7 Home Reno Projects That Aren’t Worth the Investment

published Oct 15, 2019
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There’s nothing quite like the excitement you feel when you’ve finally saved enough to splurge on a home renovation that’s been lingering on your to-do list. But before you get caught up in the buzz, it’s important to take a step back. Ask yourself: Will this project bring value to my home? All too often the answer is, unfortunately, no. 

Sometimes that’s okay. If the resulting space will bring you joy, you might opt to move forward anyway. But if protecting your investment is more important, pros say you might want to think twice before completing these seven renos:

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Building a home theater

Building a home theater is a costly investment that takes up a lot of room, says Keith Melanson, a project manager at RenosGroup. “If you invest in having a home theater, you can pretty much say goodbye to that entire room, which is typically the basement,” he says. “There are plenty of other ways to be creative when renovating that space.” Rather than converting the whole room into a theater, he suggests installing a large TV (60 inches or so) and adding a bar or an area for a pool table to make the space multifunctional and less limiting.

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Adding a jetted tub

These types of tubs seem like such a luxury, but Decorist Elite Designer Briana Nix says they’re costly and don’t live up to the hype. Plus, many people fail to use them enough to make the investment worth it. Jetted tubs require more frequent and deeper cleaning than a normal tub, and are more likely to leaving behind dark, moldy areas that are tough to clean, Nix says. Bottom line: Unless you’re a die-hard jetted tub enthusiast, stick with a regular tub.

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Filling your fireplace

If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, you should use it, says Glenn Wiseman, sales manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services. Though fireplaces do require some maintenance and can wear out over time, many older ones can be fitted with new inserts that are incredibly efficient and clean-burning. “Instead of filling your fireplace completely, all you may need is an upgrade,” Wiseman says. That way, you and the next homebuyer have the option to light a fire to warm up a chilly room.

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Building a pond

“There’s no denying that the thought of having a pond is an appealing one. However, speaking from experience, it’s sadly quite underwhelming,” says Tonya Bruin, CEO of To Do-Done. Though they look pretty at first, ponds tend to attract mosquitos and lots of maintenance is involved, she says. Weeds and plants need constant attention, the water pump needs to be removed every fall and re-set every spring, and the water levels need to be topped off occasionally. “[Ours] looks more like a swamp than a pond now—definitely not worth it,” Bruin says.

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Installing a pool

Pools come with unexpected costs, says Rhianna Miller, a home and yard design expert at Rubber Mulch. “It can increase the cost of homeowners insurance and property taxes,” she says. “And many state codes now require pool owners to install a safety barrier—an easy $2,000 to 3,000 in fencing costs.” In addition, ongoing maintenance can be steep, and when you put the home for sale, some home buyers might instantly take your home off the list due to the fact that they don’t want the responsibility of caring for a pool, she says. Skip the add if you’re lukewarm on frequent swims.

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Removing trees

Trees are worth their weight in gold, says Cassy Aoyagi, a board member of the LA Chapter of the US Green Building Council and president of FormLA Landscaping. “Not only do they cool the garden and reduce home energy costs, they substantially increase home value,” she says. And, as anyone who’s planted a sapling knows, getting trees to mature height takes time. Unless there’s a safety reason to remove trees—precarious limbs, disease, or other dangers—then it’s best to keep them in place.

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Converting a bedroom to an office

“While remote working is more prevalent, converting a bedroom to an office can slash your home’s value,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta House Buyers. “Creating a home office may involve removing closets, adding built-in shelving, and changing the lighting systems from a pleasant, homey feel to a much brighter setup for working.” In those cases, you might not be able to call it a bedroom any longer, and stand to lose tens of thousands of dollars, since the average price difference between a three-bedroom and a two-bedroom house is $45,000. But in this case, there’s good news: Keep the closet intact, and the lighting and shelving bedroom-friendly, and you can easily convert this space back when you’re ready to sell.