These ‘home improvements’ could wipe thousands off your property value

Not all renovations are created equal (Picture: Getty Images)

What kind of features does your perfect home have? A pool? A state-of-the-art cinema room?

While they may be the stuff of property dreams, these extras aren’t on the list of must-haves for real buyers – and forking out for them could actually damage your house value rather than giving it a boost.

According to experts, there are a certain home improvements which are anything but, costing more to implement than they add to your sale price and sometimes making it harder to sell when the time comes.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t upgrade your property in a way that suits you – after all, you’re the one living there. But if you’re looking to maximise profit and make back the cost of your investment (or make a profit) in the long-run, it’s worth being cautious.

Joshua Houston, writer at Household Quotes, explains: ‘We all take pride in our homes, but we also want to know that the money we’re putting into improving our property is worthwhile.

‘Not everything that is popular to you will be welcomed by others, so it’s important to keep that in mind if you ever plan to sell.’

In an article for the platform, he outlined seven renovation jobs that could tank your value, so we spoke to industry insiders for their take on each.

Bright coloured home fronts

This touch of pink may not make buyers wink (Picture: Getty Images)

If you live somewhere like Tobermory (where the show Balamory is set) or Notting Hill, rows of different-coloured houses are part of the neighbourhood’s appeal.

According to Josh, however, a home that ‘sticks out too much in a sea of darker and more traditional colours’ could be hard to sell, as the buyers will need to either love the colour or spend money repainting.

‘A colourful external paint job can be a particular put off as it will often require a professional to repair it if a buyer isn’t a fan of the colour, which costs considerably more than the time and effort of tackling an internal room yourself,’ CEO of Yopa, Verona Frankish explains to

In research by personal estate agents platform eXp, the average cost of giving a house a rainbow makeover is £4,500, but since it can lead to a 2.7% drop in value (equal to £7,597 based on the average UK house price of £281,373) you could end up over £12,000 out of pocket.

Expected loss based on renovation cost vs value change: £12,097.

Swimming pool

A pool is unlikely to get much use here in Blighty (Picture: Getty Images)

They may be a must in LA or on the Gold Coast of Australia, but there’s really no call for a pool in a property in the UK.

Josh claims that because of our unpredictable weather, buyers may be wary of taking on maintenance costs for an amenity they can only use a few times a year.

On the contrary, eXp estimates an expected value boost of 4.5% or £12,662 for homes with a swimming pool. Unfortunately, however, it’ll still result in a net loss due to the average £47,500 it costs to install one.

Expected loss based on renovation cost vs value change: £34,838.

Cinema room

Cool to have, but not much of a value grabber (Picture: Getty Images)

A cinema room would make any movie lover feel worthy of a spot on MTV Cribs. It’s unlikely to get you a starring role on a property selling show, though.

Head of eXp UK, Adam Day, tells ‘A cinema room is a feature often only found at the top end of the market and to do it right you really need a substantially sized room to convert – usually either a basement or similar. 

‘If it’s not done properly it can look pretty shabby and even when it is executed correctly, it’s simply not a feature that many buyers will view as adding value due to the fact that it’s not used on a daily basis.’

At an average cost of £15,000 to implement, which doesn’t match up to the estimated added value of 3.5%, you’re far better off saving your pennies for tickets to the actual cinema – you’ll have plenty left over for popcorn too.

Expected loss based on renovation cost vs value change: £5,250.

Built-in electronics

Integrated items can be tricky to work and expensive to replace (Picture: Getty Images)

It’s difficult to put an exact number on the exact return on investment when it comes to built-in appliances, since there’s such a wide range of items (with some being more useful than others).

However, Josh says: ‘Certain electronics might be seen as a waste of space and running costs by potential buyers, and the process of removing them is much harder than non-built-in electronics. This results in extra costs, which could easily devalue your home.’

Something like an integrated dishwasher or fridge is likely to be a desirable addition to a kitchen, but niche options such as a coffee machine or warming drawer are more about personal preference.

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, tells ‘Moderation is key in this respect, as an overly complicated smart home will be lost on some and won’t add the value you might think.’

Too much personalisation

When it comes to decor, less is more – at least when you’re doing viewings (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

We’ve heard the experts give this tip a thousand times: a property should be decorated in neutral tones so buyers can visualise how they’d make it their own.

Marc comments: ‘Too much personalisation is a surefire way to deter buyers as the home will start to reflect you as a person, not the bricks and mortar you’re trying to sell.

‘Neutral, uncluttered homes allow a potential buyer to view it as a blank canvas and this is more likely to secure you an offer.’

There’s no way to get official data on the financial impact distinctive decor can have, but it’s probably going to cost more than the price of a few tins of magnolia paint. Once you sell, you can spend the profits on turning your new home into the unique idyll your heart desires.

Converted garage

Could it become something more functional? (Picture: Getty Images)

Turning a garage into a bedroom might seem like a good way to appeal to buyers, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

Josh explains: ‘Some buyers will be looking for a home that specifically has a garage to either store their car or other belongings. Removing that might reduce the demand for your property which ultimately decreases the value.’

This conclusion differs from eXp’s though, as its study showed an overall return of investment of £13,137 based on a £15,000 average renovation cost.

‘Extra space is high on the wish list of almost every buyer. and if you can convert your garage into a more functional, livable space then this will add value to your home.’, says Adam.

Of course, though, this will depend on factors such as location – if you’re in an area where car parking is difficult to come by, or you already have a lot of room in the house, keeping things as they are may benefit you in the long-run.

Removing a bedroom

On the flip-side, removing a bedroom (either to change its function to a bathroom, for example, or to turn two small rooms into one larger one) can be seriously detrimental to your home’s sale price.

Although eXp highlights that there might be some added value depending on what you turned that bedroom into, it’s unlikely to reverse the 15% drop in value caused by reducing the property’s bedroom count.

Josh explains: ‘Typically, the more bedrooms the more expensive a property is. Buyers would welcome a spare bedroom, but will be put off if there aren’t enough to meet their needs.’

Expected loss based on renovation cost vs value change: £42,206.

What to do instead

Okay, so you’re rethinking the Olympic-sized swimming pool in the back garden. But there are certain improvements that are less of a gamble to embark on:

Balcony or terrace

  • Average cost: £5,000
  • Estimated price change: +5%
  • Added value including costs (based on average house price): £9,069

Bi-folding doors

  • Average cost: £5,200
  • Estimated price change: +5%
  • Added value including costs (based on average house price): £8,869

Landscaped garden

  • Average cost: £3,950
  • Estimated price change: +4.5%
  • Added value including costs (based on average house price): £8,712

Patio or decking

  • Average cost: £4,350
  • Estimated price change: 4.3%
  • Added value including costs (based on average house price): £7,749

Via eXp.

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