When is a Renovation Not Worth the Effort?

Well that’s quite an odd question isn’t it? But have you ever considered doing a renovation to your home only to find out that the cost of the work won’t be covered by an increase in the subsequent value of the property?

It’s a real problem. And one you should take think carefully about when you come to plan your home update. When is a renovation simply not worth the effort?

#ProjectAtticLet me give you a little background….

My own home was purchased back in 2002 towards the end of a big boom, where both my husband and I had made a lot of money in a short space of time on our previous properties. I know. There’s a whole generation now who won’t understand how this is possible.

I bought in the late 90s just before prices really rose, and my husband had owned his converted Victorian flat for over 10 years – he’d paid around £35k for it and sold it years later for £95k.

We were lucky. We took advantage of the situation which then meant we could buy our current home for £140k and have a very small mortgage. We also kept money aside for updates and improvements which we spent over the next few years.

Prices continued to rise in our area, and we started doing up our quite tired, traditionally styled Victorian semi. We installed a new bathroom and kitchen, completely revamped the garden and started redecorating throughout.

Children came along and the house changed some more. It’s been a constant evolution to make this home work for us.

In 2015 we decided to think about a tough decision. Should we move to get more space? Or should be really invest in our current home and add a room or two – perhaps convert the loft or build a ground floor extension.

We researched the area and built our pros and cons list (we’re quite practical in many ways!).

Here’s the thing. The schools in our area are very good keeping house prices high. It’s a desirable location, and well-known too. So whilst our own home had grown in value to around £280k (yes I know, it doubled in just over a decade) everything else around us had increased too.

We would have needed at least another £100k+ to find something slightly bigger with a loft already converted or a ground floor extension. It was an option we considered but ultimately we loved the space we’d created in our own home, and new there was still bags of potential in it.

So we talked about whether a renovation was worth the effort. And the investment. We looked at tools like this to gauge the market and to understand if the money we spent could be recouped if we ever sold.

As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, we finally underwent the loft conversion creating an extra bedroom and bathroom, and completely reorganising the space on the first floor too. It’s meant we live our lives very differently in the space now, and it’s totally changed the dynamic in the house.

And we decided that it didn’t matter if we never got the invested money back at the point of sale.

What was important was creating a home that we could live well in. A space that worked for our family, for us and only that.

Yes we didn’t do anything ridiculous, but equally we made choices that worked best for us, and didn’t focus on whether it was a sensible decision for when we come to sell.

So many people talk about the layout or the colour scheme not being great when the house goes on the market, but come on, that could be in a decade! You have to live in the place first. You have to enjoy it, be comfortable in it, feel your best self in these four walls that you call home – that is THE most important aspect to consider when planning for any kind of renovation. 

My point is this. When is a renovation not worth it? Well most likely, it’s ALWAYS worth it, if that’s what you want to do. If it’s for you and your family, and that’s what you want to ensure you are happy in your home, then go for it. Don’t worry about house prices 10 years down the line. Live for now. Make your home yours, now. You won’t regret it.

Have you ever take on a renovation knowing that it won’t improve the value of your home? Do you make renovation choices based on the needs of your family first?

Jen x


You're considering a home renovation but not sure if your house value will increase enough to cover the costs. It's a fair problem - should you go ahead with your home renovation? Or should you consider other alternatives. You might be surprised. #lovechicliving #houserenovation #loftconversion

In Collaboration with Sun Life

Jen Stanbrook
Jen Stanbrook

Jen is an interiors writer and blogger and has an insatiable love of home style and decor

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  1. Eoghan McHugh
    April 1, 2018 / 5:54 pm

    Great article and good use of a double negative! Love your outlook that the space should be created, curated and designed to please the occupiers firstly and thereafter other viewers can be thought of as and when they need to be thought of. Very positive for those who want to take bold decisions and embrace their personalities in design.

  2. Sophie
    April 16, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    Great post, Jen! I think these decisions can be really tricky and different things work for different people but it seems like you made the right choice for you. If you’re definitely thinking about moving house then you might want some advice on whether a renovation should be worth it but if you are doing it for yourselves then you should go for it! And from the pictures, your living space looks absolutely beautiful.

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