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Top 10 home improvement myths

Published: Oct 14, 2009

So you have decided to tackle a home improvement project, but like a mosquito buzzing in your ear a question lingers - Are you making the right choices when it comes to investing time and effort into improving your home? It's a valid concern because not all home improvements are created equal.

To separate fact from fiction let's take a look at the top 10 home improvement myths:

  1. Any remodeling project will add value to your home

    Not true - while many remodeling projects will add value to your home, some can be seen as a negative by future buyers. For instance, combining two smaller bedrooms to create one larger bedroom may better fit your lifestyle today, but it may cause the home to lose value in the eyes of a future buyer who needs the two separate rooms.

  2. Buying the highest quality materials attracts more buyers

    Installing the highest quality materials always seems like a wise decision, but it can backfire. For instance, using the most expensive tile in a bathroom may impress your friends, but value conscious buyers may opt for a more affordable home if you have over improved for your neighborhood.

  3. Adding square footage always adds value

    A better way to think about this statement is to insert the word useable into the sentence. Square footage in attics and basements that are finished, and by county standards considered livable, may not be attractive to a buyer if the space is sub-standard compared to the rest of the home.

  4. Colors and textures - safe and simple is better

    Keeping a home vanilla so that buyers can choose their own style and décor sounds like a safe bet, but it ignores the fact that most buyers just don't have the ability to visualize the home differently. Without splashes of color and mixtures of texture, you could lose value to other sellers that have taken the time to consult with an interior designer.

  5. Inside improvements are better than outside improvements

    Not necessarily. If a home buyer can't get past the exterior of your home because it has been neglected or doesn't offer good curb appeal, all of the work you have done on the inside may not net you any more dollars. To get the biggest bang for your remodeling buck, start from the outside and work your way in.

  6. Adding a bedroom is better than adding a bathroom

    It depends on the starting point. If you only have one or two bedrooms to start with, adding a bedroom before adding a second bath is probably a wise choice since most buyers are more attracted to a three bedroom home. On the other hand, if you already have three bedrooms and only one bath, your next investment would probably be in a new bathroom.

  7. Paint hides a multitude of sins

    Dry rot? Fungus damage? Mold problems? Carpenter ants? Termite issues? Nothing a can of paint can't fix, right? Wrong! Not only does this practice violate disclosure laws in most states, it can set you up for liability after the sale as most buyers will want you to foot the bill for these hidden issues.

  8. Converting a garage to living space is a great trade off

    Nope. A garage conversion is almost always viewed negatively by future home buyers unless you replace the lost garage with another space of equal size (but then what's the point?). If you are going to do one anyway make sure that the space can be easily converted back to a garage at the time of the sale.

  9. Doing the work yourself will save you money

    For many homeowners wiring a new lighting fixture or plumbing a new dishwasher is a no-brainer, for the rest of us it may end up costing us more later in repair costs when we have to order the work redone by a professional. Another consideration is local and state laws regarding remodeling work. In many states if you have purchased a home to remodel and resell, you must either hold a contractor's license or hire a contractor to do the work for you.

  10. Pools add value to your home

    This is only true if you live in areas where they are must have amenities. Be warned that this isn't true for most areas of the country and the idea of maintaining a pool for ten months out of the year when it can't be enjoyed won't appeal to most buyers.

Becoming an informed home owner is the first step in making wise and profitable decisions when it comes to choosing the right remodeling projects. But don't stop here. Talk to remodeling professionals, contractors, home improvement specialists, and local agents about what amenities are coveted most by home buyers in your market.

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