—Donna Boyle Schwartz
Even the most experienced homeowners can get sucked into spending a lot of money on maintenance costs or home improvements that just don’t deliver. For those who take pride in their homes, it’s important to make improvements that enhance functionality, save time, or make a big design statement. Unfortunately, some of the most common renovations and additions are just a waste of money. Here are some of the major items that can fritter away your funds.
1. The Grass Is Not Always Greener
Professional lawn-care services lure trusting homeowners with promises of a vibrant, lush carpet of soft grass. These services, however, can cost as much as a couple of hundred dollars per month for weekly trims, plus extra fees for various treatments. Save on expenses by making a modest investment in over-the-counter fertilizer, a good-qualitymower, and weekend cuttings.
2. Don’t Take the Plunge
Photo: Zillow Digs
Lounging in your own backyard swimming pool might sound like the ultimate luxury. But before you throw a lot of money into a big hole in the ground, be realistic about the true costs of installation and maintenance. Not only is there the cost of the water, but there’s cleaning, chemicals, and heating to consider. What’s more, a pool isn’t a draw for all home buyers, so it won’t add much resale value when it’s time to sell.
3. Not Too Bright
Photo: Zillow Digs
A sunroom makes a lovely place to kick back in an Adirondack chair with a refreshing drink. Yet homeowners who invest in this expensive addition can expect to recoup only half of their costs, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report.
RELATED: Catching Rays in 11 Golden Sunrooms
4. Alfresco Additions
Photo: Zillow Digs
For those who love backyard entertaining, an outdoor kitchen might seem like a no-brainer. But before you install a pricey new cooktop, brick pizza oven, or other major appliances on the patio, weigh the expense of the project against how much you’ll truly use a second kitchen. If you’re unsure, remember that a top-of-the-line gas grill offers a little luxury at a fraction of the cost of a full kitchen.
5. Trust the Grid
It’s great to be prepared for any kind of emergency, but buying a backup power generator may not be a necessary investment. An integrated backup generator costs a pretty penny but doesn’t build much value when it’s time to sell your home. If you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood where power outages are rare, consider skipping the expense.
RELATED: The Power Outage Survival Guide
6. Don’t Spend to Extend
When you’re purchasing a new appliance, chances are the salesperson will try to upsell an extended warranty. But is it worth the extra cost? Most major appliances don’t break down during the extended warranty period, so you’ll never collect any money. If you still feel like you need the extra coverage, review your credit card policy as many already offer a year of extended warranty protection on purchases.
7. Feel the Pain of PMI
When homeowners pay less than 20 percent on a down payment, they are often required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). This expense can add a substantial monthly cost on top of their mortgage payment. Try to get rid of the PMI as soon as possible by making a few extra mortgage payments during the first two years of ownership. Paying a little extra per month will also reduce the total amount of interest that you’ll pay over the life of the mortgage.
8. Out the Window
No one would willingly throw money out the window, but with improperly insulated windows, you might be doing just that. Take control with a home energy audit; focus on the attic, doors, and windows to identify where you can improve efficiency. A little insulation and weatherstripping could save a lot on monthly energy costs.