Are These Home Projects Really Worth It?

A recent article at The Street lists 10 common home projects that drain home owners’ budgets and offer little return on investment, in citing findings from Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value survey. Do you agree with some of the projects that showed up on its list? Are these home projects a waste of money for home owners to tackle when it comes to boosting their resale value?

1. Pools: A $25,000-$50,000 investment and that doesn’t include the yearly maintenance costs and repairs that will undoubtedly be needed down the road.

2. Outdoor kitchens: Steel grills and gourmet pizza ovens outside can be nice in year-round warm climates but in cooler weather climates, many people would prefer the warmth of an indoor kitchen.

3. Garage addition: The cost of adding a garage spot could be about $58,000, but it only adds about $33,000 extra to your home’s value. You’d be better off replacing the garage door–which offers up to a 70 percent return on your investment at resale.

4. Backup power generator: A $15,000 expense can be extreme for the main reason to “prevent $30 in groceries from spoiling the next time a transformer blows,” The Street notes.

5. Sunroom addition: This could cost home owners about $74,000 and only offer about $34,000 at resale — and “that’s assuming you built a sunroom in a climate that actually gets sun every so often,” the article notes.

6. Home office remodel: This could cost you around $28,000 but is considered one of the least valuable home improvement projects a home owner can tackle, according to the Cost vs. Value survey. While home owners like the organization home offices offer, let’s face it, many are mobile and prefer the couch or to take the laptop and work elsewhere.

Read more at The Street.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Melissa,
    I found the return on investment percentages very interesting. What they do not take into consideration is there are two types of value. The chart only shows the monetary value, the other value is desirability of the improvement. So yes the improvement is worth the investment if it means getting the home sold. I will defiantly be using the info when talking with sellers that think they should get 100% or more return on their improvements.

  2. Ken Edwards

    The biggest returns on investment are:
    1. Home staging including cleaning, de-cluttering, and minimizing furnishings and personal possessions like family photographs.
    2. Painting inside and/or outside as needed, especially house trim and what’s seen from the curb. Use neutral colors inside and out. Linen and white trim inside make for a very nice clean and sophisticated appearance.
    3. Sanding and refinishingscratched or worn hardwood floors.
    Each of these big three investments will return multiples of their cost. Every other renovation will only return a fraction of their cost, BUT may get your house sold sooner rather than later. Be careful to not over improve your property beyond what the neighborhood will support.

  3. Tracy Whitworth

    For homes in the St. Louis area, ADDING a garage to a home which currently does not have one will increase a home’s value. The same can be said for homes with only one bath. Adding a half bath in the lower level will add more than a marginal return: it’s the difference between selling a home or not selling a home. Investing in these projects allows the homeowner utilty today and wider buyer appeal in the future.

    Homes without garages and with only one bath will sell, but at much lower prices.

  4. My market in Western NC is primarily retirees and second/vacation homes.

    Despite the long season to use them, pools are a poor investment here. Most owners do not want the maintenance.

    Sunrooms- or more commonly seen here, screened porches- are a definite plus. Our buyes like an indoor/outdoor room to enjoy the changing seasons as well as the rand lake or mountain views.

    Re garage additions: if you have no garage or a one car garage, I think adding a garage- carefully- and that is for a lot less than your figures- will pay off. If you already have a two-cargarage, then going to three or four , is morethan most buyers will be willing to pay for.

    Yes, on outdoor kitchens but keep them modest.

  5. lp

    I have to say, after having the electricity go out during last year’s hurricane for 3-4 days (I live in PA), having well water and sump pump, and having about $10k plus in damages from a flooded finished basement – you are completely wrong in thinking that a back up generator only covers $30 in spoiled groceries!

  6. I think it’s not always about the ROI. think about the return of happiness when you are living in your new kitchen or basement remodel.

    if you are not selling your home right after you fix it up then it;s worth it to invest in the remodel and enjoy your new living space