What is the Difference Between Remodel, Renovation and Restoration?

A remodel is a process of changing the purpose of an area, while a renovation repairs and updates an area without changing its purpose. Restoration, on the other hand, involves returning a building to its previous state. It is done in historic buildings to maintain their heritage and rich culture. The features of a building are recreated to match its appearance and function.

The words “renovate” and “remodel” are often used interchangeably when it comes to real estate, contracting, and interior design. However, for professionals who work in one or more of these industries, these terms actually entail two very different things. Essentially, the difference between them is that a renovation refers to restoring something to a previous state, while a remodeling refers to creating something new. Technically, a renovation and a remodel are defined differently.

While a remodel changes the shape of something (such as adding a new shower to an existing bathroom), a renovation focuses more on restoring something old so that it is well repaired (fixing a creaking floor, for example). Remodeling is the process of changing the functionality and design of an area. It may involve tearing off a wall to expand a bathroom and reconfiguring the kitchen design so that the cabinets, refrigerator, sink and stove are in different places. Building an addition to your home would also be considered a remodel.

However, remodeling doesn't always involve major structural changes; it can be something as simple as converting a guest room into a home office. Renovation usually costs less than remodeling since it involves repairing and updating the basic features of a home. If you have the skills, time, and desire to make home improvements yourself, consider renovating rather than remodeling. Most communities don't allow unlicensed homeowners to use electrical wiring or install plumbing, but painting, wallpapering, hanging new doors and installing moldings are allowed.

Because renovation usually costs less, and because it involves repairing and updating the basic features of a home, homeowners often see a better ROI in renovation projects than in remodeling projects when they sell their home. Remodeling Magazine publishes an annual cost-value analysis for common home improvement projects, noting that renovation projects will generate an ROI of approximately 75%, 98% and 76% for the homeowner respectively when the house is sold. When a home is poorly designed, remodeling is often the only solution. Bad design is seen more often in older homes before strict building codes were the norm.