Seven Projects That Could Lower Your Home's Value

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Home Improvement

Ahh, spring.

A time when homeowner's look anew at their homes.

A time when, after a winter spent binge watching HGTV, homeowners get a little inspired and start thinking about improvements.

A time when home improvements seem easy, simple and over in thirty minutes. Nothing ever goes wrong on them HGTV shows, right?

Before you go full blown Chip and Joanna, think carefully before you start your projects.

A little planning--and a lot of advice--can save you time, money and heartache.


#1: Pools

We get it--your home is your oasis, particulary after the past two years of you-know-what.

Pools are wonderful for relaxing and entertainment, but they are also expensive to install, insure and maintain. They will also limit your buyer pool (see what I did there?) if you list your home later. Remember, families with young children may find a home with a pool to be a safety hazard. 

Then, there's always this fun little situation where the pool was installed without regard to the property's boundaries. No realtor in their right mind would try to sell a house in the midst of a boundary dispute between neighbors. 

Don't...don't be this seller.


#2: Sunroom Additions

Sunrooms add extra space, particulalry where space is limited. If you need extra space, then please add on to your home and enhance your living area with a dedicated sunroom. If you don't need extra space, use a little caution here. Sunrooms can cost tens of thousands of dollars to build and be uncomfortable in the summer months.

They are not likely to add value to your home, just space. 

That's fine if you need it, just think twice if you really don't.


#3: Custom Landscaping

Mature trees, bushes in full bloom and dedicated annual beds always enhance a home's curb appeal. Custom-made koi-pond, complete with water fountain and hand wrought iron sculptures? Fabulous! They also cost a lot to install and maintain, and are unlikey to add to your property value. Get too custom and you run the risk of alienating buyers, who may be envisioning how much upkeep this will all require.

Make the space your own--it's your house, after all--but don't go overboard.


#4: DIY Projects That Look D-I-Why

Fancy yourself a weekend warrior? Handy with a brush, a can of paint and a jigsaw?


While it's true that some projects can be tackled on their own (e.g., painting a wall), not all of them can be. Hanging a door is very technical; so are laying tile, trim, and carpentry. If you've got the patience, experience and skill to do such things, go for it. Otherwise, you may want to consider hiring it out.

Too many times, I've walked into a house, only to find a "handyman special". That's realtor-speak for when the husband decided to start a project and it looks awful, but the wife can't say anyhing. Now she's mad. Real mad, and now the house is for sale.

Here's a real-life example of a "handyman special":*

Husband: do you like the way I tiled the kitchen floor?

Wife: [looks down, sees that he laid tile directly over the linoleum, and stopped when he got to the pantry. Sighs, grits teeth, forces a smile] Yes...hon.

[locks self in closet with bottle of vodka, thinks about every decision she's ever made]

*may or may not be based on a true story.


#5: Garage Conversions

One day, when I am empress of the world, I will make garage conversions illegal. I understand needing space (see the aforementioned "Sunroom"), but they almost always look terrible. When the buyer pulls up and sees that converted garage, it tells them the home is too small for their needs. That may not be the case, but that's how it's going to read in the buyers' minds. 

Need more space? Add a sunroom instead.


#6: Luxury Custom Upgrades

Far be it from me to tell people what to spend their money on--just make sure your home is consistent.

Recently, I toured a lovely listed home with my clients. Set in an established neighborhood overlooking a creek, it had an amazing kitchen--breathtaking, really. Custom-made granite island, custom-built cabinets, luxury bamboo flooring and a deluxe Viking oven...the works!

Rest of the house had dirty carpet, peeling paint and a bathroom that hadn't been cleaned since 1995. 

Don't...don't be this seller.

Want a luxury kitchen?

Fine. Just match it with the rest of the house.


#7: Home Additions

There's a home about a mile from me that was, at one time, a lovely ranch-style home. New buyers bought it and decided they needed more room. So they took off part of the roof and built straight up.

Like...straight up.

Literally looks like someone took some studs, framed a rectangle, and put it on top of the house.  Aesthetically, they would have been better off leaving it as-is, since it looks like they did a 3-D mock-up of the addition with Legos, and went from there. If ever there was a "handy-man special", this would be it.

If you must add on to your home, consult an architect first

Sure, it may cost you some money for a plan, but believe's cheaper to have a plan in place before you begin, rather than live with an expensive and ugly mistake after.

In Conclusion

Not every home improvement idea brings the big bucks, and some of them can have an adverse affect if you sell your home later. 

If you ever want to talk over your next home improvement projects, feel free to contact me.

We live how we live in our homes--no question about that--just understand what you're getting into, and how it may affect your home's value in the long run.

Ask me how I know. I've seen and/or experienced and/or seen many of the items listed above, often personally. 

With do-it-right-the-first-time-born-from-experience gratitude,



Miriam Odegard 

Real Estate Broker

United Real Estate Indianapolis

1425 East 82nd Street, Suite 200

Indianapolis, IN 46240

text/mobile:  (317) 220-5397


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