10 Risky Home Improvements

home_improvementsYou may be in love with your upgrade, but as with any investment, there’s risk involved — namely not getting your money back when you decide to sell your house. With many homeowners hoping to add value to their homes that lost value in the recession, here’s a guide to the “upgrades” that just simply aren’t worth it.

  1. Pool/Hot Tub. In-ground pools cost between $20,000 and $60,000 to install, but a homeowner wouldn’t even recoup half of that.
  2. Putting in a Home Office … or Monster Garage. Installing a home office or a monster garage, which only recoup about a 60% investment return.
  3. Over-Decorating the Interior. If you’re really sold on the idea of a home office, your best bet is to keep it simple. Don’t paint the walls red, hang ornate chandeliers from the ceiling or weld the desk to the floor.
  4. Illegal Repairs. Even those intent on living in their home forever need to make sure their upgrades are installed legally. Many major renovations require permits from your state due to the safety risks involved.
  5. DIY Structural or Electrical Repairs. Similarly, if a project requires a professional, get a professional. And this is not only because you’ll have to fix substandard work if your house ever goes on sale.
  6. Fiddling with the Floor Plan. Generally speaking, walls that are up should stay there. Railroad-style rooms you have to walk through to get to another room as well as long extended additions are prime examples of poor layout planning.
  7. Forgetting the Amenities. When remodeling, make sure you include the minimum standards the average person would expect to find.
  8. Granite Counter-tops. Granite counter-tops aren’t the problem. It’s just most of your neighbors probably don’t have them. You could shell out thousands of dollars only to never see any return.
  9. Muddling. Home improvements should be in tune with your neighborhood, but they also need to fit the style of your own abode as well. For example, if you own a ranch house, don’t install an ornate iron doorway trimmed with gold leafing. Combining two discordant styles is called “muddling,” and it may make prospective buyers pass on your listing.
  10. Better Bets. So what type of renovations are actually worth your money? Angie’s List recommends a proper remodel of a kitchen or a bathroom, which costs around $20,000. It will net you an 85% and 84% return on the investment, respectively, thereby increasing the value of your home. Beyond that, decks are favorably received projects that recoup about 80% of the money you spent. And you can never go wrong with adding safety features, such as new, energy efficient windows or upgraded exterior siding, to your home. Those projects also have, on average, an 80% investment return.
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