that thing about non-parallel walls, which is about the extent of my knowledge of acoustics :).

@kurly - Exactly! One of the first things I did was to check out the Tuff Shed site and see what they had. It’s certainly an option, and on the plus side they’ll just come out and build it for you, and then it would be pretty easy to modify.

@dan - I have looked at some of those sites, and in fact there’s a place called smallhouseoregon.com that’s nearby and will also build right there on the lot. I’d still have to modify it for a studio but it seems like a decent option for something that looks nice and would add to the property. A lot more expensive than a shed but maybe the quality of materials, etc. is worth it.

@budda - Thanks for the recommendations! I’m on gearslutz a lot and I did come across the John Sayers forum the other day (haven’t explored it too much yet). I hadn’t seen Gervais’s book yet, though - looks like it gets rave reviews on Amazon (with one amusing exception :)). Think I might have to pick that one up. If I save having to rework a single element in the building it will have paid for itself greatly.


#7

Good luck with it Joel :slight_smile:


#8
simaudio said

Good luck with it Joel :slight_smile:

Thanks, Heath! I’ll need it, probably. I’ve been poring though Sayers’ site over the last couple of days and I think it’s going to be a healthy ramp up period before I’m even able to write my first post there :).

I also ordered the Gervais book - it looks like it will be invaluable. I’m hoping that my situation is common enough that I have a few ideas to start with and then tweak from there rather than having to reinvent the whole thing. We’ll see - in a month or two it will stop raining and I’m really going to have to get my construction chops on.


#9
JHungerX said
simaudio said

Good luck with it Joel :slight_smile:

Thanks, Heath! I’ll need it, probably. I’ve been poring though Sayers’ site over the last couple of days and I think it’s going to be a healthy ramp up period before I’m even able to write my first post there :).

I also ordered the Gervais book - it looks like it will be invaluable. I’m hoping that my situation is common enough that I have a few ideas to start with and then tweak from there rather than having to reinvent the whole thing. We’ll see - in a month or two it will stop raining and I’m really going to have to get my construction chops on.

Keep us posted! and maybe in time you could share some nice pictures for us to see :slight_smile: I think with any build, it’s getting your head around it all and making the right choices but I’m sure it will all come together well.

It’s a great suggestion about making it big enough so bands could use it, if you have the space? and if you do? it would be essential to have some kind of wash room, this would allow you some extra income and could be a nice little money spinner :slight_smile:


#10

I soundproofed my studio using double drywall and Green Glue between the layers. It worked out amazing well:

http://www.greengluecompany.com/


#11

I would have a wooden studio. IMHO for acoustic music is the best solution. Nothing sounds like well made wooden room, no matter if big or small. You may also accomodate a corner for vocal booth, modify acoustic with carpets and courtains. Last time I’ve cleaned my recording room from large amount of foams etc. My ambience is much better :slight_smile: and there’s much less dust :smiley:


#12

+1 for John Sayers forum. The amount of info there is phenominal - and free


#13
JHungerX said

This will be the year that I bite the bullet and build myself a decent space for recording and mixing. I have a space in the backyard that will be suitable, so I will be building it (or possibly having some or all of it built for me) from the ground up.

Did you ever do this? What did you go with?


#14

Do what ever you can do and whatever you can afford. It still would be awesome


#15
theskyfloor said
JHungerX said

This will be the year that I bite the bullet and build myself a decent space for recording and mixing. I have a space in the backyard that will be suitable, so I will be building it (or possibly having some or all of it built for me) from the ground up.

Did you ever do this? What did you go with?

Ah, the best laid plans… :slight_smile:

No, but almost as good, for now. Instead of building a separate structure, we decided to do a remodel on the house for a master suite, bathroom, etc. This freed up an office that has now become my studio. It’s smaller than what I would have built, but decent size and all original hardwoods which is nice for acoustic guitar work. To keep it quiet I put any equipment that makes noise into an adjacent closet and all the necessary chords through the wall - I don’t hear it at all now, in fact everything’s very quiet during the times I record. Sort of anticlimactic after my original post :), but it’s the right move for now.