The Worst Home Improvements to Make as a Homeowner

The worst home improvements are those that are expensive, but return very little on your investment. As a homeowner, you may be considering home improvements for a number of reasons including a need for more space, an updated look or an increase in your homes value. The right home improvements can address all these needs, while the worst home improvements will simply consume time and money.

The Worst Home Improvements For Your Dollar

Check with the home office. Although more and more people are working from home, most homebuyers are looking for the most versatile space they can find. Special purpose rooms like a home office make the worst home improvements because you may realize very little return on your investment if your buyer isn’t interested in this type of feature. Exception: turning an area of wasted space into a home office (like a closet or nook) can have the impact of adding a room, and be a smart investment.

A sunny spot. While a sunroom may take advantage of a bright spot on your property, many perspective buyers see it as a place they’ll seldom use that may require extra cleaning and heating costs. On average, a sunroom addition returns roughly half of its cost when it comes time to sell your home. Exception: enclosing outdoor spaces such as terraces/patios, can add significant useful interior space to smaller apartments if winterized and usable all year long. Co-op/condo rules vary on this and may require you buy additional shares and pay additional maintenance.

Lavatory science. An extra bathroom may seem like a strong selling point, but adding a bathroom to your home can be expensive. Bathrooms need all the features that an ordinary room must have, but must also have plumbing and specialized fixtures that can drive the price well above a standard room addition. In general, a bathroom addition may provide a 60% return on investment, while an extra bedroom may return as much as 80% of its investment costs. Exception: Apartments that have space for a “back to back” bathroom (often converted from a closet that abuts the existing bath) can potentially be an inexpensive way to add a bath. Just make sure check with your building to see if this is permitted.

Any (car) port in a storm. Among the worst home improvements in terms of investment return is a garage addition. Adding a garage requires a strong foundation, new walls and a roof. While you see a haven for your cars and tools, most buyers just see it as a large un-heated space that they’ll use infrequently. Expect only a 60% return on money invested in a garage addition.

Exotic materials. Bamboo flooring and Italian marble backsplashes may sound sophisticated, but most buyers just see wood floors and a wall tiles. Expensive building materials may please your sense of style, but don’t expect most buyers to help you pick up the tab.

High tech toys. In the early 2000s, many homeowners spent thousands of dollars wiring their houses for high-speed data only to find that wireless networking made the investment worthless a few years later. One of the worst home improvements you can make is on costly technological features that may be obsolete before you put your house up for sale.

The cement pond. Although a pool may be a blessing on those hot summer days, don’t think of it as a home improvement that will return its value when it comes time to sell your home. Many buyers will see your outdoor oasis as a maintenance headache and safety hazard. As with most of the worst home improvements, you should only consider a swimming pool for your benefit and not as an investment.


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