Four Home Improvement Ideas to Avoid

home-improvement-ideas-to-avoidOver the years I have learned that half of knowing what to do is knowing what not to do. Wouldn’t you agree? If you’re thinking about selling your home, you probably have some updating to do. There’s a lot of information out there about what updates are in demand. As part of my goal to be your best resource for South metro Denver real estate, I can certainly help you with that. Today, though, I’d like to help you by letting you know about four home improvement ideas to avoid.

Adding Square Footage with Second Stories or Additions

If you think the answer to your home’s cramped feeling is to pop the top and add a second story or to build an addition, think again. According to financial guru Dave Ramsey, the return on investment on such changes averages 65%. That means for every dollar you spend, it will only add $0.65 of value. And if the addition is a sunroom or bathroom, the return is even worse. You’re better off putting the space you already have – such as an attic or an unfinished basement — to better use. In that same article, Ramsey says, “An attic bedroom will return 77% of its $51,000 price tag, and a $17,000 basement renovation will recoup 70 cents for every dollar you spend.” Be careful, though, not to over-improve, especially in the basement. The more “custom” you make it, the smaller your pool of potential buyers who will value it.

The Bathroom Renovation that isn’t an Improvement

You’re handy with a hammer. Savvy with a screwdriver. So to save some bucks when renovating your bathroom, you should be able to just pull out that never-quite-clean shower pan and the could-it-BE-any-more-boring old tile and replace it with one of those convenient one-piece pre-formed shower kits, right? Wrong. I don’t have precise numbers for return on investment, but I can tell you from years of experience showing thousands of homes to thousands of buyers…it’s a huge turnoff. It screams “DIY” and “low-budget.”

Basketball Courts and Pools

As much as I would love to see my son outside playing on a basketball court in the back yard, I would never spend the money to install one. Why? As with other custom improvements, there’s no guarantee that buyers will want the same thing and see the value in it. Pools in Colorado – although you might think they’d be a great selling feature – can actually cost you the sale of your home. Buyers rarely want to deal with the increased insurance costs, the ongoing maintenance and cleaning, and the all-too-short window of time during the year when you can enjoy using the pool. Sadly, these types of “improvements” never recoup the cost.

DIY Jobs that are Best Left to Professionals

Depending on how handy you are, there are any number of home improvements you may be qualified to do. Notice I said “may.” There are some jobs that truly are best left to the professionals if you want the biggest return on your investment.

One of the biggies is anything major to do with your home’s electrical system. Installing a ceiling fan? Not a problem. Tearing out soffits to install new lights where none existed before? I’ve only seen it done well by homeowners a few times. All the other times, it was very obvious that it was a DIY job. Not to mention that construction permits should be pulled for more extensive changes and any such large jobs should be signed off on by inspectors.

The same advice – to strongly consider using a professional — goes for plumbing a gas line over to your fireplace to convert from wood-burning to gas. Mistakes here can kill…literally.

Finally, I recommend against attempting DIY concrete counters. Yes, they’re all the rage. But just because you can pour a patio doesn’t mean you can successfully navigate all the required steps to end up with a good-looking counter. Even calls concrete countertops “one of the more challenging” projects, requiring a high skill level. Measurements are crucial here, as is skill with making the mold. If you’re off on either of these, even by a little, it shows and really detracts from the overall look. Not to mention, few DIY-ers have the required tools or experience to finish and/or stain the surface in a professional-looking way.


What DIY home improvement jobs would YOU recommend avoiding?
What ones have you seen that made you say, “Hmmmmm. Nope.”?
Share in the comments.

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