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Home Upgrades That Really Don’t Pay Off

Renovation projects that experts say aren’t worth your time (or money).


Home Upgrades

NEVER DO THESE. Not long ago, the website real simple.com ran the headline we’ve republished above. When I first saw it, I jumped on the story, only to find myself disappointed when some of their suggestions didn’t seem to compute: like never changing a bedroom into a home office because people won’t be able to imagine reconverting it into a place to sleep. Or that you shouldn’t install a concrete patio because it can crack and is too harshly reflective; hello, concrete done right should hold up—oh, and it can be repaired btw. Or the idea that you mustn’t waste wads on tennis or basketball courts, as if these were popular additions.

In the spirit of the realsimple idea, we decided to create our own Never Do List. Here are three reno projects local realtors say aren’t worth the time or money.


What Not To Renovate


The Swimming Pool —“Fifty percent of buyers absolutely don’t want a swimming pool,” says realtor Stephanie Orr, adding that plenty of the other 50 percent would prefer not to have one either. “Unless you grew up with a pool or have a particular reason for wanting one, you’re not going to want the expense of ongoing maintenance, all the monitoring, plus the legal responsibility if someone gets hurt.” Orr, who covers the North Shore for Prudential Sussex, says it’s not impossible to sell a house with a pool in the Pacific Northwest, but having one can “slow down a sale.”

Built-In Personal Or Trendy Touches— “Renovating your kitchen, bathroom or closet for resale does pay off,” says realtor Ruthie Shugarman, as long as you don’t go overboard: “No red glossy built-ins, even if you love them, or crazy pattern marble countertops that probably cost a fortune.” Shugarman, who works for Dexter Realty in Vancouver, says the problem with going too trendy or too personal with built-ins is that “people get torn. They can see that these things are very expensive, and even though they’re not to their taste, they feel conflicted about tearing them out.”

Wall-To-Wall Carpeting— Definitely do not put in new wall-to-wall, says Shugarman. “People prefer the clean look of hardwood, or carpeting they’ve chosen themselves. It’s probably better to rip up old carpeting and show what’s underneath, even if it’s ugly, so that people can decide what they want to do with their floors.”—C. Rule

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