Renovation vs. Remodel

The words “renovation” and “remodel” are often used interchangeably, but if you’re planning some major home improvements, it’s best to get the terminology right before you talk to a contractor. While both renovation and remodel will improve and update your living space, the two types of projects are very different, each with its own set of benefits and considerations. Get to know six key differences that will help you keep the lingo straight—renovation vs. remodel—and nail down the project that best suits your home.

Renovation updates the look and feel of a room—or an entire structure—without changing its intended purpose.

In a renovation, a kitchen remains a kitchen and a bedroom remains a bedroom, but repairs and updates are made. This generally includes such things as painting, installing new flooring, and switching out items like cabinet knobs and faucets. Renovation also includes structural rebuilding. For example, if rotted wood members are discovered, they will be removed and the area (wall, subfloor, or roof) will be rebuilt using new lumber.

During a remodel, the design—and sometimes the structure—is altered.

Remodeling is the process of changing the functionality and the design of an area. It may involve tearing out a wall to expand a bathroom and reconfiguring a kitchen layout so the cabinets, fridge, sink, and range are in different locations. Constructing an addition to your home would also be considered a remodel. Remodeling need not always involve major structural changes, however; it can be something as simple as turning a guest bedroom into a home office. If the purpose of the area has been altered, it’s been remodeled.

Remodeling is often costlier than renovating.

Since remodeling may involve changing the physical structure of a home, it’s often necessary to reconfigure the wiring, plumbing, and ductwork, which makes the project more complex and pricey. More professional labor is usually involved in a remodel, and the material cost is often higher as well, since many remodeling projects involve building new additions. While the final cost comparison depends on the scope of the project and the quality of the materials, because renovations are usually less complex, they’re also easier on the budget.

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