Difference Between Renovation and Remodel

Posted on January 15th, 2018 by Nastazsa Lin Cabrera

The terms “renovation” and “remodel” are often used to describe types of home improvements. Aside from people who work in the industry, most homeowners do not know the difference between the two. The difference in meanings depends on how deep the changes go. In today’s blog we provide you with a simple break-down of the two terms.

Cosmetic Changes vs Changes in Functionality 

Renovation describes cosmetic changes. Renovating an existing structure refers to paint, tile, sinks, toilets, and showers in a bathroom. It does not include redirecting of plumbing or electrical systems.

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Remodels on the other hand, might include tearing out wall structures and the reconstruction of room perimeters. It also may involve moving pipes to other areas to change the location of plumbing fixtures. Plumbing fixtures include sinks, toilets, bathtubs, etc. A kitchen remodel might include demolishing a wall to create space or to install an island for increased work area. Remodels result in increased functionality of the room versus simply adding an aesthetically fresh new look to it.

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                                                                              (Photo Source: terranovaplumbing.ca)

Renovations can usually be accomplished by a handyman or by the homeowner who may be a DIY kind of person. Depending on the complexity of a remodel, a general contractor can provide the expertise necessary for the particular job. A contractor will also know if an architect is needed to ensure that the project is structurally sound.


Differences in costs of a renovation versus a remodel can be dramatic. A budget for a renovation is easier to determine since cosmetic improvements are generally quick and materials and labor are easier to project. On the other hand, a remodel can require building permits which vary in cost. The homeowner also needs to be certain that the contractor includes the costs of paint, flooring, and appliances which many leave out of their bids. There is usually a return on the investment for the homeowner which is also a factor to keep in mind when or if the property is sold in the future.

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