The Difference Between Renovating & Remodelling


When it comes to establishing your dream home you may have thought about “renovating” or “remodelling”.  While the terms are often used interchangeably, these processes are actually very different. We want you to be the best kind of correct, so we’re going to explain the difference between renovating and remodelling.




To renovate is to “restore to a former better state”, but more importantly for our purposes, it’s “to restore to life” – to renew! When you’re renovating your home, you are bringing new life into your home, and there are so many wonderful ways you can do that. Now, under this definition, you could call a lot of things renovation. Got new couches? You’ve renovated your living room! Did you get a new dishwasher, stove, and fridge, or did you fix your appliances? Call it a renovated kitchen!


Realistically, however, getting new furniture and appliances is not considered a renovation by most people (though appliances are more renovation-esque than furniture). What most people would consider a renovation is something that really changes permanent fixtures in your home. Repainting a room, refinishing cabinets, getting new countertops installed, updating your flooring  – all of these things would qualify as renovations. You might notice that all of these things appeal to home buyers – that’s because the changes are both positive and semi-permanent.


When you’re renovating because you anticipate selling your home, you’re always looking for what’s going to get you the best ROI (Return on Investment). That’s why new appliances are more of a renovation than new furniture – you’re not likely to haul your fridge with you when you leave your place. The more permanent it is, the more likely it is to be considered a renovation, and if you hire a professional to do it for you, you’re getting closer to renovation territory.




You know how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares? That’s how it is with and renovation – all remodelling is a renovation, but not all renovation is remodelling. Are you knocking down a wall? You’re remodelling. Technically you could do this without it being a renovation, out of pure frustration, but I’d advise against that – it’s a really bad way to let your anger out.


A remodel is any substantial change to the structure (or model) of your home. That means if you’re contracting a certain class of professionals – companies that do plumbing, electricians, carpenters, and the like, you’re probably doing a remodel. What exactly makes something a remodel is kind of tough to tell sometimes. Let’s say you get solar panels on your roof – you’re changing the structure of your home in a somewhat permanent capacity, but the next homeowners may elect to have the solar panels taken off, so is it a remodel? We’d argue it’s a renovation unless you need to update the electrical system or reinforce your roof, in which case it would be a remodel. On the subject of roofing, changing your tiles would probably classify as a renovation, while adding on to your roof (because you’ve added a new room) would certainly be a remodel.


Isn’t This All A Bit Pedantic?


Yes, it is. In most cases, you’ll be able to use these terms interchangeably, and you won’t make friends by correcting them when they use the wrong term (unless they’re very particular people – bureaucrats, maybe?). That said, being technically correct isn’t necessarily useless as you’ll soon read about in the next section. When you’re deciding whether or not you want to renovate or remodel, there are a few different things to consider:


What are your goals? If you just want to refresh a space, start by renovating – a fresh coat of paint can do wonders and new hardware on your cabinets and doors can really spruce the place up. On the flip side, if you feel you don’t have enough living space, if you want to age in place, or if you really feel space needs to be completely redone, you might require a remodel. Planning this all out well in advance is important because it would be a shame to renovate a space only to have to renovate it all over again after a remodel.


Another reason you might be interested in renovating/remodelling your home is that you’re looking to sell it or because you bought it with the intention of flipping it. When that’s the case, it’s all about ROI, and ROI depends on the neighbourhood, the state of the place, your skill sets, and other factors.


What Costs More?


Remodelling basically always costs you more than renovating – the amount of time, skills and materials that a proper remodel takes is a lot more than a normal renovation, even a pretty complex one. That said, the cost is all relative – if you’re planning on selling your place and you anticipate you’ll get more money out of a remodel, then it’s going to be better for you.


Another factor is something I talked about briefly before – ageing in place. When you have a home that’s entirely paid off that you can’t live in anymore because your mobility is impaired, you might have to move into an assisted living facility or some such similar space. That can cost you in the long run, in terms of both wealth and health.


Evaluating costs is when knowing the difference between remodelling and renovating is important – you can let companies that you’re getting estimates from know exactly what you require when you use these terms correctly. That all said, don’t worry if you get the two mixed up. We’ll let you know all the costs of a project once we know the details of what you want, and it’s really those details that matter, not what word you use to describe them. That said, you can impress your bureaucratic friends with your encyclopedic knowledge of the difference between the two terms – a renovation for your mind!


Building Communities Together. North Canadian Construction.