7 Deadly Sins of Home Remodeling


Trying to “keep up with the Joneses” is fine, but don’t keep outdoing neighbors with additions unless you plan to stay in your home for a very long time. A home that becomes conspicuously larger, and more expensive, than those around it will risk becoming hard to sell. Additions tend not to return their entire investment. A Cost vs. Value Report for the Bay Area, by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Remodeling Magazine found that homeowners were able to recoup only 90.9% of the cost of a family room addition and 89.4% of a mid-range master suite.


Don’t change the general architecture of the home and make sure that renovations match. For example, a modern steel door doesn’t belong on a ranch house built in the 1970’s. Changes that are obviously inconsistent with a home’s style will limit the number of people interested in buying it.


Completely altering the function of a room is risky. Keep kitchens as kitchens and garages as garages. They were built that way for a reason. We all expect basic functionality. If you start changing the basic items that you expect out of your home, you’re really only customizing it for yourself. Despite the rising number of people who work at home, building an office can also be a “negative”. Another study done by the NAR and Remodeling Magazine found that installing a computer set-up, office storage and commercial carpeting and rewiring a room for computer and fax use produced only an average 73% return on cost.


Be extremely confident you’re capable of taking on a project before trying to do it yourself. You wouldn’t try to fix your own car; why would you want to fix your own house? We often see and fix sloppy jobs done by amateurs.


Don’t underestimate how much projects will cost. Expenses are usually added… not subtracted. Homeowners routinely go 20% to 30% over budget. People not only under estimate their budget from a monetary point, but they also under estimate the amount of time a project will take. A prospective buyer walking through a home isn’t going to “see the glass half full” when a project is only half done. Unfinished projects could scare away prospective buyers.


When remodeling for resale, don’t waste time with renovations that won’t pay off. If you must have a pool, it helps to install a new patio, porch and alternative entry way. But, you still have to lower expectations as to who will be interested in buying your home later on. Experts advise to proceed, first, with projects that are going to have the highest rate of return. The greatest returns at resale often come from improvements to siding, windows, kitchens and bathrooms. In a study done by the NAR and Remodeling Magazine, on average:

  • A mid-range bathroom renovation recouped 111.9% of its cost.
  • An upscale bathroom renovation recouped 93.5% of its cost.
  • A mid-range kitchen renovation recouped 100.2% of its cost.
  • An upscale kitchen recouped 92.9% of its cost.
  • A minor kitchen remodeling job returned 112.3% of its cost.


Proper maintenance and annual upkeep may be the most important improvements of all.

  • Clean the gutters to protect the exterior from water damage.
  • Trim shrubs.
  • Check for termites.
  • Keep track of annual check ups – and use that as a selling point.

Annual maintenance pays back handsomely when you sell your home. Experts recommend a fresh coat of paint before putting your home on the market.