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What’s The Difference Between Renovating and Remodeling?


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 contractors.


Renovation consists of making something old look and feel new, while remodeling consists of making something new out of something old.

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.


Scraping wallpaper: definitely renovation and DIY at that.


Examples of Renovation Tasks
  • Refinishing floors

  • Painting

  • 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.

Taking out walls and changing floorplans: Remodel – get a contractor!


Examples of Remodel Tasks
  • 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


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. Of course, the actual ROI is dependent on many variables, such as:

  • Total investment cost

  • Location

  • Market

  • Project scope

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.


Excerpted from a Better Homes & Gardens article by Kamron Sanders



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