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Differences Between Remodel vs Renovation

It’s common to hear the words remodel and renovation used interchangeably; however, these terms couldn’t be more different. Understanding the scope before you begin your project will help you plan and know exactly what needs to be done to complete it. Learn the difference between remodel vs renovation in this article!

If you’ve ever worked with a contractor or completed your own DIY project, you understand how important the specifics are: length vs. width, tile vs. laminate, hardwood floors vs. pergo floors. All of these are examples of projects that aren’t always described accurately, including remodel vs renovation.

I’m totally guilty of it too! I usually default to calling big projects like this renovations, but sometimes I’m wrong and they should actually be called remodels.

Understanding the difference between major projects, like a remodel or renovation, is necessary to keep a project running smoothly and efficiently – especially when you are looping in contractors, sub-contractors or vendors in. It definitely helps if you are speaking the same language.

Remodel vs Renovation

There’s a significant difference between a remodel vs renovation. According to the dictionary, these are the definitions of each:

  • Remodel: to change the structure or form of something, especially a building or structure
  • Renovate: to restore something old, especially a building, to a good state of repair.

For example, a remodel might involve tearing down or building a wall to create a more open floor plan, but a renovation could include new flooring, fresh paint, and a few minor updates in a bathroom, like we did in this bathroom.

What does it mean to remodel?

Think of remodeling as a reshaping of a home or space. Typically, remodeling takes the gold for expenses because of the complexity. Since remodeling involves altering a structure, there are many different factors to consider. 

Most of the time, a remodel involves a complete reconfiguration of the space, tearing down walls, installing plumbing, and updating electric. Because of the complexity, remodeling usually is more expensive. Depending on the project, the tab typically runs into the thousands (if you’re interested in a complete cost breakdown of a recent bathroom remodel we did, check out this article)

Here are some examples of remodeling projects:

  • Expanding the square footage of a building
  • Gutting, removing, or adding walls
  • Raising ceilings
  • Adding plumbing
  • Adding heating/cooling ducts

For example, when we remodeled our kids’ bathroom to a more modern vibe, we were starting completely from scratch! We added everything from the walls to the plumbing.

Then when we remodeled our other bathroom to convert it into a master ensuite, we brought everything down to the studs and changed the whole layout. This project required covering up an existing doorway with a new wall, creating a new entrance (with a gorgeous barn door that we also built), relocating a vanity, moving the plumbing, fixtures, and more! It was a big project that took six (very busy) weeks to complete, but it added tremendous value to our home

Any time you are building or removing walls or creating a new space where there isn’t one considered a remodel. We did exactly this when we created multiple rooms from a second living room area, resulting in a nursery, bathroom and master closet (which we’re going to be finishing very soon!)

Since these projects involve things like electrical work or plumbing, it’s best to know exactly what you are doing before diving in. Otherwise, you could end up flooding a new bathroom or major electrical issues.

What does it mean to renovate?

Renovating is a great solution if you are on a budget, wanting to get you feet wet with DIYs or just needing a new style. Most homeowners do this as they redecorate or purchase new furniture. It’s a great way to bring a room up to date and give the space new life!

Just like in our new office, we installed a shiplap ceiling, added a fresh coat of paint and completely rearranged to make it more functional and fresh. Even though these changes don’t alter the layout, they added to our home’s value and visual appeal.

Here are some examples of renovation projects:

Since the structure isn’t changed, the expenses and timelines are drastically reduced. Not all renovations have to be as involved as changing flooring or new ceilings. A renovation could be as simple as painting an accent wall or creating a mural for a kid’s room.

A bathroom makeover is always a popular renovation choice. We did just this with a bathroom that was neglected for too long. If you look at the before and after photos, it looks like we completely remodeled; however, we saved a little cash and used a lot of paint instead, including on the tile floors. In total, we spent just over $200 for this project.

Getting resourceful with renovation and remodeling projects is a great way to cut corners, save a little cash, but still have a quality end result that you can be proud of.

What’s your next remodeling and renovating project?

Let us know in the comments below!

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