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Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

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Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Richard Benn » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:17 am

Hello all,

We have a 24' x 16' Sectional Concrete garage in our garden which is being converted to a hobby room. Because the costs of doing this are higher than anticipated it has been suggested we could get more value by also using it as my "studio". I had previously discounted this as I didn't think I would get a decent level of noise reduction without spending far more than we have available. Physically sharing the space would not be an issue.

There are two firms still in contention for the work - one wants to keep the concrete structure, replace the end doors with a timber frame wall, insulate the other walls, replace the corrugated roof with insulated panels and clad the outside. The other wants to knock it down and build a new timber framed structure built to a full habitable spec. The garage is about 37 years old and showing signs of water ingress causing the steel reinforcement bars to rust, and the rebuild quote is only around 15% higher so we are leaning towards that.

I don't record drums or mic'd up amps, only acoustic guitar and maybe vocals. Everything else is either DI'd or in the box. I tend to mix at normal listening levels or sometimes a bit above that. Incoming noise is not a major problem and I can probably work around what little there may be. On the other hand the garage is next to the boundary fence and I don't want to annoy the neighbours. Rooms within rooms are well beyond our budget.

My studio is currently in a small room that doubles as the home office during the day and which is shared with my wife, The options for acoustic treatment are severely limited and I tend to work on headphones if my wife is in the room as room nodes are a big problem. It probably doesn't get worse than this from an acoustic point of view so a slightly less compromised room might actually be a huge step up for me.

So, were my original instincts correct or could this be made to work? If it is borderline are there any tweaks that could improve things, bearing in mind that we are already over budget?

Thanks for reading.

Richard
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:33 am

Yes it probably could be made to work as a new timber-frame build, but only if done right and with great attention to detail. The slightest flaw in the construction or inappropriate choice of materials could instantly wreck the intended noise isolation and acoustics and cost big money to rectify afterwards.

So, although it would involve some additional outlay, I would strongly urge you to consult with an acoustics designer who has considerable experience in this kind of project before construction begins. Max Hodges would be my first suggestion if you're in the UK, but there are others...

https://soundbetter.com/profiles/1881-max-hodges

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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby CS70 » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:42 am

About 7x5 metres? Not superlarge but not minuscule either, it could be made to work.

As of "noise reduction", I wouldn't expect any. If the garage is on a very noisy road or you expect to record/mix loudly at night without sound getting out, it's hard.

But it should definitely possible to treat the room to make good recordings and as a mixing space, by placing bass trapping and panels for mid-highs in the right positions (walls and ceiling). A carpet on the floor could also help tweak the amount of reflections you get.

A possible addition I'd think of would be to DYI a internal sloping roof to further disperse directional frequencies - I found it pretty useful when I had one
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby James Perrett » Thu Aug 02, 2018 5:57 pm

Can I echo Hugh's advice here to get an expert involved. A sectional concrete building is likely to have more mass in the walls which will help with soundproofing but I'm worried when your builders talk about adding extra insulation and cladding - for sound purposes this will probably be wasted money (although it might look nice). I'd also want to look at ways of making the roof a bit more substantial.

In my opinion you can't afford to not build a room within a room with a light outer structure like this so it would be best to spend as little as possible on the outer layer to give you a budget for the inner layer.
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Richard Benn » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:42 am

Thanks for the advice.

I'd love to be able to afford a acoustician and to create a purpose built studio, but even if I could afford it I couldn't justify the cost for something I only do in my spare time.

At least I have confirmation that the room will be unsuitable and we can use it for its original purpose and forget about using it for music. Guess I'll have to stay in the shared office a little longer. :(
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Wonks » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:56 am

How noisy is it where you are? If you've got a busy road next to you or live near an airport etc., then you'll really need a very solid and/or room-in-room construction. If it's quiet, and all you need to do is block out the odd pigeon cooing, then it's more feasible.
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:07 am

Richard Benn wrote:At least I have confirmation that the room will be unsuitable and we can use it for its original purpose and forget about using it for music. :(

I don't think anyone is saying it will be 'unsuitable' -- just that making it suitable will take a some careful design and construction. It's perfectly do-able, and not necessarily prohibitively expensive, but it needs to be done in the right way and that may not be the quick and easy way the builders would prefer to take!

Having an acoustician on board who has experience of this kind of project to help with the design and construction really will save money in the long run and ensure the project delivers something that does what you need it to with the least compromises for the available resources.

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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Kwackman » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:30 am

Richard Benn wrote:I don't record drums or mic'd up amps, only acoustic guitar and maybe vocals. Everything else is either DI'd or in the box. I tend to mix at normal listening levels or sometimes a bit above that. Incoming noise is not a major problem and I can probably work around what little there may be. On the other hand the garage is next to the boundary fence and I don't want to annoy the neighbours.

If you're listening a reasonable levels and not loudly at unsociable hours, you're probably not going to annoy your neighbours too much. Compared to people with screaming babies, loud TVs, party animals, barking dogs etc, you seem like a pretty good neighbour!

As your current recording set-up is less than ideal, I vote you go for the garden studio, using advice given here to make it as best you can with-in budget!
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby CS70 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:32 am

Wonks wrote:How noisy is it where you are? If you've got a busy road next to you or live near an airport etc., then you'll really need a very solid and/or room-in-room construction. If it's quiet, and all you need to do is block out the odd pigeon cooing, then it's more feasible.

Indeed - that's what I was thinking. In a quiet area, you don't really need noise insulation, but simply a well treated room. I wish I had a garage! :-D
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:37 am

CS70 wrote: In a quiet area, you don't really need noise insulation, but simply a well treated room. :-D

Absolutely -- but making sure the inner and outer walls are properly decoupled from each other, and the detail of the roof construction can make a massive difference to sound leakage. An acoustics consultant can provide the builders with the appropriate plans and materials to make that work right for no, or very little, expense -- it's about using the right materials in the right way, rather than doing things in the traditional way. Similarly, getting the room dimensions and window/door placements right can make a massive difference to the resulting acoustics but cost nothing if designed in correctly from the outset.

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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby CS70 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:07 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
CS70 wrote: In a quiet area, you don't really need noise insulation, but simply a well treated room. :-D

Absolutely -- but making sure the inner and outer walls are properly decoupled from each other, and the detail of the roof construction can make a massive difference to sound leakage. An acoustics consultant can provide the builders with the appropriate plans and materials to make that work right for no, or very little, expense -- it's about using the right materials in the right way, rather than doing things in the traditional way. Similarly, getting the room dimensions and window/door placements right can make a massive difference to the resulting acoustics but cost nothing if designed in correctly from the outset.

H

Yep, good point.
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Richard Benn » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:17 pm

Thanks for the follow-ups. When you put it like that it doesn't seem so bad :-)

I've contacted Max Hodges to see if he will be able to help.

Cheers.
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:30 pm

:thumbup: :)
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:38 pm

Turning a timber building in to something relatively soundproof is harder and more expensive than doing so to a concrete building.



frankly . that says i would probably prefer option A of your two proffered choices

option B is choosing not to take advantage of the pre-existing mass layer, which smacks of potential cluelessness..


or maybe not.... if the state of existing is truly awful..... couldn't say without doing site survey.

I got your message on that other site..... I don't even recall registering there, so no idea where Hugh dug the link up from..... ...

I have, very successfully, turned several timber buildings in to properly sound -proof and acoustically "nice" spaces , one of them , (a drum studio) is even featured in a thread here somewhere....... (look up Neokoenig?)

My days are now fully engaged Mon-Fri on a permanent basis , I still consult at weekends, but have no further interest in taking on any build jobs whatsoever..... but am perfectly willing to consider design and consultancy requests.

Building studios gave me serious hand problems requiring surgery to both hands to correct, and i'm also a fairly serious guitarist , so i took it quite to heart when the surgeon told me to change my working practices and career trajectory , or lose the use of my hands for such things ... , so I took a significant cut in daily rate to be in a salaried , office based, engineering role , these days , Mon-Fri, I design heat recovery and silenced ventilation systems, weekends are "My" time.....


, So, outside of office hours, I have a day rate, and I don't do anything for free. My time is precious.....
I also try very hard not to advertise on these forums ...... as a former member of the moderation team it would be unethical IMHO


you can PM me for direct contact, and I also set users to be able to email me from my profile......
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Re: Are Timber Frame Buildings Totally Unsuitable for a Garden Studio?

Postby Richard Benn » Sat Aug 04, 2018 7:34 pm

Thanks.

Email sent.....
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