Home Theater Room Buildout Thoughts & Budget6 min read

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Lately, I’ve been working on building out one of our rooms in our basement and transforming it into a home theater room that our family can use to have movie night and binge watch our favorite TV shows. It’s been a dream of mine since we first looked at the house before purchase and I’ve continued to put it off for the almost six years we’ve been living there. We finally decided to take the plunge and start building it and there have been many compromises along the way.

Last year, I had some extra blow money available and was watching for a deal on a new piece of technology. acer projectorIt was January of 2015 and I was looking through the ads from the daily deal newsletters that I get from the different technology warehouses. Every so often, I would find a decent deal on a projector, but could never really pull the plug. There was a flash sale on an Acer C205 Pico LED Projector, which was not a top-of-the-line projector. It was in my price range of what I could afford though, and with projectors these days, a lot of them are great for doing what I was looking for, casual home viewing. I got this piece of equipment delivered and started fiddling around with it, but quickly realized that I didn’t have any wall space that was white enough to really display it since it was such low brightness (only 200 lumens). After playing around with it for a week or so, I decided to shelve it for a while.

Late last year, I started doing some public speaking and had to bring a projector and projector screen projection screenfrom work to give presentations. After seeing how well it worked, I inquired about how much something like that would cost. A coworker said that they run only about $80ish. I had looked at screens in the past and was only looking at fixed screens and thought that they were all that could be remotely satisfactory for my home theater build. I ended up going on Amazon and finding one for $74.99 with Prime. I quickly purchased it out of my blow money that I had saved up. Of course, then I needed a sound system. So, I scrambled and found a nice deal on a cheap sound bar that was also in my budget for about $58 with Prime. I was able to put this upstairs with our living room TV so that I could take my nicer surround sound system downstairs and put it into the home theater.

Getting all these components lined up for such a good price was like the stars aligning for me. I was finally making a dream come true that I had started when we had first purchased the house and I had to keep putting off due to how crazy expensive the components I had started with were. I ended up hooking up our old 3rd generation Apple TV up to it so that I could play our movies down there since we had replaced it with the newest Apple TV a few months ago when it came out. I think I was able to snag the whole deal for under $400. When I initially was looking at glorified home theater systems, my goal for equipment was to spend around $4,000-$5,000.  This is big savings to me that allows our family to still have the fun of the experience with a fraction of the price tag.

Of course, now that I had bought all the fun stuff, I had to finish off the basement room. I had previously torn out the carpet, so the floor was down to the concrete slab and had torn out some drywall due to sump pump failure that had happened in the past. I ended up going out and getting the drywall a while back and ended up doing an epoxy floor. Just this past weekend I started mudding the drywall. It wasn’t bad, I was able to get the corner bead and mud for really cheap and already had the tools to do it since I have done other projects around the house. We also decided on wainscot bead board so that my less-than-perfect mudding skills wouldn’t be as prevalent. I was able to borrow my dad’s trim nailer so that made that part no cost for the equipment and very easy to do. Finally, I ended up buying some untreated pine chair rail and trim that i will probably end up staining and was able to buy some cheaper materials for what I needed. I will probably be installing that next week when I get around to it.

So, a little breakdown of expenses:

Components (equipment) = $353.27

Refinishing Materials = $352.08

Labor = $0.00 (I did it myself)


Total = $705.35 since January 2015

Some expenses I didn’t include are:

  • $150 for the floor coating since I was able to purchase it in bulk when I did the rest of my basement.
  • $149 for Apple TV Replacement. The one I’m actually using downstairs was the old one that I purchased for $99, but we were upgrading to the new Apple TV anyways.
  • Sofas. We already had some sofas in our basement that were given to us as gifts. This helped eliminate a BIG cost from what I can see doing some research.
  • $100 for drywall since I was able to purchase it in bulk when I was doing another project and had it laying around from that project.

(I understand that some people won’t like the way that I’ve calculated this, but oh well)

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In my eyes, this has been a great investment for our home that has been divided up over the last year and is all paid for with money that we’ve set aside each month and budgeted for. Now that I have it mostly put together, I can take time to save up and purchase upgraded parts for the setup and upgrade it over time into an amazing system as I go along. But, for now, I’m going to be enjoying my movies and favorite TV shows on my big screen having a bunch of fun for a fraction of the original costs all because I decided to compromise and go with some lesser quality stuff for now.  Who knows, I may just be happy with what I have and not spend another dime for a little while?

Some lessons I’ve learned from this project are:

  • Take your time and do the research. The more you understand the overall big picture of the project, the better prepared you will be to not go over budget and will be happier with the end result.
  • You don’t always need the best to have a good time. We are starting out on this project with hand me downs, and left over parts that we’ve since upgraded. Start small and work your way up.
  • Find cheaper alternatives that will still get the job done until you can afford higher priced stuff if you still want it. I may find that I don’t even use it all that much and it would have been a shame if I had went about spending a ton of extra money before finding this out.
  • Buy things with cash and with money that you already have. It’s easy to shoot over budget if you’re not careful. Be vigilant in what you can afford. This allowed me to not feel any guilt upon executing on this project.
  • Remember, IT IS A TOY! Enjoy it!

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Steven Goodwin

Owner/Blogger/Consultant at MyFamilyOnABudget
Steve Goodwin, a stay-at-home dad of two girls is passionate about finances and is helping others just like you get out of debt and build wealth handling money God's way. His goal is to inspire people like you to gain control of their finances by destroying debt and building wealth using their cash flow.
Posted in Budgeting, Finances, Home Ownership, Money $aving Tips, Sinking Fund.


  1. Wow Steven this is such a great post! I think what stood out to me was to really do research. Understanding the task is key. I also agree with buying cash and that you don’t always need to have the best quality to have a good time. A friend of mine has a similar setup and loves it! Glad to see you writing again!

    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment bud!

      Research is crucial for any project and this has been no exception. I have really enjoyed learning more about the “big picture” and seeing how others have done it and how I can aspire to create mine!

      Hopefully, I will be writing a bit more shortly after things in life settle down a little more.
      Steven Goodwin recently posted…Home Theater Room Buildout Thoughts & BudgetMy Profile

  2. It’s great that you were able to find a projector, screen, and sound system for such a good deal! I’m currently looking around for a good projector for my home, but I’m waiting for a good deal to strike, much like you did. It’s good to know that the speakers and screen should come relatively cheap, though. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hazel, I still actually haven’t upgraded my projector. I have been waiting like you say as well and when I have it budgeted! The biggest thing is that the room is functional at this point for fun movie nights for us!

  3. Nice job doing all this on a budget! You could have easily spent 10 times as much (for basically the same end result).
    Daniel Palmer recently posted…Fed Interest Rates, Mortgage Rates and YouMy Profile

    • It’s very much still a work in progress although it is functional! I have had fun doing it and don’t feel the pressure to use it like I would if we’d have spent more money! It can get expensive in a hurry if you don’t do your research for sure!

  4. Pretty cool man. I remember reading this post when you first published it a few months ago. I’m a huge home stereo guy, so I geek out about all the audiophile wiring and sound components. Looking forward to meeting you at fincon, and check out my first guest post tomorrow at Budgets Are Sexy. I’m going to be sharing alot of deeply personal thoughts and revelations I’ve never shared online before. It’s going to be a wild one!!! Later, Steve!

    • Ha! Thanks! I need to do a follow up post as I literally just upgraded it this week with a better av receiver, sub and a new projector that is ceiling mounted!

      That’s awesome that you are guest posting over there! I’ll definitely check it out and can’t wait for FinCon! Will be great to connect!

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