THE COST/BENEFIT RATIO
Now that you know who's really the boss, it is time to get down to business and decide what you are going to add on to the house.
Think big. If you have five-thousand dollars in the bank, you want to build something that costs in the neighborhood of thirty or forty-thou. If you've got that socked away already, think bowling alley. A three-car garage would be nice too. Like the federal government, you want to expand your domicile until it encroaches on all your neighbors. Remember, bigger is better and the more you can leverage with a home improvement loan, the more space you will have to impress your in-laws when they visit.
In other words, practicality should in no way be a consideration in your decision. If you have plumbing near one wall, plan your bathroom on the opposite wall. You will find that your wife will be extremely helpful in coming up with suggestions that will prove impractical even factoring in the use of heavy equipment or a couple man years of labor. I have a simple rule, if you don't have to rip into an existing wall to remodel, then it's not worth doing. I have even built walls just so I could tear them down again (though not on purpose).
"If cost and practicality mean nothing," you ask, "then what is important?"
The most significant consideration in your deliberation is (after rooting around in your garage or basement) to determine what tools you do not already have and how many you think you can talk your wife into letting you buy. In other words, tie the project to equipment you have always wanted. If you want a radial arm saw, tell your wife that you want to put a second story over the garage, and your skill saw is insufficient. You want a new cordless power drill? Then build a bookcase. If you want a new pickup truck, add on to the garage. This last item is a great idea because there is a circular logic to it. That is, you need the truck to haul the materials from the lumber yard, and you need the garage space to shelter your new truck. It's perfect.
This is where the decision making problem will again rear its ugly head. Wives tend to be impractical creatures when it comes to deciding the form the addition will take. If you want more garage space, she is going to want a room for a baby that is on the way. If you want a new den for your big-screen TV, she is sure to tell you that she needs to expand the size of the kitchen. You know she isn't going to fall for the arm wrestling routine twice. So, when she confronts you with her demands, confuse her by taking the intellectual approach. There are three words that will stop her dead in her tracks. They are Cost, Benefit and Ratio. Those three words will allow you to justify any project you want. Just point out to her that certain projects return more benefits for the dollar invested. When you are at home, you want to enjoy yourself, right? You want to escape the workaday world. You would be willing to spend a couple-ten-thousand dollars and invest all of your spare time for two or three years to achieve this end. That is the advantage of a new den. What in the world do you get out of a remodeled kitchen? The old stove may be a fire waiting to happen, but it still cranks out the corn muffins; doesn't it? The old cupboards still hold dishes. The old sink is corroded with hard water built up from that leaky faucet, but, hey, the dishwasher still gets the plates wet. Given the choice between kitchen and den, the greater need is obvious. By the way, be sure to pick out the big screen TV in advance so you can figure where you are going to build in the entertainment center.
If saying Cost/Benefit Ratio several times in a sentence does not overcome your wife's arguments for the kitchen, there is another accounting term you can use in combination with the CBR: Return on Investment, or ROI.
Any real estate wizard will tell you that adding certain things onto your home will add value. You don't want to build a nursery for twenty-thousand dollars when it will only increase the value of your home by ten-thousand dollars. Tell her that opinion polls reveal that a new den or garage increases the sale price of a home far beyond anything SHE might want. Hopefully she won't ask who conducted the poll. You don't want to tell her you were only talking to a few of the guys at the office.