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12 Home Renovations That Don’t Add Value (and What to Do Instead)

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Matt Chapman featured in original article by Jenna Hall with Redfin - Published March 08, 2023


If you’ve been considering selling your home, you may be wondering which home improvements you should tackle to increase your home’s value before it goes on the market. While there are many home renovations that can add appeal to your home, it’s important to know which projects will increase your property value and which won’t.


From upgrading your bathroom to building a sunroom, this article will help you determine which home improvement projects are worth your investment. Whether you’re preparing to sell your home in San Diego, CA, or your condo in Minneapolis, MN, here are 12 home renovations that don’t add value and what you should do instead.




1) Converting a bedroom into a closet

The number of bedrooms your home has is one of the main factors that determines your home’s value. It’s better to have a bedroom with a smaller closet than to create a large walk-in closet and lose a neighboring bedroom in the process.


Luxury Realtor, Diana Tommingo experienced first-hand how this renovation can hurt a home’s value. “The worst renovation I encountered was a bedroom turned into a walk-in closet in a 2-bedroom condo. The homeowners had installed a marble island in the middle of the room – similar to a kitchen island. Although gorgeous, it couldn’t be moved so the stager couldn’t give the room a different purpose. The closet island hurt the property value as it could only be sold as a 1-bedroom condo.”


Instead: Find storage solutions for small closets


You can increase the functionality of a closet without increasing the square footage. Try installing closet organizers or creating storage solutions like built-ins to make small closets more practical.


2) High-end fixtures

Although they may upgrade the look of a home, replacing your current fixtures with expensive, high-end alternatives is a home renovation that doesn’t add value. Installing custom faucets, ceiling fans, or lighting fixtures may sound like an easy way to elevate a room in your home, but these improvements won’t increase your home’s value enough to cover the cost it takes to purchase and install them.


Instead: Install fixtures that are affordable and high quality


If you want to upgrade the fixtures in your home, consider durable products, high quality, and budget-friendly. This’ll give your home the facelift you’re looking for, without losing money along the way.


Real Estate Advisor, and Broker Associate at Mountain Habitat, Dina Sanchez shares her insight, “Updating a kitchen doesn’t mean replacing cabinets, if they’re structurally good, then repainting or refinishing can make a big difference. Simply replacing hardware can create a new look.”


3) A sunroom addition

Sunrooms are tricky because some homebuyers love them while others find them unnecessary. Starting home renovations as large as enclosing your patio or deck to create a sunroom can be daunting, especially since there’s no guarantee it’ll increase your home’s value.


Nicholas McMillan, Real Estate Broker and Owner of Hire Realty LLC explains just how expensive a sunroom addition can be. “Building a sunroom can cost you around $25 per sq. foot for uninsulated spaces, and around $250-$300 per sq. foot for four-season sunrooms. However, unlike full-room additions, sunrooms often aren’t included in the square footage of a home. So, you can’t expect the same return on investment from adding a sunroom if you compare it to the other large home additions.”


Instead: Spruce up your deck or patio by repainting and adding greenery


Make the most out of your patio or deck by transforming it into a great bonus area for entertaining guests. You can turn your deck into an outdoor oasis or give your porch an upgrade by re-staining it or giving it a fresh coat of paint. You can also add plants and outdoor furniture to make your outdoor space feel like an inviting oasis.


4) Bold paint colors

If your walls need repainting, it may be tempting to create a statement wall by painting geometric patterns or using bold colors to make your home stand out. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same taste, and some homebuyers may see it as a wall they’ll have to repaint if they decide to purchase the house.


Instead: Repaint walls if needed and stick to neutrals


Repaint walls using neutral colors that can match any color palette. Repainting walls in neutral colors creates a blank slate for homebuyers, and it can make your home look modern and move-in ready.


5) Standing showers

If you’re looking to start a home renovation that’ll modernize the bathrooms in your home, the first thought that might cross your mind is to upgrade your shower tubs to standing showers. While this does provide a sleek look, it’s another example of home renovations that don’t add value.



Instead: Upgrade to some standing showers, but keep at least 1 bathtub


When executing home renovations to your home with the hopes of increasing your home’s value, it’s important to keep options open. Some buyers may like soaking in the tub or have small children and need to have a bathtub in their home. To keep your home practical, be sure to leave at least one bathtub in the home to appeal to every type of buyer.


6) Choosing to update an outdoor kitchen instead of an indoor kitchen

“Covered outdoor kitchens and living rooms are trending among homeowners, and buyers are enamored,” says Matthew Chapman, a Realtor at Chapman Homes. “A bonus living room in the great outdoors adds space to entertain and relax without paying for an addition.” Although buyers may love additional space for entertaining, the kitchen inside the home is more important.


Instead: Spend resources updating your indoor kitchen


Chapman continued by suggesting homeowners invest in their home’s kitchen first. “An outdoor kitchen isn’t a great investment if the kitchen inside is in desperate need of remodeling. When weighing options, choose to remodel the indoor kitchen before building an outdoor one.”


7) Trendy designs

Many homes are incorporating bold wallpaper, intricate tile, or mid-century furniture, and you may be tempted to add these trendy features to your home. As with any other trend, they tend to go out of style fast. If your home stays on the market long enough for the trend to go out of style, these features might make your home look outdated.


Instead: Stick to timeless and neutral features


Home design trends are constantly changing, but there are a few staples that’ll never go out of style. Choosing neutral paint colors, installing solid color tile, and choosing simple decor will make your house look great to any potential buyer – no matter their personal style.


“Homeowners should avoid going too extreme on personalization. That means sticking to standard design guidelines and neutral themes when updating your home.” Says Evan Harlow, a Realtor at Maui Elite Property.


He continues, “As design concepts change frequently, it’s extremely helpful to have a professional, like an interior designer, guide you through the home remodeling process to avoid any unnecessary design faux pas.”


8) Specialized high-end kitchen appliances

Costly home renovations like replacing outdated appliances with state-of-the-art appliances may make your kitchen look great, but you’ll likely not get a good return on investment on this project.

Jason Fox from The Madrona Group advises homeowners to replace appliances only if necessary. “If your kitchen has new cabinets, mosaic tile backsplash and quartz countertops and the builder model appliances, then yes, replace them. Just replacing appliances in a kitchen that’s in need of updating won’t add value to the home.”



Instead: Upgrade your kitchen by repainting cabinets, or installing budget-friendly fixtures


To give your kitchen a facelift, consider repainting your cabinets, upgrading light fixtures, or swapping out the main kitchen faucet. These simple changes are home improvements that add value to your home while being budget-friendly, and will make your kitchen look much more appealing to potential buyers.


9) Wall-to-wall carpeting

If your home has carpets that need replacing, it may not be the best option to replace the area with new carpet. Many homeowners are searching for homes with hardwood floors, and you want to avoid spending money installing brand-new carpet just to hear potential buyers say they would prefer a home with hardwood throughout.


Instead: Consider installing hardwood or neutral carpets


Homes with hardwood floors throughout often appraise for higher than homes that have equal parts hardwood and carpeted flooring. Consider installing hardwood or a hardwood alternative, like tile, in areas that need new flooring. If you choose to stick with carpeting, install carpets that are neutral and budget-friendly.


10) Converting a garage into an additional living space

“Fully converting a garage into a finished room such as an office may be appealing, but it can turn away potential buyers,” says Jennifer Beeler, a Real Estate Agent in Woodinville, WA. “When someone is shopping for a property, and they see garage doors, they expect a functional garage. Converting a garage is usually a costly project, and typically the construction is not properly permitted, so you’re not allowed to use the newly added square footage in your listing when it comes time to sell.”


Eric Andrews, Principal Broker at Bend Premier Real Estate echoes Beeler, “Garage conversions to more living space is a sure-fire way to hinder a sale or require a drastic price reduction to attract buyers. Even offering to convert the space back to a garage with an acceptable offer isn’t enough to overcome the displeasure buyers voice on these homes.”


Instead: Tidy up your garage and make it more functional


Start by removing any unnecessary items and clutter by grouping similar items together and labeling boxes or containers. Consider adding shelving or storage solutions to maximize space and keep everything off the floor. Also, installing proper lighting will make the space feel bigger and more inviting.



11) Landscaping

Investing in top-of-the-line landscaping may increase your home’s curb appeal, but Realtor Lance Owens at Kona Home Team advises homeowners from spending too much money on this project.


“When a seller has a lot of landscaping, buyers love it – to look at.” says Owens. “They don’t want all the maintenance that comes with it. I’ve seen extensive landscaping many times (in Hawaii you can grow fruit, flowers, vegetables, year-round) but that also comes with a lot of maintenance and a high price tag. Buyers want simple maintenance – maybe throw in a banana tree, a lime tree, and an avocado – don’t go too extensive.


Instead: Keep landscaping simple and easy to maintain


To landscape your home for sale, start by cleaning up any debris or clutter in your yard and trimming overgrown trees or shrubs. Adding fresh mulch and planting colorful flowers or plants can help create an inviting and visually appealing outdoor space. Finally, adding outdoor lighting and updating your mailbox can also improve the overall look and feel of your home.


12) Open floor plan conversion

“While open floor plans have become increasingly popular, it’s important to recognize that they may not be practical for all homeowners” suggests Realtor Mudassar Ather from Sky Range Realty. “Some buyers may prefer the privacy and separation that comes with individual rooms, and by removing walls to create an open floor plan, the homeowner may be limiting the appeal of the home.”



Instead: Consider other ways to create a sense of space


Other recommends sellers to get creative with their home. “Homeowners may want to consider other ways to create a sense of space, such as installing large windows or utilizing furniture to define different areas. As always, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of any renovation before committing to it.”


Bonus: Does a pool add value to your home?

There are plenty of factors to consider when answering this question. The simple answer is, it depends on your location and what the buyer is looking for. A home with a pool in warmer climates like Arizona and Florida will likely increase in value since it can be enjoyed year-round. Meanwhile, a home located in northern states like North Dakota or Minnesota will likely not see this same increase in value.



Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Daniel Akerman from Queens Home Team shares his insight on this topic. “Installing a pool might seem like a nice luxury and a worthwhile investment to a home, but it should be avoided. First of all, rather than actually improving your property value, it can actually lower your property value. Many buyers simply don’t have much use or desire for a pool, don’t want the hassle and expense of maintaining one, and would rather have the yard space.”


Akerman continues, “Add all of that plus the cost of installation, and potential home insurance considerations, and this is one renovation homeowners should definitely stay away from.”

Another factor to consider is that many people find a pool a liability rather than a perk. Families with small children or pets can see the pool as a hazard. If you’re renovating your home to put it on the market, it’s probably best to try other home renovations that are more likely to increase your home’s value.




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