What’s the Difference Between a Remodel and a Renovation?

A house under construction fades into a modern kitchen from left to right.

When you embark on a home improvement project, knowing your lingo is essential for a solid grasp of what you’re getting into and implementing what you want to happen. The terms “renovating” and “remodeling” are often used interchangeably, but the experts disagree.

Whether you’re sprucing up your space or undergoing a complete transformation, understanding the difference between a remodel and a renovation is critical to achieving your desired results.

Remodel Versus Renovation

Simply put, a renovation is a smaller-scale face-lift that updates a space’s aesthetic, while remodels are more significant projects that involve changing the structure of your entire home or part of it. For example, to redo your kitchen, you would need a remodel to remove a wall and alter its layout, but you could renovate it by painting cabinets and installing new light fixtures.

Examples of Remodels

Most remodeling projects are complex, so you will likely need a contractor to help you complete them. We recommend seeking professional help with any project you are not 100% sure you can do yourself. Otherwise, you risk making costly and potentially dangerous errors. Below are some frequent examples of remodeling projects:

  • Removing a load-bearing wall
  • Building a new addition to your home, such as a sunroom, office, or additional living space
  • Extending your patio
  • Making changes to your HVAC system, such as adding vents
  • Finishing your basement or attic
  • Installing a new bathroom
  • Enlarging a room

Examples of Renovations

While not all renovations are as simple as adding a fresh coat of paint, most can be done yourself. With a well-stocked toolbox and a trip to your local hardware store, a renovation can be a fulfilling DIY project. Here are some of the most common renovation projects:

  • Replacing floors, including hardwood, tile, and carpeting
  • Painting walls and cabinetry
  • Adding or removing trim
  • Installing new plumbing fixtures
  • Replacing porch screens
  • Getting new windows and doors

It’s worth noting that more complicated endeavors, such as installing a new garage door, redoing hardwood floors, and replacing windows, may require the assistance of a contractor to ensure they are done right.

Check out our recent home renovation blog for tips on staying safe and organized while completing DIY renovations.

A male contractor works on renovating the windowsill of a home.

Should I Remodel or Renovate My Home?

If you’re looking to update your home, deciding between a renovation and a remodel ultimately depends on how significant a change you want to make. Do you like your floor plan but hate your crown molding? Do your walls and hardwood floors look great, but the lack of an open-concept layout drives you up the wall? Below are some pros and cons that might help you decide what you want and what resources you may need to consider.

Cost Differences Between Renovations and Remodels

Renovations nearly always cost less than remodels. As we discussed, many renovations can be DIY projects, whereas remodels may require hiring a professional. Also, remodeling typically involves structural changes topped off with new fixtures and finishes that a renovation could cover.

Renovations can also be easier to budget, as you’re less likely to run into hidden costs. Once a wall is knocked down, if you discover you need to reroute ductwork or water lines, avoiding additional spending is difficult. However, a renovation can be costly if you are overconfident in your DIY abilities. Many homeowners must practice to be sure they have a solid grasp of the task.

Return on Investment (ROI) Differences Between Renovations and Remodels

Suppose you know that opening up the layout of your home will help your family live more comfortably, or your family is expecting a new member who will need an additional bedroom. In those cases, remodeling can be necessary, as a renovation cannot add or expand space in your home.

However, if your goal is to put a house on the market, a freshly renovated home can be attractive to buyers, whereas you don’t know if updating a layout matters to them. On average, renovations offer a higher ROI than large-scale remodels. When comparing the resale value to the project cost, nearly all home updates fail to recoup their initial investment. Therefore, renovations can result in a higher ROI than costly remodels.

Permit Differences Between Renovations and Remodels

Depending on the local codes where you live, the specifications of your home improvement project may require licensed professionals and permits under local codes. While this varies from state to state, most remodels require a permit and inspection for tasks like installing new wiring and running new plumbing. Renovations, however, rarely require permits, except for more involved projects dealing with updates like installing new roofing and electrical systems.

A man and woman sitting on the floor surrounded by paint while renovating a room.

Storage During Home Renovations and Remodels

While decluttering during a home renovation may seem simple due to their shorter timelines, finding space for large appliances and pieces of furniture might not be possible in your home for large-scale projects that will last for an extended period. For help organizing belongings during a home remodel or renovation, consider renting a versatile storage unit to clear out your home temporarily.

Make Room for Home Improvements With Otter Self Storage

Whether you plan on renovating or remodeling your home, you’ll need the space to do it right. For a convenient and affordable solution to getting your home ready for significant changes, Otter Self Storage provides personal storage options in various unit sizes to give you the room you need. Our top-notch storage facilities offer climate-controlled and drive-up units and 24/7 online rentals for a contact-free storage experience, letting you focus on your renovations and remodels easily.

Find a location near you, and call us to get started!

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