What’s the Difference: Renovation vs. Remodeling?

When considering big home changes, it’s important to get the terminology straight before talking to a contractor, since “renovation” and “remodel” are commonly used interchangeably. Although both projects will result in a more modern and attractive home, there are significant differences between renovation and remodeling that should be taken into account. Learn the six main distinctions between renovations and remodels so you can keep the terminology straight and choose the right one for your property.

The purpose of a space can be preserved while receiving a fresh new design through Renovation

The function of a kitchen or bedroom is not altered during remodeling, although they may receive cosmetic upgrades. Things like painting, laying down new flooring, and replacing fixtures like door handles and sink faucets fall under this category. Repairing the structure is part of the renovation as well. If rotten wood is found, for instance, it will be replaced and the affected portion (wall, subfloor, or roof) will be reconstructed.

Remodeling typically entails making changes to both the layout and the underlying Structure

Redesigning the layout and function of a space is what we call remodeling. To enlarge a bathroom, a wall may need to be removed, and the kitchen’s cupboards, refrigerator, sink, and stove may need to be moved. Adding square footage to your property would fall under the category of “remodeling.” Small modifications, like converting a spare room into a study, can have just as big an impact as more extensive renovations. If the space now serves a different function, it has been renovated.

Remodeling is often costlier than Renovating

A home’s wiring, plumbing, and ducts may need to be rearranged if major structural changes are made, adding time and money to the project. Due to the increased need for skilled workers and the generally increased cost of materials, remodeling projects typically have higher overall costs. Renovations are typically less expensive than new construction since they are less complicated and expensive materials are not required.

A building permit is not always needed for a renovation, but it is virtually always needed for a remodel

Obtaining the necessary permits ensures that all regulations are met. Any alteration to a building, whether it be an extension or the removal and reassignment of inner walls, often needs permission from the local building authority. While replacing a roof (a rehabilitation job since form and function are not altered) does not often require permits, simple improvements like painting and putting new carpeting must. Most municipalities need permits for reroofing because, if done improperly, a new roof might leak and cause harm to the home’s structure.

Remodeling is easier to take on by yourself

If you want to save money and time on a home renovation project, renovating is a better option than remodeling. Communities often forbid do-it-yourself electrical and plumbing work, but allow homeowners to paint, wallpaper, hang doors, and add trim without a permit. Even if local ordinances permit DIY renovations, the typical homeowner likely doesn’t have the skills necessary to handle a job like building a new foundation for addition or framing walls and roofs.

There is a higher rate of return (ROI) once renovations are made

Due to the lower upfront expenses and higher resale value that result from fixing and modernizing a home’s fundamentals, renovation projects generally outperform remodeling initiatives in terms of return on investment.

A large three-season room added to the back of the home (remodeling) is useless if the roof leaks and the furnace doesn’t function. According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual cost-vs-value analysis for popular home improvement projects, homeowners can expect a return on investment (ROI) of about 75% on projects like replacing an entry door or a garage door, and about 98% on projects like re-siding a home. However, only approximately 60% ROI may be expected from a big kitchen makeover and only about 50% ROI from an addition of a master suite.

Remodeling is a better solution to poor home design

If the water pipes to your kitchen sink are located in an external wall and freeze virtually every winter, or if you have to go through a bedroom to get to another, renovating won’t fix the issues. The only way to fix a poorly planned house is to gut it and start again. Older houses, built before rigid construction rules were the norm, are more likely to have a shoddy design.

What’s Better: a Renovation or a Remodeling?

Whether a remodeling or renovation is the best option for you depends on a number of aspects that you should think about as you plan for the future of your house. 


Unlike remodeling, renovations typically result in significant cost savings. For about $15,000, you can make a number of significant enhancements to a 2,500-square-foot house, including new landscaping, paint, flooring, and countertops. A large-scale renovation project can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. 


A construction permit is probably not necessary for a minor house improvement. Changing out the carpeting in your home is an example of a minor modification that does not require approval from any government bodies. Roofing replacements, for example, are among the few restoration jobs that would need a construction permit or the permission of a community board.

Large-scale renovation projects, however, would almost certainly necessitate securing building licenses and the approval of neighborhood associations. Obtaining permission from the relevant authorities before making any alterations to a building is standard practice in the majority of the United States. Your contractor may advise you to hire an inspector and acquire building permits before doing any work on your home’s structure. 


In certain cases, renovations may be finished in as little as a few days. The time it takes to plan, begin, and finish a job like painting a room, installing new hardware, or laying new flooring is typically less than the time it takes to do other types of projects. 

It takes far more time to remodel a room than to just renovate it. Wait times to see professionals, stock-outs of necessary supplies, and the inherent complexity of the tasks at hand can all add up to substantial delays. 

Impact :

A remodel might be all that’s needed to give your house a whole new atmosphere. You should renovate if you wish to add features or extend the life of your home. When you remodel, you may change the floor plan, add more usable space, and fix any underlying structural problems. 

ROI or Resale Value:

As surprising as it may sound, renovations often provide a higher ROI than full-scale remodels. Most home improvements are worthwhile because of the high return on investment and low upfront cost. The return on investment (ROI) for a bathroom remodel might reach 60.1%.

Some home improvement projects will have a lesser return on investment (ROI) than others, based on the stated costs of renovations. A roof replacement, for instance, has a return on investment of roughly 50%.

Renovation vs. remodel: Does it matter?

Do the differences between renovation and remodeling matter if they are used interchangeably?

Probably not. Either phrase can be used interchangeably whether communicating with a contractor, an interior designer, or a lender about a construction loan. Experts in your field will understand what you mean nonetheless, and if they still have questions, your job description will clear things up.

However, there are a few instances where the proper phrase is required. The most common example is needing to obtain necessary permits before beginning construction.

Getting a building permit from your local municipality is often required if major structural changes are made to a property. If you’re doing minor work like changing fixtures or fixing up the place during a remodel, you probably won’t require a building permit.

When creating or reading a real estate listing, knowing the distinction between a renovation and a remodel is very useful. If you decide to put your property up for sale, prospective buyers will want to know as much detail as possible about any renovations you’ve done. A kitchen that has been redesigned has likely had its layout altered and/or new cabinets installed, while a kitchen that has been refurbished may have had its cabinets painted or a new backsplash installed.

7 Questions to Ask a Contractor or Designer

Information is available to help you manage your expectations and plan for the job, whether you’re doing the renovation or remodeling yourself or employing a professional contractor or interior designer. There are a few more questions you may want to ask as well, beyond only those directly related to the project’s budget.

1. Can you tell me about your company?

It’s important to check a contractor’s credentials before hiring them to do any kind of renovation or remodeling work. You could feel more confident in the contractor’s or designer’s abilities if they have been in the industry for a while and have a track record of success.

2. Do you have client references we may contact?

Finding a contractor or designer you feel comfortable working with is easier with recommendations from happy customers who have worked with them in the past.

3. Can I receive a copy of the blueprints for the planned renovation?

When hiring a contractor or designer, it’s helpful to have a thorough understanding of their process. You might need to submit the blueprints to the HOA in your area for permission. A final plan of the restoration or remodel is helpful to have once the work is over in case any changes were made to the initial design.

4. Do you know what permits, licenses, and inspections are needed for this position?

Professionalism and expertise may be seen in a contractor’s work if they are familiar with and will adhere to all applicable building, electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning codes. It may also help you get a better price when you decide to sell your house. You will not be able to sell your home until any code issues are fixed.

5. What kind of ROI can I expect to see for this upgrade?

The contractor or designer may be able to offer you ballpark figures for how the work could effect the worth or selling price of your property if they have expertise with both the work and the home market in your region.

6. What’s included in the work?

If the job needs a permit, find out if the contractor has factored the cost of acquiring the permission into their estimate. Get the manuals and proper setup instructions for any new appliances or gadgets before they are installed. Learn about available guarantees and warranties. Finally, you may require a detailed inventory of the equipment and supplies that were acquired by the contractor.

7. How long do you think it will take to complete this task?

It’s not uncommon for renovations and remodels to go awry. Factors such as obsolete wiring and plumbing, a lack of materials, and inspection delays are just a few examples of what might cause a task to run beyond its allotted time. If you’re working with a seasoned contractor or designer, they can help you plan for any setbacks.

Give Dreamprint Home Remodeling a Chance to Transform Your House

You have the most intimate knowledge of your ideal home’s layout, so why not have a professional construction crew bring it to life? We have over 10 years of expertise, so you can trust that your home will be renovated or remodeled to your satisfaction and leave you feeling at ease. Construction, remodeling, and upkeep are all within the scope of our expertise.

Get in touch with Dreamprint Home Remodeling now to discuss the differences between a remodel and a renovation and how we can help you realize your vision.