If you're planning a renovation project, it might pay to think twice before you attack that wall with a hammer. Not everything you do to your home improves it, not matter how good your intentions.

Even when you're renovating to suit yourself, not a potential, buyer, it pays to remember that your home is probably your biggest investment and you want to safeguard that.

Real estate agents see the best and worst of home renovations and are well positioned to advise on what works and what doesn't. And they suggest you exercise restraint.

It is commonly accepted that a good renovation will give a return that is double what you have spent. But when poor decisions are made, you may not even get back what you paid out.


1. Spend up large on the kitchen or bathroom. If may seem obvious, but new kitchens, especially, are expensive and if you over capitalise you are unlikely to see a return on the money spent.
Chris Kennedy of Harcourts puts kitchens at the top of the list. "If your kitchen and bathroom fall into the 'do-up' category they will usually attract buyers who will be interested in stamping their own style on them. By re-doing them to your own tastes you run the risk of spending thousands but adding no value for those buyers.

"Unless your bathroom and kitchen are unusable, often basic touch-ups, such as a coat of paint and a good professional clean to rid the rooms of any mould, will be enough to get them ready for sale."

2. Remove a bedroom to create more space in another room. Unless you have five or more bedrooms, it's best to keep the existing bedrooms intact. You could still use these rooms in other ways – as a media room for example.

3. Fail to get a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) for work already done. We are a DIY nation, but sometimes we take on too much and don't follow through. If you don't have a CCC for a basement room, staircase or garage, you will have problems when you want to sell, whether it's now or at a later date. Agents will need to disclose the lack of certification, and banks providing mortgage funds may impose special conditions.

4. Over personalise your home. Unusual colour combinations, quirky design features and themed rooms may work for you, but they won't be giving your home the wow factor.

This also applies to built-in furniture. Not everyone wants a built-in console for the TV – they may not even want a TV in the room.

Other things to consider

A swimming pool isn't automatically a plus.

Dont too much on structural, plumbing or electrical work. The costs can spiral quickly and eat into any capital gain you can make on the property.

Putting time and effort into maintenance will also pay off long term. A home that is clean and tidy, both inside and out, will show it has been looked after.