Here’s how to accurately describe your home improvement project, including examples of common renovation and remodel tasks.
While it might seem inconsequential to use the terms “renovation” and “remodeling” interchangeably, it can make a major difference when communicating your scope of work to contractor candidates. While many DIYers and pros alike seem to rotate between “renovating,” “remodeling,” and even “flipping” when describing their projects, there really is a difference. Put simply, remodeling is more in-depth than renovating. But what truly defines these seemingly synonymous terms? This guide explains the difference between renovation vs. remodeling, plus which option may be better for your home project.
Think of it like this: Renovation consists of making something old look and feel new, while remodeling consists of making something new out of something old. The difference comes down to your goal for your project. If you’re simply refreshing your space with new finishes and fixtures, you’re renovating. However, if you’re looking to take out a wall or two, rearrange the floor plan, and tack on an extra bathroom or closet, you’re remodeling.
Renovation involves updating the look of a home while maintaining its existing layout and structure. If you buy a home because you fall in love with the floor plan but you can’t wait to rip out the dated wallpaper, it’s time for a renovation.
Renovating entails refreshing or restoring a project to a like-new state.
Renovation is generally more DIY-friendly than remodeling. This is because most renovation tasks, including painting, installing flooring, refacing cabinetry, and swapping light fixtures, can be done by even beginner DIYers. Tasks that fall within the realms of remodeling, such as digging footings for additions, reframing a house, and rerouting plumbing and electrical in order to remove walls, aren’t in most DIYer’s wheelhouse. Plus, renovations often don’t require you to pull a permit, which may or may not necessitate a contractor, depending on your local building codes.
Sometimes changing finishes calls for structural changes. For example, replacing laminate flooring with tile may require you to solidify the floor system with beams and a new subfloor that will both support the weight of the tile and keep it from cracking.
- Refinishing floors
- Refacing cabinets
- Swapping light fixtures
- Updating plumbing fixtures
- Changing door hardware
- Adding trim
Remodeling encompasses projects that restructure the property. Looking to expand your kitchen, add a bathroom, or build a sunroom? You’re remodeling, not renovating.
Additionally, remodeling covers major tasks like relocating infrastructure—things like adding or replacing electrical wires and breakers, redoing your plumbing to get the freezing water lines out of a drafty attic, or adding central AC to a historic home. These tasks often require you to pull a permit or work with your local authorities for approval, especially in the case of historically registered properties.
Remodeling entails restructuring or drastically altering a given project.
- Removing walls
- Changing floor plans
- Adding central AC
- Building additions
- Finishing a basement
- Adding a second level
- Building a deck or patio
- Adding a bedroom suite
Renovating generally costs less than remodeling. Things like refacing cabinets and updating plumbing fixtures simply cost less than structural changes like knocking out walls or adding beams. Plus, after structural changes are made, you’ll still have to pay for new finishes and fixtures, so you’re essentially paying to remodel, then renovate.
Renovations are easier to budget for, as many of the costs of remodeling are hidden. Remodeling is often more involved than it seems. For example, if you were to remove a wall between a kitchen and a dining room to open up the floor plan and add an island, there’s a good chance that the wall is hiding things like electrical wires, water lines, and ductwork. Once that wall is gone, those things will have to be rerouted, which is a major process that can involve a lot of red tape. On top of this, you must consider that the wall is potentially load-bearing and will have to be replaced by a costly beam.
Because less money is put in on the front end of the project, renovation often has a higher return on investment (ROI) than remodeling. A renovated home looks updated and move-in ready, which is enticing to buyers. This is often still the case with remodeled homes, it just requires more money to get the job done. While nice, projects like enlarging a kitchen and opening up a floor plan don’t always pay off when it comes time to sell.
When home shopping, be on the lookout for shoddy renovations. Flippers know the updates buyers want to see and will often give houses a quick visual refresh to make them sellable, skimping on necessary structural improvements. We recommend hiring a thorough home inspection before closing.
If your goal is to make money on your renovation or remodel, remember, most updates simply aren’t profitable. In fact, the national averages show that only a small percentage of home updates recoup 100% or more of the initial investment.
Homeowners can save serious money by doing the work themselves, another reason DIY-friendly renovations have a higher ROI than remodel jobs that require a contractor.
Matney Construction, located in Mount Airy, Maryland, specializes in building new homes and residential remodeling. We know that the decision to build or remodel a home is no easy thing. As a family owned and operated business, we work closely with our clients to create their dream home, from custom floor plans and options, to bath and kitchen remodels. Whether it’s a single room or an entire home, we pride ourselves on meeting your quality standards, timeline and budget. Contact us today to have our professional design experts help you make your home unique, stylish, and in-tune with your personality. (410) 635-2500 email@example.com