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  • Writer's pictureEd Povey

Building My Voice Booth | Part 2- Demolition, Digging and New Concrete Floor

Hi all,

Apologies for the delay on this post, unfortunately Covid struck our household, thankfully all over now. In my last post I covered the planning and research phase, now for the good bit, the actual physical work…

As with all conversion/modification projects the first stage is the most fun, demolition! Armed with several crow bars, a spade and a claw hammer, it’s incredible how much you can demolish in a very short space of time.

Be warned! This can easily lull you into a false sense of how long the entire project will take, you will make short work of this stage, but the construction will take 10x as long.

However, before doing any ‘Incredible Hulk’ style smashing, there was one very important question I needed to find the answer to...

Was the wall between my studio and my garage a stud partition or a supporting structure?

After removing the ply board covering on the garage side, the answer became abundantly clear. Although the wall wasn’t brick or stone, it was a wooden frame with large diagonal supports, suggesting that this was a supporting wall for the roof. If it had just been a stud partition there wouldn’t have been any diagonals. Oh dear!

This is where having dad with construction experience came in handy. According to Dad there were a few things on our side, the first was that we were only dealing with a single story building, so the only weight we needed to worry about was the roof, not a whole extra floor, with humans running about on top.

If it had been the later we would have needed to employ a structural engineer to take a look at the space and then he would have been able to recommend a suitable Rolled Steel Joist (RSJ) to place across the gap to support the weight.

In our case though we were able to employ a much cheaper solution. Heavy duty L shaped metal brackets were screwed into the top corners of the frame, then we fixed the top of the frame to the nearest ceiling joist using some very heavy duty screws and a piece of timber.

This has done the job well, but please please don’t take this as a how to guide, get a professional in to check your own space if you’re planning on removing walls.

Next job, carefully packing up my recording equipment and removing all acoustic treatment.

It’s at this point that I thanked my past self for not permanently fixing my acoustic foam panels to my walls and ceiling using contact adhesive.

Knowing that an upgrade would likely happen in the future, all of my panels were fitted to the walls using Velcro self adhesive tape. That way they could easily be removed and reused. I had tried to use 3M strips but these kept failing, and having foam panels peeling off the ceiling on a warm day whilst recording wasn’t ideal.

I also thanked myself for keeping all of the boxes for my recording gear!

Then the safety bit, switching off the electricity from the fuse box and unscrewing all of the sockets.

Finally we were ready to get smashing!

In just a day and a half, we had removed a wall, taken down the ceiling and dug out the floor. It was all relatively smooth sailing, apart from the floor.

The previous owners of our house had built an extension on to the garage, and used that extension as a gym, my booth was in that new extension.

Because they had purpose built the space for weight training, the flooring was ultra strong, and they had correctly glued every tongue and groove joint, they had also glued down the Karndean Vinyl on top, so getting it all up was a challenge.

As strong as it was, the floor still needed to be removed, the floor was suspended on large joists, on brackets that were attached to the outside walls. This construction design, although great for a gym, was not great for a sound studio as vibrations from outside had a direct route inside the building via the outside walls, the brackets and the joists.

A sharp spade, crow bar and an electric mini circular saw, soon got the job done.

In the extension side of the building there was a solid concrete foundation layer about 3ft down, the old garage side was built more crudely with a thin layer of concrete resting on top of the earth. The next stage was to dig out the garage side floor so that it matched the depth of the extension.

Then we lined the entire hole with a damp-proof plastic membrane, ready for concrete to be poured on top.

We were intending to mix the concrete by hand but doing some maths we realised it would take about a day to mix 1m3 of concrete and frankly we couldn’t be bothered with the work.

I called around and found a company called Manor Mix in Reading that would bring a large volumetric truck that could mix to order on site.

Why on site mixing is better than ready mix

With concrete that’s mixed on site, you’ll only ever pay for the concrete you use and never have to pay for surplus or removal fees. Companies that offer this service can also deliver small quantities without charging you a premium, known as part load charging.

Volumetric trucks can precisely monitor the amount of concrete that’s being produced and instantly pour it into place. On demand concrete means exact quantities, no hidden charges, no mess and no unused concrete to clean up, dispose of or – crucially – pay for. It’s great !!

The truck arrived bang on time and using two wheelbarrows, a shovel and a rake, we had the floor poured in 45 mins! With 1m3 of concrete costing just over £160 which for the time saved was bargain.

Now we just needed to wait two days for the floor to be dry enough for the building to begin.

If I’m honest I’d stupidly forgotten curing/drying times in my estimation for how long the job would take, don’t make my error. It takes at least 48hrs for concrete to dry enough that you can build on it, it will also take 48hrs for any concrete block walls to dry, so do remember to factor that in if you’re planning your own job.

Next time...

Building the concrete shell and installing the new ceiling,

See you then.

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