Trevor Parscal's Studio

Building a recording studio in New Hampshire

Getting Started

Today we purchased a home in New Hampshire. We moved here from California to participate in the Free State Project, and it’s always been a dream of mine to build a proper music studio. Previously, back in California, I had filled a bedroom to the brim with recording gear. But as my son got older, the day I would have to yield the bedroom to him was fast approaching. Additionally, my wife has long had ambitions to raise some sheep. We had some chickens back in California, but we could never afford enough land for larger livestock while living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The home purchased today has plenty of land, and we were able to set aside some money for us to achieve these ambitious goals.

The site for the studio, and also eventually a workshop, will be perpendicular to the house. The structure of these buildings will be very similar in dimensions to the house and its garage. I like the symmetry of this layout, but it also makes good sense with the existing driveway and property lines.

plot

The studio will be constructed inside a prefabricated steel building. The dimensions will be 30ft wide, 40ft deep and 14ft tall at the eaves with a 6:12 roof pitch to match the house (4:12 is pictured below).

studio-exterior-concept-render

The steel structure will leave a clear area inside with vaulted ceilings, which suits my needs at a relatively low cost. R19 insulation in the walls and roof will provide the first defense against outside temperatures and sound. Inside, three stand-alone rooms will be erected, each isolated from one another and the building except through the slab.

Once the slab is in place, I intend to do the majority of the work erecting the building and constructing the interior myself. I expect the project to take about a year, and that it will be more complicated than originally anticipated at every turn. In preparation for this project, I’ve now read Home Recording StudioThe Studio Builder’s HandbookGraphic Guide to Frame Construction and The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling. I will no doubt need to read additional books before the project is over.

Budgeting has been a difficult task. Not only do prices vary greatly because they depend on many factors, but vendors tend to be quite hesitant to discuss pricing up front. My usual approach is to simply not do business with people who don’t offer up-front pricing, or at least an explanation of how they come up with a price. This project has pushed me outside my comfort zone in that regard, but in the end I found vendors who would provide transparent pricing information. I found also that these vendors tended to be the most affordable, which actually reinforced my policy about transparent pricing. After a great deal of investigation, including hours on the phone and a whole lot of spreadsheeting, I was finally able to set a scale and timeline for the project that would fit my budget.

Now to go get a permit.

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