5 Renos That Aren’t Worth Your Time

There’s nothing worse than wasting hundreds of dollars, as well as entire weekends, doing home improvements that don't give you a return. Here are 5 renovations that probably aren’t worth your while.

We’ve all seen the reality TV home transformations that see a rundown shack worth thousands turned into a mini-mansion worth millions and although renovations can often be a cost and time effective way to add value to your property, there are some exceptions to the rule. There’s nothing worse than wasting hundreds of dollars in materials, as well as entire weekends, doing your own home improvements to find that your DIY hasn’t really given you the ROI you were hoping for.

With more than a decade’s experience in the industry as a Buyer’s Agent and a hundred property purchases under my belt, I’ve put together a list of the renovations that probably aren’t worth your while.

1. Swimming pool – As a kid, having a pool in the backyard meant instant popularity amongst school friends, and summers would be spent developing pruned fingers from spending hours in the water. From a Buyer’s Agent’s perspective, however, swimming pools simply won’t give you the ROI you are looking for. Most of the year, they will sit unused and it takes time and money to maintain them. If you are looking to sell, bear in mind that many buyers will consider the pool as both impractical and inconvenient, and you are probably much better off using the area as a grassed space for children or pets.

2. Converting a fourth Bedroom - I say converting here, as I’m referring to taking space away from an already existing floor plan to make way for an additional fourth bedroom. Three-bedroom homes can fall into a demographic of professional couples (who look for spare bedrooms for friends, or because they’re planning to start a family), as well as the family market. However, once you move into the realm of a four-bedroom home, you instantly remove the majority of the professional demographic and fall squarely into the market of families, who are typically after as much space as possible. Not only does this limit the buyers you’ll attract, but if you are targeting the family demographic, they will be looking for larger lounge areas, additional parking spaces and storage options, which means that converting a space into a fourth bedroom will restrict your demographics even further (as you won’t have the large living areas that bigger families are looking for). In a lot of cases, it’s simply better to have a 3-bedroom, spacious home, than a 4-bedroom, cramped one.

3. An Outdoor Kitchen – Next to the tool shed, the outdoor kitchen is a popular choice for most Aussie men, who dream of BBQing under the stars. However, this improvement is considered a luxury to buyers. To create a good outdoor kitchen, you generally require a huge investment of about $30k – a figure that won’t be returned on your selling price.

4. Restumping – In the past, many Aussie homes used timber stumps as foundations and although they tend to hold up well against rot and damage, eventually these sturdy trunks will need replacing. Despite being a great way to improve the stability and structure of the home, ‘restumping’ won’t have much effect on the value of your property. Unless a buyer can see an improvement, they’re unlikely to pay any extra for it, so if you’re selling up in the near future, it’s best to keep your money in your pocket – you may have to reduce the selling price down the track if the agent or buyer sees it as an issue, but this is an unlikely scenario. 

5. Feature walls – This seems to be at the top of the list when people are considering a home improvement and although it can be a big statement feature to a room, its ‘likability factor ‘ is largely dependent on personal taste. Unless you have a high-end home that’s had a professional interior designer structure each room, it’s best to leave out any personal touches that could potentially turn-off other buyers. Even the most tasteful redecorating can be a wasted effort if the buyer feels it doesn’t resonate with their taste, so stick to a relatively neutral palette that can be changed with minimal effort.

With any sort of home improvements to increase the value of a property, it’s important to be educated. Some mini projects can be done by a handyman, whereas others require an expert tradesman; some can be upgraded or fixed with some patching material, while others may need a complete overhaul. Knowing what to invest in and what you can pull back on is essential and will save you and your family a whole lot of time, money and heartbreak.

Josh Masters is a Buyer’s Agent and the author of new book and investment guide, 'Why Property Why Now.' Learn more at www.joshmasters.com.au

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