10 Home Improvements That Do Not Add Value

3 photos show installation of a pool and solar panels, and a machine leveling dirt in a yard.

The Balance / Alice Morgan

Key Takeaways

  • Extensive landscaping, solar panels, and luxury touches like heated floors are among the items that won’t increase your home’s resale value much.
  • If you’re hoping to increase home value, highly customized upgrades or improvements that do not have universal appeal probably won’t help.
  • Even if you don’t get a strong boost in home value, some improvements are still worth considering if they can improve your lifestyle or make your home more marketable.
  • If you’re not sure about a home improvement project’s potential impact on home value, speak with a contractor or real estate professional.

When deciding whether to do a renovation project or not, many homeowners consider whether it will add value to their home. Among the improvements least likely to provide a good return on investment (ROI) are extensive landscaping, swimming pools, and a home theater. 

Of course, sometimes other benefits like increasing your home’s energy efficiency or improving your quality of life while you’re living in the home may be more important to you.

Either way, it’s worth knowing before you decide to dive into an improvement project whether or not you’ll be able to recoup the money it costs. Start by exploring some home improvements that do not add value—it just may help you prioritize what your next big project should be.

1. Luxury Items

Adding luxurious touches to your home—like steam showers or radiant floor heating—is really more about enhancing your living experience rather than boosting your home value should you decide to sell.

While those can be amazing additions for your personal enjoyment (and you may find that well worth it), luxury upgrades don’t typically add home value when it comes time to sell, since they aren’t must-haves on most people’s wish lists. That’s according to Mallory Micetich, home expert at Angi, a home improvement contractor matching service. She spoke to The Balance via an email interview. (Disclosure: Angi is a division of IAC, as is The Balance.) 

2. Extensive Professional Landscaping

Landscaping is certainly an important element of curb appeal, which in turn, can help you sell your home. But you want to be careful about investing too much in specialized lawn and garden improvements. Landscaping choices are a personal preference. While you may get a lot of enjoyment from them, potential buyers may not see the appeal—and may see the cost of keeping them up as a negative.

“The cost of creating and maintaining an elaborate garden or lawn can often outweigh any potential benefit it provides in terms of home value,” said Alex Capozzolo, real estate agent and co-founder of SD House Guys, a San Diego-based cash home buying company, in an email interview with The Balance. “Additionally, buyers may not appreciate the landscaping you created, so it can be a waste of money in the long run.”

3. Solar Panels

Installing solar panels generally won’t improve your resale value by anything close to the amount you invest. That’s partly because the technology is still evolving. 

Solar panels can, of course, cut your utility bills. Improving energy efficiency is always a good thing, and you could be eligible for rebates or tax breaks.

But energy savings can vary widely depending on your home location and positioning, and solar is still a fairly expensive out-of-pocket investment. What’s more, a bump in home value is only possible if you purchase your solar panels rather than lease them, said Micetich. 

“Purchased solar panels can have around a 10% to 30% ROI, but leased solar panels are a different story. Prospective buyers don’t necessarily want to take over a 20-year lease and can be turned away by the long-term obligation,” she explained.

4. Home Theater

Here’s a good question to ask yourself when embarking on a home improvement project: Will your upgrade have universal appeal? If the answer is no or you’re not sure, then it’s likely that it won’t improve your home value. The perfect example of this is a home theater. 

“Creating a purpose-built space that buyers may not use can negatively affect the value of your home,” said Andy Kolodgie, owner and founder of Sell My House Fast, in an email interview with The Balance. His company is a real estate investment firm specializing in helping homeowners sell houses quickly.

“Putting in a home theater or a fixed games room that permanently affects how the room is used will decrease the value of your property.”

5. Swimming Pool or Hot Tub

While a swimming pool may be an attractive addition to your home and provide relaxation on those hot summer days, it does not add any significant value in the eyes of most homebuyers, said Capozzolo. In fact, swimming pools can be quite expensive to install and maintain, so for potential homebuyers who have no interest, they can actually be a turnoff. 


Don’t let resale considerations deter you if a swimming pool will bring years of joy and entertainment for your family. That could make it a worthy investment regardless of future resale value.

Many people won't buy a home with a swimming pool. They don't want the upkeep or safety issues. In fact, as part of negotiations, a buyer might insist that you tear out the pool or whirlpool. If you want to install a pool or hot tub, do it because you will enjoy it, not because it will pay off when it's time to sell.

6. Garage Conversion

Converting your garage to a bedroom or den can give you more living space, but you’ll be giving up a place to keep vehicles and other belongings. In a 2021 survey by Realtor.com, 30% of first-time homebuyers were especially looking for a home with a garage. 

So while converting your garage could have a small or even negative impact on resale value, if you want the extra liveable square footage while you’re living there, it may be worth it to you in other ways. 

“If you’re planning on moving in the next few years, a garage conversion might not be a great project to take on, but if you plan on staying for a while, we’re seeing homeowners less focused on financial ROI and more focused on the intrinsic value of their living space—making garage conversions a great project to take on,” said Micetich.

7. Sunroom

A sunroom can be a delightful place to relax or help extend your entertaining space, but if you’re aiming for an increase in home value, it isn’t the brightest idea. 

“Although sunrooms add an extra living space to your home, unlike adding an additional room they are not typically included in the technical plans,” said Kolodgie. 


Since it’s the floor plans that determine the square footage of your property used to value your home, it may be tough to recoup the expenses of adding this space. 

Another thing to consider is that permits may be required for this type of build, which can significantly increase your costs. But making sure your legal ducks are in a row will save you a headache when you try to sell later. All that said, people do love sunrooms, so even if it doesn't technically bump up your home value, it could help you sell your home someday.

8. Over-Upgrading

Adding some dazzle to your domicile may feel great in the moment, but there is a ceiling as to how much you should spend on upgrades—and it’s determined by your local market, said Kolodgie. 

“Before planning any upgrade, check out the value bracket of properties in your area, and avoid upgrading beyond the standard of the highest priced property.” 

For example, if properties in your area don't have quartz countertops and champagne fridges, you can’t expect to see a real dollar return on those investments, although it may make your property more attractive to buyers.

9. Invisible Improvements

Maintaining the behind-the-scenes systems of your home is important to keep things functioning, but it’s not necessarily going to pay off in terms of home value if you’re planning a sale in the near future. For example, you may decide to proactively put in a new water heater or change the plumbing under your kitchen sink, but homebuyers probably aren’t going to increase their offers because of those factors. 

That said, avoiding the headache of an emergency repair and improving the efficiency of your home systems while you still live there has peace of mind value in and of itself.

10. New Carpeting

There was a time when wall-to-wall carpeting was a selling point, but times have changed. If you want to make an investment in flooring that will improve your home value, think hardwood flooring, tile, and other good quality hard surfaces. 

In fact, the 2022 Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and National Association of the Remodeling Industry found that ​refinishing hardwood floors and adding wood flooring had the highest cost recovery rates among interior projects, at 147% and 118% respectively.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which home improvements add the most value?

Eleven out of the top 12 home improvements that add value are exterior upgrades like replacing a garage door, siding, windows, or adding a deck; the interior exception being a minor kitchen remodel. That’s according to the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report.

What home improvements are tax deductible?

Some home improvements have tax benefits. Energy-efficiency improvements may be eligible for a tax credit. Modifications to make a home medically accessible may be deductible. And capital improvements can raise the cost basis of your home if you sell it for a profit, lowering any capital gains tax burden you might face.

Should I replace the HVAC unit before I sell?

Deciding if you should replace an HVAC unit before you sell really depends on its age and condition. If you know it needs replacing and that it’s likely to show up as a red flag on a home inspection report, leaving it alone could jeopardize your sale. But if it’s in good operating condition and regularly maintained, even if it’s older, then it’s your call. You could probably recoup some of the cost and make your home listing more appealing, but you may not get back your full investment.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wisconsin Department of Administration. "Minimum Design Guidelines for Roofing and Waterproofing Systems," Pages 4-7.

  2. National Association of Realtors. “2022 Remodeling Impact Report.” Page 8.

  3. Remodeling. “2022 Cost vs. Value Report.”

  4. IRS. “Energy Incentives for Individuals: Residential Property Updated Questions and Answers.”

  5. IRS. "Publication 502: Medical and Dental Expenses."

  6.  IRS. "Topic No. 701: Sale of Your Home."

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