Home Theater - Realty Plus or Minus?

By: Stacy Neir

Certain home improvements will increase the value of your home by more than the original investment. We know this is often the case with new bathrooms and new kitchens, but what if you would like a home theater? How do you know what other improvements add value?

In certain areas, and for certain people, going out to public places in the evening presents hazards. This may be one reason why home entertainment centers are becoming more popular. A harsh winter climate is another and an avid sports fan in the family is a third! Another factor to add in nowadays, is that a large percentage of the realty buying population are baby boomers, who may be more inclined to sit indoors and watch a large screen TV!

In choosing to have a home theater, one of your rooms will be literally given up. The decor in an average sized room will be unnoticed once you have a giant screen and speakers dominating the space. Also, the extra amount of seating usually detracts from the room's appeal from a realty point of view.

For these reasons you will need to have a room dedicated only to the home theater, and hopefully, still have a rec room or den available. If this can be accommodated, then the home theater could well increase your real estate value.

Of course, not all homes can spare this much room. If this is the scenario then there is the possibility of concealing the home theater unless it is in use.

This can be done by use of cleverly designed cabinets. For some systems the cabinets would have to be very big. This may require screening off one end of the room with large door fronts that appear to be room dividers. Another way would be to build a large closet-effect cabinet. This will reduce clutter when the large screen is not in use. However, sufficient room must be allowed so that the air can circulate around the equipment when not in use.

Several factors must be taken into account when choosing a system and evaluating a room for it. If your room is fairly large you may require acoustic enhancement which could mean redecorating the ceiling, walls and floor. Acoustics (and sight lines for that matter) must be considered not only for the back of the room, but also out to the sides.

Along with this comes choosing the speaker size and the location, for instance, do you want free standing speakers or built in ones? You may also want to consider heavy duty wiring.

You will want to choose the size of the screen, remembering that too big is as bad as too small. Calculate how far you will be sitting from the screen and take the manufacturer's advice. If you are too close to a large screen you will always see certain distortions that are missed at a distance further away. This is also the time to decide if you want to consider buying a wall mounted swivel for your screen.

Part of the professionalism of a home theater is the lighting and this includes light-proof drapes. Remote control lighting is great, so that the whole audience - including you - can be seated as the lights go down!

Finally you will have to think about decor, shelving for all your DVD's, some sort of end table/coffee table placement and of course lots of seats. The norm is for two large sofas on each side wall and three or four armchairs, at the end of the room. This will allow for ten people.

With regard to increasing the property, home theaters is a pull that may increase the numbers of home- viewers but may only add value to your home for the right buyer (unlike say, a garage which increases the value for almost every buyer.)

One of the obvious ways to hedge your bets here is to choose home theater equipment that is easy to dismantle and therefore can be moved into your next home. If you do plan to do this you will need to ensure that the technology is adaptable. You will also be well advised not to buy your equipment too big, as the next home is an unknown factor.

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