6 of the Worst Home Renovations to Increase Value

When the time comes to make upgrades to your home, the first thought for a lot of people is about increasing their home’s value. There are some very cost-efficient upgrades that can improve your home’s value above and beyond the cost of doing the work.

However, some people don’t care all that much about increasing their home’s value, they just want to finally do those renovations they have been dreaming about for years. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s not always about the money; it’s your home and you should do whatever you need to do to enjoy it!

But, if you are doing renovations to increase value, then there are some upgrades you should probably avoid. Some upgrades, large or small, are not likely to increase the value of your home enough to justify the expense.

So, without further ado, here are 6 of the worst home renovations to increase value.

1. Outdoor Kitchen

It sounds amazing. An outdoor bar by the pool with a built in grill and maybe a TV hanging on the wall. To be honest, I want one!

Unfortunately, most home buyers aren’t looking for an outdoor kitchen. In fact, according to the National Association of Home Builders, 35% of home buyers specifically said they did not want an outdoor kitchen.

The average cost for one of these outdoor leisure areas is around $12,000 to $15,000. The data just doesn’t show that buyers are willing to pay that much more for a home that includes this setup.

2. A Swimming Pool

I love swimming pools. I grew up in a house with a pool and from what I remember, we used it almost every day of summer. But since I’ve been in the real estate business, I’ve noticed that this just isn’t the case for a lot of people.

Many of the people I talk to about selling a home are swearing off swimming pools for good. A lot of buyers are also vehemently against considering anything with a pool.

Why is This?

To be honest, pools are somewhat of a money pit. Installing one is expensive, ranging anywhere from just under $20,000 to well over $50,000. There is also a lot of monthly and annual maintenance costs.

  • Your energy bill will increase due to heating and running the pool equipment.
  • Your insurance premium will go up.
  • Costs for chemical treatments
  • Cleaning costs.
  • You may decide, or even be required to install a pool fence.

There are two types of people when it comes to pools: people who love their pool and use it often, and those that don’t and are sick of paying for it. If you are the former like me, then the enjoyment you get from your pool is all the return on investment you’ll need.

However, in terms of getting a monetary return on investment, it’s just not likely in the cards. While homes with pools do typically sell for more, in most areas it’s not enough to justify the large and ongoing financial expense.

3. New Roof

A new tile roof can do wonders for transforming your home. This probably won’t, however, be reflected in the price you ultimately get for your house. A new roof generally won’t be considered among the cost-effective renovations to increase value.

Most buyers consider a roof to be more of a necessity, and won’t be inspired to shell out extra cash for top-of-the-line roofing materials.  At least not when purchasing the home. They might splurge when it comes time to replace their roof however, which brings me to another point…

You’ll need to fix your roof.

I’ve been involved in my fair share of transactions where the roof was found to be in need of repair. Every area is different, but here in Southern California, this situation generally ends with the seller either fixing the roof or the buyer receiving a concession.

4. Installing an Elevator

An elevator in a house happens to be at the very top of the list when it comes to things buyers don’t want in a house. This means buyers are likely to be turned off by this feature, diminishing demand for your home, and ultimately leading to a lower sales price.

Installing an elevator is also expensive, costing upwards of $25,000. If you need help going up and down the stairs, a chairlift can be a great alternative. Chairlifts are generally much more affordable, around $1,000-$4,000, and can easily be removed when the time comes to sell.

5. Specialized Features/Spaces

As a real estate agent, I’ve seen a lot of funky stuff: fireman pole from upstairs to downstairs, a drawbridge, statues of ancestors permanently affixed to the property, etc.

If you’re not from Orange County, CA, the one landmark you probably know us for is Disneyland, in the city of Anaheim. A while back, Anaheim passed new laws regulating short term vacation rental properties. It had a big impact on people’s ability to rent their home out to tourists on a Disneyland vacation.

As a result, there were a bunch of “Disney” homes that went up for sale. Houses completely decorated in Disney themes and characters. The walls, the yard, everything was “Disney” in these homes. There were people running an entire business around renting Disney themed houses to Disneyland tourists, and now that they couldn’t anymore these homes were being sold.

Most of these homes were on the market for a long time before they ultimately sold below market, or were renovated to be more “normal.”

The point is, if your home has peculiar features that are tailored to your specific needs or tastes, you will likely get less interest from buyers. They most likely won’t see the utility of your customizations, and will either be turned off, or see it as a value-diminishing feature.

6. New Windows

New windows have been shown to improve a home’s curb appeal and value. However, the amount of that value increase tends to be about 80% of the cost of new windows.

So, from an investment standpoint, you likely aren’t coming out ahead with this renovation. Even when you take into account the energy savings, you are still looking at about 10 years of savings to break even.

Of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt. If your windows look so bad that they are significantly decreasing your home’s desirability, then that changes things. In that case, you can include the increase in market value from new windows AND the diminished value from having old windows in your return on investment calculation.


While these may not be the best home renovations to increase value, they can bring enjoyment and peace of mind. At the end of the day, not every home project needs to be profitable. If it’s something you really want, then go for it!

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