I see it and hear it all of the time: “renovation” when they mean “remodel” and vice versa. People looking to add variety in their sentences often alternate between the two words to keep from repeating themselves. No harm in that, really. But it’s good to know the difference between a remodel and a renovation when you are communicating with a contractor about your vision.
In a nutshell, the difference is this: Are you talking about a restoration (a renovation) or a transformation (a remodel)?
A renovation might only be a fresh coat of paint and new furniture. You often do not need a contractor to help you with that. It could also be called a restoration, returning a room to like-new condition by repairing superficial damage and updating the finishes, like painting and trim. A renovation, to use even another R-word, is like a refresh.
A remodel is more extensive. You might want to put in new flooring, or open space by having a wall removed, or cabinets ripped out and replaced. There might be structural changes needed to bring a room up to code, or maybe the room needs to be completely rethought and turned into something else — an upstairs bedroom becomes an office with a sliding door with access to an upper deck, for example. A remodel is a structural transformation. You almost certainly want to hire a contractor to help you with that.
Beyond the language lessons, the difference between the two is something to consider as you think about updating your home.
It often comes down to budget. You might have enough to completely remodel the kitchen and the master bathroom, for example, if you can get creative and simply renovate other rooms. Installing new lighting in the dining room, for instance, or changing the drapes, can make a big difference and are not budget busters.
There’s a huge distinction between the two words and the projects they entail. But it’s not a big deal. I don’t go around correcting people. It’s my job to help them fulfill their visions, no matter what they are or what they call them.
Andy Tanges is owner of Strategic Remodel, Wichita’s premier residential remodeling contractor, since 2009. He’s been making homeowners happy since he was a kid working in the family business. He’s learned a thing or two over the years. Have a question for Andy or a vision for a remodel? Contact him here.