Home Renovations That Aren’t Worth It — and Ones That Are

Home renovations can be expensive, and when you’re pouring thousands into your home, you want to know that some day if you sell your home, you’ll see that money again. While you can count on getting most of your money back on a renovation like a tasteful kitchen or bathroom update, the same can’t be said for renovations that can turn off potential buyers like room conversions and swimming pools.

Home Renovations That Aren’t Worth It

These expensive home renovations may appeal to you, but they’re not necessarily worth it for your home’s next owner — and that can hurt your home’s resale value and keep you from recouping your cost of the renovation. These renovations aren’t likely to help you sell your home.

Backyard Swimming Pools

A backyard oasis might sound like a worthwhile investment to you, and can be — if you plan to stay in your home for several years to enjoy it. Otherwise, don’t bother. Buyers are often turned off by swimming pools, as they are expensive and time consuming to maintain, and they pose a safety risk for young children. This can dramatically lower the available buyers for your home and the amount they’re willing to pay for it.

Home Theater Installations

You may think having a projection screen and leather seats for screening movies is a fantastic use of space in your home, but be careful: buyers may not agree with you. They might prefer to use the space as an office or bedroom instead — and promptly pull out all of the high end tech equipment and customization you spent thousands on, which they certainly won’t be willing to pay more for.

Room Conversions

It’s not just home theater rooms that can turn off buyers. Any major room conversion like turning a bedroom into a home office or gym can really hurt, especially if you’ve invested significantly in built ins or state of the art wiring that will have to be removed to use the space as a bedroom. And if you have to list your home with one less bedroom, you may even lose value.

New Carpet

New carpet used to be a common upgrade before putting a house on the market, but today, carpet is a turn off for many buyers. Instead of installing wall to wall new carpet for the purposes of selling your home, consider hardwood flooring.

Overly Personal Touches

Your house is your home, and you want to customize it to your needs and tastes. That’s fine — as long as you’re willing to pay the price when you sell your home. Baby blue countertops may make your kitchen look gorgeous to you (and the right buyer), but go with anything other than neutral, and you risk turning off the next owner of your home. Traditional, classic, and neutral finishes will offer the best resale value, as they appeal to more potential buyers.

High End Upgrades

In the average home, buyers aren’t looking for extremely high end materials. That means the value of the commercial range you installed in the kitchen or the high end faucets in your bathroom will be lost on potential buyers. Consider what other homes in your neighborhood look like first. If they are appointed with high end upgrades as well, you may want to go for it. Otherwise, don’t plan to get your value back at closing.


Typically patterned and colorful, wallpaper is something that’s tough to agree on. What looks great to you may be a major turn off for a buyer. And while it’s often easy to remove or paint over wallpaper after purchasing a home, buyers may move on to a home that’s more move in ready than your wallpaper clad one.

Extensive Landscaping

You’ve probably heard that curb appeal sells homes, and a big part of that is landscaping. But be careful not to take it too far. Extensive, expensive landscaping can be a turn off for buyers who don’t want to spend their weekends pruning their front yard — or pay someone else to. Aim for a clean and neat appearance to avoid scaring off buyers.

Anything Not Aligned With Your Neighborhood

Renovation projects can add value to your home, but be careful to not add too much value. Having the most expensive house in the neighborhood is not a good thing, and potential buyers may not be willing to pay for what you’ve put into it.

Home Renovations That Are Worth It

While there are many renovations that home buyers won’t appreciate, there are some that they’re often excited to see. A great kitchen or bathroom, added living space, and updates all around are almost universally appealing. Try these home renovations if you’re looking for a way to improve on the value of your home.

Kitchen Remodels

Kitchens (along with bathrooms) are one of the best places to recoup or even add value to your home. Everyone uses a kitchen, and it’s often the first place buyers will upgrade after they buy your home, so if it’s already done, your home becomes much more appealing. Updated finishes and appliances can go a long way in adding value to your home.

Bathroom Remodels

Like the kitchen, bathrooms are a place in the home that everyone notices and wants to be functional and stylish. If you have an ugly bathroom or two in your home, you can guarantee that home buyers will notice and be disappointed. That means remodeling your bathroom to make it more attractive and functional can pay off in a big way. But you don’t necessarily have to go down to the studs to see a great return. Often, home buyers are simply looking for updated finishes, meaning you can get by with updating tile, countertops, mirrors, and faucet hardware for a basic remodel.


Paint is one of the most inexpensive and easy ways to add value to your home. It updates the look of any room and can be done in less than a day. Of course, you’ll need to choose your colors carefully, or be ready to repaint in a neutral color to appeal to a broad audience of buyers.

Finished Basements

If you have an unfinished basement, you could have a great potential project below your feet. A finished basement adds living space to your home, often recreational or even an extra bedroom, and that strongly appeals to many buyers. This is especially helpful in small homes, where existing living space may need a boost from below.

Front Doors

Your front door isn’t often thought of as a major renovation project, but it’s one of the best places to make a great first impression for a buyer — and recoup your investment. A new door adds to your curb appeal, and at a typical $500 to $1,000 cost installed can be a quick, low cost boost to your home’s value.

Backyard Decks

While a pool in your backyard doesn’t necessarily appeal to every buyer, a backyard deck probably will. This is a somewhat inexpensive way to add value and function to your home as you encourage buyers to imagine drinking their coffee on the deck every morning.

Solar Power

As more home buyers place a value on energy efficient homes, houses with solar power become more valuable. Homes with solar power already installed are especially appealing to home buyers, as they can avoid the hassles and red tape of installation. Plus, they’ll be walking away from your open house dreaming of all the free power your solar panels will produce for them.

The Bottom Line on Home Renovation Values

While there’s no question that some home renovations are better than others, and some can help your home’s value while others hurt it, this is ultimately your home and you should do what you want with it. The bottom line is that you will lose money on practically every renovation, as it is rare that a renovation will give you back what you put in to get it. You should do the upgrades that are the most appealing to you and that you can enjoy while you own the home.
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