The 6 pointless home improvements that won't add value to your house

It might sound surprising, but there are some home improvements that do not add value if you're considering a move in the near future...

three images to illustrate the pointless home improvements that do not add value – on the left, a sunny garden with a swimming pool, in the middle, a modern kitchen with an island, and to the right, a walk-in wardrobe full of clothes and accessories
(Image credit: Getty Images/Future)

It's easy to assume that every home improvement you make is sure to add value to your property. But as it turns out, if you're planning a move in the near future, there are some home improvements that do not add value – particularly if they cost you a lot to complete.

If you're currently living in your forever home, doing whatever you want to the space is a no-brainer. But if you anticipate leaving your property in, perhaps the next five years, being strategic about updating it is a sensible decision.

Though your space does need to be comfortable for you right now, considering how DIY projects or home improvements will impact your properties resale value is vitally important. Because the last thing you'll want to do is pay up lots of money for something that will offer little value to future potential buyers of your home. And in fact, there are lots of ways to make your home look expensive on a budget, meaning you can increase your property's appeal in smaller, less pricey ways, too.

So which improvements do experts advise against if a move is imminent for you?

The 6 home improvements that may not add value to your property

1. An expensive personalized kitchen renovation

Sage green kitchen with concrete countertops showing key kitchen trends 2023

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

A new, high-end kitchen is always going to add value to your property compared to a on older space that needs serious modernizing. But it's key to find the balance between a kitchen you love, and a space that will appeal to any and all potential home buyers. 

Property and construction expert Thomas Goodman from MyJobQuote said, "It’s very important to do your research first so that you can be sure the investment is worth it. This is because kitchen trends tend to change very quickly."

He revealed that it's often a delicate numbers game. "Kitchen renovations tend to be quite costly and often go into the tens of thousands. If you're not careful, you may find that you spend more on the renovation than what you get back when you come to sell the property."

As such, Thomas explains that a timeless design, that isn't too personalized, is key. "If you’re planning on spending a lot of money on doing up your kitchen, you want to make sure the design can stand the test of time without looking out of date in a few years’ time."

If it suits you, go for a kitchen update that includes broadly appealing colors and design elements, such as neutrals and energy efficient hobs and ovens. Lindsay Johnn, head of office Strutt & Parker Winchester, agreed, "The kitchen is an important room to keep neutral. Buyers like to make changes to pretty much every home – however gorgeous! So be prepared to scale back when trying to sell, to appeal to those looking for a ‘blank canvas’."

2. An expensive wallpapering job

bedroom with heritage wallpaper

(Image credit: Morris & Co.)

"You may think that adding expensive wallpaper to your home will make your home look more appealing and, therefore, increase its value," Thomas said. "However, adding expensive wallpaper, unfortunately, won't add value to the home."

The issue with adding pricey wallpaper is two-fold when it comes to your house value. Not only will it distract future buyers, but your choice is unlikely to be everyone's taste.

Nick Neill, Managing Director of estate agency brand EweMove explained, "Using heavily patterned wallpapers – especially with no theme – can often look too busy and pull focus away from the house itself."

Plus, Thomas explained, "Expensive wallpaper will also be subject to what is trending. This means that it could become outdated very quickly. If your wallpaper trend is no longer in style when you sell, this could even reduce the value of your property."

There's also practicality for future owners to consider. "Wallpaper can also be costly or difficult to remove or change in the future, and, for this reason, potential buyers may be put off, as they won't want to go to the effort of removing the wallpaper."

So though it may be tempting, it's usually always better to redecorate your home by painting it instead, or by opting for cheaper wallpaper. These are the best living room paint colors right now, and the 2023 interior paint color trends we love this year.

3. Over-the-top garden landscaping

pleached trees lining a fence adjacent to a garden seating area

(Image credit: Victoria Truman @victoriatruman_gardendesign)

An overly manicured, personalized and high-maintenance garden is also unlikely to add value to your home – and could even put buyers off. Property expert Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada said, "Additional structures in your outdoor space could initially be fun, but they can get in the way of a beautiful lawn. 

"Plus, the more details you add to a home, the more cleaning and maintenance is needed. Prospective buyers may see themselves spending more time cleaning and maintaining these pointless outdoor additions than enjoying them."

This, paired with the fact that garden renovations can be one of the most pricey things you can do to your home, means that "you may not be able to get a good return on your investment when you come to sell your property," Thomas said.

So instead, keep things simple in your garden if you don't plan on being there for much longer. Avoid excessive modernization, and opt for crowd-pleasing measures such as simple patios and colorful flower beds instead.

4. Swimming pools

swimming pool in a backyard with trees in the distance

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This may not come as a surprise, but the enormous cost of installing a swimming pool is unlikely to pay off when it comes to the overall value of your home, especially if you are based in the UK.

"In the UK, swimming pools can be seen as a luxury, but they don't often increase home value significantly," Paul Gibbens, Marketing Manager at Housebuyers4u, said. "They're expensive to maintain, can take up a lot of space, and the UK's climate means they can only be used for a limited part of the year."

It's estimated that on average, erecting an outdoor swimming pool will set you back around £105,000 in the UK, and up to $55,000 in the US – which isn't exactly cheap! 

"They also represent safety issues," Elizabeth said. "Families with small children, for example, are simply less likely to be in the market for a house with a pool."

As such, it's well worth considering how much use you're really going to get out of a pool if you don't plan on being in your property for too much longer; and whether it's worth waiting for your forever home for such an expense.

5. Converting a spare room to a walk-in wardrobe

walk-in wardrobe with clothes and shelves

(Image credit: A Place For Everything)

A walk-in wardrobe is something many of us probably dream about having. But if you're hoping to add value to your home for resale, it's likely to just be an expensive project that won't provide much return on your investment.

This is largely because a walk-in wardrobe often comes at the expense of another bedroom. "And in general, more bedrooms mean a higher property value," Paul said. Elizabeth agreed, explaining that walk-in wardrobes will likely limit your buying audience. "This may be a fun project, but in reality, most buyers would rather have a third or fourth bedrooms than a massive closet."

Adding a walk-in wardrobe can also present a potential headache for future buyers too, which is likely to deter them from making an offer on your home. "Most potential buyers would prefer keeping the spare room as it is so they can do with it what they wish, rather than being restricted by the built-in wardrobe aspects," Thomas said.

If you want more wardrobe space in the meantime though, these IKEA closet hacks could be useful – and organizing a small closet properly is likely to free up some space, too!

6. Built-in shelving and units

Arched storage unit with open shelves decorated with ornaments

(Image credit: Callie Plemel @homeonharbor)

Interestingly, increased storage opportunities aren't always a positive when considering your home's future resale value, Elizabeth explained.

She warned, "Do not add built-in shelving to your home – when areas of a room are fixed, buyers have trouble understanding how their furniture and vision for the room will fit.

"This forces them to start calculating the added cost of creating the room they really want. A home with built-in shelving will therefore restrict your pool of customers."

For example, Elizabeth said, adding built-in storage units to an office restricts the next buyer’s ability to convert the room back into a bedroom.

If you're planning to up sticks shortly anyway, it's well worth evaluating if you really need built-in storage, or whether a freestanding option will suffice. Plus, you can also take free-standing storage with you to your new home, meaning you won't lose out on the money you spent.

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on