Top 10 Renovations That Cost More Than They Are Worth

There are many renovations that cost more than they are worth when it comes time to put
your house on the market. Home upgrades come in many different shapes and sizes. While
everyone has their ideas of what will increase their home’s value, there are several
renovations to steer clear of.

Going Overboard

Before you consider remodeling anything in your home, get a general idea of what other
houses in your neighborhood are doing. This will have an impact on your appraisal value. Be
cautious of going overboard with renovations, as this may prove to be a waste of time and
money in the end. (An appraiser calls this “over-improvement” for the market.)

Designs and Fixtures

Prior to implementing new designs and fixtures in your home, ensure these things will flow
well for the buyer that will be walking through. Do the new designs and fixtures make sense
to the rest of the home’s style?


When an appraiser is performing a market analysis, he or she must be able to prove that a
typical buyer will pay more for these renovations, like upgraded landscaping. Fountains,
rock walls, and intricate landscape patterns will indeed enhance the beauty of your yard,
but these things won’t lure buyers to pay extra for them. Buyers may see maintenance,
watering and weeding in what you see as beauty.

SheetrockPaint brush against a wall

A renovation that certainly costs more than it is worth is hanging new sheetrock. This is not
necessary. Consider a cheaper alternative by patching your current sheetrock and putting a fresh coat of paint on it.

High-End Upgrades

A lot of times, high-end upgrades are personal preference items. These include things such

  • Swimming pool
  • Sauna
  • Steam shower
  • Heated floors
  • Sound systems

Keep in mind what a typical buyer will be looking for and expecting in your market. These
items take a large chunk from your budget and do not contribute enough value to your
home’s resale price. Steer clear of this renovation that costs more than it is worth.

New Flooring

Although you should ensure your floors are in good shape and do not show any signs of
damage, totally replacing them is a renovation that could cost more than it is worth.
Consider having your carpets or hardwood floors professionally cleaned. This process will be
much more worth your time.Person laying hardwood at home

New Front Door

A renovation that certainly costs more than it is worth is replacing the front door. Curb
appeal is a factor in the appraisal value, however there are much more cost effective
methods to improving this area. Simply clean up the front area of your home. Pressure wash
the area or simply add a new coat of paint.

Upgrading Electrical Systems

Upgrading your electrical systems is another renovation that certainly costs more than it is
worth. If you do not have a current problem with your electrical system, do not touch it.

Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations

While the kitchen and bathroom are the two rooms in which home renovations have the
most impact, it is important to not go overboard. You can freshen up your space without
replacing everything. Incorporate a new paint color, change out your fixtures, faucets, and
lighting. These minor upgrades will give your rooms a completely different look without
gutting everything and starting fresh.

Floor Plan Alterations

When considering home renovations, steer clear of making floor plan alterations. It is never
wise to take rooms away. Often times, a homeowner will take two smaller bedrooms and make one larger bedroom. However, this often results in an odd floor plan, which is not
appealing to buyers.

Definitive Valuations is here to help you determine what a renovation project will actually
add in value to your house before you get started. Contact us today!

Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide
superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas.
Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your
situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing,
or any other purposes. Discover more here.

How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

The best thing a homeowner can do to prepare for a home appraisal is to ensure an appraiser has easy access to the exterior and interior of the home.

The first step in most appraisals is the property inspection. An appraiser will record the layout of the rooms, take photos, and document the general condition of the home. The appraiser provides a professional, unbiased determination of market value to be used in real estate transactions.

When you prepare for a home appraisal, the process does not have to be complicated. Consider these tips, but don’t become overwhelmed. Do as much as you can, and if you can’t do anything except let the appraiser in, then just do that and don’t sweat it!

Clean up the clutter.

Clean your home up on the inside and outside. Because the first step of the appraisal is property inspection, it is beneficial (though not necessary) to trim any bushes and relocate items that would make it difficult for an appraiser to measure the structure. Ensure an appraiser will have easy access to items such as furnaces and water heaters.

Enhance your home’s curb appeal by maintaining the landscape. Consider these simple tips to boost your appraisal value.Lawn mower

  • Mow the lawn
  • Mulch flower beds
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the door
  • Pressure wash the curb, porch, and driveway

Another simple tip to prepare for a home appraisal is to turn on the lights in your home. This makes it easier for the appraiser to walk through and see everything.

Make minor fixes.

A great way to prepare for a home appraisal is by walking through your home to see if you
find any noticeable issues. Do you have rotted wood or rusted gutters? These are quick-fix
items that require minor updating.

Additional items that could require minor fixes include:

  • Heating and cooling systems are serviced and in functional condition
  • Appliances are operational and well-maintained
  • Leaks are patched
  • Broken windows are replaced
  • Cracks in the walls are patched and painted

It is important to remember that the current condition and functionality of the home is
more important to the appraiser than the age of the home.

Compile a list of previous home renovations.

If your home has undergone previous home renovations, compile a list of those things and
make it available to the appraiser. Your appraiser may or may not want to see all the details,
below, but at least having a list of what has been done will be welcomed by all appraisers!
You can opt to pull a folder together and include:

  • Receipts
  • Before and after photos of renovations
  • Taxation details
  • Permits

floor plans of homeAn appraiser is primarily looking at the condition of your home. This is one of the primary
things that helps to determine where your house will place in the market. Any maintenance
or renovation item is important information for the appraiser to have.

When an appraiser visits your home, he or she will take notes of everything that is part of
the property. An appraiser will assess the condition of your home and how well it has been
maintained. The process does not have to be stressful. Consider these tips to best prepare
for a home appraisal!

Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide
superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas.
Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your
situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing,
or any other purposes. Discover more here.

12 Factors to Consider for Your Next Home Appraisal

There are several factors that may impact your home appraisal value. The main purpose of
an appraisal report is to give a value opinion. Each factor within an appraisal report has its
own impact on the final value of the property. A home appraisal is crucial to place your
home on the market fairly, based on a comparable set of standards and the surrounding
Check out these 12 factors that can influence your home appraisal value.


One of the factors taken into consideration when valuing a home is its location. The location
includes not just the neighborhood your home is in, but where it is positioned within the
neighborhood. A larger lot in the back of the neighborhood may (or may not) be worth more
than a corner lot parallel to the main road.
A neighborhood’s value is based on factors including proximity to schools and hospitals, the
rating of nearby school systems, and surrounding amenities such as parks and shopping

Overhead view of neighborhood

Structural Materials and Updates

Another factor taken into consideration when determining appraised value is the materials
used to build your home and/or recent updating completed. The value may increase if your
home was built more recently with modern materials. The appraiser also considers updates
that have been made to items such as the roof, siding, or windows. These things improve
the overall efficiency and safety of the structure of your home, but are often be considered
maintenance items. (You wouldn’t consider purchasing a home with no roof would you?)
However, there are other updates that can be made to make a home more appealing to the
current market, such as remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, replacing floor covering, and
fresh paint.


A newer home doesn’t always appraise higher than an older home. There are pros and cons
to older and newer homes. New homes, built within the last 10-20 years, are less likely to
have major issues and are lower risk to buy. This may increase the home’s appraised value.
On the other hand, in some markets, older homes located in historic districts may demand
higher prices in the market.

Design Style

A home appraisal also takes into consideration the overall design of the home. In some
markets (but not all), design differences can mean differences in values when all other
things are equal.

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal and general landscaping of the home may also impact a home’s value. Although
it may/may not be possible for an appraiser to make a specific dollar amount adjustment for
your nicely landscaped yard, it is taken into consideration in the overall condition and
quality of your home. Consider an easy-to-care-for layout and clean landscape design to
appeal to most buyers.

Front of house

Number of Rooms

The number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home may also impact the overall value of
the home. A home appraiser will compare your home to others in the area with the same,
or similar, number of bedrooms and bathrooms to make a value comparison.

Real Estate Market

The current status of the local real estate market has a great impact on the final appraisal
value of your home. If the market is saturated with buyers but there aren’t enough sellers,
home values will typically be on an upswing. On the other hand, an appraised value is
expected to be lower in the middle of a market that is saturated with many homes and
fewer buyers.

Recent Renovations

Recently renovated homes, especially those with upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, have a
major impact on the appraisal value of homes. Renovating these areas before putting your
home on the market is a great idea and can help realize a high return on investment. But, be
careful not to “over-improve” your home. Get advice from someone who knows your
neighborhood and what buyers expect. You may not want to put in that gourmet kitchen if you won’t get a return on your investment should you need to sell, because buyers aren’t
looking for that in your neighborhood.


An appraiser considers various factors when assessing a home’s garage (or lack thereof). This

  • If a garage exists
  • How many cars can fit

In general, where a home buyer is able to park their cars will influence the appraisal value.

Storage SpaceCloset storage space

A home with ample storage space such as closets, a basement, or a large attic is typically noticed by appraisers and may or may not impact value. Many home buyers are looking to upsize their home, including their storage space. Appraisers can consider this factor when determining a home’s value.


Heat & Air

The type of heat and air your home has is a factor in your home appraisal value. Central air
and heating results in a higher appraisal value than homes that require individual units in
each room. Outdated systems will also lower the appraisal value of your home.

Square Footage

Appraisers observe the square footage of homes. Once the total square feet number is
determined, an appraiser considers how the space is distributed throughout the home.
Appraisers will consider things such as:

  • How much square footage is useable
  • How much square footage is live-able space
  • How many stories your home has

Consider this list of factors prior to having your home appraised, in order to get the most
value. Additionally, consider strategically placing your home for sale during a time when the
market is filled with buyers. Check out the various things included in a Definitive Homes appraisal report here.


Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas. Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing, or any other purposes. Discover more here.

How Home Renovations Impact Appraisals

How Home Renovations Impact Appraisals

There are pros and cons when it comes to home renovations. The biggest pro is that the
renovations improve your home and can make it more enjoyable for you. The major con is
that sometimes renovations can cost more than they are worth. When planning for home
renovations, it pays to plan carefully and make smart choices with return on investment in

Renovations that Impact Appraisal Value

Changing Your Color SchemeMan painting a wall white

Nearly two-thirds of real estate agents recommend repainting the inside of a home before putting it on the market, according to a 2017 survey by Houzz. Additionally, other studies show a fresh coat in the right shade can add thousands to your home’s sale price. Repainting can be one of the cheapest renovation projects, but it needs to be something neutral. Repainting with bright or other non-neutral colors can back-fire.

Incorporate Landscaping

A little lawn care can go a long way. Curb appeal is an important factor to a home appraisal.
Consider simple upkeep for your yard such as:

  • Mowing
  • Weed-eating
  • Gardening
  • Pressure washing the sidewalks

Don’t implement any over-the-top landscaping projects, such as elaborate designs,
fountains, or stone walkways. These projects won’t hold their value.

Implement Energy-Saving Methods

There are various methods you can implement to ensure your home is as energy efficient as
possible. The most important area to focus on is ensuring your home is fully insulated.
Taking this step can cut your heating bills by nearly 10 percent, according to the
Environmental Protection Agency.
Additionally, replacing old windows with energy-efficient ones can save you between $25
and $450 a year in heating and cooling costs. Other minor things include replacing simple
weather-striping at doors

Renovations That Have Little to No Impact on Home Appraisals

Many home renovations do not make financial sense. These are typically done from
emotions and not practicality and functionality. The following are renovations that
contribute the least value to a home:

  • Installing a pool
  • Converting a bedroom into a leisure space such as a playroom or wine cellar
  • Changing hardwood flooring to carpet
  • Closet renovation (adding shelves)
  • Adding bedrooms or bathrooms
  • High-end fixtures and finishes
  • Adding additional electrical outlets

Renovations can greatly impact the appraisal value of the property, either negatively or
positively. Consider what would contribute the most and the least value. It is important to
consider several other factors before implementing renovations.Paint swatches and counter top tabs


Factors to Consider with Renovations


A home’s location – what city it is in and even what part of that city – is key to this popular question. For example, adding a central air conditioner to a home in the South may add significant value, while putting one in a home near the Pacific Northwest may not have much impact.


Which room are you considering making renovations to? According to one national survey,
kitchen remodels returned an average of 88 percent of the investment. In other words, a
$10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the value of the
home. Bathrooms were second, returning 85 percent.


The actual age of a home is not what is most important when appraising a home. An
appraiser is more concerned with the effective age. According to The Appraiser Coach, if you
can take 10-15 years off the appearance of your home, you are doing yourself a huge favor.
The value of a home is determined by the buyer’s perspective.


Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide
superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas.
Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your
situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing,
or any other purposes. Discover more here.

Difference Between Appraisals and Inspections

Differences Between a Home Appraisal and a Home Inspection

Home appraisals and home inspections are two very different things, but both are necessary in the home buying or selling process. Each of them are evaluating the home from two different perspectives. Additionally, the two are very different processes requiring separate skill sets and expertise.

What is an Appraisal?

The home appraisal is a form of evaluation in which the appraiser gives an opinion of the value of the property being considered. As an appraiser formulates an opinion of the value of your home, he or she will take the following into consideration during the process:

  • Location
  • Size and type of Lot
  • Overall Quality of Construction
  • Overall Condition
  • Prices of Comparable Properties

An appraiser isn’t interested in whether a house is clean, but he or she will notice signs of neglect, such as cracked walls or chipped paint. There are three types of approaches which guide the appraiser to build the valuation of the property.

Cost Approach

The cost approach is one approach that appraisers may consider while determining value, although it is important to note that cost does not necessarily equal value in the world of appraisal. Cost may be greater than, equal to, or less than the contributing value of that item/feature to the whole value of the property. The cost approach involves discerning what the improvements would cost minus physical depreciation, plus the land value.

Sales Comparison Approach

In the sales comparison approach, the appraiser carries out a detailed analysis of comparable sales within the subject’s defined market area. Preferably these properties will be located within close proximity to the property being appraised and will be reflective of the most recent sales. Although for specialty properties, an appraiser may be required to search further in distance and time to find something truly “comparable” to the property being appraised. This approach is the most accurate and clearest indicator of a likely sales price for a home since realtors in the market also look at other home sales in the market when assisting potential buyers and sellers in real estate transactions.

Income ApproachWoman holding clipboard making notes

Lastly, the income approach is another option appraisers can rely on and is most valuable when appraising income producing properties (rental properties). This method involves estimating what an investor would pay based on the money produced by the property.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure of a house, from its roof to the foundation. The home inspection involves comprehensive analysis of the structure, amenities, and other items to include:

  • HVAC Systems
  • Interior Electrical Systems
  • Sanitation / Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • Chimneys
  • Visible Insulation
  • Walls, Ceilings, Floors, Windows, and Doors

A home inspector will educate the buyer or seller on the condition of the home and its major components. The inspector also takes note of the cleanliness and physical condition of the house, looking for things such as cracks in the walls, broken windows, chipped paint, damaged floors, torn carpet, or damaged appliances.

Man unlocking door to house

The Differences

A home inspection will always involve a professional visiting a property and conducting a physical exam. Often an appraisal will often involve a visit to the property by a professional appraiser. However, it is important to note that an appraiser may also be able to give an opinion of value without visiting the property at all as long as enough information is available to make some assumptions and complete the assignment. Additionally, both home inspections and appraisals will often occur prior to the closing of the sale of a home and will result in a report regarding the property’s state, functionality, and integrity. Both are also meant to be unbiased looks at the piece of real estate. However, the two also have big differences, as they both complete different tasks.

Ultimate Goal

A real estate appraiser’s key job is to provide their opinion of the value of the home to the lender, buyer, and/or seller. On the other hand, a home inspector guides the buyer about the physical components and the detailed condition of the home.


A home inspectors inspection can last two to three hours, while an average appraisal inspection involves a simple walk-through. The appraiser’s job is not finished and did not start at the property inspection, but involves detailed research, analysis, and reporting of the market activity and sales in the area and how they compare to the property being appraised.


An inspection assesses the physical components of a home. An appraisal considers a multitude of features of the home including: the location of the home, the school district the home is zoned for, the size of the home, its overall quality and its overall condition.

Both appraisals and inspections are important in protecting a real estate investment. An inspection can safeguard you from making any costly mistakes, such as purchasing a home with a faulty foundation. An appraisal gives you an unbiased, accurate value of the property. Be sure to have both processes taken care of before making any next steps in buying or selling property.

Definitive Valuations is North Alabama’s premiere appraisal firm. Our mission is to provide superior valuation and consulting services in Huntsville, Alabama, and surrounding areas. Our staff strives to understand your needs and to provide the best solution for your situation – whether for financial planning, relocation, tax dispute, legal matters, pre-listing, or any other purposes. Discover more here.