Garage Conversion Part 11: Game Room

Time to put some finishing touches in the game room! πŸ™‚ It’d already had a paint job, carpet tiles were laid, fancy LED lighting installed, but it needed something else. I decided I didn’t want to have posters on the wall, I wanted something that was more interesting to look at and in with the retro 80s arcade theme. I had the idea to put up original arcade flyers from some of my favourite games. I scoured ebay and found some I really liked. The ones I chose weren’t all my favourite games, but they were iconic and the flyers looked so cool and interesting. I found some nice frames at The Range and mounted them on the stud-wall above the door to the workshop. There wouldn’t be much empty wall space for pictures once the cabs were all in place, but they look great up high…

original arcade flyers on the wall
From left to right: Q*Bert, Twin Cobra, Arkanoid, Berzerk, Buck Rogers, Kung-Fu Master

I mounted some more near the back door, along with a fire extinquisher and fire blanket (can’t be too careful with old 80’s CRTs/machinery in here)…

more arcade flyers on the wall
From left to right: Electrocoin promo flyer, Space Duel, Flying Shark

I also found a nice Sterling keybox to store all the keys for my arcade cabs…

keybox closed
keybox open

Here’s a close up of the RGBW LED wall mounted control panel. It has a lovely glass finish to it and is nice to the touch. I can select a colour using the colour wheel, or set it to one of many animations. See it in action and how it was installed here: Garage Conversion Part 9: RGBW LEDs

RGBW LED wall mounted controller

And a good friend Wim Outrun sent me this really cool Outrun license plate to put up. I don’t know where I’m going to put this yet…

sega outrun car license plate

I don’t have any finished/working cabs yet but for now I’m storing them all in the game room. I’ll work on them one at a time to get them restored and working properly, then they can be added one by one in their true place, ready to play. It looks pretty crowded in there, but these cabs are not back against the walls so there will be enough space for all of them to be played at the same time…

cabs in game room
arcade cabs in game room

I also got a blackout blind. This serves to keep the sunlight out during the day so game screens are easier to see, but also to stop people from outside looking in at all the cabs I have in here. Managed to get the colour spot on! πŸ™‚

gameroom blackout blind

So that’s the game room pretty much finished. I’ll be putting up Sonos speakers for some nice 80s music on game nights, a blackout blind for the window, the cabs will all be restored and working, the LED lighting will be rockin’ and the beer will be flowing. Each time I add a new finished arcade cab to the game room I’ll write a post introducing it. Until then, job done!


Garage Conversion Part 10: Carpet Tiles

OK, the top half of the room was done, now for the bottom half. You’ll probably notice that the game room has had a fresh lick of paint. I had a few tester pots, and ended up using Dulux Trade Sapphire Salute. It’s a nice deep blue colour that gives the room a fun arcadey feel.

The last big thing for the game room was to sort the floor out. The workshop floor already had some Ronseal garage paint, but for the gameroom I wanted something a bit nicer. Firstly It was uneven and required a levelling compound. I enlisted the help of Quality Solutions Kent, a local tradesman called Dan who came and did the work. I hadn’t done this before so it was nice that he explained things as he went along. Dan’s a multi-talented guy, I’m sure I’ll be using his services again at some point in the future.

Firstly a watered-down coating of PVA was applied…

watered down pva coating

The levelling compound then went on and had a few days to dry. This completely levelled the floor out, and would give the carpet tiles some extra protection from moisture…

levelling compound
close up levelling compound

Decent arcadey carpet tiles are so hard to find. In the end I found these 50cm x 50cm ones, which are nothing special, but reminded me of the kinds of carpets they had in arcades as a kid. They are called Modulyss First Lines Carpet Tiles – Navy 541. Apparently they have “Castor Chair Suitability: EN 985 A: continuous use”, which supposedly means they’ll be fine with heavy things like arcade cabs rolling across them from time to time. I guess we’ll find out. When I ordered them, I thought the lines would all match up as I had planned to lay them all the same way across the room. Unfortunately they didn’t match up at all, they were all random, so I had to lay them in a checkered pattern instead…

carpet tiles being laid

All finished. In total 40 tiles were used…exactly the amount I bought… close call!

carpet tiles finished
carpet tiles

Well that’s the floor done! I can get all the arcade cabs that I shoved in the workshop and put them back in the gameroom now, where they belong. In the next part I’ll be sprucing up the gameroom with some pictures and adding some finishing touches.


Garage Conversion Part 9: RGBW LEDs

Finally on to some fun stuff! So the plan was to get some nice multi-coloured LED strip lighting to go around the edges of the room, lighting up the ceiling and giving it a cool arcade room feel. But firstly, I had a big waste pipe I needed to box in, as it was right in the way of where the LED tape was going to be mounted (photo from an earlier post)…

pipes to be boxed in

The LED strip lighting sytem I used was from InStyle LED. A chap called Luke helped me to choose the best stuff for my needs, which turned out to be: –

  • RGBW (Pure White) 20w 24v Commercial Grade LED Tape
  • RF Wireless Remote/Receiver 4 Channel x 5 amp
  • RF Wireless Wall Controller
  • Transformer InPower Range 250w 24v
  • Corner Extrusions (45 Degree)

The box I made covering those pipes served as a mounting point for the 90mm-tall 15mm wide skirting boards I used horizontally to hide the strip lights… yes you read correctly… skirting boards. I first painted the ceiling white, and then painted all around the top 30cm or so of the room. In the following photo you can see the wall mounted colour wheel controller and in the top box, the receiver and transformer for the LED strip lights (the colour wheel controller transmits to the receiver and the transformer gives the LEDs the required voltage)…

boxed in pipes

I continued around the other 3 walls putting up skirting boards to hide where the LED tape was going to go. Good job I had a stud-finder to help me find where I could screw the brackets in…

skirting on plastered wall

After painting the brackets white, and then installing the LED tape, I wired it up and gave it a try… it was awesome! πŸ™‚

she's alive - red lighting

The LED tape is encased in InStyle LED’s “Corner Extrusions”. These diffuse the light and angle the LEDs at 45 degrees – i.e. up and towards the centre of the ceiling. These were very easy to fit and very nice quality…

mounting the extrusions

The picture doesn’t really do it justice, so I made a video…

It’s starting to feel like a game room now, but no time to rest! Time to sort the floor out – see you in Part 10!


Garage Conversion Part 8: Damp!

So after finishing the workshop, it now had to be crammed full of my arcade cabs and everything else, so I could get the gameroom sorted. First off I had the stud wall and ceiling plastered by my mate’s mate Pete, then it was time to sort the damp problem out. Ugh.

This is the back wall. You can see the penetrating damp coming in at the left corner, and to a lesser extent along the back wall. I arranged for a company in Dover called PTLS Enviro to come and do a survey and they confirmed the penetrating damp issues and offered their services to fix it. The guy who came was very cool actually, he had a couple of arcade cabs himself so we hit it off right away. The solution was remove the bottom 500mm of render back to brickwork on all 3 walls (yes, turns out there was quite a bit of damp, not just the obvious parts I could see). The render was cracking at the bottom of all 3 walls and sounded hollow when you tapped it…

damp on back wall

Remember that lovely boxing in I did back in Part 3? Well that all had to be taken off in order for them to fix the damp….

damp on right wall

And on the other wall the render was equally as in need of replacing. Those steps to the back door would also have to be removed so the wall behind them could be fixed. I’d have to get new ones built later…

damp on left wall

Off came the render back to brickwork. All 3 walls, to a height of 500mm from the floor…

render comes off

Then, before rerendering, two coats of “cementitious tanking material” was applied to the wall surface returning 100mm onto the floor slab to provide a watertight seal. Waterproof sand/cement was then used to reinstated the surface…

A couple of weeks later and the new surface render had all dried. First job was to re box-in those pipes and electric cables. I made sure I clipped those cables to the CLS battens before I screwed the plasterboard back on…

plasterboard boxing in came off

Et voilΓ ! πŸ™‚ Damp fixed, and boxing-in put back….

plasterboard boxing in back on

Well that felt like 3 weeks wasted, but I’m quite relieved it’s all done. Can’t be having damp in the gameroom with arcade cabs present, that’s not a good combo. In the next part, I paint the gameroom ceiling and put up some fancy RGBW LED lighting around the edges of the room.


Garage Conversion Part 7: Workshop

With my workbench built, it was time to finish the workshop! I figured there’s no point working on both rooms at the same time. I can put all the crap I have in one room while I work on the other, and the workshop got first dibs. The first thing I did was get the stud wall and the ceiling plastered. Following that, I decided to paint the whole room white. I chose white as it looks clean, goes with everything, and we had half a big tub of white masonry paint spare. I also put up a shelf above the workbench out of the remaining offcut from the oak-effect laminate worktop that I used on the workbench. It was the perfect length as it had been cut to size already, and the depth was good too, about 11cm. Above the shelf you can see the LED batten light I put up. This was angled down at 45 degrees to shine extra light on the worktop. Also note the exposed brickwork on the left… that will get sorted too…

workshop paint and worktop shelf

Next up, I remembered the big lop-sided shelf above the old garage door that I ripped out. I re-used the timbers, got some new heavy duty brackets, and made myself a new shelf to store a load of less-used-but-still-needed stuff. I used some left-over CLS and attached it to the wall with good length frame fixings. It’s very strong and the beams sit on there nicely and are held secure with the brackets…

workshop storage shelf brackets

I had enough 18mm plywood in the shed to make the shelf with. It’s a massive load of space up there that will come in very handy…

workshop storage shelf

I still had a load of tools to find places for, so I put up a load of Homebase’s Flexi Storage Single Slot Wall Strips on the stud wall. This storage system was perfect for my needs as the single-slot brackets have a little lip on the end of them preventing anything hanging on them from falling off (the double-slot ones don’t have this). I screwed the strips all along the wall directly into the studs, and the whole thing is flexible enough for me to put everything up there and rearrange it at any time just by moving the brackets around. I also fixed up and painted the door architrave and put some handy hooks on the back of the door…

workshop wall storage

Gah, what is it with ladders? We have 2 of them but no problemo πŸ™‚

more workshop wall storage

And below is the so-called money shot. To finish off the workbench area, I did the following: –

  • Put another wall strip on the left to hold tape, scissors, and whatever else
  • Put up magnetic tool holders above the worktop shelf
  • Got rid of the LED batten and instead used the cable to power a Sonos speaker
  • Fit a much nicer bright white LED strip underneath the worktop shelf
  • To keep things tidy I bought a Raaco 44 drawer steel storage cabinet. Finally I have places for all the little things!
  • Rendered over the exposed brickwork and painted right up to the garage doors
  • You can’t see it here but I also painted the floor with some grey Ronseal Diamond Hard garage floor paint and put some skirting on
workshop workbench area

Sorry about the mess, but here’s a shot of the LED strip switched on. I used the same LED strip lighting system in the game room (which you’ll read about soon)…

workbench worktop LED strip light

And check this out… I’ve got enough space in here to lay a full-size arcade cab on it’s side and still have room to work on it! Result!

I also got a blackout blind, which serves mainly to stop folks looking in from the outside and seeing all my tools etc…

workshop blackout blind

What’s left? …Well, I think I might get a wall mounted movable arm/shelf for my laptop to sit on. I’m quite often looking at my phone to find out how to do things or to get inspiration, so that would come in quite handy having a bigger screen to refer to. I could mount it on the left hand side of the workench area, just above the magnetic tool holders.

Other than that, I’m pretty happy. It has enough room, makes really good use of all the space, and most importantly I know where everything is now!

On to the game room then… and the first job, which I’ve not been looking forward to in the slightest… is to sort the damp problem out.


Garage Conversion Part 6: Workbench

Finally I had the stud wall up, and an official workshop! It became apparent very quickly that the next thing I needed to do was build a workbench, as my tools were everywhere and I couldn’t find anything. I wanted something that could store my big powertools, smaller tools and fixtures/screws/nails etc. I also wanted it to be portable. It’s a small workshop and I’d be moving arcade cabs in and out quite a lot to work on them, so something on castors seemed a good idea. As usual, I loaded up Sketchup and designed something after getting some inspiration online. What I ended up with had a bottom shelf for big tools (would get my router, circular saw and mitre saw on there), a middle shelf for smaller tools and fixtures/screws etc, and a large deep worktop so I would have plenty of working space…

workbench sketchup plan

The frame was built with some 38x89mm CLS studwork timber (I had quite a bit left over from the stud wall), the shelves were 12mm plywood and the top was a 38mm thick laminated oak block effect chipboard kitchen worktop that I ordered online (and got them to cut it to size). With the worktop, I allowed some overhang at the back to give room for the plug sockets on the wall, and a small amount of overhang at the front for if I needed to mount a vice.

The first step was making each of the 4 upright corner legs. I needed to cut away some notches for the front and back beams. I clamped all 4 legs together and used my circular saw to cut these all at once, then tidied them up with my router. That was the tricky bit. Cutting the pieces for the rest of the frame was easy and soon I was ready to start assembling…

workbench pieces cut and ready

Clamping, gluing and screwing was in order as I put together the front part of the frame…

workbench frame side 1

Then the same for the back of the frame… slowly coming together…

workbench frame side 2

I got some massive heavy duty swivel castors from Bunnings – 2 with a brake, 2 without…

workbench castor

With the castors on, the floor of the frame was soon put together….

workbench base

And then very soon after that, the top of the frame was assembled. To make sure the whole thing wasn’t wonky, I used a ratchet strap to pull it nicely square before I put the diagonal braces in. The ratchet strap worked a treat and the frame ended up very rigid and pretty much spot on…

workbench top

After putting the brace on the middle shelf, I cut the plywood to size and put the two shelves on. Then I moved the workbench into position to ensure it fit. I love it when a plan comes together…

workbench test fit

The final question was would all my tools fit on it! Sketchup said there would be space and Sketchup turned out to be correct as usual. πŸ™‚

do the tools fit in the workbench

Hmm… looks like I’ve still got a lot of tools to find a place for. More on that later. The worktop arrived and was already pre-cut to the perfect size, so it was a doddle to fit. I used some small brackets underneath on the inside of the frame. It’s nice and secure and isn’t going anywhere…

workbench worktop

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Soon after this was built, I invested in a shop vac, and a compressor. I really wanted to fit these somewhere, but they were both too tall. The solution was to cut a bigger space for them…

workbench amendment plan

Quite happy how that turned out…

workbench amendment done

Next up, some finishing touches to the workshop. See you in Part 7.


Garage Conversion Part 5: Stud Wall

So the ceiling is finally soundproofed, there’s nothing stopping me splitting the garage into two rooms now!

Like with most things I end up building, I designed this in Sketchup as a first step. The idea was to have a door in the centre wide enough to get arcade machines through. It would open outwards to the workshop side. This would make the best use of space by not taking up a corner in each room. I designed it with 9.5mm plasterboard on top of 38x89mm studwork CLS timber. The door I chose was an 838mm wide four-panel pine one from Wickes. I also bought a door lining kit to make things easier…

I had help with this from Ed again which meant we could speed through it. Due to the suspended ceiling, we could only secure the studwork frame on three sides (the walls and the floor). My initial Sketchup design above wasn’t stable enough as it didn’t take this into account, so we had to strengthen the top by adding some more studwork. Frame fixings were used to secure the timbers into the concrete floor and walls. I was pretty nervous that the frame wouldn’t be strong enough without being secured on all four sides, but once up and tweaked at the top, it was as strong as an ox and wasn’t budging. It would be fine with the extra weight of the plasterboard on it…

As soon as the frame was up, it was time to test that the door fit nicely… looks pretty good to me! πŸ™‚

test that the door fits

Time to get the insulation in and the plasterboard on. Also now was the time to fit the plug sockets and the light switch…

sockets in workshop

I used some standard rockwool from Wickes to fill the gaps. It was cheaper than the RW3 stuff I used for the ceiling, but it was fine. It felt like I was cutting up a Wookie…

sockets in stud wall

As with the ceiling, I squeezed these plasterboard panels up against some acoustic foam along the top to minimise sound/vibrations travelling upstairs. The top of the studwork frame itself didn’t touch the ceiling at all (was about 5mm away).

Finally, it’s up! I have an empty workshop room! πŸ™‚

workshop face on

…and a rather full gameroom…


Last thing was to fit the lock on the door. I wanted to be able to lock my tools away in the workshop, so I opted to have the key on the gameroom side, and the locking latch on the workshop side.

Later on I’d have to get the rooms plastered, put the door architrave on, and do some painting, but to get to this point was a great milestone to achieve! Now I had an empty workshop room, and loads of tools strewn all over the place. It was clear the next thing I needed was a workbench to put in the workshop so I could store and organise all my tools. On to Part 6 for that.


Garage Conversion Part 4: Soundproofing

So with the first electrical fix done, and the old garage door removed and replaced with nice swinger-outers, it was time to move on to the most time consuming and frustrating part of the conversion: sound proofing the ceiling. It already had a single layer of plasterboard screwed into joists, but there was one part that would cause a problem where part of the hearth from upstairs was exposed, straddling the side wall….

exposed chimney breast
Note the waste pipes coming in from the bathroom upstairs. These would mostly be covered up by the solution I chose.

I did some research in soundproofing solutions and sent a bunch of email enquiries off. I got a few back, but in the end I went with a solution offered by John Hancock from Oscar Acoustics. John was very helpful and answered any questions I had quickly and concisely, which gave me confidence I could pull this off. I went with their Iso-Mount Type 2 system which would allow me to hang a suspended ceiling from the existing one. I wouldn’t need to remove the existing plasterboard. This solution would lower the ceiling by 150mm, but headroom in the garage was not an issue as the existing ceiling was over 3m high. It turns out this was to my benefit as the extra height allowed me to improve the soundproofing by using thicker insulation whilst still keeping a 50mm void air-gap.

It works like this: –

  1. Make a framework of Iso-Mounts at even intervals across the existing ceiling
  2. Between all the Iso-Mounts, fit 100mm thick acoustic insulation directly to the existing ceiling
  3. Fit metal GL1 gypliner channels onto the Iso-Mounts
  4. Fit 2 layers of plasterboard onto the metal channels, covering up the insulation/air gap

The idea is that the whole “new ceiling” is suspended below the existing one. The Iso-Mounts connect to the GL1 channels via a rubber block so very little sound is transferred up through each Iso-Mount. Around the edges of the ceiling some acoustic foam is squeezed in between the plasterboard and the side walls, further giving it some acoustic separation. This is then finished off with some acoustic sealant around the edges.

Here’s a single Iso-Mount made up: –

Oscar Acoustics Iso-Mount 2

The top screw goes through the existing plasterboard into the joist above. At the bottom you can see the rubber block that a metal saddle sits on (the saddle is what the GL1 channels clip on to), so it is acoustically insulated from the rest of the mount. Ignore the small wooden wedge, that’s just to keep the rubber/saddle combo from wobbling about when you’re trying to fit the GL1 channels. Here’s a diagram to explain it better: –

Oscar Acoustics Iso-Mount 2 Diagram

Time to make a start then. I enlisted the help of my daughter to help make up the hangers that I’d need to screw into the existing joists. I think I ended up using about 60 Iso-Mounts in total…

enslisting help to make the hangers
“here’s a heap of bits, off you go…”

Screwing 60+ of these into the existing joists took ages, involved arm and neck ache, and lots of cursing…

My friend Ed came to help again, and we fitted all the M8 studding and the brackets that the rubber blocks will sit on. We had to get this as level as we could so that the new suspended ceiling would be perfectly smooth and level when the plasterboard went up. To help we used an auto-levelling laser level. Assembling these was very time consuming also, but we got there in the end…

studding and brackets
You can see the self-levelling laser level in the corner. This gave us a perfect vidual guide to getting every iso-mount perfectly level.
studding and brackets

And here’s how we solved the issue of the hearth… we put a CLS batten up, and screwed the Iso-Mounts into that, with shorter M8 studding so it levelled up fine…

shorter studding for iso-mounts

With the Iso-Mounts all fitted, we started installing the insulation. John recommended we use 100mm RW3 Rockwool, so that’s what we used. It came in slabs rather than a roll, and it was relatively easy to cut. We stuck it to the ceiling with some self-adhesive stick pins. These things look insanely scary, but we took very good care not to impale our skulls into them…

self-adhesive stick-pins
First thing I thought when I saw these was “ok… need to be careful with those then!”

Starting on the left side of the garage, the first lot went up pretty easily…

first lot of rockwool

With some offcuts, I filled the fiddly bits over by the hearth area…

hearth area rockwool

And it wasn’t long before it was all done… I enlisted the help of another friend Nick to help with this, as it’s far easier with 2 people due to the size of the rockwool slabs. We were wearing disposable overalls and we must have sweated litres between us before it was all done… I really hated doing this part.

rockwool done

With the insulation up, it was time to put the GL1 channels into place. These would hang on the metal saddles that sit on the rubber blocks on each Iso-Mount. I ordered 3m lengths as that’s the longest I could find. Typically, it turned out the room is slightly wider than 3m so I had to also use some GL3 connectors to ensure some of the lengths were long enough. In hindsight, I’d have put the Iso-Mounts around the edges of the room slightly in a bit so the total length needed wouldn’t have exceeded 3m. Lesson learned. The channels were relatively easy to clip on using the little wooden wedges they sent with the mounts to keep the saddles sitting on the rubber blocks steady. The plasterboard will screw into the channels, leaving a 50mm air gap/void between the plasterboard and the rockwool insulation…

gl1 gypliner channels

Getting there now! Time to put the plasterboard up. This was like painting. Normally you have to do 2 coats of paint… well, we had to put 2 layers of 12.5mm plasterboard up. First, I needed to prepare the walls around the edges so that the adhesive-backed acoustic foam would stick. I watered down some PVA and brushed it on all around the edges where the plasterboard would butt up to. This worked a treat and the acoustic foam stuck on fine.

I hired a plasterboard lifter from Brandon Hire Station, and we couldn’t have done without it. It made the job bearable! You can just about see the foam around the edges, and the darker walls giving away the PVA coating…

sound proofing the ceiling

We finally got it all up, both layers (the 2nd layer was waaay easier to screw in than the first). We left 3 “hatches” so that the light fittings could be wired up. We put those panels up last…

plasterboard all up

This is how it ended up covering the waste pipes coming in from the bathroom upstairs. Not bad… when those are painted you’ll hardly notice them! πŸ˜‰ You can also see where the electric cables will come down from the ceiling inside the stud wall…

covers the pipes up

And finally, the hatches were put back on and the LED battens were mounted on the ceiling! Apart from running the acoustic sealant around the edges, and then plastering, job done!

ceiling done

So after all this… how good was it? Was it worth all the effort?

Well… beforehand, you could clearly hear normal conversation and footsteps in the room above. My kids could also easily hear all my swearing from up there too. When my little girl ran and jumped about up there it felt like the ceiling was going to cave in.

Afterwards, we conducted a test with my DeWalt router. That thing is LOUD. On full speed, you could hardly hear it upstairs. Result. πŸ˜€ I’m confident now that when the kids are asleep I can run power tools to my heart’s content and it won’t wake anyone up. Definitely worth all the effort.

Well it was time for a well earned rest after all that work. But not for long. Now the ceiling is sorted, the stud wall can be put up. See you in Part 5!


Garage Conversion Part 3: Electrics

With the new garage door installed and finally some space, it was time to tackle the electrics. That meant ripping out what was there and installing a new consumer unit, plug sockets, and cabling for new lighting. This was a first fix really, as certain things would have to wait until the stud wall went up (as that would have plug sockets on it) and until the sound-proofed ceiling went up (as that would have lights attached to it).

For this, I enlisted the help of my friend Ed. He’s an electrician (among other things) so for this job I was basically his apprentice. The initial plan we were working to was as follows…

electrics plan

So in the game room (top), there would be: –

  • The new consumer unit on the back wall
  • Plug sockets on the back and side walls (for arcade machines)
  • A light switch on the back wall for 2 x LED ceiling lights
  • An electric oil-filled heater on the right side between the door and the window

And in the workshop (bottom), there would be: –

  • Plug sockets along the stud wall and side walls
  • Light switch for 2 x LED ceiling lights
  • Incoming Cat5 network socket (from the house)

It turned out there was a bit more needed than in the original plan above, such as fancy LED strip lighting in the game room, alarm sensors, etc., but we’ll get to that. πŸ™‚

First off, the old consumer unit came out, and a new one went in, to be connected up to the existing supply cable from the house. We were going to split the wiring up into 4 different circuits using RCDs: gameroom lighting and sockets each on a circuit, and workshop lighting and sockets each on a circuit. I decided on using white PVC 20mm round conduit to run the cables in (although in hindsight I wish I’d used metal, I think it would have looked better), and I used metal-clad sockets and switches. Lots of cable pulling ensued. Silicon spray was invaluable here and made a tough job considerably easier.

new consumer unit

The single old flourescent bulb light fitting came down too. Just look at how the previous workman ran this conduit…

old light fitting
Check out the big crack in the render above the door too… that would need to be fixed up very soon!

Along the wall attached to the house, there was a mess of electric cables and pipework coming through. It was very ugly so I decided to box it in. The big white electrical cables you see here came down from the ceiling, and then went back into the house! Luckily, where it came down was right where the stud wall was planned, so it could be hidden inside it. The thick black cable is the supply cable for the consumer unit. That would run inside the boxed-in area and then clipped along the back wall to the unit…

pipes to hide

And here’s my lovely first ever attempt at boxing stuff in. I used 9mm plasterboard sheets screwed into CLS. It was also probably the first time I’d used an SDS drill and frame fixings. Pretty good job if I do say so myself…

boxing in the pipes
Ooh… sneaky peek of another procured arcade machine on the left there… can you guess what it is?

Here’s another look at where the existing electrical cables came down from the ceiling. They should fit inside the stud wall, then I’ll continue the boxing-in right up to it so none of those cables will be seen. You can also see the new plug sockets having been wired up in the workshop area…

sockets on right wall

On the left side of the garage, a Haverland RC8TT 1000w electric oil-filled heater was installed along with the rest of the plug sockets for the gameroom and workshop. As on the other side, where you see a gap in the conduit, that’s where the cables will be going along the inside of the stud wall for some more sockets for the workshop…

sockets on left wall

Cables were also run through conduit along the ceiling for the lights. There’s cabling for 2 LED battens in the gameroom, and one in the workshop (which you can see here temporarily mounted to the ceiling). We also ran cables along and down the side walls for some smaller LED batten lights to illuminate the worktops in the workshop. Lastly, there was a old light outside above the garage door which had no power to it, so we wired that in with its own switch to the right of the doors…

new light cabling

Here’s the cable we ran to power the small worktop LED batten on the left side of the workshop, along with a redundant black cable that was supposed to be powering some exterior lighting, but wasn’t. That was being pulled out….

worktop led batton cabling

We also found a good few random cables that needed either safely terminating, or removing…

There were some things that didn’t get done (yet). For example, no cat5 cable coming in from the house. WiFi signal is excellent though. πŸ™‚ Fix 2 will also involve putting the LED batten lights up on the ceiling, installing some fancy RGBW LED strip-lighting in the gameroom, sorting out the alarm sensors, and finishing the sockets on the stud wall.

So, with the first electrical bits done… time to move on to one of the most time consuming and frustrating parts of the conversion (but the most rewarding when finished)… soundproofing the ceiling!


Garage Conversion Part 2: New Door

Making a start on the garage conversion at last – I couldn’t do much until the old crappy up-and-over door was replaced…

old garage door from the front
old garage door from inside

I think this was made from fibreglass. It didn’t open and close properly, wasn’t very well insulated, and I’d have been building a stud wall right through the framework that took up a massive chunk of the room.

Through a friend’s recommendation, I found a local carpenter who could make us new doors to measure. He made them from Accoya so they wouldn’t warp and would last a long time. We went for a design that suited the style of the house well, with 4 glazed windows on each door. The doors opened outwards onto the driveway, and we had deadbolts at the top and bottom along with a mortice lock. It was painted with 3 coats of grey satin Ronseal 10 Year Weatherproof Wood Paint and it looks great…

new garage doors from the front
No problems opening these – although they are very heavy!

This is better! Lots of space inside now. When those beams on the side walls come off there’ll be nothing stopping me putting a stud wall in! Some nice fella even came to take away the old door so we didn’t have to cut it up and dispose of it ourselves…

new garage doors from inside

And look what arrived…. could it be a Defender and an Asteroids Cabaret??? πŸ™‚

new arrivals

Finally, I fitted a Stormguard rubber garage seal to help prevent rain, dust, insects and cold air from getting in. I also put these on the inside…

stormguard rubber garage seal

Next up…. replacing all the electrics! See you in Part 3.


Garage Conversion Part 1: The Idea

Early in 2019 I finally got around to starting work on the garage to convert it into a game room and workshop (a.k.a. ‘mancave’). I quite often have buildy-things on the go and I love retrogaming and wanted to get a few old 80s arcade machines. I was stuffing everything into my office upstairs but it got to the point where it was so stuffed full and messy that I couldn’t find anything. I needed more space. I had grand plans for a home arcade and workshop and after getting the ‘OK’ from the missus, I made a start.

mancave before outside view
mancave before inside view

The garage is roughy 5m long by 3m wide, and a little over 3m high. The plan was to split this up into two rooms with a stud partition wall.

It needed lots of work if I was going to be able to make 2 rooms out of it…

  1. The big up-and-over automatic garage door was rubbish. You can see it powered here by a floating extension reel. It didn’t open or close properly, and the framework and motor took up half the garage. If a stud-wall was going in, this had to go.
  2. The electrics were shot. There was a tiny consumer unit on the back wall, cables everywhere, crap lighting, and hardly any plug sockets.
  3. It had a big lop-sided mezzanine shelf over the garage door with supporting beams that ran most of the way along each side wall. I liked the idea of a mezzanine storage shelf in my workshop, but this existing one had to go.
  4. There were lots of old fixtures, shelves, nails, screws, you name it, along the walls that would all have to be removed.
  5. The steps at the back door were crumbling away and would need replacing.
  6. The render on the walls would need patching up all over the place and it would need painting.
  7. It had damp issues.
  8. I’d be running loud power tools in here, probably at night. It is directly below the girls’ bedroom and it wasn’t sound-proofed.

I made a basic plan in sketchup and drew on some bits to give me an idea of what I wanted…

mancave plan

The front of the garage was to be a 3x2m workshop, and the back would be the 3x3m gameroom/arcade…

mancave gameroom plan

I worked out that over time I could comfortably get a maximum of 8 arcade cabs in if I arrange them carefully. My ideal list would be: –

  • Sega Out Run
  • Williams Defender
  • Atari Asteroids Cabaret
  • Electrocoin Midi Jamma cab (for horizontal games)
  • Electrocoin Midi Jamma cab (for vertical games)
  • Reproduction Atari Star Wars (not paying Β£5k+ for an original!)
  • Reproduction Williams Robotron Mini (not paying Β£4k+ for an original!)
  • A multi-vector Mame cab
  • My rotating CP+monitor Mame cab

OK… I just counted.. that’s 9. πŸ˜€ Well I’m sure the good wife won’t mind one of the smaller ones in the lounge, will she?!

First job would be to get rid of the up-and-over door and replace it with something nicer and more suitable. See you in Part 2.