Renovating vs. Remodeling: What’s the Difference?

Renovating vs. Remodeling: What’s the Difference?
Article Intro

The difference between the two might be minor, but it's still important for a few good reasons.

We’ve all been there: After spending years in a home, your surroundings will start to feel too familiar. So for inspiration, you flip on the home improvement channel, only to fall down the rabbit hole of a never-ending marathon of remodel and renovation shows.

These two words are often used in place of one another by homeowners and contractors alike, but there are some factors that differentiate the two. Keep reading to learn the difference between renovating and remodeling—and why it matters.


Renovations breathe new life into your home, from bringing an outdated kitchen up to speed with new fixtures to applying a fresh coat of paint to your walls. These cosmetic changes make a home a newer, updated version of itself. You can call in a local handyman to help with these projects (especially if they’re outside your skillset) but many renovations can be done by a do-it-yourselfer.


Remodels completely change the structure and function of a room. Tearing down a wall to create an open kitchen and living room area is a remodel. Moving or rearranging electrical and plumbing work is another. Remodels completely transform a space and are more complicated than renovations, so it’s best to call in a contractor. Major replacements like new kitchen cabinets, shower or tub, and flooring also fall into this category.

If you’re planning a remodel, be prepared to keep your wallet open. From labor to materials, remodels cost more than renovations and take more time to complete as well.

Why does it matter?

Knowing the difference between the two, no matter how small it may be, will help keep communication clear when you’re working with a contractor. Both parties will know what to expect from the outcome.

Knowing the difference is especially important if you’re planning on selling your house. A newly renovated home is much different than a newly remodeled home, so be careful—it could end up costing you money on the sale.


Homeowners sink a lot of money into their homes from DIY renovations to massive remodels. Knowing the difference between the two types of projects is important whether you’re staying put for a while or are planning to move and get a good ROI.