A lot of people do renovations without really thinking of their impact on resale. I walk through other people’s homes most days and see hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been wasted or worse, that will reduce the value of the homes. Here are some examples:
Income suites. Creating an income suite in an area where there is little or no demand for rentals is a mistake. It’s one thing to put an income suite in an area with high demand and density, but despite what you see on TV, you’re going to spend a lot more on those renovations than you will get back in rent, particularly if they have to be soundproofed, fire retrofitted and inspected. And you will be taking away living space that prospective buyers want for their own families. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had buyers walk into a house that has an income suite in it and say, “oh no, we’ll have to tear that out.” Not everyone wants to live with tenants. An income suite narrows your market.
Pools. Pools are great if you loving swimming but not so great for resale unless you’re out in the country where everyone has one. They are expensive and time-consuming to maintain and we only get to use them for a few months in Ottawa because of our weather. If they aren’t properly fenced (and even if they are), they will deter a lot of buyers with small children. At a $10-15K cost to break up and remove, getting rid of one isn’t easy.
Ill-thought out Kitchens. If you’re going to redo your kitchen, spend the extra money and get a designer. I’ve seen wall-mounted ovens put up on walls above eye level; cabinet doors that open into sinks or prevent dishwashers from opening; wall ovens placed where they open into doorways, and create hazards. I don’t care how inexpensive your cabinets are, they can be refaced or replaced; it’s the placement and design that’s most often the issue. It’s expensive to move plumbing and electrical and hard for buyers to get past those mistakes.
Paved backyards. Low maintenance is one thing, but an asphalt back yard is a major deterrent to buyers. Maybe you want a place for your boat, but I don’t care; this is one of those things that buyers really hate. I’ve seen three of them in the past month. Ugh.
Converted garages. Seems like a great idea, doesn’t it? To turn the detached garage into a man-cave? Not if it’s the only place you have to put your patio furniture, lawn mower, or even worse, your car. I’ve seen people turn attached garages into extra bedrooms and living space; bad idea. Most people want garages to park their cars in, and if they don’t use them for parking, they still don’t want to park their cars in the driveway right in front of their “garage” windows. Even worse are the ones where the inside has been redone but they still have garage doors. Double ugh.
Main floor bathrooms with showers and tubs. If it’s not a bungalow, stick with a powder room. No one wants to take a bath or a shower right next to the kitchen. If that’s the only place for a full bath, fine, but just be aware that not too many buyers like it.
Be thoughtful when you renovate. The choices you make may limit your market when the time comes to sell.