5 Remodels That Don’t Return Investment

Remodels sometimes have a tendency to develop their own inertia, as decisions lead to new dilemmas, unintended consequences and surprising outcomes. In some cases, these flights of fancy are perfectly acceptable, provided the design and completed execution truly align with the vision and budget.

But if your budget is a concern, and the wise investment of limited home improvement dollars matters, then there are a few basic guidelines you should familiarize yourself with before planning your remodel. Today we review five typical remodels that don’t return investment!

5 Remodels That Don't Return Investment

1. Kids’ spaces

No, this is not straight from the Grinch himself. Yes, if your kids have a climbing wall, the fantastic addition will probably lead to hours of fun, increased strength and perhaps even a sense of accomplishment for your kids. It’s a fine idea, and like a pool slide, might even be a childhood dream come true. But there is no assurance your home buyer will feel the same way. That rock climbing wall, which my own kids would flock to, might actually represent a negative value to a buyer who sees this space as his man cave. (The Grinch would assuredly remove the structure and replace it with a 70-inch flat-screen stolen from the home of Cindy Lou Who).

2. Pools

The National Swimming Pool Foundation estimates that there are more than 10 million swimming pools in the United States. Can 10 million pool owners possibly be wrong? Backyard pools are loved by millions, and while this appreciation is well founded, they should be constructed for their many virtues that are not investment related. A pool might increase the value of your home but is unlikely to pay for itself, as some buyers will perceive the pool as a negative maintenance expense.

3. Wine rooms

Some of the coolest remodels are the least savvy from an investment perspective. See the wine room here? (Hello, can I come in?) The design is hip, original and flat-out awesome, and in a resale situation, the seller might very well get lucky and find a buyer who loves it as much as I do. But the design wouldn’t appeal to someone who does not love wine. Original designs rarely appeal to everyone, so when adding spaces to a home you know you will sell, consider how personal it is and if others will feel as strongly as you do.

4. Removing features

Do not remove features for investment reasons. If you never use the fireplace in your basement, removing it might make perfect sense to you and your family. Just make sure you understand that the next homeowner might wish it were still there, and the money you spent demolishing the fireplace and reworking the space will not be reclaimed.

5. Minor additions

Adding a few square feet — say, to expand a bathroom or secondary bedroom — is rarely money well spent. The reason is simple. If you bump out a bedroom wall by a few feet, you might make that bedroom much more comfortable. That benefit alone might make it worthwhile in your circumstance. But the cost of all the added elements, including foundation, roof, framing and drywall, will result in only a small gain in square footage. Say your 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom home becomes a three-bedroom home with 2,440 square feet. It’ll be unlikely that you’ll recover the cost of the addition.

This whole exercise is not intended to dissuade you from pursuing any specific remodel idea. Whether you plan to add a sunroom off the rear of your home…or a little space for your cherished memorabilia collection, the decision is yours to make. Just be sure you make the decision in an informed manner, with a full understanding of the investment value for each dollar spent.