Building our studio has had it's highs and lows, and certainly hours of trawling the net. We're almost there now (feature to follow!) but in the meantime, this is a list of 10 things I wish I knew, or had thought more about, before I started...
This is the obvious one, but trust me you cannot plan enough. Get everything down on paper, and use a floorplan software. We used homestyler.com, mainly because it's free! Even if you're only converting a room, it's imperitive you have all your ideas measured out, there were many things we thought we'd have space for, but the software showed us well in advance that we didn't.
Keep it simple. Chances are, like me, you aren't an architect or acoustical engineer, nor can you afford one. Don't go overboard trying to achieve the perfect studio room. Simplify rather than complicate.
There will be a lot of stuff you can do yourself, if only you have the equipment. Many things are cheap (such as the Heisenberg suit and mask above ESSENTIAL, insulation is dirty stuff) but a lot of it is costly. Before you start, add up the price of hiring all the stuff you need from someone reputable and local.
4. GET A PLASTERER
If you are putting up walls, there are some good tutorials about dealing with frames and plasterboard here and here. But if you pay anyone to do anything on this job, make sure it's a plasterer. It's the final touch and it makes all the difference.
Fish for prices. It can be difficult to ask for discounts in this day and age, but the line "is that the best price you can do?" often knocks off a few quid. Always check if VAT is included, factor in delivery costs if shopping online, vs using a slightly more expensive but local hardware store. As we're pretty amature at this, I'd recommend local- there's always a friendly old bloke in every shop that's willing to discuss the ins and outs of screw plugs!
6. and 7. ABSORB AND DIFFUSE
The two basic mantras of acoustics treatment- consider it carefully before you begin.
How are you going to wire the whole thing AND hide the cables? Can you fix wires behind absorbers? Trunking can sit nicely on top of skirting board, but get it sorted before you move your equipment in. This is often something people rush as they're nearly there at this stage. You may be dying to get into your new space, but take your time fixing and tucking; it makes all the difference to the final appearance.
9. TREAT YOUR WORKERS RIGHT
You'll innevatibly be calling on a professional or handy friend at some stage. A cup of tea and a cake goes a long way and does wonders for team moral!
10. MAKE FRIENDS WITH A BUILDER
I'm not gonna lie, this would not have happened without my father in law. Everyone knows someone who can make pretty much anything, and believe me, you'll need them. This would have taken me a long long time to do alone, and thousands if I'd have had to hire someone. If you're on a budget, call in your favours, make it an evening/ weekend project with handy friends, turn up the tunes and enjoy the make!