When it comes to remodeling, most homeowners aim to enhance their living spaces with the expectation that their property’s overall value will increase.

However, not all renovations are equally received nor are they guaranteed to provide a positive return on your investment. In fact, some can inadvertently diminish the intrinsic worth of your home. Understanding remodeling pitfalls to avoid can save you from making costly mistakes while also protecting your home’s financial appraisal.

In this article, we cover some of the more prevalent remodeling errors that can decrease your home’s value and how you can steer clear of these all-too-common mistakes.

5 Remodel Mistakes that Can Hurt Your Home’s Value

  1. Over-Customizing Your Home
  2. Ignoring Your Home’s Architectural Integrity
  3. Taking on an Overambitious DIY Projects
  4. Neglecting Key Areas
  5. Going With Fads Over Timeless Design

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1. Over-Customizing Your Home

Personalizing your home can make it a more enjoyable place to live, but over-customization can be a risky, double-edged sword.

Large renovated kitchen with epoxy flooring

Epoxy flooring competing for attention with rustic wooden cabinetry and island

Features that are too unique or tailored to specific tastes may not appeal to the general market. For example, converting a bedroom into a specialized hobby room or installing overly ambitious technological features might deter potential buyers who see these customizations as obstacles rather than assets.

In the pursuit for a highly personalized space, homeowners may also be guilty of adding too many features that may “cancel” each other out, instead of letting one element (e.g. flooring, cabinetry or backsplash tiling in a kitchen) to provide an interesting contrast that is visually balanced within the given room.

Outdated Tuscan galley kitchen

A Tuscan galley kitchen that looks outdated

Impact on Home Value

Over-customization limits buyer appeal and may necessitate reversal before sale, reducing overall profitability.

Small bathroom with lime green tiles

A small european bathroom that showcases a homeowner’s love of lime green

How to Avoid this Pitfall

When pursuing a customized design or solution, always have a plan to be able to reverse changes, if and when necessary.

Neutral bathroom with green biophilic highlights with plants

If you love green, go the easier, biophilic route with large, leafy plants

This option not only applies to resale value, but also anticipating changes to one’s tastes.

White neutral empty living room with molding

A classic white room with molding ready to be personalized with interesting home décor, furniture, plants, rugs and lighting

Paint color, on one hand, is an example of a highly flexible solution that can be easily reversed at any point in time. Cumbersome built-ins, on the other hand, can be very costly and time-consuming to reverse.


2. Ignoring Your Home’s Architectural Integrity

Every home has an architectural style, whether it’s a Victorian Classic, a Mid-Century Modern gem, or a quaint Bungalow.

Renovations that clash with your home’s inherent style can be jarring and detract from its overall aesthetic and market value.

For instance, adding ultra-modern fixtures to a traditional home or vice versa can make spaces feel disjointed and give the impression of a poorly designed house.

Impact on Home Value

Failing to account for a home’s architectural style can decrease curb appeal and make the home harder to sell, as potential buyers may view the property as needing work to restore coherence.

Additionally, undermining the primary architectural character will likely be viewed as a negative for prospective buyers that may be willing to pay a premium for a preferred style (e.g. Victorian, Mid-Century Modern, Farmhouse, etc.).

How to Avoid this Pitfall

We strongly recommend seeking professional design advice when considering significant changes to your home’s style, especially pertaining to curb appeal.

Hermogeno Designs 2023 Before and After Photos of an upgraded Craftsman for Curb Appeal

An updated Craftsman
Image courtesy of Hermogeno Designs

A common need, for example, is to modernize some aspects of a well-defined style (e.g. roof tiles, wall shingles, window types, color, etc.) that effectively balance modern materials within a well-known cohesive architectural style.

Traditional brick home painted with an accent color

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3. Taking on Overambitious DIY Projects

The rise of home improvement TV shows and DIY tutorials has inspired many homeowners to take on remodeling projects themselves.

Attic DIY renovation project

While this can be a fun, cost-effective option for small updates, taking on more than you can handle can lead to amateur mistakes that are expensive to fix.

For example, when starting, you’ll need to know what as-built drawings are and how to utilize them.

On top of that, faulty installations or subpar workmanship can also raise red flags for home inspectors, potentially scaring off buyers. Unpermitted DIY work can also be the primary reason for prospective buyers being declined a mortgage for your property listing.

Thus it never hurts to bring in a professional who knows how to do these things properly.

Impact on Home Value

DIY mistakes increase the risk of future repair costs and diminish buyer confidence in the property’s condition.

Professionally installed kitchen cabinetry

Additionally, improperly implemented repairs and upgrades can make you, the homeseller, liable for future damages post-sale, especially if any required permits were not pulled.

How to Avoid this Pitfall

Never renovate beyond your skillset and experience level. Hiring a highly-qualified, well-vetted professional will significantly increase the chances that your given projects will be done correctly and meet your quality standards.

When going the DIY route, always thoroughly research current building codes and required permits for the projects you plan to tackle. In all cases, maintain documentation of the building codes for your specific work, so that you can confirm you met historic requirements at the time of the project.

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4. Neglecting Key Areas

Another mistake homeowners make that decreases their home’s value is focusing on cosmetic upgrades while neglecting essential systems and structural components.

Close up view of worn and damaged asphalt roof shingles

Updates like a new kitchen island won’t mean much if the roof leaks or the HVAC system is on its last legs. Today’s buyers are more informed and will prioritize homes with critical elements and systems in top condition.

Impact on Home Value

Neglecting key areas of a property undermines the functionality and safety of the home, leading to a decrease in market value. In fact, a home with key systems and components in questionable condition can send a signal to prospective buyers that the property might very well be a “money pit”, or worse, an untenable safety risk.

How to Avoid this Pitfall

We suggest prioritizing your home upgrades to address roofs, foundations, framing, and safety issues first. Strive to have a home that you can proudly classify as having “good bones” before investing in costly cosmetic enhancements.

Adding new insulation to improve a home's energy efficiency

Adding new insulation to improve a home’s energy efficiency

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5. Going With Fads Over Timeless Design

Trends come and go, but timeless designs remain in demand.

Orange and Green European kitchen in 1960's/1970's style

Orange and Green Kitchens were once very popular during the 1960’s and 1970’s

Opting for the latest design fads can make your home look dated once those trends pass. Instead, focus on classic appeal in major renovation choices.

Classic white kitchen with stone subway tile backsplash

Though all-white kitchens may be declining in popularity of late, they will always represent a classic design style

For example, while bold, geometric backsplashes may gain temporary attention, subtle, neutral tones tend to have lasting value.

Impact on Home Value

Trendy design choices can reduce long-term appeal, potentially making the home less attractive to future buyers.

Old design motif with mod flower style

Having too many aesthetic features viewed as “unattractive” or “out-dated” can signal that your home may involve “too much work” to correct to the preferred tastes of buyers.

How to Avoid this Pitfall

Take a similar approach as that of minimizing over-personalization. Strive to design with flexibility in mind that will provide viable options to adjust the look-and-feel of your home over time.

Renovated master suite bathroom with classic neutral light blue cabinetry

A classic bathroom design with a light blue accent color

When opting for trendier design elements, rely on less-permanent features such as art work, paint color, area rugs and isolated statement furniture pieces.

Modern LED lighting in new bathroom

With the wide proliferation of LED lighting throughout homes in recent years, expect to make adjustments to fit personal preferences and needs (e.g. warmth vs. cool) with increased familiarity

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