Having a backyard studio can seem an unattainable dream for many. Some say they don’t have enough space, time, or money, for example. Though indeed, such a project can be a huge black hole for your wallet and time, it’s the perfect idea if you need some extra space for your creative activities. Today we are going to have a look at how to make your own DIY backyard studio and how to turn it into a recording space.
How to Have Your Own DIY Backyard Studio
Now we are going to present you one of the easiest solutions for building your own studio. After doing some online research, we found out you can buy some prefab kits for a studio. They are very helpful because the kit contains basically all you need for this construction. However, it would be useful to build a foundation first, if you want to ensure the best quality for your studio. Next, we will show you the steps on building the foundation and setting up the shed.
1. Have a Plan
First, you need to know what you want to do. Set up a detailed plan and check for the space availability. Make the right measurements. After all, you don’t want to end up finding that some materials are bigger or smaller than you need. This also includes finding out where to place the stakes and to set the strings. You can use some bright ground marking spray if needed.
2. Start Digging
Now is the time to start digging the foundation. Ideally, you should choose to rent an excavating machine. This will save you time, but it will cost you extra money. You just need a 3-foot trench, with a width of 16”, so luckily you can use even a small digger. A general price would be $200 a day, but it depends on where you live and the availability of the machines. Remember to include the transportation cost as well (around $80) if you don’t have a car of your own.
Don’t worry if you haven’t driven an excavator before. You can learn how to do it quickly and easily. However, you might want to look that up before testing it.
3. Fine Tuning
Grab a shovel and start adjusting the edges of your trench. Make sure they are equal and laid out correctly. You can even check the width and depth once again to be sure.
4. Forms and Rebar
It can be quite difficult to lay out the foundation for a DIY backyard studio, especially if you have a rough soil. Use a transit level to see if you’re positioning the form correctly. Next, fill it with rebar and radiant heating tubes. Alternatively, you can also include some rough plumbing in case you want to make a bathroom there as well. Finally, you can even use some repurposed materials if you happen to have any lying around.
5. Pouring the Cement
Yet another challenge you will face if you decide on this DIY project is to pour the cement. We sure hope you’re a social person since you’ll be needing 3-4 people to help you out with this. Luckily, concrete is cheap and you can even order a truckload of it depending on how much you need. Simply calculate the number of cubic yards you need and place the order. Usually, the prices revolve around $145 – $150, but again, it depends. By using the truck chute and wheelbarrows, start pouring the concrete uniformly. With a large piece of metal, scrape off the top. Over the following few hours, work on it again with some trowels. This will help it smooth even more.
6. Install the Kit
Now you should be happy that the hardest part is over. All you need to do is to put together the different parts of the studio kit. It might sound easy, but in fact, they are quite heavy, so pay attention to that. You will also need several people to help you here since you can’t set it all together by yourself. Here you have a video explaining the process from one of the companies that deliver such kits:
7. Finishing Up
Now you need to get some interior finish and exterior siding materials. Luckily, some kits come together with painted cement board panels, as well as aluminum accent pieces, so you can use those. However, there is still some work you need to do.
One of the most important steps when choosing to do a DIY backyard studio is to insulate it. Combine rigid foam with canned spray one for any cracks you might have. For the bulk of this construction, use some batt insulation.
9. Install the Doors
Finally, your construction will look lovely, but it will have a big gap in it. This means it’s high time to look for a proper door. The design and position depend only on you, but this is surely going to raise the price even more. Finally, considering all the needs, your final price might rise somewhere around $30,000. It might sound like it’s too much, but it’s much cheaper for a DIY backyard studio than if you hired someone to do it for you.
Recording Studio Specifics
The steps above can fit almost any type of DIY backyard studio. However, if you intend to have your own recording space in the garden, you will need to keep in mind some specifics.
This is a thing most people don’t consider beforehand, but it’s extremely important. Since you’re going to use your DIY backyard studio for relaxing and creating, you will need plenty of daylight. One common mistake is to focus only on soundproofing the area and thus blocking up windows. However, a more pleasant alternative is to use a double-glazed unit and a sheet of acoustic glass.
2. Closing and Sealing the Doors
The doors and windows are a recorder’s greatest nightmare. These are the places where you can lose with soundproofing. Sound leakage can be prevented if you choose to use a heavy door, for instance. Alternatively, you can use Sheetblok, which is a vinyl material that isolates sound. It’s essential for your door to seal completely when you close it. For this reason, you can use some regular sealing strips or some special ones.
Once again, many people let themselves focus on the isolation issue and forget about breathing. Since everything seems to be airtight in a recording studio, it’s important to include a way to breathe as well. Include an inlet and an outlet with a fan in your construction and space them evenly apart. This isn’t important just for you, but for preserving your equipment as well.
4. Install an Acoustic Box
When creating the air vent, you will also create some holes in the soundproofing. This requires an acoustic box built over it, with one of them holding the fan. Use an MDF box placed at the end of an S-shaped duct. Line it with acoustic foam and then put it over the vent holes. Also, include some mesh if you want to keep bugs at bay.
Another thing you should be aware of when making the DIY backyard studio is placing the inlet vent. Most people make the mistake of placing it in a spot where the sun shines all day long. This is going to be a serious problem in the summer when the hot air will be pulled inside.
5. A Room within a Room
This is a little more complicated to make, but it’s the best way to create a soundproof space. The idea is to build a separate room that has minimal contact with the original construction. However, for this, you would need plenty of space. If you decide to do it, you will need to install a wall made of dense concrete blocks. They should be mounted on a layer of thin neoprene (a type of rubber). The blocks mustn’t touch the floor to prevent the vibration from propagating.
With acoustic wall ties, you need to tie the new walls to the outer ones. Create a second roof and soundproof it. For this, place some mineral wool between a couple of beams. Then, place 2-3 layers of plasterboard on the resilient channel. Lastly, use decorators caulk to seal all the surfaces. Even a tiny hole in the surface can compromise the entire soundproofing effort you made.
6. Hiding the Power
Ideally, the lighting and power cables should be placed behind the plasterboard walls. However, you should pay attention, since cutting plug sockets will also affect your soundproofing. A good alternative is to mount the power on the surface with trunking or conduit. Or you could simply build a new area for plugs, power, and light with plasterboard and timber.
Just like we showed above, the whole process of building a DIY backyard studio can be lengthy and complicated. You do need to invest some money and time, but the result is worth it. You will have your own place to relax and create, not to mention practice and record. For a recording studio, you need to keep in mind the advice presented above. Finally, it’s essential to make sure the place is safe for practicing or living.
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