Renovation vs Remodel (What is the Difference)

Renovation vs Remodel

Watching HGTV on the regular might make us think that we know everything there is to know about renovation, remodeling, and more. But the truth is, home renovations and remodels aren’t as easy as the Property Brothers make them seem. So, what do they mean when someone is doing a renovation vs remodel?

Renovating is restoring a building to its previous style in better condition, while remodeling is when a building is styled into something completely new. Both options are much cheaper than rebuilding entirely from scratch and it’s illegal to remodel some houses.

But when should you remodel, and when should you renovate? And can one of them add more value to your home than the other? Keep reading to learn the answers to all these questions and more.

Remodel vs. Renovate (The Difference)

Most people use these two terms interchangeably. If someone says they’re “renovating/remodeling” their house, it can mean anything from adding a lean-to greenhouse, replacing the deck, or getting new wallpaper. But the truth is, these two words are completely different.

Renovation is focused on restoring a house/building to its original glory. It’s not always a full-on restoration, but it’s whenever someone is trying to keep a building mostly the same, maybe making a few improvements to the utilities. Getting a new toilet isn’t remodeling the bathroom, it’s just renovating it.

On the other hand, if you turned the bathroom into a quilting room (for some reason), then that would be remodeling. Anytime you change the purpose or style of a building, that’s not renovating. That’s a remodeling project.

Should I Renovate or Remodel? (Or Sell?)

Renovation vs remodel

So, how do you know if you should remodel, renovate, or just sell your house? Well, it goes without saying that renovations are much cheaper than remodeling projects. Renovations often focus on one or two aspects to update but remodeling requires a whole new look. Sometimes gutting is necessary. Unless you have money to burn (or endless time on your hands), it’s probably a good idea to stay away from heavy remodeling projects.

But if you have always wanted to make a home cinema out of your extra guest room, then go for it! Remodeling is all about exploring your passions and creativity. Just make sure you have the budget to support your vision.

Pros and Cons

If you’re trying to decide between remodeling an old building or building a new one from scratch, remodeling is almost always the way to go. Unless the old building is falling apart before your eyes, it will work perfectly for a remodeling project–and it will cost 20% less to just remodel instead of starting from scratch.

You should only sell your house if you’re already moving, or if it’s becoming a huge mess of constant disasters. If you’re renovating every single week because something else is breaking every night, then it might be a good idea to pick up your life and move a few doors down, so you don’t have to deal with that mess.

Historic Sites

Now, there are some places where you can only renovate in the United States. These are called “Historic Places,” and that’s not just a fancy term for old buildings. Historic places are all listed on the National Register as places that will be preserved in their current state in order to protect a small portion of history.

A historic place may be registered if it:

  • Is associated with events that have had a huge impact on national or state history
  • Is associated with a person who had an impact on national or state history
  • Embodies the architecture and style of a certain time period
  • Contains (or might) contain information about an important historical event

Not all these historic places are old forts or museums. There are also plenty of historic places that are lived in as homes. They could be homes that famous Americans used to live in (like Ernest Hemingway’s childhood home) or they could have had information about a historical event, or it could just look like it popped out of the Great Depression. Whatever the case, these historic homes can be a nightmare to renovate.

It’s an official historic site so preservation is the top priority, and anything that might change the style too much will be vetoed. Read this article if you need help knowing what to do to restore or preserve a historic building.

Best Remodeling/Renovating Projects to Add Value to Your Home

Renovation vs remodel

Whether you’re more interested in remodeling or renovating, there are plenty of changes you can make to your home to increase its overall value.


When it comes to reselling your house, it all depends on what the buyers think the house is worth.

The National Association of Realtors Research Department did a report in 2017 on how well buyers responded to renovation projects. Buyers were asked which renovations were the most appealing. And the most appealing interior projects included kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations, and added wood flooring.

But if you’re planning on selling your house and you want to renovate something quickly, pick something that the buyers will see first, such as the roof or the front door. You don’t have to pay for a whole kitchen renovation (which you won’t even get to enjoy), but you can still raise the overall resale price of your house.

Another simple renovation that will attract buyers is replacing the garage door. A new garage door can increase the listing price of the home by 4%, which adds over nine thousand dollars to the listing price. Plus it only costs around $1,000, give or take, to replace it.

Remodeling Projects

Adding that home cinema you’ve always loved is a great way to hike up the price of your house. After all, how many people can sell a house with a private movie theater? But there are also other ways to remodel your home in ways that potential buyers will enjoy.

Adding square footage to your house immediately adds value. You can pay to add more rooms to your house, or you can take out walls. You can also add a wooden deck. Adding a deck is fairly simple, and it adds value to your home as soon as you complete it. Plus, the addition of trim to walls and cabinets makes a room more eye-pleasing.

Dean Luoma

As a long-time homeowner, Dean has been working on his own home projects for over 30 years. He is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota, helping clients with the buying and selling of their homes.

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