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Home Renovation Projects That Aren’t Worth the Money

Fix July 5, 2018
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Lindsay Cutler

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your own home or trying to put a house on the market, remodeling is an enticing prospect to drive up value and double-down on your home investment. However, not all home improvements are created equal. Using Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs Value Report as a guide, we whittled down the least cost-effective renovations based on money recouped, invested costs, and resale value. Consult a savvy contractor or an expert appraiser before you embark on any of these projects.

Totally renovated kitchens

53% – 59% Costs Recouped

Remodeling your kitchen gets a lot of lip service, but it doesn’t yield the same returns as other, more necessary home updates and usually cost upward of $60,000. Consider making smaller improvements to your kitchen like new flooring, fixtures or hardware, but don’t feel the need to deck it out with carrara countertops, unless that’s to be expected from every other house in the neighborhood.

Backyard decks and patios

47% Costs Recouped

Although adding a deck or patio is a smaller investment than anything else on this list, it has the lowest resale value. Less than half of the money you spend on building a backyard porch or patio will likely be recouped with this investment. You may not factor in value when building an outdoor addition like deck or porch if it’s for your own personal enjoyment. But if your goal is increasing resale value, consider the regional weather, outdoor “culture” in your area, and whether this is a niche investment for a few or broadly appealing to all house hunters.

Finishing the basement

55% – 70% Costs Recouped

These are extremely costly renovations, and much of the time buyers prefer to renovate the basement to their own preferences. It might seem like a smart investment given the ROI — the space is already there, after all, and there’s no need to move walls. It’s just added value per square foot, right? Nope. Below-ground square footage is valued at about half of above-ground space. Even with proper ventilation, it’s still the space in your home most likely to house moisture, mildew and mold. Before you sink money into finishing your basement, make sure to do a cost vs. benefit analysis of how much money you really stand to make from finishing your basement.

Additions to the house

48% – 60% Costs Recouped

Unless this is your own personal passion project — let’s say you really want a bigger bathroom, or you really need that master bedroom — tread carefully. Adding additions to your home start off at the $100,000 range and only climb from there. It’s also likely your homeowner’s insurance will rise as a result. If you’re adding square footage, that’s more square footage they have to insure! Talk to your insurance company and your appraiser before considering adding an addition to your home.

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