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Kevin Ahern

By: Kevin Ahern on May 12th, 2021

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Refinished vs Refurbished vs Remodeled - What's the difference and which do I need?

Residential | Residential Remodeling

Refinished vs refurbished: what's the difference? 

There are many terms that contractors use when discussing home improvement. If you're new to working with contractors, trying to find the right language to use when talking about your home improvement project can be challenging. 

Talking to your contractor shouldn't be intimidating or difficult, so we're writing this article to give you some confidence when speaking with contractors. We've covered topics like this before on our blog.

One thing is for sure: no matter what you know about these common home improvement terms, your contractor should be able to understand what your project is if you know your goals, and you're ready to talk about them.  We'll provide some communication tips that can help you at the end of this article.

Term 1: Refinish

Refinishing is the act of applying a new surface to an object or feature like a cabinet or a table. Refinishing is something that happens to floors and furniture. It can be done as a part of a larger project or maybe the project itself, depending on your needs. 

Term 2: Refurbish

Refurbish means to make look like new, to freshen up or brighten up. This term is often used to discuss old structures that have been rejuvenated and restored. 

Term 3: Remodel

To remodel is to create something new out of an existing space. When a remodel is finished, the space will look and function differently. Remodels usually involve changes that are functional and cosmetic

Term 4: Renovation

A renovation is a project designed to restore a space to a more functional state through a combination of upgrading or repairing the various systems in the building, including the plumbing, electrical and more. 

Tips for Communicating With Your Contractor

More important than using the correct terms is just being ready to talk to your contractor about your upcoming project. These communication best practices can help you avoid misunderstandings that lead to a more stressful home improvement experience overall. 

Be Prepared

Before meeting with any contractor, do your homework. The better prepared you are for your initial consultation, the better. Communicating your goals upfront can help you get off to the right start with your contractor. 

Make a list of goals. What are you trying to accomplish with your project? What are the metrics for success? What do you hope the space will look like when it's finished?

Know the "nice to haves" versus the "must-haves." You probably have a list of features that you'd love to see included in your upcoming project, and a list of features that must be included no matter what happens. Write this list down and bring it to your initial meeting, so you won't forget to include important details in your conversation with your contractor.  

Do research online and in publications. Spend time looking at pictures of home improvement projects online to generate ideas and become familiar with materials, products, fixtures, and appliances that are popular with today's consumers. Collect pictures of projects that capture the styles you like. Bring those pictures with you to the first discussion with the contractor.  

Talk to family members. Make sure everyone in your household (or at least, everyone directly affected by the remodel) is on the same page. Don't set yourself up to have a disagreement with other members of your household in front of your contractor!

Plan to Meet Your Contractor On-Site

Be wary of any contractor who will quote a price for your home improvement project (unless it's a very small project indeed) sight-unseen. Plan to meet with your contractor at the site where the project will take place.

When you meet on-site, your contractor should have many questions, should be curious about your goals, should be able to discuss your project with you, and repeat back to you what you're hoping to accomplish. If your contractor came to the site but seems not to understand what you want to do, or if your contractor simply isn't interested in seeing your job site, then it may be time to find another contractor.  

Use Your Point of Contact

A professional contractor outfit is likely to give you a single point of contact to communicate with throughout your project. Use this point of contact to avoid crossed signals and miscommunications. While the job is taking place, it may be tempting to communicate with whoever is on-site, but if your point of contact is not there, make a phone call, send a text or use email - whatever works for you both. 

Read the Contract Thoroughly

Contracts protect consumers and prevent miscommunications. Read the contract thoroughly, and talk to your contractor about anything that you don't agree with or that you find confusing. Know what's in your contract and reach a meeting of the minds before signing. 

Hire a Pro

Good contractors rely on good communication skills to get the job done. The most important thing you can do to ensure smooth communication with your contractor is to hire a professional with good references, many years of experience, and good customer service. When contacting references, ask them about the contractor's communication skills. Did the contractor: 

  • Follow up on questions?
  • Answer questions accurately and in a timely manner?
  • Return phone calls, voice mail, emails, and texts?

Want to Become a Home Remodeling Pro? 

So, do you know the difference between refinished vs refurbished now? 

Home remodeling is something that people get better at with practice and through education. That's why we cover new topics in our blogs each month, including topics on home improvement budgeting, checklists, wishlists, how to work with a contractor and more. Start your home remodeling education. Visit our blog.  

About Kevin Ahern

Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.