11 Low-ROI Renovations to Avoid If You’re Not in Your Forever Home

A survey reveals they add value in a different way.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
white tudor house
Photography courtesy of Nela Homes

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We know that installing a pool can boost a home’s value by 12 percent and that some buyers would be willing to pay $6,500 more for a place just because the front door is painted black, but what if your ultimate goal isn’t to sell? What types of renovations should you be making then? 

Chaseroofinspections.com recently evaluated 23 remodeling projects sourced from Verisk using its XactRemodel estimating solution, and a survey that polled more than 6,000 Realtors about construction costs and median home prices, to figure out what homeowners can expect to recoup on certain projects. Along with pinpointing the types of renos that pack serious value (i.e., replacing your garage might only cost you $4,500, but it’ll recoup $8,700), it spotlights upgrades with low ROI, but makes the case that they are still valuable for homeowners in it for the long haul.

Renos with Low ROI 

  1. Window replacement (Wood)
  2. Roofing replacement (Asphalt shingles)
  3. Major kitchen remodel (Midrange)
  4. Bath remodel (Universal design)
  5. Roofing replacement (Metal)
  6. Bath remodel (Upscale)
  7. Major kitchen remodel (Upscale)
  8. Primary suite addition (Midrange)
  9. Bathroom addition (Midrange)
  10. Bathroom addition (Upscale)
  11. Primary suite addition (Upscale)

Roof and Window Upgrades

wood windows
Photography by Lauren Miller; Styling by Me&Mo

Wood windows have a steep price tag of around $25,799 and a resale value of $16,222. That said, over time, they prove their worth: They offer solid insulation and can be painted or stained to match your interiors. The other exterior material you should think long and hard about is what you’re putting on your roof, particularly if it’s asphalt or metal. The latter costs around $49,928 and has a resale value of $24,034, but is resistant to fire, rain, and hail.

Midrange to Upscale Kitchen and Bathrooms

The risk of any luxurious remodel is that a future buyer won’t appreciate the same finishes that you do. But if you’re sticking around, we’d go for the heated bathroom floors and custom pantry cabinet if they make your life easier and all around more pleasant. Similarly, a “universal” bathroom design that’s intended for aging in place or to accommodate those with mobility issues can run you close to $40,750 if it includes features like a walk-in shower, grab bars, and nonslip flooring. You might only get back half of that if you sell, but if you’re not going anywhere anytime soon, we’re all for tweaking your home to suit your current (and future) needs.

Bed and Bath Additions

bathroom with colorful tiled counter
Photography by Lang Thomas Interiors

Like choosing upscale finishes, adding significant square footage to your home can turn it into a personal retreat. Tacking on a brand-new primary suite boasts a $164,649 price tag, and carving out another bathroom costs around $58,586 (or more if a lot of plumbing work is involved), so it’s a great purchase if you plan to stay put for a while. 

The most real piece of advice we’ve ever heard regarding renovating—even if you think you’ll sell someday!—comes from Leanne Ford. “Make it how you love it while you’re in it,” she shared. “Because what happens is people think it’s short term, and then 10 years later they’re still there and they haven’t done anything with the place.” In other words, it’s okay to be selfish.

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.

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