8 most overrated home projects
If you're considering remodeling your home, it may be best to skip these upgrades.
In these uncertain times, remodels are more about wringing day-to-day enjoyment out of your house than simply boosting its resale value. But not every project delivers on its promise of luxury and enjoyment.
Some delightful-sounding home improvements can be problematic or overly expensive or simply wind up collecting dust while you're still paying the tab. And some are destined to become white elephants, in the same kitschy category as that 1970s wet bar, sauna or intercom system.
MSN Real Estate consulted with contractors, designers and other home-improvement gurus — as well as homeowners themselves — to come up with a somewhat subjective "honey-do" list that's better left undone.
1. Whirlpool bath
This upgrade, which had become synonymous with luxury in years past, is now on the most endangered list, contractors say.
"We're taking out these bathtubs and making (walk-in) showers out of them," says Fred Spaulding of Quality Home Improvements in Kingwood, Texas.
Indeed, while they became a standard feature in many upscale homes, a hefty percentage of people who have these big whirlpool tubs report never having the time or inclination to soak in them, in part because of the noise and amount of water required to fill them and keep them warm.
"In almost four years, I have never used it," says "sisb" on a home and garden forum.
2. Room additions
These days, the name of the home-improvement game is conversion, or using existing space in a new way, says Don Van Cura, a Chicago-area remodeling contractor who sits on the board of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
"The biggest thing I've seen a change in is less room additions," Van Cura says. "Before, it had to be bigger and more, more, more. Now we are seeing more people taking advantage of attic or bedroom space."
Dining rooms are becoming home offices. Basements are becoming family rooms, and there are a lot more unpermitted (and some legitimate) attic-to-bedroom conversions, contractors say.
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Forking over an average of $82,756 to build a new family room from the ground up — including foundation, framing, drywall and electric — is more expensive, architects and designers say, than converting your basement. And the addition recoups only 65% of its value at resale, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report. That basement remodel, on the other hand, costs just $62,067 on average and recoups 75% of its value.
3. 'Versailles' kitchens
In contrast with Europe, Americans — with their comparatively shorter history — just love anything that looks old and ornate.
If you look at European design books or websites, you'll find page after page of simple, streamlined modern looks. Here, our McMansions boast elaborate Tuscan villa-style kitchens with ornate cabinetry, hardware and tile.
- MSN Lifestyle: What's your kitchen style?
Call it the Bellagio effect.
"People will go into hock finding themselves surrounded by $150,000 of polished granite and fancy French or English cabinetry," says TV home-improvement veteran Bob Vila, who coaches people through remodeling projects on BobVila.com.
They'll wind up saying, 'I'm still paying on that and what the hell pleasure am I getting out of it?' Going overboard with any aspect of home remodeling can be a mistake."
Indeed, upscale kitchen remodels carried an average price tag of $111,794 last year, according to Remodeling Magazine, but recouped just $70,641, or 63%, of their value at resale, a decline from the 2008-2009 survey.
4. Marble counters (or other porous surfaces)
Marble is a luxurious material that has been long-favored in kitchen and bath remodels. But it is losing its luster.
Sure, it has a lovely, natural look and a rich history in castles and palaces, but it requires more pampering and attention than a spoiled princess, experts say. Marble can scratch more easily than other surfaces, get burned by hot pans and stain easily, just like limestone and other porous materials. That, coupled with a price between $50 and $100 per square foot, should persuade you to leave it to the museum.
Indeed, while much attention has been focused on the drawbacks to granite countertops, contractors say it and other nonporous surfaces such as man-made quartz counters are better long-term picks than marble, limestone or even heavy poured concrete, a trendy surface that can crack as the cabinets underneath shift over time.
"It's very dependent on well-built cabinets below it," Van Cura says.
One might think the "Whirlpool Tubs" are not used a lot, but I think it all depends on your occupation such as my husband & I. We both work in "Security" where you walk and stand a lot and when we purchased our home a year and a half ago the Master Bath had one which was a selling feature especially for us. There were no jets which we had installed shortly after our purchase. I must say I use it at least 3 time a month and it relieves a lot of my aches & pains. So I must say I think all depends. And it probably costs less than putting in a Jacuzzi in your back yard for sure.
There is a great new product out from Questech Corporation called Q-Seal
which protects all natural stone for life.
from the Q-Seal Website (www.q-seal.com)
Q-Seal Certified stone has superior water and stain resistance, and comes with a lifetime warranty
- No special stone cleaners are needed, use ordinary household cleaners
- Q-Seal is anti-microbial and fights odor and stain-causing mold
- Safe for families, Q-Seal is non-toxic and has no harmful emissions (zero VOCs)
Which means you can take showers without worrying about splashing, and take over a kitchen without worrying about splattering. Because now you can live your life without worrying about your beautiful stone – Q-Seal has protected your stone. Forever.
I am putting slate tile on my kitchen floors and countertops. Its cheap, durable, and each tile has its own personality. To get the best look, spray several coats of polyurethane clear coat on it before you put it in service. Slate floors give you traction when someone drops a banana peel behind you.
I have remodeled just about the entire house, well under the 82 k that was the quoted cost for one room....he is getting ripped off.
BTW putting in a jacuzzi as well... and I will use it!
I think most of you are getting home theatre confused with home theatre equipment
I would bet money that people who complain that they never use their whirlpools or spas are those who bought the house with them already installed, and not those who had them installed becaused they wanted them. Statistics on the uses of these can be the biggest liers as they tell part truths and half truths just as often as they tell whole truths.
We use our steam shower at least once a week and our whirlpool at least twice a week. Both were installed when we remodelled both baths, because we wanted them.
To the author:
Indeed, the use of the word "Indeed" occurs far too often in this article. Please expand your vocabulary, or at the least, vary your methods of beginning a sentence.
It's sad to hear how people will remodel to boost the resale value. Shouldn't one fix something up to suit their needs? I mean, we lived in an apartment, we didn't fix anything because it wasn't ours but now that we do have our home, we're fixing it how we want it to be not because someone else said it's a good idea or not. Of course, we do a lot of the work ourselves, but remodeling is expensive. Thankfully we're logical enough to upgrade to make things more functional and maximize storage area.
Hey, my two saw-horses and 4x8 sheet of MDF works great for a kitchen counter top!
If I get a stain, or a few scratches, I'll just sand them out!!
Granite is over rated...
As a professional audio/video/home automation integrator, based in Westchester, NY, the ideas expressed here regarding elaborate home theaters are clearly from someone who has no concept of quality and performance. They are more focused on how to shop for the cheapest things you can find - and you will get what you pay for. We install various types of systems for clients who have specific requests or needs, so we understand what it takes to provide quality, performance and value.
A quality system is not going to consist of a home theater in a box bundle. Sure, you can usually purchase one of those for well under $1000, but there is no way it can possibly replace a higher end system at this time. The quality just isn't going to be there. You can't compare a $20,000 system to a $3,500 system and say "you can get the same thing for less". You can't and you won't. The quality and features of a home theater in a box versus separate components and speakers from a good speaker manufacturer are worlds apart. That is why people get professionally installed systems. Most installers understand a higher level of quality, whether it's a dedicated theater or a TV and surround sound in a multi-purpose room. Such quality systems often include items you will not find in places like Best Buy - but they don't need to cost ten times the price either.
If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, a home theater in a box package may be easier for a novice to work with. You can also get separate components, but that is likely to take much more time and be more complicated. There will be things to learn, settings to adjust properly, concepts to understand, etc.
You can get incredibly high quality at a reasonable price, but the best way for a novice to do it is to get the advice of someone who actually works with audio/video systems on a regular basis. Sure, reviews are helpful, but they won't tell you how good your speakers will sound with a specific A/V receiver or if the universal remote control is going to be incredibly simple to use with the rest of the equipment. There are a lot of details that people, such as reviewers can't express, simply because they don't know your space, the other components you will be using and your personal preferences. It's not to say reviews are bad, but they just don't have the ability to capture the big picture without being there with you.
The bottom line is: people who have limited experience in specialty areas can not and should not talk about those areas in a way that may be construde as factual. The writer clearly had limited experiences, which is very, very far from being a pro who is qualified to make such statements in broader terms. I am a pro and can talk from my varied experiences over the years and with many types of systems, so I am qualified to speak in broader terms, as a professional in my field.
Premier Audio Video Designs
From the sounds of it, what they are saying in the article is that you will not be able to get a return on the investment of these improvements when you sell the house.
What it boils down to is if you like it, do it, but don't expect to get your money back on it should you sell the house.