Creating a home theater is often a priority in high-end remodeling projects, but it can be too specialized for a remodeling practice, requiring electronic expertise. “My job as a contractor is to know what opportunities are available and to present those opportunities to clients,” says Toby Rolt of Blank Canvas Construction in Phoenix.
Rolt says that remodelers first need to explore the client's definition of a home theater and their budget for the project.
If clients want a dedicated home theater, Rolt brings in an electronics expert. The earlier you involve an expert, the better, he says. “When you have a plan on paper, the dimensions of the room will help define what equipment you will need.” Rolt says.
In a recent project, he installed double studs and a steel panel with foam-rubber backing to create a room within a room. “That room is not acoustically connected to any part of the house,” he explains. This paved the way for the installation of the $55,000 theater electronics.
James Theobald, vice president of sales and marketing for Theo Kalomirakis Theaters in New York, says clients hire the firm for the imagination of company founder Theo Kalomirakis. “That's part of the fun for our clients,” he says.
Most high-end homeowners prefer a dedicated theater room. “You don't want to go much smaller than a 14-by-20-foot room,” Theobald says. “It's hard to find space for technology in anything smaller and still create a real theater experience.”
Theaters require integration of equipment, acoustics, sight lines, and seating. “Any client spending upward of $100,000 for just the electronics — it serves their interests to spend $35,000 to have it correctly designed,” Theobald says. “Typically, theater design fees are $60 to $70 per square foot,” he says, “And the cost of the finished room can be $400 per square foot.”