When is renovating a bad idea?

There comes a time in every homeowner’s life when they’ll think about renovating their home. An en-suite bathroom, extra bedroom or bigger entertainment area might become a priority. It’s possible that those weren’t your priority when you first bought your home. But priorities change. Your family might be growing, your hobbies changing and your lifestyle evolving.

Renovating is often spoken about as being a good idea. It can increase the value of your home, they’ll say. You’ll have more chance of selling an updated home in the future, they’ll tell you. But the reality is that renovating is often not a good idea. Sometimes, it’s possible that it might be an exceedingly bad idea. Here are just a few of the times when renovating probably isn’t the best idea.

You’ve renovated within the past 10 years

It’s not necessary to change your home this often. The reality is that if you do, your home might appear disjointed with too many additions which don’t work well together. If you’re renovating too often, you might be renovating for the wrong reasons. Many people choose to renovate so that they can appear to be keeping up with friends and family who’ve renovated recently. Another reason for renovating too often could be boredom. These should not be reasons to add additional structures and make changes to your home. All that’s going to do is cost money without adding value to your life or home.

Renovations that don’t add value to your home

If you think you might be selling your home in the next few years, you’ll need to think about whether you’ll recoup your costs. There are some neighbourhoods where it just doesn’t make sense to do extensive renovation work. Overcapitalising is a real risk and one which you should avoid at all costs. This happens when your renovations cost more than the value they add to your property. Very often, suburbs have a maximum value which homes will sell for and prospective buyers would never pay more than this amount for a home in the area. This is also true if you’re considering renting out the property. A potential tenant probably has a fairly firm idea in mind of what they’d be willing to pay each month. Renovating and then expecting a tenant to pay an increased rental is possibly not going to happen. It might be a good idea to consult law guides around buying and selling a house before venturing down this path. Do some research into the maximum prices that homes in the area sell for and are rented out for and keep those in mind before making large changes to your home.

Some renovations which often don’t make sense include adding a swimming pool, building an over-the-top bar area or switching to wall-to-wall carpeting. Let’s be honest, most homeowners these days would cringe at the thought of carpets, particularly in rooms like the bathroom or kitchen. Another potential for a problematic addition is an overly-landscaped garden. Many parts of South Africa are facing an extensive water shortage. And gardens which had previously lush lawns are being neglected and aren’t looking their best. Let’s face it, many homeowners couldn’t care about their gardens. Just because you’re a keen gardener and invest money into your garden, doesn’t mean the next owner or tenant will feel the same way. They might not be willing to pay more for a landscaped garden and they might let it go to waste.

You don’t have the money

This should be most obvious one but often it isn’t. Home renovations can be pretty pricey and they often go over budget. You’ll need to think very carefully about how you plan to pay for this project. And if you don’t have the money right now to afford it, rather put the project on hold for a few months or even years. If you decide to go ahead with the project, plan to pay for it responsibly by setting aside a certain amount of money every month. In that way, the renovation will be fully paid for by the time the builders pack up their tools.

Once you’ve considered all these factors, and likely many more, you’ll need to decide on the best way forward for both you and your home. Buyers and tenants tend to look most closely at updated kitchens and bathrooms, so these could be prioritised when considering a renovation. It’s recommended when planning a renovation that you keep in mind the future buyers or tenants. Not everyone will share your taste in fixtures and fittings. So, keep things neutral and they’ll be more likely to appeal to more potential buyers and tenants.