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Worst renovation projects

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis  April 1, 2013 08:43 AM

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Think twice before you sink money into these turkeys!

Topping the list of sinkhole renovation projects is the home office. Yes, more people than ever are working from home these days - yours truly included.

And yes, it might be nice, at least in theory, to have the real thing.

But blowing $28,000 on an office remodel is roughly equivalent to throwing, burning or scattering to the four winds your hard-earned money.

When and if you sell your house, the payback for creating your own, 12-by-12 home office, complete with "20 linear feet of laminate desktop, computer workstation, and wall cabinet storage," is a pathetic 39 percent of what you spent, according to the "Remodeling 2013 Cost vs. Value Report."

The annual survey, published by Remodeling Magazine, is worth reading, if just to figure out what to avoid.

Another turkey, especially here in chilly New England, is the sunroom.

Spending $74,244 to tack a 200-square-foot sunroom onto the side or back of your house is another major money loser. You can expect to get back just 43 percent of your original investment.

The idea sounds pleasant enough, but the only sunrooms I have ever seen have degenerated into ratty, little used dumping grounds for cast-off furniture or toys the kids have forgotten about or feel they don't have to pick up.

And our New England climate, which swings from too cold to too hot, is hardly helpful - you will be stuck with space that is too chilly to use six months out of the year and then too hot when temperatures soar during the summer.

Plus, instead of looking out onto the backyard - or in my case, some nice woods - you will instead find yourself gazing into a glorified junk room.

Other turkeys culled from the Remodeling Magazine list include:

  • New bathroom: Unless you are in an older house with just one toilet, adding a third, fourth or fifth bathroom won't impress future buyers. The cost tops $38,000, but you will get less than half (47 percent) of your money back.
  • Basement remodel: The basement is another place you shouldn't go wild fixing up. The cost of the average basement remodel is more than $33,000, but you will only get 53 percent of your investment back. And just hope it's not prone to flooding!
  • Master suite: Another questionable indulgence, you can expect to wave goodbye to 40 percent of your investment in this project, which averages $106,278.


This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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