Building our own personal recording studio space is often something audio production folk only dream of. When we do the opportunity, It's a special time in our journies when we can pull all our experiences and ideas together to create a space that's personal to us whilst meeting all our studio and business demands. When I started my current recording studio build I didn't consider the process to be that big of a deal as it was going to be my third studio in the seven-year history of my business. If anything, I considered the flow of the project to be formulaic starting with ideas, planning those ideas, building from those plans and paying for that build. For the most part that is what happened, however, I was not prepared for this studio build to turn into an emotional rollercoaster.
Fear hit me very early on in the process. I had just moved into our new house so I was keen to get the ball rolling on the studio build. I researched builders and arranged for several companies to come and visit the site and give me estimates, only to receive several different points of view in regards to what could and couldn't be accomplished. The feelings of fear hit me when several builders told me that important aspects of my brief could not be met and that I would have to sacrifice or compromise other integral areas to get something in the ballpark of my brief.
Fear returned several times during the build, largely due to rising costs. I have found it almost impossible to get accurate 100% cost quotes for any type of building project but especially on this build, I have found the costs exceeding what I had budgeted for on more than one occasion.
The biggest fear of all was making sure that the soundproofing construction was completed with absolute care and attention. Although I trusted the builders to do this, my fear was that if it wasn't done correctly I wouldn't be able to see or fix any problems after the plasterboard went up.
Fear is a real battle of wills. Little worries turn into big worries, often for no reason. The fear I felt in some of the aspects of this build also led to moments of self-doubt...
Self-doubt is a bitch of a complex to have when building a studio. I knew I needed absolute confidence in my vision for the studio to see the build completed to my specification. Self-doubt hit me when I was at the "finding a builder" stage as many of the builders believed it impossible to extend the structure and have a pitched ceiling. Those were two very important requirements as I wanted a large studio and wasn't prepared to compromise. I left most of the estimate meetings with horrible feelings of self-doubt as many builders didn't want to entertain my brief in its entirety. I worried that my ideas were not good enough or even possible. I doubted my ideas and considered rethinking my vision and going back to the drawing board to build something completely different.
Russ gave me some advice a while back when I spoke to him about my studio build, his advice was "Work out exactly what YOU want from the studio, not what others want and build that" - Simple and very effective advice.
There was a moment when I received the final plans and quote from the builder, it was an incredible moment of enormous pride in myself. The ideas that I had in my head for the studio over the last six months prior to moving into the house were finally on paper, the quote was within budget and I found the right builder for the job. There was a real sense of "I did that"! I felt proud of myself, a rare occurrence. It's a feeling I'm looking forward to experiencing again when the studio is completed.
Many of you, like myself, are "one man band" studio owners who generally work on their own - An island to yourself. Let me tell you, if you design and fund your own studio build then there's a good chance you will feel like a lonely planet in outer space. Before I started the build I knew if I wanted to see my studio vision through to fruition I knew I had to do the research. I spoke to many friends in the know, clients, the Production Expert team and professionals in acoustics such as Richard from iKoustic. I can't tell you how many hours and days I spent asking advice from people. So many went the distance to support me and for that, I'm eternally grateful, you know who you are.
There have been times when the studio build hit times when I felt negative about the build including fear and self-doubt but it was at those times when people in my circles pulled me out of my funk and refocused me to get this studio completed. Studio builds are emotional rollercoasters. In the pursuit of creating my dream creative space, I ended up putting my heart on my sleeve and this made me susceptible to all manner of emotions. I didn't prepare myself for the emotional rollercoaster as at the outset I didn't expect my emotions to yo-yo so easily. Years ago I hired a builder to completely renovate a flat, I didn't feel any deep or meaningful emotions with that project as I saw it as a methodical 'business' process unlike my recent studio build in which I can see that I just got caught up in the romance of it all.
Have you built a recording studio? If so, would you agree that there is something rather unique in the way we feel about the studio build process compared to general or household construction project?