It’s easy to assume that any renovation you make would give your home’s value a significant boost. But the fact is that some renovations are much more popular than others. That means that unless you choose your renovations carefully, the bulk of the money you put into them could be gone forever.

Let’s look at a few renovations you might think would improve your home’s value that really don’t. Then we’ll consider an alternative for each that can be a significant value booster.

Modern living room with geometric gray wallpaper and gold curtains.

Image source: Getty Images.

Not this: A pool

With the oppressive heat of summer upon us, it’s easy to understand how you might assume an in-ground pool would be a valuable addition to your home. This would especially make sense in warmer climates, where you could swim almost year-round.

But the reality is that a lot of potential homebuyers are turned off by the maintenance and upkeep a pool requires, as well as the potential for higher insurance premiums. Some won’t even tour an otherwise ideal home if it has a pool.

With an average cost of over $30,000, building an in-ground pool isn’t cheap. And thanks to the hesitance many potential buyers feel about them, you should only expect a return on your investment (ROI) of around 7%, according to HomeAdvisor.

As ROIs on renovations go, that’s pretty bad. So, a pool isn’t an investment in your home. You should only put one in if you and your family really want one and if you plan to continue living in the home for a long time to come.

Not this: Wallpaper

Wallpaper once conjured images of bold geometric patterns in ’70s-inspired color palettes. But thanks in part to digital printing, wallpaper has come a long way. With an almost limitless variety of colors, patterns, and textures, it can be a wonderful way to create a truly customized, luxurious look and feel in your home.

But the good stuff doesn’t come cheap. You could spend $6,000 papering a single room. And you might think sinking that much money into a home renovation would have to come with a decent payoff. But according to HomeAdvisor, your ROI would be exactly zero.

That’s unfortunate, but it does make sense. The odds that a potential buyer will share your decorating taste exactly are pretty slim. And anything that buyers will feel they’ll have to change immediately on move-in to be happy in the home is a huge turnoff.

So, like with a swimming pool, only invest heavily in top-of-the-line wallpaper if you feel it will significantly improve your enjoyment of your home and if you plan to remain there for a long time to come. It would also be a good idea to stick with neutral colors and patterns so a potential buyer is less likely to object. But even then, you shouldn’t expect it to add any value to your home.

Where to invest instead

If you’d been considering putting in a pool but would prefer to tackle a renovation that would pay off financially, you may want to consider building a wood deck. That said, if you were planning the pool addition because you have a kid on the swim team or your family just adores swimming, then a deck obviously wouldn’t be a viable substitute. But if you were mainly looking to transform your outdoor space into an enjoyable extension of your home, a deck could be ideal.

And with an average ROI of over 75%, a wood deck is an investment that would significantly improve your home’s value, too. Want even more bang for your buck? If the deck is a rooftop one, your ROI could easily hit or even significantly exceed 100%.

If you think you might sell anytime soon, pass on that lovely textured wallpaper and pick up some paint instead. With an average ROI of 107%, an interior paint job is an easy, low-cost way to boost your home’s value. Just go with a neutral palette to make it easier for any potential buyer to picture themselves living there, and it’s hard to go wrong. And if it’s been a while since you’ve painted, the refresh will almost certainly make the home more enjoyable for your own family, too.

You don’t have to pick between renovations your family will enjoy and an investment that will pay off. Always look into the ROI before tackling a home improvement project, and you can enjoy both.


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