Creating a dedicated home theater is every man’s dream, however, I know we don’t always have control over space, time, and sometimes the budget to bring our dream home theater into life. Bringing movie theater experience home is an expensive hobby -and while it might not cost you too much money in some situation it would cost you your time -something always have to give.

    Most home theater lovers carry the mantra of building a "High-performance home theater on a limited budget" and while that is not a bad thing at any level plus it is very much achievable if you have the time to plan and at least DIY 70% of the process which is where the fun of building a dedicated home theater is “in the DIY process”. ~yeah you might disagree but most hardcore home theater hobbyist would argue, which is more fun; movie night or movie theater construction?

    There are lots of benefits to creating a home theater. First, if you’re a big movie lover, it will save you some money over the long run, considering how the prices of movies and theater snacks have increased over the years. It also puts you completely in control of what you watch, when you watch it, and who you watch it with. Plus, it can be a great bonding experience for the whole family! As we all know and would agree viewing movie is a family event.

    Who doesn’t love hosting family and friends when you have a comfortable, killer home theater to show off? And who doesn’t like visiting the person who put that much effort into entertaining? not me, that's for sure.

    How to build your dream home theater on a limited budget

    If you spend time planning before you buy, you’ll have a much better chance of creating a wonderful experience for yourself and everyone else who gets to experience your creation. Understandably not everyone has the perfect space to start and has the resources and time to make everything perfect, oftentimes, we have to deal with certain limitations and have to make compromises based on family priorities but regardless of all these drawbacks, building your dream home theater is still very much possible if you’re ready to do the work.

    Before we continue please be informed that if you have the same mindset as this guy “For me, time is money. The amount of time that Brent Meyer spent on creating his theater, I can work for the same amount of time and earn the money to "hire" people to create a really nice theater such as Brent's theater.”

    just stop here and check out our "List of Home Theater Installers."

    There’s nothing wrong with paying someone for this service but the difference will never know the feeling of SATISFACTION of DIY. That feeling cannot be bought with money. 


    Here is Brent's theater and it took him quit some time to complete, a 100% DIY -floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Perhaps most amazing is the total cost of the build—under $11,000!

    Side Note: It is worth mentioning that there’s no tailored process when it comes to building a custom home theater so don’t expect a step by step guide like most article you find online, reason is because building a custom home theater is more like an art, you just try to bring out the images you see in your mind and your desired design might have a different requirement, secondly your available space would make most of the decision for you ~it will dictate some of the steps you’ll take.

    So this article is meant to give you pointers and some vital tips to aid you on your journey of building the home theater you have always wanted.

    With that being said, let dive in.

     Pointer 1: Join a forum

    This can not be over emphasize, home theater construction is a hobby and just like every other hobby you need to be part of a community of like mind individuals who can assist you with ideas when you bump into road blocks because no man is an island of knowledge.

    Our top suggestion for an active forum with members that are very willing to help is AVS forum and if this is the first time you’re coming across AVS forum, it’s a community dedicated to home theater owners and enthusiasts.

    Here is a comment from some of the members at AVS forum which is one of the best forum for anything audio/video and home theater in general.

    AVS became (and still is) my primary source for what products and services were available in the world of HT, new technologies, and how I was introduced to new companies (e.g. SVS, Seaton, Rives Audio, Audyssey based products, Seymour, Datasat, Trinnov, etc). And maybe most importantly,AVS has allowed me to “meet” a number of wonderful people who shared the same addiction passion.

    An AVS forum user

    As a knowledge source, AVS Forum is unparalleled, and it was inevitable that someone as intensely DIY-focused as I am would end up there. Also, I had fairly tight budget considerations—other than the room's shell, paying someone else or buying things at full retail prices wasn't an option.

    Another AVS forum user.

    Pointer 2: Have a clear layout plan

    Having a good layout design plan, knowing what you are working hard to achieve not just in your mind but well drawn out on paper is good practice and a very vital step to get you off a solid starting point. 

    Put together a building plan that is going to house the dedicated home theater and also the theater room's basic layout. draw a floor plan showing the measured distances for your seating and the locations for equipment rack, projector and speakers.

    Your plan will give you insight on the kind of equipment you need to purchase for your home theater and it will help other forum members give you a well guided assistant.

    Pointer 3: Make An Equipment List

    Deciding what equipment to buy can be a much lengthier process. You need countless hours of research and used the knowledge that you’ve gained from over a decade of information gathering to find the best components.

    Another challenge that you’ll encounter is finding the best equipment for the money.

    As a general rule of thumb; knowing what you want to buy before going into the market to make the purchase will ease up the search and the buying process. The market is flooded with equipment from different brands, knowing the right one for your need, requires some before-hand research and it’s also dependent on what you’re trying to achieve.

     Making a buying decision without a list or without first researching to give you an idea of what you want can be a very daunting task, so to be on the safe side, make a list of all the required equipment you will need for your home theater before going into the market.

    Pointer 4: Don’t Use Credit Card For Your Hobby

    That’s a one-way ticket to a lifetime of debt because the passion inherent to hobbies—especially this one—usually defies logic when it comes to spending.

    Utilize eBay, Craigslist, open-box sales, garage sales, Goodwill, and other outlets to save on cost anywhere you could. Much of the AV equipment would be used or older models but as long as it’s good quality and it’s works well trust me you’ll be fine, my point is start from somewhere and upgrade your gears gradually when the funds allow for it. Since everything or at least 70% would be DIY, there will be little or no labor expenses.

    Home theater hobby is an expensive hobby and in as much as I would love for you to chase this passion it shouldn’t be at the expense of leaving a hole in your pocket.

    New and upgraded equipment are constantly being pushed into the market and this is the root cause of spending so much money on this hobby so take things slow, with time you’ll catch up with the latest tech.

    Pointer 5: Gamify The Process

    Building your dream home theater is exciting, it's fun and the reward is remarkable but truth be told, it requires a lot of hard work and sometimes it can be frustrating. So don't be too hard on yourself, there're lot of learning that needs to be done, spend time reading and researching and every time a phrase is completed, acknowledge it. immerse yourself in every completed phrase, enjoy that moment, feel good about it because it's in that moment that you'll find strength for the next phrase. 

    Every time a phase is completed, should be a great moment! Because that's the nice thing about doing something like this. When you complete a phase, you can take a step back, see it as 'finished,' and feel good for a couple of days.

    Pointer 6:  Lay An Upgradeable Foundation

    The problem with this hobby is that, it's easy to be "infected with the upgrade bug" Virtually all hardcore home theater hobbyist know the agony—and the ecstasy—of an affliction called upgraditis, the unquenchable desire to upgrade their AV gear and room with whatever will perform better than what they already have. 

    Of course, as all AV geeks know, a home theater is never really complete, there are always more ways to upgrade whether its room design or equipment changes. Investing-in and laying down a great foundation that allows for upgrade down the line will save you a lot hassle.

    There will always be something to adjust or improve, laying a good foundation that allow for it, is very much advisable, electronics are tech and technology is always evolving, we all want to experience the best of the best, our design taste might change, it might be upgrading to the latest receiver, speakers or maybe the carpet tiles just don't fit anymore, my point is, keep an open mind because this is a hobby, we are always seeking new ways to improve on it, to make it more comfortable, convenient and fun —after all, there is no cure for upgraditis.

    Final Words: 

    As with any home-theater project, there will be challenges to go along with the rewards. fraught with set backs, cost over runs, disappointments, undos, re-dos, equipment swaps, short circuits and many, many delays. But the reward will make you forget all about that and enjoyed a truly awesome movie experience!

    One of the greatest moments in the process will be experiencing the theater for the first time. All that effort will reward you every time you go in to enjoy a movie. This proves with great planning, you can achieve greatness on a budget, you will be amaze at what a lot of sweat equity will get you.

    One last pointer though, don't cut corners especially late in the project when you see the finish line, it’s so easy to convince yourself that the rack you're building doesn’t need that extra round of sanding, or that you can live without running that one last power outlet for the TV. You’ll kick yourself later for not taking the time to complete the finish work. When you finally settle in to watch your first movie, you want to focus on how great everything looks, not on the one exposed wire that you didn’t hide. It’s the finishing touches that sometimes take the longest, but also make the room shine when done right.

    Just as the saying goes "If you want great sound isolation, do not leave out a single component". Good luck on bringing your dream home theater to life, you can join our community of home theater hobbyist by following us on any of our social media platforms and subscribing to our newsletter. Good luck on your process once again.

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