There are plenty of resources that gleefully explain which DIY projects TO take on in your home, but not many that tell you what NOT to try. We're here to change that!
We’ve all been there.
It’s an all too common problem, if you're a religious saver.
You know the one.
You’ve finally got some extra money lying around, being lazy, doing nothing for you. It’s burning a hole in your pocket. It should be working for you, not sitting in a bank somewhere! What could you possibly do with it?
If you’re trying to turn a billion dollars into a million dollars…start a space company.
If you’re trying to turn a million dollars into…less than that…buy a boat!
Or, you could take on any one of the DIY home improvement projects we’ve listed below.
Look, we’re definitely not saying you shouldn’t undertake home improvement projects--we love them! The thing is, most people decide to make the investment because they believe it’s going to increase the overall value of their home--meaning the return on investment will be positive.
But, that’s not always the case.
The first thing to understand is the market that you currently live in. In general, you’re going to want to keep your upgrades somewhat in line with what’s happening in your neighborhood.
For example, if most houses in your neighborhood have 3 bedrooms, adding a fourth bedroom would make yours stand out in a positive way. You could find value in an additional bedroom while you’re living there, and a buyer is likely to do the same.
What you want to avoid is dumping $200,000 of luxury upgrades into your $150,000 house. Should you decide to sell, chances are highly unlikely you’ll get $350,000 on the sale in a neighborhood full of $150,000 averages. You’ll just price yourself out of your own neighborhood.
Avoid these upgrades and you should be just fine:
1) Swimming Pool
This may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but unless you live in a state with endless summers (i.e. Florida and California), some home buyers may view this upgrade as more of a hassle or even a danger than a nice feature.
It’s incredibly expensive and time-consuming to put in and maintain a nice in-ground pool, especially if it is screened in. In fact, according to this House Logic article, you’re likely to only recoup about 7% of your investment. It will be especially difficult to close the sale if the buyers have young children.
If you put an above-ground pool in, you’re more likely to lose money! Steer clear of this bad boy…unless maybe everyone else in your neighborhood has a pool. Then you might as well take it one step further and add a waterslide that starts from your roof, right?
2) Built-in Aquariums
Who knew this would be a thing? Isn’t an indoor aquarium something you find only in the homes of 80s action movie villains?
If you find yourself stuck inside watching Netflix and beginning to take inspiration from Scarface…STOP! No one wants an aquarium. (Okay, a few people might—but how likely are they to be buyers of your home?)
These lovely aquatic environments may be pretty to look at, but they’re also high maintenance, both in time and expense. In addition, there are a lot of moving parts to monitor, from filters and lights to oxygen and chemical levels.
Nevermind the responsibility of raising fish! Do YOU know if that fancy new betta fish is going to devour your cute little clownfish? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t…but that’s the burden you’re placing on a potential buyer.
If your goal is to make your home improvement projects add value and saleability to your home, don’t make them deal with that. Unless…your aquarium looks like this:
These are pretty cool.
Sunrooms are, admittedly, super glamorous additions. It’s easy to imagine Gatsby and Daisy lounging on a chaise in the sunroom and sipping champagne, right?
For those who may be unfamiliar, sunrooms are rooms focused on providing access to plenty of sunshine and views from outside.
Unfortunately, sunrooms have some of the lowest returns on investment in the biz. Don’t believe it? Look here! Depending on the type of sunroom you opt for, they can be expensive to build (and insulate) and may not be able to be used all year round.
Additionally, if your sunroom doesn’t have heating/cooling, it won’t count towards the total square footage of your home. Check it out.
Maybe leave this one to Gatsby, huh?
4) Luxury Anything
Thinking about installing a luxury kitchen with commercial grade flat top, Electrolux refrigerator, imported Italian marble countertops, and an oven that looks like a spaceship?
Don’t do it.
What about that luxury master bathroom upgrade with the waterfall dual-headed shower, fireplace, and gigantic whirlpool tub?
Well, surely you can increase your curb appeal by turning your back yard into the Botanical Oasis Gardens complete with koi pond, water wall, and putting green, right?
We’ve got bad news for you.
What do all these upgrades have in common?
They are all exorbitantly expensive and have a relatively niche appeal.
Someone who isn’t passionate about cooking won’t know (or care about) the difference between an $18,000 fridge and an $8,000 one—but your pocketbook will. Depending on your neighborhood, dramatic upgrades like these may also look odd when compared to other houses in the area.
Unless you’re dead set on doing these things for yourself, there’s a good chance your buyer isn’t going to appreciate these upgrades (and thus, be able to justify the higher sale price) nearly as much as you do.
5) Go Easy on the Kooky
Hey, this is America. You are totally free to paint the entire inside of your house in your favorite shade of neon orange.
Can you make your house look like a giant shoe? Sure.
But be forewarned: while these fun, quirky elements might feel great while you’re living in your house, not everyone is going to have the same taste as you. It’s up to you to decide which kind of investment is more “worth it.”
The Bottom Line
If your goal is to get a return on your investment into your home, check out our previous article DIY Home Improvement Projects that Increase the Value of Your House for a few upgrades that have great ROIs.
Here’s another link that can help you see what kind of return you can expect on other improvements, broken down by geographic region.
If you just can’t resist the siren song and want to take the plunge on some of the upgrades listed above… you know what… do your thing! Just be sure you’re doing it because you will get enjoyment out of them, not because you’re expecting to make back your investment.
At the very least, you can lower the cost of the project by renting your tools with Sparetoolz instead of buying them new. Check out the app here, now in beta.