Personal Finance

11 Home Renovations With the Worst Payoff

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Skeptical couple talking to a salesman about renovating their kitchen
Freeograph /

Remodeling Magazine’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report takes a look at national average costs for 22 home remodeling projects.

It compares project costs with project resale values in 150 U.S. markets, down to the ZIP code.

Some of these renovations are “upscale” jobs, others are “midrange” in cost. Regional results may vary, but, nationally, none of these projects can be expected to add enough value to a home to recover their cost. In fact, many of these projects offer only a roughly 50% return on investment.

Here, from bad to worst, are the projects that make particularly poor choices for payback.

11. Asphalt-shingle roof replacement

Man installing asphalt shingles on a roof
Christina Richards /

Average cost: $28,256

Average return on investment: 60.7%

If you’ve owned an older home, the chances are good that you’ve been faced with the need to replace an aging roof. Roof replacements, in fact, were among the renovations we cited in “The 10 Most Popular Home Improvements Amid Covid-19.”

At an average cost, nationally, of nearly $30,000, a new asphalt shingle roof is an expensive purchase. The good news: Asphalt shingles typically carry a warranty, and extended coverage may be available.

10. Bathroom remodel (midrange)

Bathroom suite
Simon Annable /

Average cost: $24,424

Average return on investment: 60.1%

This project, updating a 5-by-7-foot bathroom, involves replacing the bathtub. The project includes a new toilet, vanity, sink and tile floor.

A bathroom renovation is one of the home projects that give owners the most satisfaction of all, as we report in “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.”

9. Bathroom remodel (universal design)

Accessible bathroom
B Brown /

Average cost: $38,813

Average return on investment: 57.9%

This project, which transforms an ordinary bathroom into one that’s accessible to everyone, regardless of physical ability, demonstrates that remodeling can have other benefits besides the return on investment. Even so, it’s good to remember that bathroom renovations are among the projects we cite in “17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale.”

The improvements — included are electric heated flooring, grab bars, an elongated toilet, walk-in shower and wheelchair-accessible door threshold — could markedly improve the quality of life for older and disabled residents of a home.

8. Major kitchen remodel (midrange)

Parents cooking at home
Monkey Business Images /

Average cost: $75,571

Average return on investment: 57.4%

It costs over $75,000, on average, to upgrade a 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinets and an island, the study finds.

This project retained the kitchen’s layout, adding midrange-price products that include laminate counters, a double-tub stainless sink and energy-efficient appliances. Custom lighting and a fresh coat of paint complete the job.

7. Metal roof replacement

Construction worker installing a metal roof
vitec /

Average cost: $46,031

Average return on investment: 56.1%

The cost keeps rising for replacing a home’s roof with a new metal one, and yet the return on investment has stayed relatively flat since 2019, the Cost vs. Value report shows. Fortunately, there are ways to keep roofing costs down: See “7 Tips for Getting the Best Deal on a New Roof.”

6. Bathroom remodel (upscale)

Upscale bathroom with tub and shower
karamysh /

Average cost: $75,692

Average return on investment: 54.8%

Remodeling Magazine’s upscale bath remodel expands a 35-square-foot bathroom to 100 square feet without adding to the overall size of the home.

The project adds a freestanding soaker tub and a shower with body-spray fixtures and a frameless glass door. A stone countertop with twin sinks, separate toilet compartment and heated tile floor are among the features.

5. Master suite addition (midrange)

Breadmaker /

Average cost: $156,741

Average return on investment: 54.7%

Adding a new 24-by-16-foot master suite is a dream project. The project doesn’t pay back particularly well, though, at just under 55% return on investment, and it’s one of the projects we cite in “17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale.”

4. Major kitchen remodel (upscale)

Breadmaker /

Average cost: $149,079

Average return on investment: 53.9%

At nearly $150,000, this high-end kitchen remodel is a project that you’d do for the joy of it, rather than financial return.

This upscale remodel of a 200-square-foot kitchen includes custom cabinets, stone countertops, new lighting and higher-end appliances such as a commercial cooktop and vent hood.

3. Bathroom addition (midrange)

Monkey Business Images /

Average cost: $56,946

Average return on investment: 53.1%

This bathroom addition is not a luxury-level project, and yet the return on investment is one of the lowest. This job involves building a new 6-by-8-foot space, and adding to a home’s footprint can be expensive.

Materials shortages during the pandemic have added considerably to construction costs, making home additions one of the projects we cited in “7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021.”

2. Bathroom addition (upscale)

Spacious bathroom
Artazum /

Average cost: $103,613

Average return on investment: 52.8%

Homeowners who add a bathroom to their home get loads of joy from the purchase, research shows, even if the payback isn’t great.

Here, a 100-square-foot bathroom is added to the home, opening into the existing master bedroom. The new bath has electric heating under a tile floor, a shower with a frameless glass door, a freestanding soaker tub, a stone countertop with twin sinks and a private toilet compartment.

1. Master suite addition (upscale)

sirtravelalot /

Average cost: $320,976

Average return on investment: 47.7%

The worst bang for your remodeling buck, this study finds, results from constructing a new, high-end master suite. Other projects in the study would recoup at least 50% of their cost, but this high-end master addition would repay only about 48% at resale, on average.

The price — nearly $321,000 — buys a new 32-by-20-foot addition with a spacious sleeping area as well as a sitting area, built-in storage and a walk-in closet; a high-end gas fireplace and bathroom complete this dream project.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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