Property Advice

5 upgrades that might not actually increase your home’s value

Article by Property Press

When it comes to renovating not every upgrade will add value to your home. Before you start spending money to make money, here are some important points to consider

Front door painted in Resene ‘Billy T’

We all have a wish list of how we want our homes to be and thinking of possibilities is a big part of the excitement of owning your own home. However not everything you do adds value to a home, and upgrades and renovations may not necessarily be reflected in an increase in price. Here are our top five considerations to bear in mind when contemplating spending money on revamping your home:

1. Overcaptilising

A real estate truism is to buy the worst house in the best street, and the opposite is to be avoided at all costs — don’t put yourself in the position of having the best house in the worst street.

Spending a lot of money on renovations will not translate into money in the bank when you sell if surrounding properties are not of the same calibre. For most buyers, neighbourhood is just as — if not more — important than the actual house they are viewing. Investing in extensive additions in an area of modest homes, high-end finishes in a rundown suburb, or expensive landscaping in a poorly maintained street will all add up to a sorry situation: the value of your home will not increase accordingly.

One exception may be if an area is undergoing increasing gentrification, although most buyers will want to do renovations themselves so that they can get exactly what they want. Until the majority of homes in an area have been upgraded, you will find the market demand is for do-ups people can put their individual stamp on.

2. Lavish landscaping

You may love the new pool, or see added value in the garden haven you have created, but landscaping does not necessarily add value. Many buyers will see a pool as a downside, resulting in extra work for a limited season of enjoyment, or an added worry for supervising young children. Be aware that a pool may even decrease the value of your property. If you decide to go ahead, make sure you pay attention to detail with high-end construction, aesthetically pleasing fencing and thoughtful siting for space, shelter and sun so that it will stand on its on merits.

Similarly, nurturing a garden with flourishing flower beds and mature trees may seem like a big plus when it comes to sell, but many people will not see that it adds any value and instead view it only as extra time spent on maintenance, or money for gardening services. Gardens are also susceptible to fashion trends like everything else, so that the trendy specimen garden you planted 10 years ago may just make the house feel dated.

3. Renovating and extending

Too often people undertake renovations in stages, according to need and finances. This can often result in a haphazard floor plan, disconnected spaces, and rooms that have been compromised in size and quality of finish. A five-bedroom house is only an attractive proposition if the rooms are all of good proportions, and are part of a considered footprint. Tacking on extra space in an ad hoc basis will only detract from the house’s more positive features and will be a turn off for buyers who will need to spend money rectifying your mistakes.

Ensure that any additions flow seamlessly with the rest of the house, both inside and on the exterior. Don’t be tempted by cheap solutions for extra space that will give the house a ramshackle feeling. And beware of creating yawning spaces like an oversized rumpus room, or bespoke areas for your hobby — they will rarely add value and will often have the opposite effect on desirability.

4. Personality plus

There’s a fine line between making a unique home that reflects your individual taste, and creating an interior design scheme that is bland and uninviting. Although it may be tempting to go all out for a neon-coloured kitchen splashback, or choose your favourite colour purple for the bedroom carpet, these are expensive ways to express your personality and will usually detract from a house’s saleability. People want to imagine living in a home and many buyers are put off by unappealing cosmetic details and will reduce their perception of value accordingly.

Choose a feature wall for a bright colour that can easily be painted over, or add lots of personal interest with design details like paintings, rugs, ornaments and cushions that can be easily tweaked when it comes time to sell. You can take them with you, so retain your investment.

On the other hand, don’t get so influenced by resale that you end up with a bland beige interior. Introduce small flourishes that will give a distinctive edge and make sure you are not too influenced by current design trends. These change every few years so what’s hot will soon seem past its use-by date. Opt for more classic finishes that can easily be updated with some small tweaks

5. Super luxe fixtures

You may have always dreamt of having a top-of-the range set of European appliances in your kitchen and by all means go for it, but don’t expect it to add value to your home. Unless your property is at the luxury end of the market — in which case such expenditure is expected — you won’t get a return for your investment.

Buyers want smart kitchens and bathrooms but generally are not impressed by horrendously expensive tapware or shower heads and won’t pay any more for them. It is wiser to stick to quality appliances and finishes that will still make a statement but are within the context of your home’s CV.

This also applies to finishing touches such as window treatments, lighting and flooring. Recent trends have swung away from wall-to-wall carpeting so consider this when you do a major refurb before selling. Expensive finishes will not translate into more dollars on the bottom line, so it may be worthwhile replacing that costly light treatment with something stylish that has a more accessible price tag before you go to sale, or ensure such items are excluded from your list of chattels. That way you can take them with them to enjoy in your new home and won’t bemoan the fact that such indulgences aren’t reflected in the sales price of your property.

Words by: Sarah Beresford. Photography by: Emma MacDonald, Kate Claridge, Sarah Horn, Vanessa Lewis, Claire Mossong /

Home experts are just a click away