Don’t Waste Your Money on These 10 Popular Home Upgrades

Remodeling is a favorite American pastime once again. But don't kid yourself about getting the money back when you sell.

2. Home office remodel

  • ROI: 48.7 percent
  • Cost: $29,066
  • Resale value: $14,155

This project envisions transforming an existing 12-by-12-foot room into a home office with custom cabinets, a laminate desktop, wiring for electronics, drywall, paint and carpeting. It’s not a high-end job, but it’s expensive to do.

Realtors say that sinking money into a home office is a poor investment, generally, because many homebuyers would rather have flexible space to use for their own needs, such as a spare bedroom, game room, den, guest room, sewing room or nursery, for example.

3. (Upscale) master suite addition

  • ROI: 53.7 percent
  • Cost: $236,363
  • Resale value: $126,860

Buyers may appreciate a project like this one, a 32-foot-by-20-foot addition filled with custom cabinets and bookcases, higher-end appliances, a walk-in closet and a hospitality center with bar sink, under-counter refrigerator, stone countertop and microwave. But they’re unlikely to pay top dollar for it.

Adding new space to a home involves costly excavation and foundation construction, points out HouseLogic, a National Association of Realtors’ site, which adds:

Payback on a master suite addition depends more on how it compares with other houses on the block. If your neighborhood is filled with empty nesters with two-bedroom houses, you probably won’t recoup your investment in a luxury master suite. But if master suites additions are common in your area, you’ll recoup more.

Instead of adding on, take advantage of existing space, if possible, by converting an attic or basement, for example. You’d save 20 percent to 60 percent on construction, increasing the rate of return for this project, HouseLogic says.

4. (Upscale) garage addition

  • ROI: 54.7 percent
  • Cost: $85,592
  • Resale value: $46,791

This aspirational garage is a finished addition to the home. The interior walls hold modular cabinets above and below, and the work surfaces are equipped with task lighting. Such customized improvements are expensive. Be prepared to enjoy them, but understand that your home’s buyers probably won’t pay anything near the full construction value for them.

5. (Midrange) bathroom addition

  • ROI: 57.8 percent
  • Cost: $39,578
  • Resale value: $22,875

This addition involves constructing a new 6-by-8-foot bathroom over a crawl space. The materials aren’t fancy — a fiberglass tub-shower with a tile surround, for example — but adding to a home’s footprint is expensive, as are the costs of new wiring, plumbing and bathroom appliances.

6. (Upscale) bathroom addition

  • ROI: 58.6 percent
  • Cost: $76,429
  • Resale value: $44,750

This project adds 100-square-feet to the home, placing a new master bathroom over a crawl space. It’s a beautiful room, with ceramic-tiled walls, a sophisticated custom shower with body-spray fixtures, and a frameless glass enclosure, a custom whirlpool tub, dual-sink, stone countertop and a separate compartment for the toilet.

7. New (upscale) composite deck

  • ROI: 58.9 percent
  • Cost: $36,385
  • Resale value: $21,437

Composite decking is growing in popularity and the material lasts longer. Popular Trex decking, for example, has a 25-year limited warranty. In comparison, a pressure-treated pine deck lasts around 15 years, says The Baltimore Sun, although diligent maintenance can extend its life.

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