What’s the Difference Between Remodel and Renovation?

When discussing home improvements, the terms “remodeling” and “renovation” often enter the conversation. Although they’re used interchangeably in casual conversations, they refer to distinct processes with specific objectives. 

Understanding the key difference between a renovation and a remodel can help you make better informed decisions about your projects which allows you to communicate effectively with contractors and professionals about what you’re looking to accomplish. 

In this blog post, we will dive into the world of renovation vs remodeling, exploring their definitions, objectives, and outcomes. By the end, you will understand the differences between remodels and renovations, enabling you to embark on your home improvement journey with confidence and clarity. 

So, let’s begin by unraveling the mystery behind remodeling and renovation and discovering how they shape the transformation of our homes.

What's the difference between remodel and renovation

1. Remodeling Definition – What is a Remodel?

What is a remodel anyway? Remodeling refers to making significant changes or alterations to the structure, layout, or design of a space. The primary purpose of remodeling is to transform the existing space, improving its functionality, aesthetics, or both. Remodel involves changing spaces and structures.

It is important to note that there are key differences between renovating and remodeling, and renovating.

Unlike renovation, which focuses on restoring or repairing existing structures, remodeling involves changing a home’s structure or implementing cosmetic changes; such as painting walls or adding new floors.

Many remodeling projects often involve substantial changes that may include:

  1. Structural modifications: Home remodeling may require altering the existing layout, adding or removing walls, or expanding the floor plan to accommodate new features or functionalities.
  2. Design upgrades: Remodeling allows for aesthetic enhancements, such as updating finishes, flooring, lighting fixtures, and interior or exterior design elements.
  3. Integration of modern technologies: Remodeling provides an opportunity to incorporate new technologies into the home, such as smart home systems, energy-efficient appliances, or home automation features.
  4. Customization: Remodeling projects often involve tailoring the space to suit individual preferences and specific needs, resulting in a personalized and unique living environment.

Here are some common examples of remodeling projects (e.g., kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel).

  • Kitchen remodels: Kitchen remodels typically involve replacing cabinets, countertops, and appliances, as well as upgrading the layout, adding a kitchen island, or creating a more open-concept design.
  • Bathroom remodels: Bathroom remodels may include installing new fixtures, updating the shower or bathtub, replacing the vanity, and enhancing the overall aesthetics through tile work, new light fixtures, and color schemes.
  • Basement remodels: Transforming a basement into a functional living space, such as a home theater, a home office, or an additional bedroom, involves remodeling to optimize the area’s usability and comfort.
  • Whole-house remodel: A comprehensive remodeling project that encompasses multiple spaces, such as updating the flooring, renovating multiple rooms, or redesigning the entire living space to create a cohesive and harmonious environment.

cabinet refacing

2. Renovation Definition 

Renovation means to repair, restore or improve an existing structure to bring it back to its original condition or enhance its functionality and aesthetic appeal. 

Unlike remodeling, which focuses on making significant changes and creating something new, renovation refers more to preserving and revitalizing the existing elements of space while addressing any necessary repairs or upgrades to a home’s basic features.

Home renovation focuses on enhancing the overall condition, safety, and functionality of a building or space. Renovating offers the ability to breath new life into older or deteriorated structures, making them more suitable for contemporary living while retaining their original charm and character.

Key features of a renovation project typically include:

Restoration of historical or architectural elements:

Home renovations often involve preserving and restoring unique architectural features, such as moldings, ornamental details, or original woodwork, to maintain the historical integrity of the building.

Repair and maintenance:

Renovation involves repairing home construction issues, plumbing or electrical problems, and any other maintenance requirements to ensure the safety and longevity of the structure.

Upgrades and modernization:

Renovations may include upgrading essential systems and components, such as HVAC systems, air conditioning, electrical wiring, plumbing, or insulation, to meet current building codes and improve energy efficiency.

Improving functionality: Renovating has a focus on enhancing the usability and functionality of a space by reconfiguring layouts, optimizing room flow, or adding new cosmetic updates like a kitchen island.

Examples of renovation projects (e.g., restoring an old house, exterior, etc.,).

  • Restoring an old house: Renovating an old or historic house involves preserving its original character while updating essential systems, such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC, and addressing any structural issues. This type of renovation aims to maintain the historical integrity of the property while creating a livable and functional space.
  • Upgrading electrical systems: Renovations often include updating outdated electrical systems to meet modern safety standards, accommodate increased power demands, and incorporate new technologies. This may involve replacing wiring, installing new outlets, or upgrading the electrical panel.
  • Bathroom or kitchen renovation: Renovating a bathroom or kitchen typically entails replacing fixtures, updating plumbing and electrical components, installing new cabinets, and improving overall functionality and design. A major kitchen remodel can signficantly increase your home’s value by approximately $80,000 on average.
  • Exterior renovations: Renovations may extend to the exterior of a building, including repairing or replacing the roof, siding, windows, or landscaping elements to improve curb appeal, energy efficiency, and durability.

Renovation projects are essential for maintaining and preserving structural integrity and aesthetic value of buildings. For example, home renovation give homeowners the opportunity to breathe new life into older properties, adapt to modern needs, and ensure the longevity of their homes while embracing the charm of the past.

3. Overlap Between Remodeling and Renovation in Certain Cases

While remodeling and renovation are distinct processes with their own objectives, there are instances where they overlap, blurring the lines between the two approaches. This overlap occurs when projects involve a combination of improving functionality, updating aesthetics, and addressing necessary repairs or upgrades. 

Let’s explore some scenarios where both renovation and remodeling converge:

  1. Comprehensive home transformations: In extensive home improvement projects, such as whole-house renovations, the objectives of remodeling and renovation often intersect. These projects aim to create a cohesive and personalized living space by reconfiguring layouts, updating design elements, and addressing necessary repairs and upgrades. The result is a harmonious blend of functional enhancements and restoration efforts.Historical preservation with modern updates: When renovating historical or heritage properties, the objective is to preserve the original features and architectural integrity while incorporating modern amenities. This requires a careful balance between restoration and remodeling. The project may involve repairing and restoring historical elements, such as intricate woodwork or ornamental details while integrating contemporary systems and design elements. The goal is to maintain the property’s historical significance while enhancing its functionality for modern living.
  2. Adaptive reuse projects: Adaptive reuse involves repurposing an existing building for a different function, such as converting an old factory into loft apartments or transforming a church into a community center. These projects often require a combination of remodeling and renovation efforts. While the space may undergo significant structural changes and functional adaptations (remodeling), the project may also involve preserving historical aspects and addressing necessary repairs (renovation) to ensure the building’s suitability for its new purpose.
  3. System upgrades during remodeling: In remodeling projects, especially those involving older homes, it is common to encounter the need for system upgrades. While the primary focus may be on improving functionality and aesthetics, addressing issues with plumbing, electrical, or HVAC systems is often necessary. Upgrading these systems aligns with the objectives of both remodeling and renovation, as it improves the overall performance and safety of the space.

It’s important to recognize that while there may be an overlap between remodeling and renovation in certain cases,  specific objectives and outcomes of each approach should guide decision-making and project planning. 

4. What Is The Average Cost of Remodeling Projects?

Determining the average charge of a remodeling project can be challenging due to the wide range of variables involved. Costs can vary based on factors such as the size of the space, the level of customization, the geographical location, and the specific project requirements. However, here are some average cost ranges for common remodeling projects in the United States:

  1. Kitchen remodel cost: On average, a mid-range kitchen remodel can range from $25,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the extent of the renovation and the quality of materials and appliances used. High-end kitchen remodels can cost upwards of $75,000 or more.
  2. Bathroom remodel cost: A mid-range bathroom remodel typically falls in the range of $15,000 to $30,000, but costs can vary significantly depending on factors such as the size of the bathroom, the complexity of the project, and the selection of materials and fixtures. High-end bathroom remodels can cost $50,000 or more.
  3. Basement remodel cost: The cost of remodeling a basement varies greatly depending on the size, layout, and desired functionality of the space. On average, a basement remodel can range from $20,000 to $50,000 or more.
  4. Whole-house remodel: The cost of a whole-house remodel depends on the size of the house, the scope of the project, and the level of customization. For example, a comprehensive whole-house remodel can start at $100,000 and go well into the six-figure range.

It’s important to note that these price ranges are estimates and can significantly vary based on factors specific to your project. Obtaining detailed quotes and estimates from contractors and professionals in your area will give you a more accurate understanding of what the budget of your home project will be.

5. What Is The Average Cost of Renovation Projects?

Determining the average charge of a renovation can be challenging due to the wide range of variables involved. Costs can vary based on factors such as the size and condition of the structure, the complexity of the restoration, the geographical location, and the specific project requirements. 

However, here are some average price ranges for common renovation projects in the United States:

Restoring an old house:

The materials and labor costs of renovating an old house can vary significantly depending on factors such as the size of the house, the level of deterioration, and the desired level of restoration. On average, the investment of renovating an old house can range from $100 to $300 per square foot, which can impact your budget. However, more extensive or historically significant renovations can exceed these averages.

Upgrading electrical systems:

The investment of upgrading electrical systems depends on the complexity of the project and the size of the property. For a standard electrical system upgrade, the average investment can range from $2,000 to $8,000, depending on factors such as the number of circuits, the level of rewiring required, and the labor rates in your area.

Renovating a historic building:

Renovating a historic building often involves specialized restoration techniques and adherence to preservation guidelines. Costs can vary significantly depending on the condition of the building, the desired level of restoration, and the complexity of the project. Restoration costs for historic buildings can range from $100 per square footage to $500 per square foot or more.

Restoring a period home:

Restoring a period home requires attention to detail and the use of period-appropriate materials. The charge of restoring a period home can vary based on the size of the home, the extent of restoration required, and the quality of materials used. On average, the charge can range from $50,000 to $200,000 or more.

It’s important to note that these price ranges are estimates and can vary significantly based on factors specific to your home’s renovation remodeling. Obtaining detailed quotes and estimates from contractors and professionals in your area will give you a more accurate understanding of the potential costs involved in your renovation project and what your budget should be.

renovation vs remodel

Looking for a General Contractor Near You for Your Remodel or Renovation?

Finding a reliable and experienced general contractor for your remodel or renovation is crucial. A general contractor oversees and manages the entire project, coordinating various tradespeople, handling permits and inspections, and ensuring the project stays on track.

If you’re searching for a general contractor near you, Bonsai Builders is here to help! We offer renovations and remodels for bathrooms, kitchens, basements, decks, and more! Contact us today to discuss your project and get a free estimate!

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