Many people have spent the lockdown sprucing up their homes with DIY projects. And while it’s natural to want to make improvements, some home renovations can actually cost you money in the long run.
Before you make your next alteration fantasy a reality, consider whether the project will pay off when you’re ready to sell.
Plenty of home improvements add value, but others – like these – can hurt it.
Merging and converting bedrooms
Turning a spare bedroom into an entertainment area or merging two bedrooms into one top the list of bad home renovations you can make, especially if your house now has fewer bedrooms than similar properties.
“If you go from five bedrooms to four, and you can make it work, no big deal,” says Chris Arienti, a Boston-based property broker. But he cautions that losing a bedroom in a smaller house could mean a lower selling price.
With the ongoing pandemic boosting the “work from home” trend, many people are opting to turn their spare room into a home office.
This could knock as much as 10 percent off the value of your house, reports Moneyversed. If you have to use a bedroom, avoid bulky desks and shelving units so the room can easily be changed back.
Wallpapering rooms in your home
There’s a reason why most estate agents recommend removing wallpaper in a house to make it more saleable, says US-based property expert Bill Gassett.
“It doesn’t matter that you spent thousands on an interior decorator either. Don’t bet on the fact that there will be buyers that love your wallpaper,” he says.
“The odds of that happening are slim. If you only have a room or two with wallpaper that might not be the end of the world. If you have more wallpaper than that, expect selling your home to be difficult.”
Bill adds that just like too much wallpaper, texture on walls and ceilings is another hard sell.
“If buyers look at your home and decide that they’ll need to remove texturing you just added, they may lower their price to account for all that hard work ahead of them.”
Removing storage spaces
“Converting a garage can seem like it would add value as you are increasing the size and use of the property, but at the same time, it can detract value by removing parking or storage space. We have found that parking and storage is always high on a buyer’s checklist,” advises British broker and property specialist Paul Keighley.
He cautions that anther way in which people often make their homes harder to sell is when they increase bedroom space by removing coveted cupboard space.
“When it comes to removing a large closet, this can devalue your home due to lack of storage space. However, if the closet was renovated and made into an en suite, this could add value to the property and would be more valuable than a closet – providing the conversion isn’t poorly executed with lousy workmanship.”
Making your yard smaller
Think twice before you swop outdoor space for a spacious family room. Extensions that cut into your yard, can hurt your house’s value more than they help.
“While some families want some kind of outdoor living space, you’ll detract value from your home if your futon squeezes out play space, lawn, pet areas and gardens,” says Colby Sambrotto, president of USRealty.com.
According to property experts, it’s best to keep your renovations consistent with the neighbourhood.
“Stand on the sidewalk and look at the other houses,” writes Katie Severance, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Home. “Is what you’re planning consistent with the scale of the other houses?”
Lavish garden features and pools
Paul Keighley warns that potential buyers may view swimming pools, hot tubs and ponds as problematic due to the maintenance required.
“Generally people stop using them within a couple of months, so they don't seem worth the cost,” he says, adding that many potential buyers also view pools as dangerous, especially families with young children.
“They may love your home but may decline interest out of fear their child cannot be in their home safely, unsupervised.”
Sabine H Schoenberg, a home improvement expert and founder of SabinesHome.com, agrees and warns that while a pool may be fun for you and your family, don’t expect it to add a lot to your home’s value.
“It’s not something that’s value-enhancing to a lot of people.”
A chef-quality kitchen
The kitchen is often seen as the heart of a home, and it’s a project many homeowners save up for. But if you think a massive overhaul will majorly boost resale value, you might be in for a surprise.
An upscale kitchen renovation recoups just 54% of its cost in added value, according to Remodelling magazine’s 2020 Cost vs Value report.
“If you do marble countertops and high-end appliances, you could spend $100 000 (R1,64 million) and it doesn’t necessarily mean your house is worth an extra $100 000 (R1,64 million),” says Beatrice de Jong, a San Francisco-based consumer trends expert.
Smaller kitchen upgrades could yield a bigger payoff, Chris Arienti says, suggesting that you keep updates reasonable.
To avoid kitchen renovation mistakes that won’t give you a return on investment, try to focus on which aspects of the kitchen are most outdated or worn and consider selecting mid-range appliances rather than the expensive high-end options.