4 Renovations That Will Devalue Your Home

It turns out that not all home improvement projects are a good idea.

By Money Crashers|Jan. 20, 2011By Money Crashers|Jan. 20, 2011, at 2:38 p.m.

Renovations That Will Devalue Your Home


Most homeowners think that all renovations or home improvement project ideas will increase the value of their property. After all, who wouldn't love a super-deluxe kitchen, or a bathroom fancy enough to be in a five-star spa? Sure, we'd all love that. But the problem is that most people don't want to pay extra for someone else's pet project when it comes to buying a home.

Homeowners should of course invest in renovations that are going to make them happy and improve quality of life. It is "home" after all! But if you're going to be putting your home on the market any time soon or are in the business of flipping houses, certain upgrades could end up doing you more harm than good.

[In pictures: 10 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2011.]

If you think you might be selling your home sooner than later, here are four improvements to avoid:

1. Over-the-Top Kitchen Renovations: You may love gourmet cooking, so a $30,000 kitchen upgrade might be just to your liking. But this could be a turnoff for potential buyers who aren't crazy about cooking. To them, the restaurant-sized stainless-steel stove, kitchen island and fridge just seem excessive, and they're not going to want to pay for them. Instead, they'll pass on your home and end up buying one with a regular kitchen.

Take a look at some kitchen remodeling ideas on a budget. You can still enjoy an upgraded kitchen without going overboard and compromising the value of your home. In fact, remodeling a kitchen for less than $1,000 is definitely a possibility.

2. Over-the-Top Bathroom Renovations: That ultra-deep jacuzzi tub and custom Kohler 360-degree shower you just installed might make your mornings a blast. But to budget or eco-minded buyers, all that water use is going to be a serious drawback. As with your kitchen, keep your bathroom remodeling ideas modest if you think you'll be putting your home on the market any time soon.

3. A Pool or Hot Tub: Yes, a pool addition can add significant value to your home (11 percent on average in the Southwest, but only 6 percent in the Midwest where the swimming season is much shorter). If it's above-ground, though, then knock 2 percent of your home's purchase price, since they're less appealing than in-ground pools. The problem is that pools are polarizing. There are constant swimming pool costs ($1,500 on average per year) and they require a lot of maintenance.

They're also a liability, especially for families with young children, and could affect your homeowners insurance coverage. Pools will limit how many people want to buy your home, so keep that in mind before you have one installed (or consider buying a home with an existing pool).

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4 Renovations That Will Devalue Your Home

4. Overly Specialized Rooms: So, you just tore down the garage (which you never used) and built a four-season sunroom which resembles an English manor conservatory. You're thrilled, but your potential buyers are going to be rolling their eyes. Where are they going to park the car and store the lawn mower and all their kids' sport equipment? Installing nontraditional customized rooms (like indoor basketball courts or a basement music studio) is great if you're going to be in your home for awhile. But potential buyers are likely to see this as a waste of space, and a project (and expense) they'll have to deal with if they buy your home.

Final Word: We all want to live in a home that reflects our tastes and interests, and our homes should be exactly how we want them to be. Just keep in mind that if you plan to sell your home in the near future, those upgrades and expensive renovations might end up devaluing the home you're trying to sell for top dollar.

Heather Levin contributes to the personal finance blog, MoneyCrashers.com, and writes about green living ideas and tips for saving money on The Greenest Dollar.

Tags: personal finance

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