Increasing potential buyer motivation is a primary reason for most renovations. Many homeowners reno their houses so they can enjoy a nicer home now and sell their property for a higher profit later.
A renovation can make almost any house go from shabby to chic. When a home has ugly wallpaper, a 1970s kitchen, or brown shag carpet, it may deter potential buyers from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of their hard-earned cash on a property where they can’t see potential.
But when that home is gutted and you add some granite counters, travertine tile, hardwood floors, and crown molding, it’s a bit easier for a buyer to picture him or herself living in the updated home.
While some remodels, like decks and minor kitchen facelifts, are almost always winners, there are a handful of renovations that are more trouble that they’re worth. These are renos that will not earn you any type of significant return, and they could even end up costing you. Using information from Bankrate, HGTV, and supplemental reports, we found some of the worst home renovations in the following pages.
1. Home office (average return: 48.9%)
According to Bankrate, you can shell out around $28,000 for a new home office. Sure, you’ll have your own space where you can quietly work in peace, but you’ll earn less than $14,000 of this cost back when you sell your home.
Now, $28,000 may sound like a lot, and that’s because it is a really high quote. This price will get you a “professional-grade workspace loaded with super-durable commercial-grade carpet and floor-to-ceiling hardwood built-ins,” said Sal Alfano, editorial director of Remodeling Magazine, to Bankrate.
Even if you go with a cheaper space office space, if you turn one room of your home into a space that can be used only as an office or library, you’ll likely earn a lower return. Buyers like choices and functionality. The key is finding options that appeal to a large audience, as opposed to only appealing to those who need a designated home office.
2. Overly fancy spaces (average return: between 56% and 58.4%)
While using quality materials is almost always the best way to go, there’s definitely a line between classy and over the top. Most buyers want something that looks nice and will last a long time. However, ornate or luxurious designs can be a deterrent in many cases.
An extremely upscale master bedroom suite, with amenities ranging from a kitchenette to a sitting room to a high-end fireplace, comes with a cost of around $225,000. Although you may enjoy your stay in your personal hotel room each night, you’re not going to receive a high return on your lavish investment, as your master suite will add only around $126,000 to the value of your home, depending on the location and price of your home before the remodel.
The same applies for any room in your home. In terms of cost and style, the type of remodel should match the rest of your home and also your neighborhood. “To get the best return on your investment, scour local listings to see what’s standard in your area, and then bring your decor up to speed — but don’t leave the Joneses in the dust,” reports HGTV.
3. Poorly constructed anything (could result in a loss)
Quality construction is essential in any home renovation. As a DIY renovator, this means gutting everything properly, completing all prep work, and paying attention to details.
If you hire a contractor, make sure you hire someone you can trust. If you are unfamiliar with the business, this may require a bit of homework. Conduct research, read reviews, and ask around until you find someone with an excellent reputation. A good contractor is going to cost you a chunk of change. The National Kitchen and Bath Association estimates the cost of labor for the average bathroom remodel at around $6,600. This cost does not include materials or backend costs, which are around an additional $9,400.
If a contractor offers you budget labor, this may mean they’re going to provide you with budget-quality work. Paying the extra money is worth avoiding slanted floors and leaking bathrooms.
4. Specialized spaces (less than 60% return)
It’s great to make your home your own, but for resale purposes, creating spaces that only you will like can result in potential lost profits. If you transform your dining room into a wine room or your living room into a miniature bowling alley, for instance, this may not be the best long-term financial decision. “Whatever your pet project may be, don’t expect every potential buyer to share your enthusiasm,” according to one HGTV publication.
An illustrative renovation is a decked-out garage. Complete with heating, cooling, windows, floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves, and work bench areas, an $82,000 finished garage may serve as the perfect man cave. You may be disappointed at resale, however, when you only receive about $48,000 (58.4 percent) of that money back.
5. Roofing (less than a 60% return)
Some remodeling projects, like a quality front door, increase a home’s curb appeal and therefore drive up the home’s value. A roof, however, does not seem to have that same effect. “Buyers think of a roof as a bare necessity — not a luxury that will inspire them to shell out extra cash,” says HGTV.
Paying thousands of dollars for a roof for decorative purposes will not bring in the big bucks in resale value. Forbes reports the average cost of a midrange roof replacement at around $21,500, and the average cost of an upscale roof is higher, at around $38,000. When you sell your home, you’re going to get less than 60 percent of this cost back.
On the same token, a cracked or damaged roof is also a scare to investors, so if you have a damaged roof, it’s certainly worth repairing or replacing.