When home improvements go too far

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

It makes good financial sense to make improvements to your home that will add value – think bathrooms and kitchens. Gimmicky additions will have the opposite effect.

There are a number of good solid reasons why people choose to renovate their existing homes during an economic downturn as opposed to buying a new property. The big question is - will the proposed changes add value when it comes time to sell or could that heated swimming pool you thought would be a must-have for future buyers turn out to be the very reason you struggle to sell at a price you have had to inflate in order to recoup the money spent on its installation?

How you improve your home is of course your choice, and depends largely on your pocket. We scoured the web for some ideas and were amazed at some of the lengths people who live overseas will go to in order to enhance their homes. Developers have also joined the trend and, in an attempt to lure buyers, some offer an assortment of previously unheard of amenities.

Want to keep the children amused? A development in Miami in the US offers an ice rink, a surfing simulator, a football field, bowling alley, movie theatre and a Formula One racing simulator. Someone has to pay for all of this, which shouldn’t be a problem in this particular complex which also offers a Wall Street Trader’s Clubroom.

A development on Staten Island in New York is the ideal spot for those who truly want to embrace the idea of community living. It includes a 4 000 plus square metre urban farm, a communal gourmet kitchen and every bee-keeper’s dream - an apiary on the roof. There is a resident chef who holds gourmet cooking classes and tastings and teaches the residents the art of preparing sushi.

Technology has revolutionised the world as far as security goes and although many homes and complexes in South Africa boast security features akin to those at Fort Knox, a development in Miami takes this to a whole new level. The measures there include facial recognition, biometric safes and for those who are concerned about hijackings, there is a fully automated robotic car parking system (with rapid retrieval time) available. Fossil fuels are so yesterday and to accommodate those who are doing their bit for the environment, there are Tesla charging stations in place for electric cars.

Not everyone wants to share though and some have chosen to convert their private homes into virtual palaces. One home, situated in Washington, Utah boasts two movie theatres, a sports pub complete with suspended score boards, a two-lane bowling alley and a spiral slide to transport people between floors. The Las Vegas strip is famous for over the top designs and casinos in particular go to extraordinary lengths to attract customers. However, it's not just business people who take outlandish routes and one home in this desert state features a full-on water park complete with a lazy river, sunken bar and a desert island.

The problem with extravagant additions to a home is that it restricts the number of potential buyers to not only those who can afford the property, but also to those who actually WANT to use these weird and wonderful options. Gimmicky additions also tend to become stale as time passes so while the allure of having an in-house movie theatre or your very own ice rink may initially appeal, the novelty soon wears off. In other words, these become white elephants which are seldom used. While few can afford to go to such extreme lengths to improve their homes, this doesn't mean that some don't make mistakes and end up over-capitalising. Our advice; research before you start in order to ensure that the renovations you have planned won't only appeal to buyers but that you won't be pricing your home out of the market by making improvements which inflate the value to far above that of other properties in your neighbourhood.

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