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Home Improvements Gone Bad

Posted August 29th, 2010 under renovations and repairs.

Not all home improvements are really improvements—at least, not when it comes to the resale value of your home. When you make an improvement for the sake of increasing your home's value, make sure you choose carefully. Here are some tips:

  1. Re-shingling your roof with 50-year indestructible plastic or clay tiles, cedar shakes, or slate is overkill once you look at the cost. However, durable shingles are a worthwhile investment.
  2. Converting a bedroom or living room into a home office with built-in shelving and costly permanent upgrades such as custom lighting is usually a mistake. Very few buyers need or want a home office. Instead, try making functional improvements to the kitchen.
  3. Installing an in-ground pool (as discussed in my article ‘Pools Are For Swimming’) should only be done for your own pleasure. It's a turn-off for some buyers because of the cost of upkeep or of removal. A good compromise is to install an above-ground pool with an easily-removable deck.
  4. Converting a garage to a permanent living space isn't a good investment. Many buyers would prefer the garage! Instead, consider a basement apartment (where allowed), or adding an en suite bathroom or walk-in closet.
  5. Converting your paved driveway to interlocking stone is not a money-maker. It's attractive, but simply doesn't return much value. Instead, consider adding a smart-looking interlocking patio to your yard.
  6. Going overboard on bathroom improvements by installing a glassed double-size shower, bidet, hot tub, and putting marble everywhere is not necessary. Instead, make functional improvements where needed (such as improving an awkward layout or moving the toilet from a bad location),or, as above, consider adding an en suite bathroom if not already present.

The ‘bad’ improvements mentioned above certainly appeal to some buyers, and might help you sell your home, but you simply won't get the type of return that makes them worthwhile from a financial perspective. This is because they are too specific, compared to ‘good’ improvements which are universally desired.

When improving your home, first decide whether you are doing it for your own day-to-day enjoyment, or for the value it will return, or both. Then choose your renovations accordingly. It never hurts to get an unbiased professional opinion on the value of a potential renovation.

Want to know more about improving your resale value? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.

--Peter

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