Natural Handyman's Links Library section header
Natural Handyman's Home Page Home repair articles and do it yourself tips Home repair contests at Sweepstakes Central Do it yourself books on a variety of home repair topics Tools Natural Handyman's Question and Answer archives Find a handyman or contractor for those small home repair jobs Select links to home repair and do it yourself products and services Advertising options on the Natural Handyman website Comments and questions

Back to Home Sale Articles

Smart Home Upgrades vs. Zero-Value Renovations

by Christopher Britton

Spending time, effort, and money on home upgrades is always an excellent avenue for investment. With the real estate scene growing more and more competitive every year, it's good and often necessary to make sure that your home is at par with the latest spaces available in the market. Think of it as insurance: the more you add value to secure for your living space, the greater the assets' cost in the long run, especially if you're looking to rent, lease, or sell.

You should also remember that not all home upgrades are created equal. You'll be surprised that some renovations, regardless scale or monetary expense, don't actually make a house or condo better in quality or more attractive to prospective buyers. How can you tell smart home upgrades from bad home investments? These five points are designed to help.

Invisible Upgrades vs. Regular Maintenance

You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars upgrading things like plumbing and HVAC systems, but be cautioned. Home buyers and investors don't actually pay much attention to things like these. It may seem rather simplistic, but the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality applies in the world of home improvement. If an upgrade is not immediately visible, it's not going to be immediately valuable either. More often than not, buyers only expect things like plumbing, heating, and air conditioning to be in good working condition. Instead on spending a fortune on upgrading these systems, you can boost the value of or home with simple measures for maintenance. Patch that leaky pipe and have your air conditioning units cleaned on a regular basis. In short: don't fix what ain't broke! A little bit of upkeep goes a long way.

painted drain pipes
No leaks, no worries!

High-end Upgrades vs. Practical Changes

In the same vein, installing the most expensive and tech-savvy dishwasher, refrigerator, or toilet seat doesn't always translate to a smart upgrade for your home. According to Time Magazine, houses that seem fancier than the others within its neighborhood often turn buyers off. Upgrades that are too high-end appear unnecessary and impractical. Thus, if or when you do decide to sell, your buyers will most likely negotiate for a price closer to the value of the neighborhood norm, and you'll eventually be forced to devalue all of your fancy equipment to meet their demands. Consider trading that golden toilet seat in for more practical, market-friendly upgrades. Instead of investing on extravagant paraphernalia, why not try updating little things like faucets, doorknobs, duvet covers, and window fixtures? These things get daily beatings and will show more wear than stoves and fridges. Updating smaller pieces of furniture will not only cost a lot less, but make for a more attractive, valuable home as well.

Rococo vs. Fashionable Neutrals

Another great way to add value to your home is by ensuring that your wall colors are on point and on trend. Remember: rococo and similarly extravagant paint schemes are so two decades ago. These days, minimalism is trumping all other trends in interior design, and as a homeowner looking to upgrade your space, that's definitely good news for you. Repainting a room (or all of your interiors for that matter), is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to spruce your house up and follow current trends. Instead of spending on expensive wallpaper or intricate murals, try laying on coats of muted colors like white, steely gray, or even pale rose. Not only are these interior colors on trend for 2015, they can also easily accommodate all the different tastes and design preferences that your buyers might have.

simple modern table and chairs
A clean color scheme makes a space modern and inviting.

Niche Rooms vs. Flexible Spaces

While the occasional craft-geek would love to find a gift-wrapping room in your home, overly specific spaces like this one aren't really of value to a general audience. Don't alienate your prospective buyers by investing on rooms or areas that cater to very specific interests. Instead, put some money and attention into making flexible spaces. To add value to your home, it's important to make it adaptable, because this quality resonates with buyers. It lets them know that they can add or subtract whatever they need to in order to make the space apt for their own lifestyles. Always keep your bedrooms and living rooms well furnished and well kept, but save that craft room, mini basketball court, or home laboratory for another place.

simple bedroom style
Invest in rooms and fixtures that will stand the test of time.

Greenery vs. Green Living

Intricately landscaped gardens and a generous helping of house plants can make a house look lush and ecologically conscious, but if you want to project a green, sustainable home, there's a lot more to the process than just placing a potted plant in every corner. Furnishing your home with a lot of greenery may look good in a cosmetic sense, but it often translates to a lot of effort and maintenance in the minds of prospective buyers. Take greener living a step further by incorporating the concept sustainability in practical things. Instead of investing on flora, invest on green lightbulbs or perhaps even solar panels for water heating. These green choices may not look as charming as a flowering plant, but they promise your buyers efficient power expenditure and lower electric bills. While not everybody will be turned on by shrubbery, it's safe to say that every homeowner would want lower utility bills. Greener furniture choices will increase the value of your home by promising such an idea to the market.

fancy decorator light bulb
Energy-efficient light bulbs are more practical than a bunch of house plants!

At the end of the day, make practicality your priority. More than an expensive-looking home, a safe, functional, and efficient one always translates to more value.