9 Expensive Upgrades You Might Regret

luxury living room with large TV
  • 5-500 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 500-25,000

The phrase “all things in moderation” carries straight through to the topic of home improvement.

In other words, it’s easy to get caught up in upgrades during a remodel, but those extra costs can come back to bite you when your investment doesn’t pay off.

Use caution when planning renovations. Choose your projects and your materials with long-term goals in mind.

1. Comprehensive Smart Technology

It’s fine to put in a driveway motion-sensored camera or programmable thermostat you can control from your phone.

However, overdoing it with smart technology can not only add up in initial cost, but also cause headaches later on.

Technology changes quickly. If every light and appliance is linked into a smart hub you’re asking for trouble down the road.

Instead of going smart with everything from the shower to the washing machine, choose systems that make sense based on your usage pattern.

Look for devices that are easy to replace and that allow you to use them even when the smart features fail. That way you won’t find yourself unable to turn on the lights when you enter a room.

2. Home Theater

Sure it’s lovely to lounge on an oversized couch or perch in theater seating while watching the big screen in the comfort of your own home.

But in reality your style isn’t going to match that of a potential home buyer who would rather use the space another way.

If it’s your dream to have a home theater and you plan to be in the home for many years, go ahead. But if you think it’s an upgrade that will increase the value of your home, you’ll probably be disappointed.

3. Wine Cellar

wine on wooden cooler racks

Same goes for the wine cellar, or built-in refrigerator, or walk-in temperature-controlled vault.

If it’s important to you, consider a wine fridge instead of converting a larger space that could serve a more-pertinent function (not that wine isn’t important).

4. Overdoing the Landscaping

Great landscaping can add to the value of your home. It adds to curb appeal and invites home buyers to envision leisurely summer evenings outdoors.

But overdoing it on the landscaping equates to overwhelming future owners who may not be into gardening.

Even if you don’t plan to sell anytime soon, creating a yard with high-maintenance needs may overwhelm you in a few years when your life changes and yard work becomes an obligation rather than a joy.

5. Swimming Pools

Put a lot of thought into whether a swimming pool is a wise investment.

In some areas, say in parts of Florida, Arizona, or California, home buyers will expect a pool. But for most of the country a pool is an added responsibility.

In-ground pools are incredibly expensive to install. They also create a safety hazard, specifically for families with young children. Plus, pools require a ton of regular maintenance.

If after those first few years, the pool parties stop and the teenagers move out of the house, you may find yourself with an unused money pit.

luxurious swimming pool

6. Built-ins

It typically seems like a good idea to build in bookcases, closets, cupboards, additional shelving, desks, Murphy beds, and other everyday items.

The problem is that building them in makes them immobile and limits the ability to make changes and updates.

Instead of building them into the architecture, keep your beds and desks free standing, but invest in folding models if you don’t plan to use them regularly.

For storage, you can rely on wardrobes, bookcases, hutches, and other furniture you can move, or remove, as needed.

7. Garage Conversion

It may be worth it, but it’s probably not. Converting the garage into a gym, office, or extra bedroom may serve a short or long-term purpose.

If so, go for it. Just remember it also reduces the value of your home by eliminating covered and protected parking and additional storage.

8. Basement Remodel

remodeled basement

The same goes for a basement remodel. It’s a very expensive project that may or may not net you a return.

If the home is desperate for additional living space, you’ll probably come out okay, especially if you get a lot of use out of the space.

But if the conversion simply serves to add a fourth bathroom and man cave, you’re likely going to lose money.

9. Sauna

This is another built-in specialty item that doesn’t suit the masses. If it’s for you, install it and enjoy.

However, remember the costs add up during installation, it takes away from the usable square footage inside the home, and you’ll incur additional costs if you decide to remove it in a few years’ time.