Which home ‘improvements’ can actually devalue your house?

26th October 2021

We all want to get the best price possible when we sell our homes, and home improvements such as redecorating, modernising, or even ripping out a dated kitchen can be tempting. However, transforming your property can come with a lot of disruption while the builders take over, as well as a hefty price tag. There are also some common pitfalls which many sellers walk into, resulting in little or no added value.

Be sure the upheaval and the cost of renovations are worth it by reading our tips for how to really get the best asking price for your home and find out which projects may actually devalue your property.


Looking to add value? Start with these projects:


Convert your existing spaces

You don’t need to build an entirely new extension to add value, instead look at what you already have. If you have on-street parking, perhaps your garage could be sacrificed to create a home office or extra bedroom. Maybe you have a cellar which would make a great snug. A loft conversion is also a great way to add an extra storey to your home, but beware that these projects can be costly and require a significant amount of planning.


It’s what’s on the outside that counts

When prospective buyers come to view your house, make their first impression count. Give the front door a lick of paint, tidy up the garden and think about repainting the outside of your property to freshen it up. New plants and hanging baskets can really brighten up your entrance way too.


Reconfigure your kitchen

Before you rip everything out and buy a new kitchen, think about how you could rearrange the space and use what you already have. Keeping existing appliances and repainting cupboard doors can give the heart of the home a facelift, whilst keeping costs down. Use any extra space that you create to install a kitchen island or dining table, as homebuyers are always looking for a kitchen they can sit and enjoy a meal in. For those willing to take on a bigger project, extending the kitchen or combining it with a dining room has been found to increase a property’s value by up to 20%.


Freshen up the bathroom

If you’ve got dated bathroom suites, consider a full refurb, and go for an up-to-date, cleaner aesthetic, while also focusing on improving comfort and functionality by upgrading fixtures, maximizing storage space and opting for underfloor heating. If you’ve already got a relatively modern look, you can go for some straightforward cosmetic touches such as regrouting the bath and shower, installing new fixtures and upgrading your mirror. These can really elevate your bathroom and create a wow factor during viewings.


Increase your home’s energy efficiency

It may sound simple, but improving your house’s energy rating can be an easy and achievable way of adding up to 14% in value. For some people these tweaks will be relatively small such as sealing up drafty doors and windows and replacing light fittings with energy efficient ones. For older houses, there may be a need to replace the central heating system altogether or add double glazing to bring the property’s energy usage down.


Renovations to avoid if you’re looking to maximise value:


Removing period features

Whilst it may be tempting to modernise your home and rip out old and tired features, think carefully before you get busy with the sledgehammer. Those Victorian fireplaces or Georgian windows may be some of the features which set your property aside in a crowded market. Sympathetic redecoration can also create a more cohesive look and avoid jarring clashes between old and new.

While you’re at it, you might want to be very thorough on changing things in your house, especially if you’re working on a very old house. Those walls and ceilings might still be crawling with toxic substances. It might be worth your time to see what asbestos looks like and test for it.


Combining bedrooms

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of having a walk-in wardrobe or dressing room, but sacrificing an extra bedroom to create this retreat could actually decrease the value of your home. Instead, maximise the space in your smallest bedroom by using clever storage solutions and room design to enhance what you already have. Houses with more bedrooms can fetch higher asking prices than those with a master suite (especially in post-pandemic Britain), so think twice before you knock through any walls.


Installing a swimming pool… or wine cellar

While you might love a vintage wine or a dip in the pool, these kinds of specialist customisations can put potential buyers off. The upkeep of a swimming pool, as well as the unreliable weather in the UK means this can decrease the asking price whilst also costing thousands to install. Stick to more universally appreciated improvements such as updated bathrooms or a new paint job to ensure maximum value.


Adding a conservatory

A conservatory or sunroom may seem like a promising idea but in reality, they need a lot of investment and maintenance. The high cost of proper insulation, plus the fact they may only be in use for a few months of the year in the UK makes this a more risky investment if you are planning to sell your home, and prospective buyers may be put off by the idea of cleaning all those windows! Spend the money on tidying up your garden or buying some new outdoor furniture instead.


Going open plan

Whilst this may seem counterintuitive, open plan houses have actually dropped in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic forced people inside. Rather than taking down walls to create one big space, consider creating a home office, a separate living space or even a home gym. This allows buyers to juggle their lives in the post-pandemic world, and also saves on the cost of removing partition walls.