World's worst home renovation disasters

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Television home makeover programs make it look so easy. Constructing a vertical garden, adding an en suite, or even a lick of paint and your home will be irresistible to buyers and worth thousands of dollars more.

That’s the theory, but in reality there is often not a lot of money to be made out of renovating. What’s more troubling is that many households draw on home equity, or extend the mortgage to cover the costs, which can be risky business.

While you might believe your home represents the height of sophistication, potential buyers may not agree. In some cases, home ‘improvements’ can kill a sale or wipe value of the sellers’ home.

Here, property experts from around the world share their tales of the worst DIY disasters, to help you to avoid making them.

Bold design

Natalie Stappers from Paramount Properties in the UK, sees a lot bold design features which detract from the bones of a house and send potential buyers running.

She recalls one client’s large collection of dolls and dolls’ heads: “Needless to say most people viewing the property found it quite off-putting and it wasn’t until the owner moved out, dolls’ heads included, that the offers started to roll in.”

One seller even had his naked wife painted onto his bedroom wall, recalls independent agent Russell Quirk: “His fairer half’s parts were unavoidable as prospective buyers viewed the room. It wasn’t exactly an enticement and it’s safe to say that the rest of the property’s décor was rather unique.”

Luxury additions

As glamorous as a home gym or hot tub may sound, they may not increase the value of a humble home.

Mary Anne Cronin, principal of Raine & Horne Bondi Beach, sees a lot of families who overcapitalise through renovation.

One client of Cronin’s bought a semi-detached home in Sydney’s Bondi for $1.1 million and spent another $750,000 on an extensive renovation, she said. The renovated home would not fetch $1.8 million on the market if the owner wanted to sell soon.

“It depends on your long-term view,” Cronin said. “If you’re staying there for many years and you are doing the renovation for your enjoyment, then it’s worth it.”

Maintenance nightmare

Failing to tackle grit and grime can also kill a sale, or at least wipe thousands off the value.

“You can have the most beautiful home with one bit of mould in a ceiling and the buyer will focus on that and fear the worst, said Tom Offermann, an agent operating in the Queensland market of Noosa.

Minor renovations, he said, such as repairing rotted timber, removing mould and rusty gutters, repairing squeaking or jamming doors, as well as proper maintenance and cleaning are OK.

“They can be highly beneficial to achieving the best price,” he told News Ltd. “There should be nothing that a buyer sees when they walk into a home that makes it look like it would be a maintenance nightmare.”

Heritage fails

Another risky area where homeowners can do expensive and irreparable damage is the removal of period features.

Think twice before splashing out on alterations that do not fit the existing character of the house – not only could this devalue a home, it may fail to comply with heritage guidelines. Each state and territory has different arrangements, legislation and requirements for the care of heritage properties so it’s vital to seek out this information before you go down the renovation route.

Mortgage lenders will also want to ensure you are adding value and not detracting from your property, so it’s worth asking for advice if you’re not sure.



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