When you’re considering home renovations in today’s hot real estate market, you can afford to be a bit discerning in your choices. Gone are the days when every single blemish and smudge needed to be fixed before showing your home to the first agent. These days, anything beyond improvements that are acutely obvious — a hole in the roof or worn-out flooring, for example — is negotiable, because sellers are in the driver’s seat. But even if you’re not selling your home, there are renovations that just simply aren’t necessary. Some, in fact, aren’t worth the trouble at all. 

Did you know? This is the fourth article in our series on renovating your home. Throughout this series, real estate agent Neyshika Tellis has given us the lowdown on all things renovation. If you haven’t already, check out the first three articles: 5 Questions to Consider Before Renovating, Renovations to Increase Your Home Value, and Home Renovations to Help Save Energy and Money.

Are you ready to prep your home for a buyer? Or make a few upgrades with an eye toward selling down the road? Here are some points to ponder.

What renovations do not add value?

The old adage “less is more” applies to many things in life — including home renovations. “Your goal is to let your buyers imagine themselves in the home,” says Tampa Bay area real estate agent Neyshika Tellis. “Try to be very broad in your renovations.” 

Avoid these no-nos:

  • Over-customization: Putting your own spin on your home is good while you’re living there. Big fan of jewel-color accent walls? Have at it. Want a disco ball in the basement? Knock yourself out. But when it’s time to sell, neutrals are needed. Tone down the highlights an average family wouldn’t necessarily appreciate, and go with tried-and-true standards. 
  • Over-building: Nobody likes a showoff. And that’s pretty much what you’re projecting if you build a McMansion in a solidly middle-class neighborhood. Sure, you might be a trend-setter, but that’s not necessarily a given in a volatile economy. Regardless, scale is important. When you’ve got an outsized house that doesn’t match the hood, it’s unlikely to sell.
  • Over-accessorizing: No wall-to-wall carpeting. Just don’t do it. The same goes for other over-the-top design touches; ornate is out and will reduce your home value. Stay away from the French Provincial mirror frame and go with a simple, elegant line. “What’s functional for you may not be to anyone else,” says Tellis. “Look at design books and magazines to get some inspiration for classic looks.” 
Power washing a brick walkway

What home improvement projects add the most value?

It may surprise you that many of the biggest-bang-for-your-buck renovations are actually outside the home, rather than inside. After all, curb appeal is the first impression for a potential buyer — and an agent on the hunt for a home value estimate. “Landscaping is definitely a must,” says Tellis. “Add flowers and plants, and make sure things are looking tidy.” 

If you have six weeks to prepare, though, a kitchen remodel is going to net a solid return on investment (ROI). Updated appliances and new cabinetry can take you from outdated to in style. Bathroom remodels are also important to today’s buyer and can boost your home value. (See our renovation return on investment chart below for specific ROI figures.) 

Other ideas that are worth considering: 

  • Front door: It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do. Stick with neutrals, and tape the edges for a smooth, professional look.
  • Exterior lighting: Add a row of accent lights to show off your landscaping. 
  • Pressure washing: Spruce up the driveway and your exterior walls (even if you can’t see it, there’s crud that needs to come off).
  • Garage door: Change the color or redo the current hue — another easy way to make a big impact. Pretty new light fixtures are a good idea, too.

Is it worth renovating an old house?

Absolutely — as long as you’re not sinking your savings into a proverbial money pit. Beyond the standard upgrades an older home generally requires, like updating the kitchen or removing a bathtub that’s definitely seen better days, your home renovations will generally only improve value. Just be sure that you follow standard protocol with a fixer-upper and get a thorough, professional inspection. You never know what lurks in the plumbing system attached to those gorgeous fixtures — and it’s better to find out before you sign the mortgage. 

“Old houses have character,” says Tellis. “Keep those original, unique pieces, if possible. But in many cases, you’ll need to upgrade electrical and plumbing systems, and that can get pricey — and there’s always the possibility of lead paint or asbestos. So, again, make sure to have a professional appraisal.” You don’t want to buy a house and spend money on a lot of updates only to find out later that they have to be redone. 

Pro Tip: If you’re in the market to buy a new home or make your current space more comfortable, check out more professional insight available on the PODS blog.
Renovating a bathroom

Is adding a new bathroom a good idea?

The short answer is yes if you’re looking to increase your overall home value. A middle-of-the-road (about $50,000) bathroom addition can add about $27,000 to your sales price, according to Realtor.com. But think seriously about whether you actually need another bathroom. If you have a crowded house and it’s getting more crowded with a new baby, then maybe it should be a consideration. 

But if you’re not suffering from inconvenience, would the space be used more efficiently for something else in the practical category — like an additional bedroom or perhaps a home office? Consider your pros and cons before you start adding new pipes. 

Does renovating a house add value?

That depends on the choices you make. In general, updating a home is a good investment, and if done correctly can save you money — but be careful: Home improvement fails are common, and DIY fails are even more common. Know your limits, swallow your pride, and get professional help with renos that are beyond your skill set. 

For a comparison of remodeling projects, take a look at the following renovation return on investment chart, with data from Remodeling’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report:

RenovationJob costValue at sale% cost recovered
Garage door replacement$3,907$3,66394%
Minor kitchen remodel$26,214$18,92772%
Deck addition – wood$16,766$11,03866%
Entry door replacement – steel$2,082$1,35365%
Deck addition – composite$22,426$14,16963%
Grand entrance – fiberglass$10,044$6,11661%
Roof replacement – asphalt shingles$28,256$17,14761%
Bath remodel – upscale$75,692$41,47355%
Master suite addition – mid-range$156,741$85,67255%
Bath addition – mid-range$56,946$30,23753%

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of renovations to those that will actually increase your home value, it’s time to make some room for renovations. Consider options like a PODS portable storage container delivered right to your driveway for temporary and convenient storage. Fixing up the laundry room? Go ahead and move the washer and dryer into the container. Kids room getting refreshed? Load up the bunk beds, dresser, and toy chest (and anything else that needs moving). Keep the container as long as you need it — when you’re all done, PODS will pick it up and keep it in a secure Storage Center.

Special thanks to Neyshika Tellis — Tampa Bay, Florida, real estate agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty — for providing her professional insight for this article!


Shannon Jacobs is a Tampa-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to the PODS blog. She has lived in Atlanta, the Berkshires, and Nashville, but always returns to the warmth of Florida’s Gulf Coast.