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By: Kevin Ahern on January 20th, 2017

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Remodeling Vs. Renovation

The words “remodel” and “renovation” are often used interchangeably by homeowners and sometimes even contractors who take on these projects. In reality, these processes are not the same. A renovation is a repair job or a restoration of a property. Renovations make walls look like new, may involve the repair of windows and doorways, and may fix problems with the flooring or ceilings of a home. When a renovation is complete, the home looks much the same, but better.

By contrast, a remodel is a project that involves an alteration of the structure or a transformation of the space. Think: new countertops. A new sink. All-new appliances. Remodeling may involve knocking down a wall, installing a new door or changing the space in a way that is permanent and dramatic.

Homeowners deciding whether to choose remodeling vs. renovation must consider many factors. These two types of projects and will meet the needs of homeowners in different ways. Understanding the difference between a remodel and a renovation, and knowing which type of project is right for your needs can help you get started on your project, choose the right contractor and spend your money wisely.


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What Is A Remodel?

A remodel usually starts with ripping out and tearing up a specific space in the home. Demolition is an important part of a remodel, because when the project is finished, the space should be dramatically altered or transformed. Sometimes remodels can involve structural changes, like the relocation of a wall or a widening of the space.

Often, remodels will consist of a reorganizing of the space. Appliances and plumbing fixtures may be moved to maximize functionality of the space. Hallways or closets may be enlarged.

Typical Remodeling Projects

Some remodeling projects are more popular than others. Some of the most common remodeling projects include:

  • Kitchen upgrades.
  • Removal of walls to create an open floor plan.
  • Changing an attic into an in-law apartment.
  • Adding living space to a garage.

Many homeowners take on remodeling because they want to change their home dramatically to either fit their own standards or meet the expectations of potential home buyers at the time of sale. Remodeling projects boost property values and transform the home at the same time. People often choose remodeling because they have a vision for their property that does not match the reality. Remodeling jobs are meant to fix problems that cannot be fixed through basic repairs.

  • Cost: Remodeling costs can vary quite a bit depending on the type of project. For example, a typical kitchen remodel can cost anywhere from about $5,000 to about $50,000, depending on the work being completed and the contractor you choose. Removal of load bearing walls and relocation of plumbing fixtures can significantly increase costs.
  • Time: Remodeling is often a multi-step process that involves removal of old fixtures, changes to the structure and installation of new fixtures. Material selection, delivery and contractor availability can all affect the timeline for a remodel. A typical remodel can take anywhere from weeks to months, depending on the type of remodel taking place.
  • Budget: Homeowners hoping to control the budget for their remodel can bargain shop for low cost materials and opt for fewer expensive alterations to the space. For example, a homeowner who is hoping to create an open floor plan but who wants to control costs may choose to leave load bearing walls in place and may instead choose to remove non-load bearing walls only.

What is a Renovation?

A renovation is a repair or a change that restores functionality to the home. Renovations are done to repair damage or wear and tear that has occurred over time. Sometimes renovations occur after a traumatic event, like a fire or flood.

Typical Renovation Projects

Renovations involve projects like repiping a home’s plumbing and refinishing wood floors. Renovations make the home look like a new version of its old self. These changes often involve painting the walls, recarpeting and other basic changes.

Many homeowners take on renovations to add value or make their home more livable than it is currently. For example, if the pipes in the home are so old that they develop leaks regularly, homeowners may choose to repipe their home to save money on plumbing repairs and to make their home’s plumbing more reliable.

Renovations are best when a homeowner is happy with the home the way it is, but would like to see the home restored to a newer, more attractive or more functional state.

  • Cost: Like remodeling, the cost of renovation can vary quite a bit. The size of the room or rooms being renovated, the cost of materials and demolition will all have an influence on the price tag for this kind of home improvement project.
  • Time: Renovations can take less time than a remodel because they often involve no major structural changes to the house. However, some renovations that take place after a damaging event like a flood may take much longer than a standard renovation.
  • Budget: The budget for a renovation will be influenced by the type and quality of materials the homeowner selects for the renovation. Homeowners hoping to save may be able to do so by shopping for bargains and personally handling certain tasks (like painting or demolition).

Since the cost and timeline of renovation and remodeling projects can vary so much, it’s important for homeowners to work with the contractor to determine how long their project will take and how much they can expect it to cost.

Get Started on Your Remodel or Renovation Today

Do you have questions or comments about the differences between renovation and remodeling? Leave your thoughts in the box below! Once you've decided which project is right for your needs, picking a contractor is the next step. Our free guide highlights what qualities to look for in your contractor so you can maximize your chances of successful outcomes. 

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