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What’s the Difference Between Remodeling and Renovating?

What’s the Difference Between Remodeling and Renovating

“Remodeling” and “renovating” are words that are often used to refer to the same work on a home. But remodeling and restoring are not the same in some important ways. Being aware of these differences can help people choose the project type that fits their wants and budget the best.

Remodeling usually means making bigger changes to the structure of a home, while restoring means making small changes to the outside and making it look better. Most of the time, remodeling tasks cost more and need permits, but renovations can often be done for less money and without permits. Each type of project also makes changes that are different in size and type.

This piece of writing will talk about remodeling vs. renovating in more depth, including what they mean, how much they cost, how big the projects are, and what kinds of changes are made. Find out what’s the difference between remodeling and renovating a home below.

Definitions: Remodeling vs. Renovating

Let’s start by clearly defining what remodeling and renovating mean in the context of home projects.



Remodeling refers to making major structural and spatial changes to the floor plan or layout of a home. Remodeling often involves moving or removing walls and completely reworking the functionality and flow of spaces. It typically requires permits and professional expertise. Types of remodeling projects include:

  • Kitchen or bathroom remodels involving layout changes
  • Adding on rooms or building extensions
  • Finishing basements or attics into livable spaces
  • Major updates to flooring and cabinetry



Renovating refers to surface-level and cosmetic updates that don’t change the underlying structure or layout of a home. Renovation projects are minor upgrades focused on the appearance and decoration of the space. Typical renovation projects done by Renovation Company include:

  • Painting walls a new color
  • Refinishing or replacing flooring
  • Updating light fixtures, faucets, and other fixtures
  • Replacing countertops without moving appliance layouts
  • New window coverings and interior doors

Permit Requirements: Remodeling vs. Renovating

One major difference between remodeling and renovating is the need for permits. Generally, nearly all remodeling projects require permits from local municipalities because structural elements and load-bearing walls are impacted. Getting proper permits for major remodeling is crucial. Renovation projects may not need permits since the basic home layout stays intact.

Required permits vary by location and scale of the project, but remodeling permits can include:

  • Building permits for structural changes
  • Electrical, plumbing, and mechanical system permits
  • Fire protection permits when safety systems are updated

Minor renovations like painting or installing new cabinets would not require permits in most cases. But if a renovation project impacts electrical or plumbing systems, they would need permits for that specific trade work being done. Always check local guidelines to understand permit requirements for any home project.

Project Scale: Remodeling vs. Renovating

In addition to permits, remodelling and renovating projects also differ significantly in terms of scale and size. Remodeling projects are major overhauls that take longer and cost more because they require changing floor plans and structural elements of the home. Large-scale demolition is usually needed before rebuilding particular spaces. Entire rooms get gutted and reworked.

Most renovation jobs are much smaller and focus on making the outside look better rather than changing the structure. Some demolition takes place, like getting rid of old floors or fixtures, but the main walls and the footprint of the house stay the same. Some things, like kitchen cabinets, are updated, but the room as a whole isn’t redone.

Whole house improvement projects can take several months to finish because they require a lot of hard work. But renovations are generally done pretty quickly by changing finishes and replacing old things with new ones in certain parts of the house.

Project Costs: Remodeling vs. Renovating

As a result, remodeling tasks are very different in terms of cost because they are much bigger than renovations. Remodeling costs a lot more because a lot of building labor and materials are needed to make big changes to the space.

Remodeling a whole house or several rooms can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars to over one hundred thousand dollars. But renovations that only change the look of one or two rooms generally cost thousands of dollars. A full kitchen or bathroom makeover costs a lot more than painting the whole inside or putting in new floors.

When it comes to money, some changes can make the difference between remodeling and renovating less clear. Adding high-end finishes and appliances to a kitchen, for example, could sometimes cost as much to redo as remodeling a smaller room. The costs depend on the finishes and materials that are chosen for the job. On the other hand, major remodeling jobs usually cost a lot more than smaller ones.

Types of Changes: Remodeling vs. Renovating

Finally, it’s important to note the different types of physical changes associated with remodeling compared to renovations.

Remodeling involves structural changes like:

  • Moving/removing walls and ceilings
  • Altering layouts and floor plans
  • Relocating plumbing, gas, and electrical systems
  • Adding new HVAC systems
  • Expanding rooms and spaces

Renovations focus on cosmetic updates like:

  • New cabinetry/countertops without layout changes
  • Replacing appliances without moving connections
  • Swapping out light fixtures and sink/tub faucets
  • Installing new floors and/or painting walls
  • Adding window coverings and hanging doors


In conclusion, you know very well what’s the difference between remodeling and renovating? Remodeling means making big changes to a home’s layout and structure while updating means making small changes to the way it looks and how it works. Remodeling generally costs more and needs building permits for big projects. Renovating a room usually just means adding new decorations.

You can have realistic expectations about the project scope, costs, and work involved if you carefully think about whether you want to remodel places or just give them a mini makeover. If you want to remodel or renovate, you should think about your goals and funds. By planning for the details of the projects you want to do, you can make your home look better over time through remodeling and renovating.

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