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Remodel vs. Renovation: What’s the Difference?

By the Vevano Home Team
February 8, 2021

When deciding to update your home, you have the option to either renovate or remodel. But is it a remodel or renovation? Is there a difference between the two?

A remodel and renovation are very similar, often used interchangeably, since they both relate to changing your home in some way. However, they are very different in scope. When you talk to a contractor or interior designer, words matter when describing a remodel versus renovation.

Let’s break it down.

What does it mean to remodel?

By definition, according to Merriam-Webster, remodeling means to alter the structure of, to remake, or to undergo a structural reorganization, alteration, or renewal. Basically, a remodel will impact the foundational elements of your home or the room you want to change. In a remodel, the structure, layout, and the design of a space will change.

A remodel results in a considerable change in the layout or structural components of your home, such as walls, ceiling, built-in features, doorways, etc. Think of the bones of your house, a remodel would adjust those bones in some way. A remodel could very likely change the purpose of your space entirely. Think of it like recreating part of the skeleton, and if you change the skeleton, the plumbing or energy lines might need adjusting as well. Often, a remodel is necessary when a home is poorly designed (or out of date) with structural issues.

A kitchen remodel, for example, perhaps there’s a wall that divides the kitchen and a living area, and you want to remove it to create an open-concept layout for better flow and space between rooms. Install a kitchen island cabinet, add new plumbing like an additional sink, or reposition the cabinetry to optimize the kitchen space. For a bathroom remodel example, upgrade to a wall-mount toilet and sink to optimize the space in a small bathroom. Both upgrades require opening walls and adjusting the piping within. Adding an additional room to your home also falls under the scope of a remodel, as it’s adding bones to the original structure.

Because remodels are more in-depth and complex than a renovation, they often cost a significant amount more, especially if wiring, plumbing, or other integral systems are moved, fixed, or adjusted. Due to this, a permit is almost always needed to perform a remodel to ensure everything is up to code. For a remodel, it’s more likely that you’ll need to hire help to get the job done, such as a plumber, electrician, or architect. When planning a remodel, budgeting for contractors is a wise consideration.

What's involved in a renovation?

To renovate means to restore to a former or better state through cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding. Another definition provided by Merriam-Webster for the term renovate is to restore life, vigor, or activity. So, to renovate is a smaller task than to remodel because a renovation focuses on updates and repairs rather than restructuring. It’s meant to update the look and feel of a room, as opposed to a remodel which changes the layout of the space.

Opt for a renovation when you want to personalize or revive your space. Examples of a renovation might include:

  • Changing the style aesthetic of a room
  • Adding wallpaper or painting a wall
  • Updating the flooring
  • Updating or adding hardware on cabinets
  • Refacing cabinets
  • Switching out your faucet or water levers
  • Implementing organizational features and tools
  • Installing new lighting fixtures
  • Replacing doors or windows
  • Applying trim to the walls, flooring, or cabinets
  • Adding stylistic touches and textures to enhance a certain style
kitchen before renovation
kitchen after renovation
kitchen during renovation
kitchen after renovation

At the end of a renovation, your bathroom is still a bathroom, but with a new vanity cabinet along with new hardware, to complement your new faucet, for a more cohesive aesthetic. For a kitchen renovation, you might paint a wall, install a new sink and faucet, or update the floor to tile or LVT.

Think of renovating as a home improvement project. Given the time and the right skills, you can complete these projects yourself. Since renovation also includes repairs, certain structural rebuilding or replacing is still necessary, such as replacing your flooring or the sub-floor board if it’s out of shape or moldy.

Since renovations are smaller jobs than remodels, usually repairing or updating home features, they are much easier on your budget with fewer materials and labor involved. They likely don’t require a permit unless it involves extensive repairs such as replacing plumbing or electrical lines.

Renovation costs range from under $100 to a few thousand, depending on the upgrade(s) desired or repair(s) needed.

When does a renovation become a remodel?

Where a remodel changes the structure and/or function of a space, a renovation is more likely to fix what needs fixing either with something new or simply giving your home a functional facelift.

Anytime a drastic change is made, it’s most likely a remodel. If it’s an update, repair, or stylistic change, it’s more likely to fall under the renovation category.

Knowing what kind of update you want to make is as important as balancing functionality with practicality and style so you can maximize your budget with what you need in a remodel or renovation.

How would you like to change your home?

By breaking down remodeling versus renovation, hopefully this paints a better picture of what to expect if you’re trying to plan a change or update to your house. Vevano Home’s expert designers are available to help, whether you want to simply spruce up your home with a renovation or if you want to change the layout or function of your home. Reach out today!