9 Worst ROI Home Improvements: Avoid These Renovations That Decrease Home Value

Home Improvements to AvoidHome improvements are supposed to drive up the value of your home, but not all are good for your home. Some renovations can actually make your home less desirable to buyers, which can make selling your home more difficult—even if you choose the perfect time to sell your home. From poorly chosen wall colours to ill-advised room alterations, there are a number of bad home renovations that should be avoided if you hope to sell your property quickly and at a desirable price. If you're a homeowner and you're thinking about making a home improvement sometime in the next few months, be careful when making the following upgrades.

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Unappealing Walls

When it comes to walls, there are a few home improvements that can turn off buyers. These range from creating a dated or unappealing look to being so personalized that buyers can't imagine themselves living in it.

Bold Paint Colours

Brightly painted walls can be a major turn-off for potential home buyers. While bold and vibrant colours may reflect the homeowner's personality and taste, they can also limit the property's appeal. Buyers often prefer neutral tones that allow them to envision their own style and furniture in the space. 

Repainting all the walls can be time-consuming and costly, deterring buyers from making an offer. So before selling, it is advisable to choose paint colours that make it easier for buyers to visualize themselves living in the space.


Wall texture makes painting difficult, and many buyers aren't interested in wall texture as an aesthetic choice. While some homeowners may think that textured walls add character or hide imperfections, the reality is that many buyers prefer smooth, clean walls that provide a blank canvas for their own design ideas. Plus, textured walls can be more difficult to maintain and are associated with older styles that won't appeal to people looking for modernity.

Rather than texturing the walls, many homeowners would be better off painting stripes or other patterns on their walls. These can be easily covered up when the time comes to sell.


While wallpaper may seem like a simple way to add personality and style to a space, it can actually have the opposite effect. Trends come and go, and what may have been popular a few years ago can now look dated and unappealing. Many buyers want a modern and up-to-date home, and outdated wallpaper can give the impression that the entire property is stuck in the past.

Plus, not everyone will have the same taste in design. Buyers may struggle to envision themselves in a home that is decorated with someone else's preferences, and removing wallpaper can be a long process. They may be hesitant to purchase a home that requires this additional work, especially if they are on a tight timeline or budget.

Changing Living Spaces

Many homeowners make the mistake of making significant changes to their home's layout, such as transforming one kind of room into another or removing walls to combine spaces. While this may work for them, it can turn away buyers looking for something more standard.

Converting a Bedroom

Home buyers like bedrooms. Converting a bedroom into something like a home office or a recording studio limits the number of people who can live in the house and the number of buyers interested in the property. Don't forget that the needs of potential buyers can vary; by converting a bedroom into a specific space, sellers limit the flexibility of the house to accommodate different preferences and lifestyles.

If a bedroom transformation is vital, homeowners should ensure the bedroom can still be used as a bedroom when someone else moves in. Otherwise, sellers might also be looking at a lower resale value and fewer offers.

Garage Conversions

Transforming a garage into a different space can be detrimental for homeowners looking to sell their property. While repurposing the garage into a home gym, office, or playroom may seem like a good idea, it can have negative consequences when attracting buyers. Potential buyers often value having a functional garage for storage or parking their vehicles. 

By converting the garage into something else, homeowners may limit their pool of buyers and decrease the overall value of their property. Additionally, converting the garage into a living space without obtaining the necessary permits and approvals can lead to legal and safety issues.

Combining Rooms

Combining rooms can often result in a confusing and disorganized living space. Homeowners might like the idea of opening up the house and creating a more spacious feel, but it's essential to consider the potential drawbacks. When rooms are combined, their original purposes can be lost. For example, combining a bedroom with a living room may eliminate a private space for relaxation or study. 

Removing a wall between two bedrooms to create one large room is another way of removing a bedroom and reducing a home's resale value. A homeowner who needs a large room may want to make an addition to their home rather than knocking down a wall inside.

Not Knowing the Neighbourhood

When it comes to home renovations, not knowing the neighbourhood can lead to some costly mistakes. Understanding their community helps homeowners avoid making expensive improvements that don't align with the market value of the area.

Too-Luxury Kitchen Renovation

A high-end kitchen may seem appealing, but it can hinder the sale of a house if it doesn't match the overall value and style of the area. Going too extravagant may not yield a significant return on investment since potential buyers may not be willing to pay a premium price for a kitchen that doesn't align with the neighbourhood's standards.

Installing top-of-the-line appliances, custom cabinets, lavish light fixtures, and expensive countertops can add value to homes—but might make the house overpriced compared to other homes in the neighbourhood, deterring buyers. Plus, a luxurious kitchen in a modest community may create a stark contrast that doesn't fit in with the area's overall aesthetic. This inconsistency can make it difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in the house.

Swimming Pool

Though many might like the idea of a pool in their backyard, it can turn off potential buyers if it doesn't align with the surrounding homes. Generally speaking, people who want pools are people with children, which limits interested buyers. In addition, taking care of pools can be expensive and time-consuming, and many may not want to deal with it.

It's important for homeowners to research and understand the preferences and demographics of their neighbourhood before investing in a pool, as it may not add the desired value and could delay the sale of the property.

Unpermitted Work

Unpermitted work can significantly decrease a home's resale value and desirability for buyers. When considering a property, buyers often look for a home that is safe, up to code, and free from any potential legal issues. Many buyers will ask for unpermitted work to be torn out and replaced with permitted work, and those that don't may offer less money. Homeowners who are making home renovations should always go the extra mile to get the work permitted.

Here are three reasons why unpermitted work can turn off buyers:

  • Increased liability: Unpermitted work may not meet building codes and safety regulations, putting buyers at risk. They may be held liable for any issues that arise from the unpermitted renovations or additions. This can lead to increased insurance costs and potential legal troubles.
  • Difficulty obtaining financing: Lenders typically require an appraisal before approving a mortgage. Unpermitted work can negatively impact the appraisal value of a home, making it difficult for buyers to secure financing. Banks are less likely to provide loans for properties with unpermitted work, as it represents a higher risk.
  • Potential costly repairs: Unpermitted work may not have been done to the same standard as permitted work. This can result in hidden issues that may require costly repairs down the line. Buyers are often hesitant to invest in a property that may have underlying problems.

It is essential for homeowners to ensure that any renovations or additions to their property are properly permitted and meet building codes. This will not only increase the value and desirability of the home but also provide peace of mind for potential buyers.

Prioritize Home Renovations That Increase Property Value

It is crucial for homeowners to avoid making certain home improvements that can deter potential buyers and prolong the sale process. This includes making drastic changes to the walls, altering room layouts without considering functionality, and not being aware of the neighbourhood's preferences. Additionally, undertaking unpermitted work can create legal and financial issues. By avoiding these mistakes and focusing on renovations that add value to your home, you can increase the appeal of their homes and attract more interested buyers, leading to a smoother and quicker sale.

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