Don’t Fall For These 6 Common Home Improvement Myths

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Samara Vise)

There’s a lot of talk about renovations and the best way to handle them. Unfortunately for homeowners, much of the advice out there often contradicts itself. Talk to one contractor, and he might tell you to always expect a reno to cost 10 percent more than you expected; talk to another, and he’ll insist you should never pay a penny more than the initial bid. Navigating these waters can be tricky, so always do your research, follow your gut—and disregard these common renovation beliefs. Because when it comes to upgrading your home, you can’t believe anything you hear.

Renovations will always get you a good return on your investment

Don’t expect to drop $20k on a bathroom remodel and then make every penny back when you decide to sell. In general, improvements don’t give you a dollar-for-dollar return on investment, but rather a percentage (typically between 50 and 80 percent). That’s why you should always upgrade your home, first and foremost, for you. After all, you’re the one currently living there, so if you think your kitchen’s backsplash could use a refresh, go for it.

You can DIY everything

Yes, handy homeowners can tackle many projects on their own—as long as they have a good toolkit and are willing to do some research—but that doesn’t mean they should rewire their house themselves. Projects that involve roofing, a home’s structural elements, and electricity are better left to the pros. Ask yourself this: Have I ever tried this task before, and am I even the slightest bit worried about accomplishing it, or doing harm to myself or the house in the process? If the answer is yes, call in the experts.

DIY is cheaper than hiring a pro

Generally this is true only if what you’re doing involves tools and materials you can easily access, and the project takes up a minimum amount of your time. Unfortunately, not all DIY projects actually end up this way. If you run into problems, need to buy more or new materials, or worst of all, have to hire a pro to redo everything you’ve done, you’ve just flushed the money you saved down the toilet (and then some).

Paint can hide anything

Paint does wonders for freshening up a room or disguising minor imperfections. But if your wall has noticeable nicks, mold, or any other kind of damage, it’s a bad idea to try to simply cover it up with a fresh coat. In these cases, fix the problem first, then break out the brush.

Fixing something is cheaper than replacing it

A stopgap repair is fine for the time being, but it could end up costing you more down the road, especially if the repair isn’t done properly or doesn’t fix the whole problem. When something breaks, consider its age, quality, and condition. If it’s in otherwise good shape and was a smart investment, doing a repair may be all you need. But if it’s something that wasn’t great to begin with, you may just want to start from scratch.

You should renovate following current design trends

Shiplap walls and bold patterned tile look cool now, but how will they fare in five years? It’s tempting to renovate with trendy colors and materials, but you also run the risk of your home looking dated once they go out of style. Consider the pastel wallpaper and brassy fixtures people loved in the ’80s: Hip then, a disaster now. If you do love trends, work them into your home in ways that are easy to change. That generally means avoiding trendy materials for permanent materials like countertops and flooring.