ATLANTA - You've probably heard the standard advice about which renovation projects make sense, give you the greatest return on your investment. You know, revamp the bathroom, don't put in a pool. Well, this is not that. Here's a whole new perspective.
Celebrity contractor Chip Wade gives us a fresh, new way to look at how you should or maybe shouldn't spend your money.
"With renovation it's really about knowing more about how you want to live in your environment. And that's a step everyone skips over too fast," said Chip Wade of HGTV's "Elbow Room."
This Georgia Tech grad said, if you don't plan your renovation for how you actually live, you waste money, plain and simple. Engineer turned home renovator said start by knowing that you rarely get a full return on your renovation investment, so you want to plan wisely.
"From a recent study from the Association of Realtors, there is one thing that you can do, generically speaking across the board, which is to replace your front door which gives you on average 101 percent return on your investment. Every other item, whether it's your kitchen, your bathroom, it's 60 or 70 percent return on your investment," he said.
Let's start in the kitchen where renovation is expensive. This Atlanta native says take everything - I'm mean everything - out of the cabinets and drawers and put them in another room. Now, put back only what you use or need.
"What that is going to do is eliminate about 30 percent of the overall volume you need in your kitchen," he revealed. "Cabinets are super expensive. Imagine now, if you can, if you didn't have to have 30 percent of those cabinets, and you strike 30 percent off of that bill."
Here's a perfect example. Janice Young just renovated her North Fulton kitchen.
"There's no upper cabinets, so it's all floating shelves, and I just love having to have everything open like that. It saved us a ton of money," she said smiling.
Chip told me you can apply this logic of paring down what you won't use to any remodeling job. And always ask yourself this question....
"How is it going to increase my current lifestyle for the next five to 10 years and is it worth that investment?"
Here's another cost-cutting strategy, ask yourself why you want to renovate a room. Is it to better entertain? Well, before you spend the money start having gatherings now. Find out where that space is deficient. Maybe you just need a few upgrades not the $25,000 renovation you thought you needed.
Many of us pick photos out of a magazine and want to replicate it. Not a bad starting point, but here's an exercise Chip Wade suggests you should try before making it your own.
"I always have all of my clients write down a list of adjectives, what describes how they want to live."
Then write down what bothers you about your current space.
"Is it a room that's messy? Why is it messy? Is it a room that's too cramped? Why is it too cramped?"
In reality, to get the most out of your renovation you will have to modify that magazine picture to fit how you really live. But we would be remiss if we didn't check in with a financial advisor about the right way to finance a renovation.
"The thought is that you don't want to dip into the equity of your house then turn around and roll it into a 30-year mortgage when you know 15 years from now you'll have to remodel again," said the Morgan Stanley Senior Vice President.
Chip's next project hits the DIY Network this month. It's called "Super Great Rooms." It is shot locally and applies all of these techniques to make your renovations work at the right price.