A layman may think that there’s not much difference when it comes to renovation vs remodel. In fact, people often use these words interchangeably. However, when you work with real estate or design professionals, you’ll realize that the terms renovation and remodel actually entail two very different things.

Simply put, while a renovation refers to restoring something to its past glory, a remodel refers to creating something new altogether. Want more clarity? Let’s further explore the difference between renovation and remodel. 

Renovation vs Remodel

The key difference between the two is clearer when you view the end result of both types of construction. If you’re renovating, you’re updating an existing structure — mostly with cosmetic changes. But, when you’re remodeling, you’re changing the entire structure — either through construction or demolition.

So, technically, a renovation and remodel are completely different. The dictionary also acknowledges this difference. It refers to a renovation as a process that restores something to a good state of repair. For example, repairing or resurrecting dilapidated buildings or poorly maintained houses. Basically, replacing the old with the new. 

A remodel, on the other hand, is a process that changes the structure or form of something. Remodeling a room or building changes its appearance, structure, or function — by improving upon the existing design, floor plan, and layout. It completely transforms a property.

Whether remodeling or renovating, you can take a look at our full guide on home improvement

Renovation vs Remodeling: Explained Through an Example

paint roller

Let’s take a relevant example of a bathroom to get more clarity on the difference between renovation and remodel. A bathroom renovation will entail repairing or updating it while a bathroom remodel will change its appearance — for the better. 

So, renovating a bathroom might involve installing new tiles, removing and replacing the sink, leaky toilet, or a defunct shower, changing a cracked bathtub, and possibly getting a new paint job done. 

Want to explore more on home remodel? Take a look at our 5 Renovation Tips for Preparing Your Home for Sale

Here, a renovator would keep the plumbing and electrical systems in their original locations. 

If the plumbing or electrical works are moved to another area, the same project would qualify as a remodel. Basically, everything is in good shape, but you would prefer a different layout. For instance, you may want to have a separate tub and shower, change the shower wall tiles, or desire the perfect spa bathroom

Remodeling or Renovating: Which Costs More?

Remodeling almost always costs more than a renovation. The reason is that a remodel involves complex designs, new construction, and electrical as well as plumbing expenses. 

The bigger the changes, the more expensive the cost. Moreover, you will also need to factor in building permits. You can safely add another $500 to $1,000 to the total renovation cost

In a renovation, on the other hand, you’re only altering surface details. What’s more, here, the materials and labor costs are much easier to estimate because of the limited or specific scope of the project.

However, keep in mind that while you can plan and budget a remodel at leisure, renovation may need a more urgent solution. As a result, its cost might come at a time when it’s harder to cover.

Whether you’re renovating or remodeling, it’s important to consult a licensed contractor or architect before beginning your project. Getting all your facts together will definitely ensure that your work is seamless.

Take a look at our guide on tips to planning a smooth home renovation

Renovation vs Remodel: What’s Right for You?

Remodeling a house

It’s important that you articulate clearly the differences between renovation or remodel. After all, the costs and timeline for both types of construction are different.

Keep in mind that a renovation is more of necessity — to keep a building safe and functional. Remodeling is more a want-based construction. Once you decide on the kind of changes you want, you’ll get more focus.

This distinction also plays an important role if you want to sell your house. You’ll obviously want to know your project’s return on investment or ROI. When considering renovation vs remodel, there are major differences in the resale value of both kinds of homes. 

A newly renovated home will mean something different to a home buyer than a newly remodeled home. In a renovated house, you have “fixed it” while in a remodeled house, you have “bettered it”!


Now that you know the basic differences when it comes to renovation vs remodel, we hope your home improvement project will be seamless. 

Once you’ve zeroed in on the kind of construction you want for your property, you can feel free to plan your project. Become an active part of your remodeling project or renovation project. You can then allocate its budget and learn about the best time to make the changes.

Keep in mind that though renovation and remodel are two different processes, they often go hand in hand.

Renovation vs Remodel: Unraveling the Differences was last modified: November 2nd, 2022 by Ramona Sinha
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