Considering how often the terms are used interchangeably, you would be forgiven for thinking that renovation and remodeling were one and the same. However, that could not be further from the truth! Renovation and remodeling are different in almost every way. They have different costs, required permits, and even different levels of DIY friendliness! So, why are they so often bundled together? Well, to put it simply, it is because they are both a form of home improvement! To help you more easily differentiate between the two and finally separate the terms, we have written a guide to thoroughly explain the difference between renovation and remodel!
What is renovating?
Renovating is, at its very core, a process of minor updates and restorations. These include refreshing the paint, replacing broken or damaged banisters, patching up the roof, etc. Renovations always leave a house virtually unchanged yet refreshed and better looking. For this very reason, renovations can be carried out on historical homes that serve as landmarks or museums, yet remodeling them is banned. It is more of a resurgence of their past glory rather than inventing something new to replace their old appearance. As such, renovating is also much smaller in scale and time required to carry it out. Renovating, if done right, is highly unlikely to impact your daily life too much. Seeing as it does not require much long-term, heavy work.
What is remodeling?
Remodeling is an actual overhaul of your home. You can make significant changes to the layout, look and feel of your home. They often require extensive planning and knowledge because if you, for instance, took out a wall to connect two rooms, you could end up damaging the wiring or even plumbing going through this wall! Even simple changes to make your home safer, such as installing window bars, can be considered a minor remodel rather than renovation. This is because you are changing the fundamental look of your house. Still, remodels are typically very large in scope and mean replacing parts of your home with something entirely new. Be warned that remodeling also produces a lot more noise, dust, and debris! So you are highly unlikely to be able to remain inside your home while it is in progress.
The cost difference
Simply put, remodeling is almost always more expensive than renovation. While you merely touch up what is already there during renovation, you fundamentally change your home during a remodel. Hence the price difference. You would need a lot more materials, a professional construction crew, much longer working hours, a professionally made and approved blueprint, and a host of other things and requirements to make a remodel viable and safe to carry out. You would also likely have to move out during a remodel, which is far less common if you carry out renovations. This, of course, impacts the price. So does the need to stash your belongings somewhere safe to keep them from damage.
The required permits
Renovation, being light, simple work that does not change anything fundamental about your house typically does not require any permits. Remodeling, on the other hand, almost always does. This is not to say that you should not look over the local building laws and make sure you do not need any permits when doing a renovation. It is always better to be safe than sorry! Similarly, if your remodels are minor and just add a personal touch to your home to make you feel like you belong there, you might be able to get by without paying for any permits.
People often talk about finding a ‘promising’ fixer-upper and then getting it back to its former glory, or even enhancing it further, before selling it for tons of profit. It is a renovation that features so prominently in those stories and brings you closer to that goal. As we have previously mentioned, renovation means working with what is already there. Taking simple and relatively inexpensive steps to restore a house to working condition and beautiful appearance. Of course, though there are many such success stories, more numerous are tails of failure, costs quickly ramping up and turning the endeavor unprofitable. Well, the reason for such failures is typically remodeling. While some upgrades will add value to a home, the sheer costs of planning out a remodel and acquiring all the permits are much higher than any investment returns you could have planned on.
While there are many pitfalls and mistakes to avoid during a renovation, it is manageable even for beginners. After all, there are so many stories of touching up your own home without professional knowledge. It can end up costing you more than it would if you’d just hired professionals, true. But that is only if you keep making mistakes without learning a thing! On the other hand, remodeling is a whole other beast. It requires professional knowledge and tools from the get-go just to get through the planning phases. Not to mention carrying out the remodel itself! How many people could learn how to safely replace the massive, hefty roof beams? It is easy to knock down a wall, sure. But are you sure you can put up one without making it lopsided or leaning dangerously in one direction? Remodeling will, therefore, always remain firmly the domain of professionals.
We hope that we have explained the difference between renovation and remodel! Briefly, remodeling is more complicated, expensive, and requires professional knowledge and probably several different permits. On the other hand, renovating is easier, DIY friendly, will probably not need any permits and is much cheaper. Of course, renovating is simply restoration, while remodeling is genuine enhancement and alteration of your home.
Trevor Lawson is a freelance blogger with over six years of experience who enjoys writing for various businesses. He likes to write pieces meant to help people and enjoys knowing his work is helpful to someone.