19 Home Projects That Are a Total Waste of Money

Written By Jill Taylor

Every home improvement project is great. But if you intend to resell your home in the real estate market, you’re better off avoiding some. In this light, here are 19 projects you should think twice about before spending your hard-earned money on.

Over-the-Top Landscaping

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Expensive landscaping designs, although they will improve your curb appeal, aren’t the best when it comes to ROI. Some even cause you to spend more on maintenance, which can discourage potential buyers. Bankrate advises that you should only spend about 10% to 20% of your total home value on landscaping.

High-End Kitchen Renovations

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Kitchen renovations bring some of the best ROI when it comes to real estate. However, spend too much on them, and you may find it hard to make a profit or even break even on your investment. A modest modern kitchen gives you a better balance between cost and ROI and should be your go-to choice.

Swimming Pools

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According to AARP, “If you sell, in most cases, you’re not going to recoup the cost of installing an in-ground pool.” These pools require significant investment and also come with additional maintenance and insurance costs, and these liabilities make them less attractive to buyers. You should only get them if you aren’t selling your home anytime soon.

Custom Built-Ins

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While custom built-ins can add a personal touch and seem functional, they are often tailored to specific tastes that may not appeal to future buyers. Prefabricated or semi-custom solutions can provide similar benefits without the high price tag, making your home more versatile and attractive.

Home Theaters

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A dedicated home theater might sound like a dream for movie buffs, but it’s a luxury most buyers are not willing to pay extra for. Converting a room into a theater is also expensive, and it often doesn’t provide a significant return when you eventually sell off your home. Consider multifunctional media rooms instead.


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While sunrooms can offer additional living space, they are expensive to build and maintain. Heating and cooling these spaces can be challenging and costly, and they typically do not add enough value to your home to justify the investment. Traditional additions or enclosed porches are better options for you.

High-Maintenance Flooring

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Opting for high-maintenance flooring such as natural stone or exotic hardwoods can lead to significant upkeep costs. These materials may require special cleaning products and regular maintenance, making them less practical. Durable, low-maintenance flooring options are more cost-effective and appealing to a broader audience.

Wine Cellars

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Building a wine cellar is a niche project that only appeals to a specific group of buyers. The cost of construction and the specialized climate control required can be substantial. So, unless you’re a serious wine collector, a small wine fridge or cabinet is a more practical and affordable choice.

Garage Conversions

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Converting a garage into a living space may seem like a good idea to gain extra room, but it often reduces your home’s appeal. Yahoo Finance says your home’s value may drop by as much as 25%. Many buyers value garage space for storage or parking, and if you need more living area, always consider options that don’t sacrifice functional garage space.

Outdoor Kitchens

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Installing an outdoor kitchen can be quite costly, and its use is often limited by the climate you live in. For instance, in rainy or snowy areas, outdoor kitchens see minimal use and require maintenance to withstand the elements. A simple patio with a grill can offer similar enjoyment and portability without the costly price tag and upkeep.

Spa Bathrooms

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Transforming a bathroom into a spa-like retreat with high-end fixtures and finishes can be extremely expensive. While it may provide a luxurious experience, the investment rarely pays off. And you’ll find simple bathroom upgrades with mid-range materials enough to freshen the space and attract buyers without excessive spending.


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Skylights can add natural light and aesthetic appeal, but they come with downsides. They are expensive to install, can cause energy efficiency issues, and may develop leaks over time. Alternatives like energy-efficient windows or light tubes can provide similar benefits without these potential drawbacks.

Extensive Smart Home Systems

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While basic smart home features can add convenience, extensive systems with high-tech gadgets can be costly and quickly become outdated. Many buyers prefer simpler, more manageable technology. And investing in a few essential smart devices usually provides a better return than a fully integrated system.

Luxury Master Suites

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Expanding a master suite with extravagant features such as fireplaces, sitting areas, and lavish bathrooms can be incredibly expensive. These additions often don’t add enough value to your home to justify the cost, and modest updates that enhance comfort and functionality are usually more worthwhile.

Decorative Water Features

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Fountains, ponds, and other decorative water features can be beautiful but require significant maintenance and can lead to increased utility costs. These projects rarely add enough value to your home, and because of this, you should go for simple ornamental projects that offer a more practical and attractive alternative.

Exotic Landscaping Plants

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Choosing exotic or non-native plants for landscaping can be expensive and difficult to maintain. Because they aren’t in their preferred climate, these plants often require special care, which can increase costs and effort. Opting for native or low-maintenance plants provides a more sustainable and cost-effective solution that appeals to more buyers.

High-Cost Room Additions

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Forbes also advises everyone against putting on additions to their home, as building an extra room, for example, can be very expensive and often doesn’t provide a return that matches the investment. If you need more space, consider reconfiguring existing areas within your home. Open floor plans or multipurpose rooms can create the illusion of more space without the high cost.

Custom Closets

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Installing custom closets can be a luxurious upgrade, but they often don’t recoup their cost. Prefabricated or semi-custom solutions can provide similar benefits at a lower price point. Investing in versatile storage solutions is typically a more economical choice that still enhances functionality.

Unique Themed Rooms

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Creating a themed room, such as a medieval dining hall or a tropical paradise, can be fun, but is often expensive and too specific for most buyers. These projects can limit your home’s appeal compared to neutral, versatile spaces that are usually more attractive and easier for buyers to personalize.

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