The Top 5 renovation mistakes that will make you lose money in resale value. The old saying is that you have to spend money to make money. But what if you spend money on your house that will end up hurting your sale and will make you lose money. Here are some of the most common errors homeowners make when renovating their homes.
1 Investing in outdated features.
Carpets in the living room was all the rage in the 60’s and 70’s. In the early 80’s it was very fashionable to put wall to wall carpets in bathrooms. Those vast fields of carpet in residential properties pretty much disappeared from buyers wish lists these days. Buyers look for hard surface floors, like hardwood floors or good quality laminate which are very high in demand. Some buyers like tile floors if they look current and are in decent shape. Your expensive cat 5 wiring of the house is less of an attraction to the average buyers who might use new wireless devices. Even stereo systems are less and less in need of hard wiring connection for their speakers. The big build-in entertainment centers that housed the boxy DLP TV when you bought the house 20 years ago, is pretty much obsolete. A flat screen fits neatly on any wall with cable connetion. Don’t spend money to trim out this drywalled shelving unit but rather simplify it to accomodate modern electronics.
2 Kitchens that don’t cut it.
If you replace the counter tops don’t install laminate or plastic counters. Laminate was the affordable material of choice in decades past. However, with many granite qualities coming down in price and more competition in the industry, an entry level granite is often not much more expensive than the other cheaper solutions like laminate or tile counter tops. Buyers like real granite or quarz counters. Don’t go overboard for the rare exotic granite that is hand cut high in the Himalayan mountain and brought back from the quarry on a mules back. No one will pay a dime more on your real expensive quality. Go with common entry level grade for the average home. Reserve the more elaborate choices for your high end properties. Also, if your cabinets are falling apart or show wear and tear, the addition of new counter tops will not be well received by potential buyers either. They often have the feeling that now they have to pay a premium for the house because of the new counters, just to rip them out again and redo the whole kitchen. If your old trash compactor in the kitchen is broken, don’t think about finding a replacement unit for it. Invest in a small beverage cooler that will yield more money instead.
3 Chose outdated materials
It is true that travertine flooring was all the rage – 10 years ago. When renovating you want to make sure to update the house and rejuvenate it. So when you renovate with materials referencing some fashion of past decades don’t be surprised if buyers only want to pay yesterdays pricing. Your renovation might not even come across as recent and buyers might feel they have to update the property again very soon. Along the list of yesteryear favorites are oak cabinets, those bulky intercom systems, the 12x 12 white glossy floor tiles, venetian plaster walls, Faux painting in the fake Tuscan style and wallpaper borders, just to name a few of the top offenders. (I have shivers going down my back just thinking about those)
4 Creating functional obsolescence
The probably worse crimes in renovation history happen when the improvement makes the property impractical. For example: putting tile floors in the garage. It may look nice, but now essentially your garage becomes an official no-go zone for your car. Typical floor tile will crack under the weight of an automobile resulting in the need of an expensive tile demolition job and the result of a damaged garage floor, that might require further fixing. Also the garage conversion to a bonus room may yield additional living square footage, but will turn off many buyers who are looking for a house with covered parking. Questionable is also the project to combine two smaller bedrooms into one large bedroom. Unless you have a 6 or 7 bedroom house, that move might cost you tens of thousands in the resale value. Especially where values of 3 bedroom homes are much higher than 2 bedroom homes, the third bedroom might be a great selling feature to many buyers.
5 Bad workmanship and unfinished projects
Do things yourself can save quite a bit on labor cost. But you have to make sure you are capable to turn out a decent finish on your projects. Consider all aspects of the renovation including all materials, the trim and the overall fit and finish. Nothing turns off a potential buyer than obvious do-it yourself disasters, unfinished projects, and renovations that are done in violation of industry standards and building code. Not only can those projects turn out as visually off-putting, some can be outright dangerous; like makeshift wiring, improper plumbing and questionable structural changes. Be realistic about your experience and ability and if you are not sure about the full scope of the job consult with a professional. Many contractors will work with you when you want to pitch in labor on some part of the project, while keeping you in compliance with building codes and industry standards. When you sell your home you will be happy you did. You will pass inspections and avoid liability issues later on.
If you are not sure which renovations, materials and choices will add the most to your property value, consult with your real estate professional and interior designer. These are the people on the forefront of the industry. The real estate professionals know what is in demand right now and what will keep the house attractive for a potential future buyer. Your designer will help you to make the right choices in color, texture and material. That way you spend your money where it will create equity.