6 Worst Home Improvement Projects and What To Do Instead

6 Worst Home Improvement Projects and What To Do Instead

July 18, 2022
Martin Whitmore, President of US Window & Door
home improvement projects

Your home isn't just a source of pride or a place where you can relax after a long day; it's also an investment in your family's future. And while it's natural to want to make improvements to increase your home's resale value, some renovations will actually cost you money in the long run. Just because you see something as an improvement doesn't mean a potential buyer will feel the same way. Find out which renovations are ones to avoid.

Adding High-End Kitchen Appliances

While updating an older kitchen can be an investment you see a satisfying return on, that's only the case if you make smart sourcing and design decisions along the way. The biggest mistake you can make is opting for the most expensive finishes, commercial-grade appliances, and extra bells and whistles. Don't spend thousands on expensive kitchen appliances that have a low return on investment. 

Spending tens of thousands of dollars on a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a pot filler faucet, a wine fridge, and an oversized range hood may improve your home culinary experience, but the return on investment on upscale kitchens is surprisingly low—just 59.7 percent, according to Remodeling magazine's 2019 Cost vs. Value report. Buyers don't want anything that's going to be a major energy drain. 

What To Do Instead

Instead, opt for more affordable but energy-conscious kitchen appliances. The reason is simple. Energy-efficient appliances have great resale value. So you can invest in them without hanging on to any second thoughts.

Another important thing to note here is how the presence of energy-efficient appliances in your home can attract a lot of potential buyers. As a matter of fact, many homebuyers look for a well-furnished house with electrical appliances in place as they don't want to spend their time and efforts replacing their old items or purchasing new ones. So if you are already providing them with whatever they wish for in a home, they will definitely like to buy from you, eventually boosting the resale value of your house. If you already have new appliances in your home, you can further increase the home value by replacing your doors and windows in San Diego with EnergyStar-certified ones. 

Creating a Home Office

Despite the fact that most people are now working remotely, a private office is usually too niche of an addition to earn much cash from a potential buyer. The more attractive to the mass market, the better when selling a home. The more personalized something is, the bigger a turn-off it is to the majority of buyers. So, how little will you recoup for that office? According to a report from Money Crashers, a home office has just a 46 percent ROI.

What To Do Instead 

This seems counterintuitive, but if you've had your eye on a new bedroom set, consider splurging before you sell your house—new furniture can do wonders when you're staging to sell. Dated furniture can make the entire space look old. A great headboard and dresser can change the aesthetics of an entire room.

Instead, you want to stage your bedrooms for sale. For a budget-friendly alternative to new furniture, try creating a focal wall behind the bed's headboard. There are a lot of ways to do this and get an elevated look and add value without breaking the bank. Think about using paint, wallpaper, or board and batten. You'll also want to swap dingy bedding for something a little more photogenic.

The bed is the focal point in every bedroom. Coordinating bedding and pillows can make a huge difference in the first impression. Finally, remember to remove any personal touches that will make it hard for buyers to see themselves in the space.

Takedown any large family photos in the bedrooms and replace them with artwork that won't distract from the room. This simple trick can help buyers visualize themselves living there rather than feeling like a visitor in someone else's home.

Using Quirky Wallpaper 

While you might love a particular design or pattern in wallpapers, you probably won't get much attention from people who hate it. Over-styling your house won't make you more money. 

Wallpaper may seem like a great option when you're decorating for yourself, and a high-end design can certainly lend a property a touch of class. That being said, people have varying tastes, and your choice may not be everyone's cup of tea. When buying a property, a lot of people enter with plans to redecorate, and that's where wallpaper can become problematic, as it's tricky and expensive to remove. Plus, the money you've spent on high-end wallpaper has gone down the drain. Instead, stick to painted walls, which are easy to cover up if necessary.

What To Do Instead 

Instead, choose to have a fresh coat of paint applied to give your house a fresh look to potential buyers. Painting your home is one of the most rewarding home improvement projects. It makes your home feel warm and inviting, improves curb appeal, and can also increase its resale value. A fresh coat of paint also protects the surfaces from premature aging. It can make your home feel like new again.

Protects Your Home

For most people, the home is their most valuable asset, and paint help protects that investment by bonding to the walls and other exterior surface materials. It acts as a protective coating against dirt, moisture, and UV radiation that can accelerate normal wear and tear. However, over time the surfaces fade in the sun or peel and crack due to weather exposing the underlying material. Periodically re-painting protects these surfaces. Also, newer exterior paint formulations now provide more protection against UV radiation and moisture. They last longer, too, requiring less frequent house painting.

Improves Appearance

When the exterior paint of your home begins to fade, it makes it look dated and run down. Exterior house painting is an easy and affordable way to give your home an instant makeover. It will provide it with a new, modern appearance that will be the envy of the neighborhood. To make an even bigger splash, try one of the trendy colors like Accessible Beige, Bracken Slate, and Kendall Charcoal from Benjamin Moore. When painting your home, don't forget to paint the trim, shutters, front door, and exterior doors.

Home Value

Giving your home a new coat of paint will improve curb appeal and resale value. The key is to keep an eye on color trends and use color combinations that improve its appearance. It's not just the color choice but the wow factor it offers.

Converting a Room into a Walk-in Closet

No matter how small a room is, turning it into a walk-in closet is a bad home renovation idea. Doing this effectively reduces the number of your rooms in the house, which makes it look smaller. It may seem like that tiny nursery would be put to better use as storage space, but converting a bedroom—no matter how small—into a walk-in closet is a mistake. By removing a bedroom, you are effectively removing a room. This becomes a psychological barrier for buyers: They can't get over the fact that your home is now 'smaller' or offers 'less' than other homes in the area.

What To Do Instead 

Instead, leave the room empty if you have no use for it. This will allow potential buyers to see what they can do with the space provided. Who doesn't want more closet space? The best update someone can make (to the bedroom) is adding a closet system or organizer. There are many varieties, and they add instant value to your home. Adding a simple closet organizer can help buyers visualize how they'll neatly store their clothes.

large room space near the window

It can create an experience in a closet instead of that area being a forgotten space behind a closed door. Simply decluttering can also make a small closet look bigger. If you have a room without a closet, consider purchasing an armoire to show how buyers will be able to stow their stuff.

Installing Marble Counters 

Marble counters are undeniably pricey to install, starting at $40 per square foot. But don't expect them to earn you extra cash when it comes time to sell your house. They look great, but they stain, and the upkeep is unrealistic; the same with slate, which also scratches. 

What to do instead

Go with quartz or granite instead. There are numerous types of countertops available in the market, and it is often a challenge for many house owners to decide which countertop they should go for. Made from one of the hardest materials found on the planet, quartz countertops are probably the most durable countertops available. Granite countertops are beautiful and scratch resistant as well.

Building a Swimming Pool 

While it might sound nice to take a dip on a scorching summer day, a swimming pool might actually decrease your home's value. One of the most iconic luxury items you could add to your home, a pool provides relief in the summer months and a more fun alternative to treadmills or stationary bikes. There's also something about owning one that says you've made it financially.

The trouble is, they're big, expensive projects. Even a simple above-ground pool means testing the ground strength, leveling the footprint, and installing some kind of water source.

An in-ground pool costs anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000, according to Home Advisor, not including the costs of maintenance and water treatment or necessary safety devices like a gated fence and water alarm. Pools with water features or other fancy extras can exceed $100,000.

Research at House Logic indicates that in the best climates for pools, it will add a maximum of 7% to your home's value. That means your home would need a value of over $400,000 for a simple pool to pay itself off with a very motivated buyer.

Often, a neighborhood with property values that might support a simple pool is fancy enough that a simple pool won't be enough to bump the price, and a better pool will be too costly to pay for itself.

milgard style line windows on house with pool

To make matters worse, not everybody wants a pool. When it comes time to sell, you'll be excluding a whole class of buyers who don't want the maintenance expense, want a more usable yard or simply don't want to swim. Due to the drowning risks for family members and the lawsuit risks from guests or trespassers getting injured, a home with a pool is usually far more expensive to insure. Your costs go beyond just the installation.

What To Do Instead

Instead, do some landscaping in your backyard to make it feel homier and welcoming for potential buyers. A healthy lawn, bright flowers, and lush greenery nourish us from the inside, providing oxygen as well as reducing stress and improving our quality of life. When your house is on the market, all the attention you've put into your landscaping reaps additional benefits: More interested buyers and a better asking price. Here are some basic things you can do to create striking curb appeal without having to spend too much: 

  • Cut and edge your grass: If you have a mower and edger, you can handle this yourself. Just make sure you don't cut your grass too short or too often, or you'll risk brown patches and more sunlight reaching the weeds, causing them to sprout.
  • Apply fresh mulch: Mulch helps soil retain moisture, reduces weeds, and makes a landscape look fresh.
  • Add beauty with groupings of flowers: Grouping a specific type or color of plant together in clusters of three, five, or seven creates a "drift" of plants that adds flow to your landscape and a stronger impact than just scattering them.
  • Punch up the garden: Using plants of varying sizes or planters with multiple tiers adds visual interest through height as well as depth, so the landscaping doesn't appear flat.
  • Stain your deck: Over time, weather can wreak havoc on a deck, causing the stain to fade or crack and leaving the wood vulnerable to rot. It's advisable to power-wash your deck and apply at least two new coats of stain to maintain the deck's look and integrity.
  • Refresh your patio: You can power-wash the patio and any seating as well to jettison any dirt and cobwebs.
  • Reduce noise and add privacy: If your house sits where buyers might think they'll hear road noise, enhance the oasis
  • feeling by reducing noise and adding privacy. You can do so by placing plants, bushes, and lawns to reduce noise. Even a water fountain can create white noise to mask road traffic noises. 

Start Your Home Improvement Project by Replacing Your Windows and Doors 

Upgrading your windows can pay off in more ways than one. If you choose the right windows, you'll make your home more energy-efficient. For those not looking to sell their home anytime soon, energy-efficient windows will help you save on your energy bills. One of the fastest and cheapest ways to transform the exterior of your home is with a new front door. Sometimes, just a coat of paint will do the trick. When you're considering replacing the front door, you will have several options. Some of the options will be rather inexpensive, while others fall into the luxury door category.

If you're ready to upgrade your windows or doors, let US Window & Door help. We offer energy-star certified Milgard products that improve energy efficiency and boost your home's curb appeal. Schedule an in-home estimate and let us help you improve your home's value.