What home improvement projects don't pay off at resale?

[BLOG] Published: 2021-10-04 - Updated: 2023-04-01

What home improvement projects don't pay off at resale?


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What home improvement projects don't pay off at resale?

Don't let your desire to improve your home depreciate its market value. Before you make your renovation idea become a reality, assess whether the investment will be worthwhile when it comes time to sell. Many home improvements add value but others can detract from it. It is important to note that dollars into a home don’t always translate into dollars out. Here are home improvement projects to skip as they don't pay off at resale.

1. Swimming Pools

While an infinity edge or above-ground swimming pool may appear to be the ultimate luxury to you, it may have a negative impact on the value of your home. Pools may pose a safety risk to families with small children. Buyers who don't want to lose a backyard or deal with additional energy, maintenance, or insurance and may see a pool as a detriment. Before adding a swimming pool it is important to consider whether it can be used all year round. A pool could be a great selling point if you live in Houston Texas, or Florida. But a swimming pool in Seattle would be a bad investment.

According to HomeAdvisor, an in-ground pool costs anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 which is not inclusive of the costs of water treatment and maintenance or safety devices such as a water alarm or a gate. For additional water features or other fancy extras, the cost can exceed $100,000. (ABC News, 2020)

ProTip Task: In the best climates for pools, it will add a maximum of 7% to your home’s value.


2. Replacing The Carpeting

Replacing the carpeting in your home makes it looks so clean and fresh, and it even makes the room appear larger. It's natural to imagine that because new carpets feel fantastic, they'll make a prospective buyer feel the same way about your home. If buyers enjoy the carpet you just installed, it makes them like the house more; and if they do not like carpet they'll decide right away what kind of carpet or flooring to replace it with. Once that selection has been made, they begin to assess how much the replacement will cost them. This will in return either make them less excited about your home or include that cost when they calculate an offer or counter offer.

According to Opendoor, having a carpet as the main flooring in a home reduces the value by $3,900, while having a carpet in the master bedroom decreases the value by $3,800. National Association of Realtors 2019 report projected that new wood flooring could add value, with sellers getting $1.06 for every dollar spent. (OpenDoor, 2020)

ProTip Task: Hire a professional steam cleaner to make your existing carpets look like they’re new instead of replacing the carpeting.


3. Garage Conversions

Expanding your garage or building one from scratch can have many benefits. It will provide plenty of storage, a safe place to keep your automobile, and space for recreational activities ranging from exercise to carpentry. Increasing the value of your home on the other hand is rarely on that list. The average garage expansion can range from $16,000 to $39,000 depending on factors such as region, floor type, construction, and materials according to HomeLight.

The average return for a garage addition is about 80% of the total project’s price which won’t make as much money as what you spent but it is much better than other home additions. Garage-related spending with minor projects like new garage doors or resurfacing the floor can get a better return on investment. These small project costs can go under $5,000 and can have a great curb appeal. (HomeLight, 2021)

ProTip Task: If your home is the only one without a garage in your area, adding one can benefit your home value.


4. DIY Painting

Poor painting workmanship that shows streaky, chipped or low-quality paint can cut off $1,700 of a home's sale price according to OpenDoor. A bold statement wall painting with loud colors, punchy wallpaper, or unique finishes can give the wrong message to a potential buyer. 

For any paintwork in your home, it is best to hire a professional to paint and this will ensure a more attractive result. (Opendoor, 2021)


5. High-End Landscaping

Improving your landscape might create a better first impression on appraisers and potential buyers, hence enhancing the perceived worth of your house. If you get carried away, you'll end up wasting money. Even if you are renovating to sell, keep in mind that purchasers will consider the cost of yard maintenance. If it appears to be costly to keep up, it may put off otherwise interested parties.

According to, a professional update to a quarter-acre lawn costs between $8,000 and $15,000, but can cost up to $20,000 if new soil and decks are added. However, if your home has terrible landscaping, upgrading to the level of your neighbors can boost your curb appeal sufficiently to make the effort worthwhile.


6. An Oversized Master Suite

It’s tempting to have a master bedroom addition that is big enough for a master bed, a spacious bathroom, and a big closet. When adding a master bedroom, you might want to think about the resale value considering that the next buyer might be as excited about the big bedroom as you are.

HomeAdvisor states that master suite projects come with different average costs depending on the shape and size. Below is a simple cost estimate of a master bedroom addition:

        Master bedroom Addition


A New Master Suite

$140 per square foot

A Master Bathroom


Upgrading a Master Bedroom

$4,000 to $10,000

Closet Remodeling

$5,000 to $10,000

Source: Home Advisor

A simple upgrade will cost you at least $10,000 while adding a new master suite from scratch will easily cost you $100,000. Whatever level of upgrade you have in mind, you will get about a 63% return on the work which means you’ve lost almost 40% of your investment, according to HomeAdvisor.

ProTip Task: Do not create man caves or she beds as they tend to reduce the general appeal, and also your final sale value.


8. A Chef-Type of Kitchen

A high-end kitchen could be the ultimate gift for you if you do love to cook. You will however be in for a surprise if you think such a huge overhaul will majorly impact resale value. Avoid overspending on the most expensive finishes and appliances. According to Remodeling magazine's 2020 Cost vs. Value report, this type of over-the-top kitchen renovation recoups just 54% of its cost in added value.

A basic kitchen remodels job with upgrades such as sinks or adding basic cabinets will cost $10,000 to $15,000 while a mid-range remodels that includes adding a new floor, countertops, or kitchen appliances will cost you up to $30,000. A major kitchen remodels with luxury additions can cost $50,000 or more. (Money Crashers, 2021)

ProTip Task: A great way to get significant returns is to upgrade your kitchen appliances while keeping them in the same spots nuzzled among the same cabinets and floor. If you purchase eco-friendly appliances and take advantage of all applicable tax breaks, the yields will be significant.

9. Luxury upgrades

Other luxury home improvement projects such as a sauna will not add value to your home. A sauna can be an additional cost of as much as $20,000 which buyers may not think that it is worth paying a premium for. Another addition can be a powder room which can be custom-made specifically to suit your house but you’re not necessarily going to get a return on it.

So How Do you Decide If An Improvement Project Is Worth The Cost?

1. Timeline consideration

There are two things to consider here: If you’re going to stay in your home for say the next 20 years, you can do anything you want with your space. But if you are looking to sell in the near future, keep in mind what home addition choices will appeal to your potential buyer.

2. Talk to an expert

Consult an expert like the one we have at Smart Remodeling LLC to ensure you are making informed choices that will favor you even in the next 5 years. Our contractors will explain to you what renovation or home additions entail while our designer will advise you on the best trends.

3. Get an appraisal

Get a certified appraiser in Houston to conduct an assessment to estimate the existing value of your home as well as its potential value after the changes.

4. Compare the features of other homes in your area

It is also important to ensure that your improvements are in line with the norms for your neighborhood. Compare your home with homes for sale in your area and attend open houses to have an idea.

Smart Remodeling LLC Know the projects that can pay off when resale 

In Houston, Texas, not every renovation project is worth your time or money. If and when you decide to sell your home, you may discover that you won't recoup the money you spent on home improvement projects. Talk to us today at Smart Remodeling LLC for the best advice on home additions and improvement projects that will pay off at resale.

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