As homeowners, we like to think of ourselves as trendsetters, or at least, keeping up with popular home design ideas being hyped by our favourite TV hosts or online magazine. To maintain that image, we may get caught up in the emotion and jump into a major home improvement project without considering all the possible drawbacks.
Before you call the contractor to start work on the latest home improvement trends, especially if you’re considering relocating within the next three to five years, take a moment to reign in your excitement and think about the practicality of what you’re going to do. Not every reno trend will provide a favourable ROI and some may even repel future home buyers.
While you may fall in love with the latest vivid paint colour, heavily grained hardwood floor, or spectacular patterned granite countertops, painting the entire house “Dishy Coral,” installing wild “Zebrawood” flooring or “Blue Bahia” granite countertops will not “wow” your prospective purchasers—at least not in a positive way.
It’s also very likely that you’ll tire of those choices within a year and will need spend even more money changing things out again. Think “long-lasting appeal” and “wide-market appeal” when making any significant updates and save the trendy accents for things that can be easily changed.
Bigger is Not Always Better
It’s true that adding square footage to your home can bring a greater return but not if it pushes the price of your home significantly over the neighbourhood average. If the homes in your area are all comparable in size and price range, adding a fifth bedroom or complete second story to a ranch-style home could be a huge deterrent when it’s time to sell. Instead, check around at comparable homes in your community and keep your additions to within 10-percent of that price.
Change for the Sake of Change
There may be some improvements you may be determined to do “just because you like them.” If you’re going to stay in your home for awhile and enjoy the modifications, a low return on investment may be the furthest thing from your mind. Keep in mind that costly aesthetic changes like replacing perfectly good siding or kitchen cabinets for a different colour may not be worth it or even turn people off when it comes time to sell.
Environmentally Wasteful or Harmful
With more and more people understanding the negative environmental impact construction and demolition debris generates, thoughtful consideration should go into every home reno project. Consider green home renovations that will offset the reasons for high utility bills, reduce toxic off-gassing, and reduce waste with the use of low- or no-VOC paints, the addition of energy-efficient triple pane windows vs. double pane windows, and donation of old materials to reuse
Although you may enjoy lounging in your in-ground swimming pool, tending to lavish landscaping, sampling the best vintage bottles from your custom wine cellar, or even following a trend of open shelving in place of kitchen cabinets, beware of creating specialized features that will repel future home buyers. Not everyone will revel in the extra work needed to maintain a pool or elaborate gardens, the lack of basement space, or the constant dishwashing and dusting from open-air storage.
While you may be wondering how to get more natural light in a room or longing for an in-home oasis to melt away life’s daily stresses, you should probably refrain from drastic renovations. Adding a full wall of windows in your family room may look amazing but take away valuable wall space for furniture or be a little too revealing to the neighbours. Likewise, if you spend a small fortune on a spa bath that includes a hot rock sauna and massive walk-in shower, you’ll never recoup those dollars and you’ll limit the buyers that share your same enthusiasm for extraordinary features.
Borrowing Usable Space
It can be a creative idea to convert some areas of your home into unique spaces like a kids reading nook or designated home office, but be careful if you take up usable space from a small bedroom, living room or garage to do it. You may believe that everyone will love your basement man cave or garage converted into a family room, but buyers may not value these repurposed areas to the extent you do.
Your roof is a vital component to your home, but it doesn’t get the same attention on resale as you might imagine. Buyers expect the roof to be in good condition and will demand it’s free from leaks and damage. When putting on a new roof due to age or a need for repairs, you’ll want to make material selections appropriate with both the aesthetics and costs. Architectural shingles, cedar shakes or clay tiles can add great curb appeal but can also be very expensive. Don’t expect to recoup the full return on investment if you choose top-of-the-line materials.
While it might seem like a good idea to incorporate a specialty finish into your cabinet hardware, plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures, they can actually date your home quickly. You may be tempted to follow metal trends like matte black, rose gold or oil-rubbed bronze, but could be a major turnoff to future home buyers. It can be costly to change out all those “matching” components. Selecting a more timeless finish like polished nickel, chrome or brass could prove to be a brilliant interior design concept when you decide to sell.
Forgetting to Update the Mechanicals
With today’s technology running just about everything in the household, it’s easy to get caught up in updating everything you can see, but don’t forget about what is hidden behind the walls too. Unless your home is less than 10 years old, you’ve got old electrical and cable wiring, old plumbing, and old HVAC components. There’s nothing worse than buying all new electronics only to find out your electrical wiring won’t support them, or installing a massive shower with all the hand-held and water elements only to run out of hot water half way through. It’s also no fun to have your furnace fail in the middle of a winter cold snap. Make sure to update your mechanicals to be sure to get the best use out of all your improvements.
The Final Word
Owning a home is a constant work-in-progress—updating to the latest trending improvements can make your home more comfortable, attractive, and desirable to future home buyers if you choose carefully. It’s important that your home reflects your own personal tastes and lifestyle, but by keeping your selections to more wide-ranging appeal, you’ll enjoy your environment for a longer time and earn a higher return on investment when you sell.