Remodel vs Renovation: The Difference According to Pros

Choosing Between a Remodel vs. Renovation for Your Home Improvement Project: What You Need to Know

Home improvement projects can make a real difference in a space or home’s functionality and look. But, to be able to do it, it’s essential to know the difference between renovation and remodeling. Though both are intended to improve your living environment, they differ in scope, cost, and impact. This guide will attempt to explain the key differences between these two processes with insights from industry professionals.

Renovation projects

Meaning of Renovation

In Latin, renovation comes from the word ‘renovation,’ interchangeably meaning ‘renewing’ or ‘restoring.’ In the context of home improvement, it means upgrading or refreshing existing structures and systems of a house without fundamentally changing the design of the house. Everyday renovation tasks include repainting walls, refinishing floors, and updating fixtures and appliances.

Pros and Cons of Renovations


  • Cost-effective: Generally, renovations come at a much lower price compared to total remodels, and for renovations worth hence, they are affordable for a more extensive range of budgets than most remodels.
  • Shorter Completion Time: Most renovation projects can be completed quickly, minimizing disruption to daily life.
  • Increased House Appeal: Any slight or significant improvement must improve the overall feel of the house, making it more inviting and modern.
  • Energy Efficiency: Updating old windows, doors, light fixtures, and insulation can significantly improve energy efficiency.


  • Limited Structural Change: Renovations do not allow home layout or structure changes.
  • Hidden Costs Possibility:  For example, you may have hidden inherent costs because the older home may just begin to uncover its problems after you start renovating it.
  • Temporary Solutions: Some renovations may have to be redone in a few years, especially if they are purely cosmetic.

Remodeling projects

Remodeling Definition

Remodeling Definition: Remodeling is the act of changing the architecture and functionality of a space. This may include changes in layouts, wall removals, wall additions, and adding components like extensions or whole new rooms. Remodels can make properties fit for a homeowner’s needs or modern standards.

Pros and Cons of Remodels


  • Enhanced Functionality and Customization: Large remodeling projects are well-equipped to suit personal lifestyles, opening new flooring plans or accommodating guest bedrooms or home offices.
  • Increased Home Value: Substantial home improvements or additions can greatly increase the home’s market value.
  • Long-term Solution: A complete kitchen remodel will help solve fundamental problems, such as improving flow through the house or adding more windows for lighting, which will enhance living conditions for many years.


  • Higher Costs: Due to their complexity, remodels and new appliances often involve higher labor and material costs.
  • Longer Project Duration: Remodeling can take months, during which parts of your home may be unusable.
  • Need for Professional Assistance: Most renovation projects require expert skills since one has to follow stringent local building codes, usually with licensed professionals, including architects and contractors.

Cost Differences Between Remodeling and Renovating

There is a notable disparity in the costs associated with remodels versus renovations.

The average cost of a remodel for complete remodel projects can be about $47,000. In contrast, renovation can cost, on average, about $15,000 for works like painting, updating the floors, or enhancing the landscape. The difference between a renovation and a remodel as an amount indicates that, typically, renovations are much cheaper.

Thus, if the budget is limited, it would be more practical to either renovate the present kitchen or defer any remodeling until the funds are available.

Design Considerations for Remodeling vs. Renovating

In some homes, the original layout may be too complex, which only complicates one’s movement and organization. In this instance, a remodel comes in handy. This is when a contractor can rip out the current layout, put new carpeting, move walls around, or expand areas like rooms or closets to make the floor plan and design of the housework.

Generally, renovations concentrate much more on the aesthetics of the house than its functionality in comparison with remodeling. Thus, if an individual expects to get a huge change in design, remodeling is the best way to go for as many homeowners as renovations. On a good note, though, remodeling often cannot be done in old, historic houses; thus, in most cases, renovation provides the only means to update your home.

DIY Potential in Remodeling vs. Renovating

However, a big home renovation project might call for contracting and maybe even a structural engineer because most people need more specialized skills such work usually demands. On the other hand, you can handle the project yourself if all you want to do is renovate.

That could be from painting or staining through the replacement of cabinet doors or a kitchen faucet or bathroom faucets, to include the installation of a new bathroom vanity top, and even replacing plumbing fixtures, for that matter, which a seasoned do-it-yourselfer can do without contracting for a professional. These are just the kinds of do-it-yourself projects that any homeowner can easily take on, with only a small out-of-pocket expense and basic to intermediate DIY skills. If you’re looking for a quick DIY project, renovation over remodeling is the way to go.

basement walls, basement remodels

Return on Investment: Remodeling vs. Renovating

The ROI is essential if one plans to sell the home in the future. However, if no plans are in place to sell the house, the return on investment may not matter because the improvements will not immediately bring in financial returns.

On the other hand, remodeling can repair the underlying issues and improve the floor plan. Nevertheless, most of these are not visible from the outside; therefore, they have an insignificant impact on market value. Most renovation and remodeling projects aim to enhance the aesthetic look of the home, so they usually cost less and have the potential to bring a better average ROI. Among these, replacing a garage door or new siding is highlighted as a home improvement project that can significantly increase the home’s value, fitting well into the context of exterior improvements with a high return on investment.

Permit Requirements for Remodels vs. Renovations

Purely cosmetic home renovations usually do not require a building permit, for this may be simple renovations do not show any alteration in a home’s structural design or the addition of some elements. Renovation usually requires one to get a building permit since the assurance of structural changes is guaranteed.

Project Timelines: Remodeling vs. Renovating

The timeline to accomplish a home remodel usually goes beyond the average time taken in the renovation since more detail is involved. However, when done by licensed professional contractors, it can take a shorter time than the home renovation carried out by a DIY enthusiast. The time difference on a general note for the two projects relates to the work between the two projects in terms of magnitude, complexity, and level of expertise.

How to Decide What’s Right for You

Renovating or remodeling a house involves some considerations you have to consider in deciding whether or not it is appropriate and to what extent this decision can affect not only your abode but also your lifestyle and finances. Knowing the differences and implications that each option brings about is one way to make a confident and wise decision. Start by defining what you want to achieve. A few more renovation or remodel projects might do the job if the house look is all you are after. They tend to be less costly and time-consuming because they generally belong to the categories of repainting or changing fixtures; thus, the disruption in your life is minimal. They can make your home a lot more appealing aesthetically without the humongous effort and expense of changing the structure.

On the other hand, when the changes are more functional, for example, configuring spaces to fit a person’s lifestyle or addressing foundational issues, the home would probably be in order. Remodeling is much more involved in the planning, costs a lot more, and can significantly improve a home’s usability and value. They also can solve long-term problems that may compromise the integrity of the building or its functions.

storage, bright space

Home improvements are financed through many ways homeowners can seek to invest. Out of them all, a home equity loan would be the most convenient, as it gives a certain amount in one lump sum and then fixed payments over a long period. Alternatively, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) provides financial flexibility, allowing homeowners to borrow against their home equity as needed, particularly useful for projects with evolving costs. Personal loans are another option, offering larger loan amounts and lower interest rates than credit cards. The interest rates for personal loans can vary significantly based on factors such as income, debt-to-income ratio, and credit score, making it crucial for homeowners to consider their financial situation when choosing the best financing option for their projects.

Budget is another significant factor. Most renovations typically require a much smaller investment as opposed to remodels and are often capable of being completed in a phased approach. Renovations are normally more affordable. On the contrary, home remodels are usually paid back much more regarding resale value and personal satisfaction derived from a more appropriate living environment. Consider the condition of your house. If the home is structurally OK and seems old, then renovation and remodeling are practical. However, better remodeling will be done in a bad layout, insufficient space, and outdated systems. Finally, determine the level of upheaval you’re willing to endure. Renovations can often be managed with little upheaval, but it can mean you’re packing up to move out of parts of your house, which can include a lot of mess. By giving detailed thought to these aspects: what you want in your dream home, what your pocket can afford, the current state of your home, and how much upheaval you can handle, you can decide according to your desire and practicalities.


Several other factors will come into play when determining whether to renovate or remodel: your financial status, the current state of your home, and the outcome you envision over the long term. Understanding such critical differences between the renovation cost of these two approaches—remodel and renovation vs. renovation—allows for a more conscious choice in line with one’s aspirations for the living space. Lending time to plan out the details meticulously will ensure that the home improvement project is worthwhile and brings joy to your life.