The pointless home improvements that WON'T add value – so should you even bother?

If you're looking to add value, you can forget these major projects

house with brick wall and table and chairs
(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Whether you're looking to sell your home, or want to add value for the future, you've probably considered some major improvements. Perhaps you've looked at increasing your property's energy efficiency or adding a new kitchen or bathroom. Or maybe you want to go big and add an extension.

The question is, will taking on potentially disruptive and expensive work actually be worth it? Will your home improvements have a big effect on the value of your house?

On the other hand... How to add value to your home

GoCompare, has come up with a new property investment calculator (opens in new tab). You can use it to see whether your planned improvements will have the desired effect on your home's value. But as a heads up, these are the projects with the biggest potential losses according to online estate agents Strike (opens in new tab) and GoCompare.

8. Quickly dated decor in the bathroom

bathroom with tap on wall and white sink near potted plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Potential loss: £5,000

Brass fittings and stylish tiles might be bang on trend at the moment, but they aren't to the taste of all buyers. If you are planning to sell you home stick to a paired back, a minimal scheme that will appeal to a wide range of people. You can always jazz the space up with houseplants and other accessories until you sell.

7. Converting a garage

house with garage with brick wall and potted plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Potential loss: £7,500

Converting garages into living rooms, gyms and other extra rooms to increase space in the home have been a popular project for many houses in Lockdown. However, doing so purely to boost property value is misguided.

Many home hunters will simply be looking for a garage they can use as extra storage space for bulky appliance or items. Or simply for parking the car. Converting it could leave you with a potential loss of £7,500.

6. Upgrading the utilities

white room with washing machine and cloth shoes bottles in shelves

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Potential loss: £15,000

Upgrading the boiler, installing new plumbing and updating electrical wiring are all important improvement for any house. However, these renovations won't add any value to your home.

If these home systems are already in a good condition, save your money and focus on other more affordable updates such as a new coat of paint.

5. Building an extension

house with garden area and lady with baby

(Image credit: TBC)

Potential loss: £18,000

A popular project, but you may be surprised to learn it's often a loss-making one. 'Most buyers prefer to pay for the opportunity to be able to add an attic conversion, kitchen extension or convert a basement,' says GoCompare's Henry Pryor.

'Getting planning permission to do the work is frequently the best investment you can make. That leaves the actual choice of layout, decoration and equipment to the next owner.'

4. Adding a home cinema

living room with tv screen and sofa set

(Image credit: TBC)

Potential loss: £25,500

Even the most avid box set fans should think twice about this one. Installations can be pricey, especially if you want a state-of-the-art projector, Dolby surround sound system and plush seating. And as you can see, you're likely to end up way out of pocket.

3. Putting a tennis court in the back garden

Potential loss: £30,000

This is a project you should only consider if you are planning to live in the property for a good long time. And have recently given birth to the next Andy Murray. Don't expect it to be something buyers will pay a premium for.

2. Splashing out on a swimming pool

swimming pool area with pool side chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Adrian Briscoe)

Potential loss: £33,000

We were surprised at how high this came on the list – especially given the recent pool float explosion! Then again, the British climate doesn't really serve a swimming pool well.

Love them! Sun's out, pool floats out! Aldi are keeping summer dreams afloat

1. Installing a wine cellar

wine storage cupboard and shoes

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Potential loss: £46,075

Digging out your basement – or assigning a room – to create storage for your finest vintages is not the way to go if you're looking to add value.

So what improvements will pay off? 'Improving the green credentials of a house usually pays,' says Henry. 'A new boiler, insulation or energy saving measure along with security improvements will usually pay off. But some additions like solar panels will be hard to get a payback on immediately.'

Related: Estate agents reveal the best ways to add value to your kitchen NOW!

'My advice is usually “spend money on the things that you want and leave other improvements to the next person who may not share your taste",' Henry says.

'The best investment homeowners can make is to buy a bucket, sponge and some cleaning materials. Unless you really know the market and what people really want, you're better off making clear the potential in your property and letting their imagination do the rest. A clean, tidy property will always command more than a scruffy home that looks like a skip!'

Amy Cutmore
Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.