Remodeling vs renovation: What’s the difference?

Remodeling vs Renovation, John Merrill Homes custom home

When it comes to improving your home, many people use the terms remodeling and renovation interchangeably (we’ve done it ourselves!). Technically speaking, however, these terms refer to different types of projects with distinct scopes, processes, and outcomes.

Understanding the difference between remodeling and renovation can help you communicate better with vendors and contractors, make informed decisions, and achieve your desired results. Let’s explore the key differences between remodeling and renovation, their benefits, and considerations to help you decide which path to take to your dream home.

Defining renovation

Renovation refers to the process of restoring or updating a structure to improve its condition and appearance. A renovation typically includes repairing damage, replacing outdated fixtures, and bringing a space back to its original state or making it look new again. Renovations typically focus on the aesthetic aspects and functional repairs rather than major structural changes.

Common examples of renovation projects include:

  • Repainting walls or exteriors
  • Replacing flooring or carpeting
  • Updating kitchen cabinets and countertops
  • Installing new light fixtures
  • Repairing or updating plumbing and electrical systems

Renovations are often undertaken to refresh the look of a home, address wear and tear, and increase the property’s value. They can be relatively minor in scope and usually do not involve significant changes to the layout or structure of the house.

Defining remodeling

Remodeling, on the other hand, involves altering the structure, layout, or function of a space. Remodeling projects are more extensive than renovations and often require substantial changes to the home’s existing framework. A remodel may include changing the floor plan, adding new rooms, or significantly altering the design of an existing space.

Common examples of remodeling projects include:

  • Converting a basement into a living area
  • Building an addition to the house
  • Adding both interior and exterior spaces
  • Changing the shape of the home’s façade
  • Redesigning the layout, such as creating an open floor plan by removing walls

Remodeling is often driven by a desire to change the way a space is used, add square footage, improve functionality, or modernize outdated designs. Sometimes, home buyers who can’t find land in their desired area will purchase an older home and remodel it to achieve the effect of building a custom home. These projects are typically more complex, time-consuming, and expensive than renovations due to the extensive changes involved. 

Key differences between remodeling and renovation

  1. Scope of work: The most significant difference between remodeling and renovation is the scope of work. Renovations focus on updating and restoring, while remodeling involves changing the structure or layout of a space.
  2. Cost: Remodeling projects tend to be more expensive than renovations due to the complexity and extent of the changes. Remodeling often requires additional labor, materials, and sometimes permits, driving up the cost.
  3. Time frame: Renovations generally take less time to complete compared to remodeling. Since remodeling projects are more involved and may require structural changes, they typically have longer timelines.
  4. Permits and regulations: Remodeling projects often require permits and must adhere to local building codes, especially when structural changes are involved. Renovations, on the other hand, may not require permits if they are limited to cosmetic updates.
  5. Impact on home value: Both renovations and remodeling can increase a home’s value, but remodeling projects often have a more significant impact due to the extensive improvements and modernizations made.

Benefits of renovation

  • Cost-effective: Renovations are usually less expensive than remodeling, making them a cost-effective way to update and refresh your home.
  • Less disruption: Since renovations are less invasive, they cause less disruption to your daily life and can often be completed more quickly.
  • Increased home value: Even minor renovations can boost your home’s value and appeal to potential buyers.
  • Preservation: Renovations can help preserve the character and charm of older homes while updating them for modern living.

Benefits of remodeling

  • Improved functionality: Remodeling allows you to change the layout and design of your home so that it better suits your needs and lifestyle.
  • Increased square footage: With an addition, you can gain additional rooms and outdoor living space.
  • Customization: With remodeling, you have the opportunity to create a unique space that is tailored to your preferences and requirements.
  • Modernization: Remodeling can bring outdated homes into the modern era with contemporary designs, new technologies, and improved efficiency.
  • Increased Space: Adding new rooms or creating open floor plans can significantly increase the usable space in your home, making it more comfortable and functional.

Considerations for any remodeling or renovation project

  • Budget: Determine how much you are able to spend. Renovations are generally less costly, while remodeling requires a larger investment.
  • Goals: Consider what you want to achieve. If you need a complete transformation, remodeling may be the better choice. For aesthetic updates and repairs, renovation is likely sufficient.
  • Time: Evaluate your timeline. Renovations are quicker and cause less disruption, while remodeling projects take more time and planning.
  • Home Value: Think about how each option will affect your home’s value. Major remodels can add significant value, but even small renovations can boost marketability.

Both remodeling and renovating your home are about creating a space that reflects your lifestyle and values, and investing in your future. At John Merrill Homes, we make it our mission to work within your budget to create beautiful, functional spaces that generate a significant return on investment—both financially, and by making your home even better to live in.

So whichever route you decide to go, or if you need help determining whether an upgrade to your home is right for you, we can help. We help our clients create a home that reflects your unique needs, budget, style, and personality. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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