The Big Studio Build…

DAY ONE

The day has arrived! Cometh the day … cometh four highly skilled studio builders with a massive stack of rockwool, enough acoustic plasterboard to silence a concert, meters of timber and a small swimming pools’ worth of green acoustic glue. It’s like Christmas has come early and these guys set about the floor and wall build-ups without delay.

I wasn’t able to shift the consumer unit at the back for a variety of reasons but the Charlie has an idea for that which means the studio’s suppression integrity won’t be compromised. By the end of Day One the ceiling build-up is looking good and it’s amazing just how much cross timber stud work and rockwool can dull the acoustics of a room and the noise from above.

As we hurtle through the day, this project and all its considerations threading their way into every thought I have … and everything is going according to plan! Within the blink of an eye the resilience bars are up perpendicular to the studwork, which of course is in turn at right angles to the existing stud; all to minimise transference.

DAYS TWO & THREE

The speed with which the CCM guys work is impressive, not rushing, just extremely efficient. My wife and I are more than happy to keep them fuelled with tea, freshly ground coffee, biscuits and perhaps the odd cake or two!

An electrician shows up on day two. He was booked to and quietly sets about running some new wires to the consumer unit so the studio won’t run off the same circuit as the rest of the house … I stand and marvel at just how easy this whole project management stuff is (but keep it to myself because I know that Charlie has doubtless resolved a great many issues without my even knowing and because I really don’t want to tempt fate at all).

By the start of day three the ceiling has had acoustic plasterboard hung from the resilience bars. And through the morning, the flooring build-up is put in, insulated with rockwool and boarded…

And within no time at all they are starting to add the internal stud walls, with a nice air gap from the existing wall.

I also had a chat to Charlie during his initial site visit about not making the studio a perfect rectangle so help minimise the chance of creating reflection traps in it so all the walls are slightly off set from a right angle.

That night I had insomnia, my brain was project managing, going over what had been done and all the repercussions the progress of the build would have. I couldn’t work out my subconscious would not let it rest, everything was going smoothly. Tomorrow the studio would be fully established, creating two isolated garage storage bays accessible only through the garage doors … one of which had a broken lock! That was it! If it wasn’t fixed tomorrow morning first thing, there would be no way of opening that door once it was shut because no one would be able to get in behind it from inside the garage. It’s 3 O’Clock in the morning and I have to project manage this and all the other potential creases in the schedule so up I get … and begin to appreciate in some small way the stresses of project management.

DAY FOUR

I get someone to come out and fix the garage door in the morning and so it’s all about acoustic plasterboard today. Two layers are going up and they have to be stuck together using copious amounts of green glue to ensure that there aren’t any air pockets.

By the end of the day all of the plasterboard is up and as crude as it might look, I have a studio! Now to get plastered!  And of course this is where Charlie and his CCM crew head off because they can’t do much until the plaster has dried and the room has been painted.

DAY FIVE

The evening before, the plasterer who was booked in to the do the work, has had to drop out due to Flu. It can’t be helped but you might remember the lack of the wiggle room I mentioned in my October blog: Like a Phoenix from the Ashwood [hyperlink]? If the studio is not plastered by Monday at the latest … the plaster will not have enough time to set, try to dry it too quickly and it cracks. Paint on it when it is wet and well … you don’t do that either!

I shine an emergency light into the clouds calling all plasterers and fortunately the area in which I live appears to have quite a few, who know their stuff and even work weekends! We book a guy to come in Saturday and by early afternoon he’s done this:

I leave a small nonmotorised water extractor and a couple of fans in the space and leave the door open to circulate the air.

DAY 6

After few days the plaster has set, the decorator comes in … and what a difference a few coats of paint make. His hand is so much steadier than mine with a brush.

DAY 7

We’re entering the business stage of the build. Pretty soon trades are going to be on site, working in a confined space and everyone needs to know what they are doing … and more importantly what not to do; it’s so easy to drill a screw in the wrong place and compromise the studio’s integrity from a sound suppression perspective.

At the end of day seven though, the integrated recording booth is starting to take shape and swallow up that lovely big studio space feel, we all knew it would happen.

DAY 8

As the Ash veneered panels are added to the outside of the booth, the garage is looking much cosier. Inside the booth, more of that wonderful acoustic plasterboard is up, the window space into the studio has taken shape, the cable run started and passive vents prepped in the studio.

When they drilled the hole for the passive vents it gave a great cross section of just part of the studio wall build up, each layer is held with acoustic glue and would be attached to the stud wall via the resilience bars mentioned in earlier posts.

With all this build-up the understanding is that, with passive vents to prevent the studio sweating and to circulate fresh air, the space should be well insulated from the cold in winter and, in theory, cool in the summer too!

Owing to custom nature of the build, I didn’t want to chance a fruitless search for a desk and so Charlie is currently fashioning one in the workshop for my studio and the booth from a beautiful single section of Ash!

DAY 9

Project management takes a turn towards the dark side. Several trades people all in this confined and newly decorated space at the same time, all working on crucial things that need to be done in conjunction with one another, all with queries for me to answer, while I stupidly try to do other things … and it rains … all day. There’s Kevin McCloud in my head again, saying to camera, “I did tell Scott back in September that Project Managing a Grand Design is a full time job.”

“Budget Kevin! Budget!!!”, I’m getting looks, did I blurt that out loud?

Anyway we have lights! And the rather lovely Ash Doors are in, the skirting’s started to be fitted as has the booth treatment, studio lighting and electric trunking in both the booth and studio. As a result of the trunking being fitted, the booth also now has silent running working air-flow systems too!

When you set out on a big studio build, knowing that you have very little by way of contingency, you don’t necessarily consider finishing touches that will help tie all the elements of the project together and give it individuality.

However, when the kindness, generosity and creativity of a really incredible build team shines: Without being asked to do so by me, here are just a some of the feature designs and craftwork on things like vent covers and desk ends, that Charlie Moore (CCM Ltd) , Gillan McLaughlin, Howard Geary and Ben Startup and have incorporated into my studio … and by doing so, blown me away:

So what is to come well there currently resides in the CCM workshop, an impressive amount of solid Ash for Charlie to work into skirting and architraves and other finishing touches.

There’s a patch bay to go into the booth and cabling from that through to the studio and the desks to be properly fitted. Plus all that wood needs a loving coat of Danish Oil on it as well.

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