10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comA couple weeks ago, I posted 10 home updates that actually pay off and add value to your home, in terms of resale value. It ended up being a popular topic, so I figured it might be helpful to share the flip side of that post as well! Today, I’ve got 10 home updates to SKIP or be mindful of, based on return on investment (or ROI). If you’re not in your forever home and are planning to list your house someday, you might consider skipping these improvements or at the very least- understand that while these updates may bring you happiness, it’s a cost you should weigh. Click through to see which renovation projects won’t add value to your home when it comes time to sell. 

The following is based on the average market and home buyer. Super high-end properties could be the exception, but these are general rules to keep in mind based on the National Association of Realtors studies. I’m not saying don’t make these updates… it’s your home and you get to decide how you want to update it, so you can enjoy it, but this is good info to know from an investment point-of-view. I feel like there is a common misconception that the money put into a home renovating, will come back out when it’s time to sell. Ready to dive in? Let’s do it!

#1 // Hobby Specific Rooms

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comWhile hobby specific rooms sound great in theory… a custom craft room, state of the art home gym, or fancy wine cellar will not be a cost you’ll recoup. Potential buyers have a difficult time visualizing other uses for very specific, niche spaces. It’s best to keep extra rooms styled as bedrooms for the average home buyer.

#2 // Over Renovating

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comThis is a tricky one…. Emmett and I were almost guilty of this while updating our previous home. We loved our location and wanted to add-on so badly, but it just wasn’t a smart financial decision, because we would basically be throwing our money away. Projects that are too costly for your location (overly high-end or customized) are not a good investment. It’s important to compare your home to others in your neighborhood, study comps, and set a specific budget for your renovation. Someone once told me, your home is only as valuable as its surroundings. That has definitely stuck with me!

#3 // Swimming Pools & Spas

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comWhile I’d LOVE to have a swimming pool during the hot Utah summer (just look at me living my best life in France– poolside with rosé), a pool or spa does not appeal to the average buyer. It’s often viewed as a hazard for children & pets, and also requires a ton of upkeep and maintenance to enjoy. Installing a pool or spa is an update that will not increase the value of your home. However- it might increase your happiness! It’s one of those things you should carefully consider. How long do you plan to live in your home? If the answer is 10+ years, it might be the right choice for your family… just don’t expect to make more money if you add a pool.

#4 // Carpeting

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comCarpeting is not a good idea in terms of resale value. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, 55% of home buyers will pay more for updated, hardwood flooring ($3k+). 90% of buyers said they prefer hardwood flooring as opposed to other types and are willing to pay a premium. Carpet tends to turn off the average buyer. It holds dust, allergens, can trap odor, and isn’t right for everyone. The previous homeowners had carpet installed from wall-to-wall (even in the bathroom!!) before we moved in. While I was happy it was clean and new, I would’ve rather ripped out the old and replaced it with the flooring of my choice.

#5 // DIY Projects That Look Amateur / Poor Craftsmanship

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comDIY projects that look amateur (or won’t hold up over time because of poor craftsmanship) is an immediate red flag for buyers. You guys know I’m a big advocate for DIY, but it’s very important to know your skillset and when to hire a pro. It can be quite a financial gamble to tackle home projects you’re not capable of doing a great job on. Craftsmanship is a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. During our home buying process, it absolutely killed me to see “flips” that were terribly done.

#6 // Too Much Wallpaper

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comAlthough I’m a huge fan of wallpaper, there is such thing as “too much wallpaper” for home buyers. Wallpaper is tricky because it’s very taste specific. My wallpaper preference might not be the same as yours and vice versa. It’s an intimidating feeling to walk into a home filled with wallpaper in patterns you hate… your brain immediately thinks of long hours that accompany a wallpaper removal project. Wallpapering the ceiling in our old hallway was honestly a gamble. I’m glad the current homeowners were into it! The hard work of removal seems daunting to most buyers. If you’re going to wallpaper, maybe opt for a bold or colorful pattern in a removable option… or stick with a safe textural choice, such as grasscloth.

#7 // Garage, Carport, or Sunroom Additions & Expansions

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comEmmett would LOVE to build another garage or workshop. No matter what size workspace or garage we have at any point in time, it’s never good enough for that man. Haha! He would build a six car garage if I’d let him. He loves tools, man toys, tinkering, working in the shop, etc. However, it’s not a smart investment to expand a garage. Other bad decisions in terms of ROI? Adding a sunroom or carport additions. These outdoor add-ons aren’t a smart investment. If you already have a carport, sunroom, or garage that could use some TLC… that’s a totally different story! Remember my old carport makeover?

#8 // Invisible Improvements

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comInvisible improvements are a tough sell. While they’re necessary, we typically don’t see a good ROI. In our current home, we’ve had to replace two hot water heaters, and eventually 100% of our plumbing will be replaced as we continue to renovate our home. While it’s wonderful and imperative in creating an efficient, functioning house, it’s not something buyers appreciate or are willing to pay top dollar for. We bought this home knowing (thanks to a detailed inspection) that these items would need to be replaced eventually, so we were able to negotiate with the homeowners. When it’s all said and done, even with negotiation- we’ll still lose money on the invisible improvements we plan to make. What lies behind closed doors or walls typically isn’t as valued.

#9 // Family Outdoor Extras

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comOutdoor extras sound super fun… especially for families with kids, but they definitely don’t add value to a home. Updates like a custom playground, in-ground trampoline, or a fancy tennis court is not a smart project to tackle from an ROI point-of-view. A budget-friendly outdoor cleanup project? That’s a better idea! Remember when we transformed our side yard to extend our outdoor living space? Curb appeal has a great ROI!

#10 // Swapping Your Only Bathtub for a Shower

10 Home Updates to Skip Based on ROI - roomfortuesday.comI’ve talked about this one before and it still holds true. If you only have one bathtub in your home, by all means- keep it a bath! I’ve seen too many people replace their outdated bath with a shower for the sake of saving space and creating a “nicer” bathroom. This will lose you a lot of money when it comes time to sell. It’s important to have at least one functioning tub in your home. If you have a bathtub and are renovating a different bathroom under the same roof? By all means- install a shower! As long as you have one tub, you’re golden.

There you have it! 10 projects that aren’t smart in terms of resale value or when thinking of return on investment. Do you have any others to add to the list? Questions? I’d love to help! Leave them for me in the comment section below! I’m not sure about you, but I find all of this super fascinating.

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  1. As a parent to two little boys a house with no bathtub is an instant turnoff. I also have a hard time with new carpet. It’s often not great quality and has just been installed to fancy up the house for resale. I would rather the vendor left the old carpet in! I guess there is a fine line trod in homeownership. On the one hand you want the house to suit the needs of you and your family with a style that you personally love. But on the other, you don’t want it so personal that it puts off buyers when the time comes to sell.

    1. Exactly! Bathtubs are essential for families with kids and pets. Carpet is definitely tricky. We’ll probably end up ripping out all of the carpet in our basement someday (for heated flooring), but I’d like to keep carpet upstairs in the bedrooms. It’s cost effective and feels cozy. We’ve already de-carpeted the entire main level of our home and it feels so much bigger and cleaner. It really is a fine line of what you like and what is a smart investment for the future. Great points, Rhonda!

      1. I like carpet in the bedroom too. You need your toes to hit something cozy on those cold mornings :)

        1. Agreed! This is the first home we’ve had carpet in… and I will say- I like it more than I thought I would. Definitely adds a cozy factor in the bedroom :) xo

  2. I do find this topic fascinating! We’ve made many improvements to our home, and happily most of them were on your last list! We did have the house completely rewired, but I feel like my peace of mind was worth the money. The electricians found some dangerous “hacks” behind our walls. I often think I want to show people “before & afters” when we decide to sell🤣, but that’s my pride talking. I will probably never see the ROI on my emotional investment! I guess that’s the trick with houses; we imbue them with love and value that might not be monetary.💖 Happy Wednesday, friend!

    1. Same! Emmett and I are the exact same way… it wouldn’t feel right (or safe) renovating the big, visible things only to leave the unseen items outdated and not functioning as they should. We’ve already uncovered numerous plumbing and electrical issues. So scary! It wouldn’t sit well with me handing over our beloved home to new owners someday knowing there were hazards or things that weren’t working properly… so I totally agree with you on that! I think finding the balance between an emotional (for your happiness) and financial investment (for your wallet / future) is the best way to do it. It’s easy to fall in love with houses- at least for me, that’s where Emmett comes in handy with his budget brain. haha! Have an awesome day, Peggi! xo

  3. laura@everydayedits.co says:

    I am Realtor in Denver (crazy market) and I love this list! It is on point and comprehensive!
    Hot tubs are the biggest pain to deal with when neither party wants to have it!
    I wish sellers would call me before installing replacement carpet. Luxury vinyl in basements is a win in CO.
    Thank you! laura

    1. So glad to hear that, Laura! Our nearby Salt Lake market is also crazy. Have a wonderful day :)

  4. Love this post! Kind of surprised by some of the things that made this list; mainly the invisible updates! Such great info to keep in mind, especially as spring and summer roll around! I’ve got renovation on the brain, and this post is on point with what I’ve been mulling over! Thank you Sarah for always providing such great info to us!

    1. Right?! I would feel bad not making those invisible updates… even if I don’t see a great ROI, it gives me peace of mind :)

  5. Love these posts! Really helpful. What are your thoughts on replacing old/poorly taped drywall. We have a finished attic in a 110 yr old home with really sad looking walls – lots of visible taping painted over, not clean lines, etc. it almost seems like painted cardboard vs actual drywall! I personally wrestle with the look because I love clean lines, but wonder if it will be pointless when it comes to ROI. Would really value your thoughts on this one!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that, Amy! Glad they’re helpful :) Instead of replacing, I’d just skim coat and sand over top of the tape lines. I do think that would be worthwhile since it’s a very cosmetic, relatively inexpensive fix.

  6. I thought the first post on ROI was good but goodness, this is so good! You have definitely persuaded me that having a realtor come and take a look at what should be updated is a good idea so that we don’t waste money. From my homes perspective I have been wanting to replace our carpet (12 years old..yuck) but after looking at homes and seeing what people are putting in (cheap carpet, loud vinyl, etc) I think it might be best to let the new owners decide on flooring. Give a flooring allowance might be best way to go.?
    Oh, and yes to all the hidden updates that no one knows you did. We saw a house where the owners put up nice index cards around the house labeling what was updated (thermostats, ac, windows, etc). I like the idea because they did it in a professional way. Hand written would not have had the same effect.
    Sarah, thank you for this post! Happy Wednesday!

    1. Yay! I love hearing that, Danna :) You really should have your agent pop over and take a look. You could definitely do a flooring allowance to save you the time and trouble! We negotiated allowance money for a roof on our previous home because it was ready to be replaced and we didn’t want to deal with it. Sometimes it’s best to just move on. I love the idea of index cards or a book for the home. We put together a binder for the previous homeowners on both of our past houses. It included product warranties, paint colors, instructions, all sorts of things! I hope it was appreciate. I feel like I would appreciate something like that.

  7. I would think swimming pools depends largely on the market. Where I live now, while one would be lovely, I don’t know that it would increase market value. In the neighborhood in which I grew up in California, however, most houses had pools, and not having one hurt homes when it came to resale, as it was pretty much expected.

    1. The stats are based on national averages, but location could definitely come into play, Kristin! Great point :)

  8. Great list! Definitely things to keep in mind for how much they will improve your day to day life rather than expecting to get the same out that you put in when it comes time to sell. For me even in SoCal a swimming pool is an expensive bother and safety hazard, but a hot tub is something much more manageable that my husband wants so badly, and we will probably be putting one in for our own pleasure. The carpet one is funny – I love carpet in a bedroom which I know is a real divider. I grew up with wood floors in the whole house and my mom prefers that, and I have to say they LOOK best as far as aesthetics, but man, for my room, I just want cozy soft floors that are comforting and sound absorbing!

    1. Thanks, Julie! Pools are tough. They’re expensive and can be dangerous… but I personally love lounging in a pool in the summertime. It feels like vacation to me. What is it with guys and hot tubs? Emmett is the same way! I personally don’t like them because they’re so drying.

  9. Someone said it this way (maybe it was you?): you will never see a buyer walk away because there’s a tub; but you could lose a buyer because there isn’t one! Love your renovation articles! <3

    1. Exactly!! I don’t think that was me, but I love it :)