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5 home improvements you really DON’T need and shouldn’t buy

It’s good to maintain and improve your home, adding value as you do, but did you know some additions to your home are best left alone?

It’s a foregone conclusion that doing work on your home will increase the selling price and kerb appeal of it, right?


There are actually some home improvements that can end up costing you money, and making it difficult, or impossible, to sell your home in the future.

Let’s have a look at five of them and then hopefully you may learn what NOT to get done to the house this year, and you won’t shoot yourself in the foot if you plan on selling.

Although this was written for the UK market, the same rules apply wherever you are in the world, just swap pounds sterling for euros or dollars.

These suggestions are compiled from my experience of construction and building work since 1986 and I have worked on projects both in the UK, and also Ireland, Malta, Spain, Gibraltar and the USA, so hopefully you can see where I’m coming from when I give you some advice best heeded.

If you have money to burn then look away now….

Here is what you DON’T Need to do to your house. Ever

1. Installing a swimming pool.

Who hasn’t thought of how wonderful it would be to have a pool at home, an idea often thought up whilst renting a holiday villa in sunny Spain, but the climate in Manchester is rarely suitable for outdoor swimming, don’t you think?

Putting a pool in can lose money

 Not only that, and speaking as an ex-pool owner myself, regardless of the British climate, pools take a lot of maintenance, they use a lot of precious electricity in running the filtration system (skimmers) and those chemicals aren’t cheap either.

In addition, have you thought of the SAFETY RISK with a pool?

Every year tragically young children and toddlers die in pools when left unattended, so think carefully before you install a pool as it could put buyers off, and cost you upwards of £20,000 plus VAT, even for the the most basic pool, and that doesn’t include the ongoing costs of running it as we discussed above.

“In 2010, 28 children under 15 drowned in pools in the UK. ”

Source: www.capt.org.uk

Lastly, what do you with the pool in winter when it can’t be used?

Empty it?

Oh well there’s an accident waiting to happen.

Keep it full?

Keeping it full all year is a commitment to pay for the filtration costs, the heating and chemicals, plus if the pool is unheated when the water freezes in the pool it will expand and the pressure will force the walls of the pool apart, cracking it, and causing a huge repair bill.

Spending £20k on a pool will not bring a return anything like that and could in fact jeopardise your chances of selling.

Of course this is written from the viewpoint of someone living in the United Kingdom (England) and would not apply to someone, let’s say, living in Valencia in Spain, because adding a pool to a house there WOULD add value, but it’s all down to whether it is suitable for the climate that you live in.

“Generally houses in England with outside swimming pools are owned by show-offs, swingers or swimming enthusiasts.”


2. Installing an outdoor kitchen/BBQ area

OK, once again, you thought about that on vacation yes?

Despite us enjoying a nice summer in 2013, that was unusual and as it has incessantly rained for the past 3 months, surely spending £10,000 on some fabulous BBQ area out the back would be a waste of time?

Outdoor life doesn't suit the UK

If you yourself have money to burn, OK, go ahead, but these sort of additions will put people off as with the UK climate it just seems a total waste of money.

The best thing would be to invest in a good quality gas powered barbecue, which is something you can enjoy when the weather is nice, but can be packed away in the garage until next summer and prices for a good BBQ range start from around £269 (Montana 4 burner, available from Homebase).

Avoid the lower end BBQ’s they will only last 2 summers at most.

3. Upgrading to a flashy master bedroom suite.


underwater bedroom

Of course the master bedroom is where we should all feel comfortable and there is nothing wrong with upgrading it, a bit, like for example built in wardrobes, a separate mini dressing room, or an en-suite bathroom but this kind of home improvement must be approached with caution and a strict budget.

You don’t NEED a sauna, nor do you need a jacuzzi unless you are such a snob you want to impress the neighbours or your friends, but when it comes to sell, the money you spend on an extravagant bedroom addition will not be recouped in the selling price.

These type of home improvements can easily top the £60,000 to £70,000 mark but you will only maybe get an extra £20,000 on the house price.

Any remodelling of this type needs to be conservative, not too personal (e.g. avoid Winnie the pooh wallpaper!), and it needs to be tasteful too as believe it or not, lime green with brown fittings isn’t to every ones taste.

No seriously….

4. Solar power.

OK, the Jury is out on whether solar powered electricity really does prove a worthwhile addition to your home or not.

Although we don’t get a great deal of sunny days here in England, the type of solar panels on the market today do actually generate small amounts of power during cloudy days but are they really something that you should consider?

New paint on render wall

Not only do solar panels look ugly and ruin the overall exterior look and feel of a home, they cost a fortune to buy and install and the amount of power generated, to be honest, isn’t that great, although of course they DO save you a lot of money on your electricity bills.

The UK government’s Green Deal Scheme sought to redress that balance, giving homeowners loans to have the panels fitted, which are then taken back from the home owners power bills.

However, the problem is they take at LEAST 10 years to pay for themselves, and if you are planning to sell the house within that time, guess what?

Politics comes into play with the green deal and green energy in general as the government eventually removed grants for this.

Yes that’s right, you are telling the prospective new owner that they will have to inherit a debt on the house to the government, which entails a commitment to taking over a debt and a loan, something that would put a lot of people off, so think carefully.

Solar power has attracted its fair share of doorstep conmen too so if you ARE approached by a knock on the door by someone selling this, AVOID and call a professional in.

UPDATED SEPT. 2019: The above info should be treated with even more adherence as the green deal scheme ended some time ago, plus all government subsidies for solar power are about to end.

5. Installing a panic room or fallout shelter.

OK, who’s paranoid?

These types of additions can cost a small fortune and can put people off buying your home, or at best, let people know you are a weird conspiracy theorist and they should get out your home immediately.

A cold war bunker in Yorkshire
A cold war bunker in Yorkshire

Although we certainly don’t live in what could be called safe times, this level of paranoia can easily set you back £100,000-£150,000 minimum, and that is only for a small one.

These types of construction require vast amounts of excavation and concrete, let alone air filtration systems, water sources, power sources and so on.

A safe room is cheaper but again, do you really want people to think of you as a weirdo or an oddball?

This would at best label your home as a curiosity, which could help with marketing it, but the novelty with the new owners would soon wear off and if you got an extra £25,000 on the asking price of your house I would be surprised, so this is by far the worst, money losing, home improvement you can make.

Chill out, the prospect of a nuclear attack this year is pretty slim!

A home improvement that you really DO NEED is to get the exterior walls painted which won’t cost a lot but will add value to your house


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