Home Improvement Myths Told by HGTV Shows That Are a Total Waste of Your Money

When you sell your home, you want to make sure the updates you make are well worth it. You want to be able to recoup the money you put into sprucing up your home by getting the best offers possible. If your goal is to get the most bang for your buck, it’s important to use caution when deciding on home improvements. That’s why you should be careful not to take everything you hear on shows like HGTV as gospel truth.

In order to help you out, we took a look at the Remodeling 2017 Cost vs. Value Report to see which projects typically seen on HGTV aren’t worth the money. Here are home improvement myths and lies told by HGTV shows that are a total waste of your money.

Myth: You should always do a major kitchen remodel

Chip and Joanna Gaines in kitchen

If your kitchen is in good shape a remodel might not be worth it. | Magnolia Market via Facebook

  • Average cost: $62,158
  • Average resale value: $40,560
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 65.3%

One popular project you’ll see on just about every HGTV show is a kitchen remodel. You might think a kitchen remodel is a no-brainer, but this isn’t so. First, it’s important to understand the difference between a remodel and a renovation. A renovation involves working on a part of your home that needs repair while remodeling involves changing the structure or form, according to the experts at Northfield Construction Company. If your kitchen is already in good shape, doing a complete remodel might not be worth your money. The average cost to do a major kitchen remodel will set you back about $62,150. However, the resale value is just $40,560. You’ll recoup just 65.3% of your investment.

Next: Be careful, the average bathroom model is over $18,000.

Myth: You should always do a bathroom remodel

white bathroom with two sinks and big mirror

A bathroom like this doesn’t come cheap. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $18,564
  • Average resale value: $12,024
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 64.8%

Another area of the home that gets a lot of attention on HGTV is the bathroom. It’s common to see the show’s hosts mapping out the big plans they have for creating a completely new bathroom with additions such as a new vanity counter, new tiles, and new fixtures. However, you’ll likely lose money on a major bathroom remodel. The average cost is $18,564. However, the average resale value is $12,024. You can expect to recoup just 64.8% of your investment.

Next: This is where the magic happens, or doesn’t happen.  

Myth: It pays to add a master bedroom


A master bedroom generally won’t give you a return on your investment. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $119,533
  • Average resale value: $77,506
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 64.8%

A master bedroom addition typically includes a walk-in closet or dressing area, a soaker tub, a separate walk-in ceramic tile shower, and a double-bowl vanity with a solid-surface countertop. This update might look nice, but it really doesn’t pay to add a master bedroom.

You might see HGTV couples oohing and aahing over their brand-new master suite, but it’s generally not the best way to spend your remodeling dollars. A master suite addition will cost you an average of $119,533, however the resale value is just $77,506. You can expect to recoup roughly 64.8% of the cost.

Next: A new, fancy deck may not be worth it in the end.

Myth: Adding a new deck will be a profitable update

cleaning a deck

Decks cost money in upkeep. | BanksPhotos/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $17,249
  • Average resale value: $11,252
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 65.2%

New decks are often featured prominently on HGTV. The only thing is, a deck addition (specifically a composite deck) might not be worth it considering the costs and expected return on your investment. Expect to pay roughly $17,249 for a composite deck addition. The resale value will be about $11,252. At the end of the day you can expect to recoup just 65.2% of your investment.

Next: Adding rooms doesn’t always add more punch to your value.

Myth: A bathroom addition will add more punch

installing the bathroom floor

A bathroom addition could have a very low return on investment. | moman11/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $43,232
  • Average resale value: $23,283
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 53.9%

The only place you’ll see a punch is to your wallet. You might have been under the impression that any updates to the bathroom will yield the best results, but the numbers say otherwise. According to Remodeling’s Cost Vs. Value report, updates such as a bathroom addition yield the worst results. In fact, a mid-range bathroom addition has the lowest return on investment on Remodeling’s list, yielding a return of just 53.9%.

Next: Don’t let your backyard ruin your budget.

Myth: You should stretch your budget for a backyard patio

A patio outside a home on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

You likely won’t recoup your investment. | HGTV

  • Average cost: $51,985
  • Average resale value: $28,546
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 54.9%

A backyard patio addition typically includes a gas-powered fire pit in the center of the patio in addition to a stone-veneer modular kitchen unit with gas grill, a mini-refrigerator, a sink, and storage. However, backyard patios don’t measure up when it comes to how much you can recoup. The average cost of adding a backyard patio is $51,985. The average resale value is $28,546. However, you can expect to recoup just 54.9% of your hard-earned dollars.

Next: This project can cost you a whopping $90,000.

Myth: A family room addition will be worth the cost

boy in family room

The addition probably won’t be worth it. | HGTV

  • Average cost: $89,566
  • Average resale value: $62,055
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 69.3%

A family room addition costs roughly $89,566, and has an average resale value of $62,055. You can expect to recoup about 69.3% of the cost of your investment. Although a family room addition fares a little better than the other updates on this list in terms of what you’ll get back for your investment, you’ll still lose some money. Therefore, you might want to put this remodel at the bottom of your to-do list or skip it altogether.

Next: Windows don’t always pay off.

Myth: A window replacement will pay off

installing windows

You might recoup only about three-quarters of the cost. | iStock

  • Average cost: $18,759
  • Average resale value: $13,691
  • Amount you can expect to recoup: 73%

High-end window replacements look great but might not always be the best use of your remodeling budget. A wood window replacement project will run you about $18,759. The average resale value is $13,691. You can expect to recoup about 73% of your costs. Although this isn’t terrible, you’ll still be short a few thousand dollars on your investment. When it comes to remodeling, your money is best spent on projects such as fiberglass insulation for the attic (you can expect to recoup 107%) and entry door replacement (you can expect to recoup 90%).

Next: Lies from HGTV you shouldn’t believe.

Lie: Granite is a must-have

updated kitchen with granite counters

Granite is losing its appeal. | iStock.com/hikesterson

We’ve all seen the face of a House Hunters buyer fall when she walks into a home’s kitchen only to discover it doesn’t have granite counters. The emphasis on flashy kitchens and other shiny upgrades scares some people into believing they won’t be able to sell their home if it doesn’t have those features.

“I can’t tell you how many times that I go into a house and they’re like, do you think it would add more value, or do you think it would sell faster if I put in granite counter tops?” Lapin said. “I get asked that question more often than any other.” In fact, granite is losing its luster with homeowners, who are turning to alternative materials like quartz and butcher block, according to a Zillow Digs report.

Next: Buyers don’t know anything.

Lie: Buyers don’t know anything

Alicia Silverstone in Clueless

Buyers aren’t clueless. | Paramount

Though the buyers on shows, such as House Hunters, might not seem very savvy, in the real world it’s just the opposite. “Buyers are not as naïve as they show them,” said Sissy Lapin, author of Simple and Sold the co-founder of ListingDoor, a service that helps people sell their home on their own., adding that they “pretty much have a Ph.D in real estate by the time they buy.”

Easy access to sites like Zillow means would-be homeowners often start the home-search process with a clear idea of what’s available and what they’ll have to pay to get what they want, said Lapin. In other words, those people who are surprised they can’t get their five-bedroom, completely upgraded dream home for $200,000 are the exception, not the norm. “The buyer, the consumer, is very savvy and I feel like that that’s not portrayed,” she said. “Buyers have a lot of confidence now.”

Next: That new home may also have issues.

Lie: New homes are perfect!

White cabinets in a home on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

White cabinets just highlight drips and stains. | HGTV.com

Unrealistic expectations lead homebuyers to believe their next home will look like those on TV and that buying a home of anything less is equivalent to settling. Disillusioned buyers often limit their search to brand new homes only, assuming that maintenance on such properties is minimal, fixtures are updated, and everything else is up to code. But the hidden costs of a sticker home are much higher than you’d expect and choosing to go new over used can be costly.

Remember that new homes often lack necessities, such as decks and fences, which could equal thousands in additional upfront costs. Landscaping alone runs about $3,502 on an average-sized home. If it’s still under construction, the customizable, yet pricey upgrades available to you could easily demolish a set budget.

Next: Renovations aren’t always that easy.

Lie: Renovations are easy (and cheap)

Property brothres

Drew and Jonathan Scott of Property Brothers make renovations look easy. | HGTV/Scripps Networks Interactive

The accelerated renovation schedules and suspiciously low budgets on shows, such as Property Brothers, probably won’t mirror your own experience with a fixer upper, Lapin said. “It must never rain on them,” Lapin said of the Property Brothers, adding that, “on renovations you add 20% to 30% onto the price, and double the time amount.”

Contractors have complained the shows are giving people the wrong idea about what to expect from their own renovation. “Remodelers say that shows, such as Love It or List It and Property Brothers, which often cram whole-house remodeling projects into too-small budgets, give clients the wrong impression regarding pricing and time constraints,” Tim Regan wrote in a blog post for Remodeling.com.

Some have also alleged the renovations you see on TV may not be up to snuff. One couple who appeared on Love It or List It is suing the show’s production company, saying the construction firm chosen by producers left their home “irreparably damaged” and that they didn’t bother to hire a licensed architect.

Next: Everything you see is everything you get.

Lie: Everything you see is everything you get

house for sale sign

A “House For Sale” sign | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

House hunters often overlook the extra charges associated with the homebuying process. Hidden fees, such as appraisals and closing costs, could leave you scrounging for thousands of available dollars last minute. Closing costs usually total 2% to 5% of the home’s value. Expect to pay about $6,000 to $15,000, for example, on a home priced at $313,000 — the median sale price of U.S. homes today.

Forgetting closing costs is one thing, but neglecting to factor property taxes into your long-term budget can be detrimental, as well. Property taxes alone average $3,296 for single-family homeowners nationwide. And while that extra square footage looks really nice on paper, the inflated utility bills associated with a larger property do not.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

Additional reporting by Megan Elliott.

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