These Home Improvements Projects Are a Waste of Money

Everyone wants their home to look great and maybe even increase its value. So, it’s common to think about making some changes or upgrades. But here’s the thing: not all home improvements are worth the cash you put into them. Some might look good but won’t add much value to your house. In this article, we’re going to tell you about the home projects that might just be a waste of your money.

Understanding Home Projects

Home improvements, at their core, are projects or upgrades undertaken to enhance the appearance, functionality, or value of a residence. They can be small like painting a room a new color, to larger endeavors such as adding a new room or renovating the kitchen.

Understanding ROI

Return on Investment (ROI) is a financial metric often used to measure the likelihood of gaining a return from an investment. When applied to home improvements, it means assessing how much value a particular project adds to your home compared to its cost. For instance, if you spend $10,000 on a project and it increases your home’s value by $5,000, your ROI is negative. Conversely, if that project boosts your home’s value by $15,000, then you’ve made a profit and have a positive ROI.

The Downside of Certain Home Renovations

Now that we understand home improvements and ROI, let’s explore a few projects you might be familiar with. Whether inside or outside the home, some of these common projects might not be the wisest financial choices for our wallets.

Inside the Home

When it comes to interior home improvement projects, it’s important to think about both what you personally like and what most people might find appealing. From the paint colors to the entertainment room itself, there are potential pitfalls to be wary of. Let’s explore a few:

  • Wallpaper: Wallpaper is seeing a resurgence in modern interior design. However, the costs, averaging around $1,000 for a standard room, might not reflect a good ROI when selling. What’s more, potential buyers would most likely view wallpaper removal as a burdensome task.
  • Bold Colors: While a fresh coat of paint can boost a home’s sale price, steer clear of overly vibrant, dark, or daring shades. Neutral palettes tend to be more universally appealing and can rejuvenate a space effectively.
  • Wall-To-Wall Carpeting: If there are existing hardwood floors, it could be a major misstep to cover them with carpeting. In comparison carpet doesn’t add much value to a property as hardwood floors. The 2022 Remodeling Impact Report highlighted the value of refinishing hardwood floors, with an impressive 147% cost recovery.
  • Bars and Entertainment: Before dedicating a large portion of your budget and space to a built-in bar or entertainment room, consider if it aligns with current lifestyle vs your personal long-term goals. Not everyone wants or needs a bar in their home. If you decide to sell, it might limit your pool of interested buyers or lead to negotiations about remodeling the space back to its original state. To find out whether a wet bar would add value to your home, you’ll need to ask an experienced listing agent. Be sure it’s a realtor who has a strong grasp of your specific market.

Outside the Home

The external/curb appeal plays a vital role in influencing a potential buyer’s perception of a property. Here are areas to approach with caution when adding some pizzazz to outside of your home:

  • Overdone Landscaping: While a manicured lawn or garden can be a selling point, overly detailed landscaping may deter buyers. The maintenance required for complex designs could be overwhelming for some, and the appeal of certain aesthetic choices can be very subjective.
  • Landscape Lighting: While adding LED lights to your yard can boost its look, it might not be a solid financial investment. On average, landscape lighting costs can range from $2,100 to $4,900. The cost varies based on the type, how many you have, and features of the lights you choose. With each light fixture costing between $100 to $250 for installation, you may not see a full return on your investment.
  • Swimming Pool: Unless you’re in a consistently warm region, the value addition of a swimming pool might be limited. Building a pool averages at approximately $23k and $55k, but the ongoing cost can range between $3k and $6k. Additionally, pools can limit the appeal to certain buyers due to the associated maintenance, liability, and seasonal usage.
  • Outdoor Fire Features: While they add a touch of luxury and are perfect for evening gatherings, the financial return on outdoor fire features can be underwhelming. A typical fire feature with gas burners and a modest flagstone patio might set you back up to $9,000. However, the expected recovered cost is just around $5,000, translating to a 56% cost recovery, as highlighted in NAR’s 2023 report.
  • Garage Conversions: The allure of turning a garage into a rentable studio or a personal gym might be tempting, but it’s a move that may not pay off in the long run. Converting garages into living spaces costs between $6k and $26k. Also keep in mind, potential buyers might want a dedicated space for their vehicles, and altering the garage could diminish its value in their eyes.

In Closing

Home renovations are a blend of aspiration and practicality. While it’s fulfilling to customize our living spaces to our personal tastes, it’s equally essential to think about long-term value, especially if you think about selling later on. This article highlighted several renovation projects, both inside and outside the home, which might not offer the best return on investment. From kitchen upgrades and lighting decisions to external features like pools and firepits, homeowners must approach renovations with a discerning eye. Before making any significant changes, it’s always beneficial to research, plan, and, if necessary, consult with experts. Your home is a significant asset, and every decision made can impact its worth and appeal in the larger market.


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