It’s pretty common for folks undergoing a home improvement project to use the words renovation and remodel interchangeably. While no one’s going to throw you in jail for using the incorrect identifier, there is a difference. But what is that difference? And when do you do a renovation and when do you do a remodel? Sit back, read on, and all will be de-mystified.


Renovations are very large undertakings that cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, and completely change the room. So if you plan on gutting the entire kitchen and starting from scratch, it’s a renovation. If you decide you want to move some walls around, or knock out an exterior wall and expand outward, that’s a renovation. If you knock down some interior walls to create an open kitchen/living/dining room that’s definitely a renovation. 

You typically don’t want to embark on a renovation if you’re in your starter home. Unless the layout of the kitchen is abysmal and there’s room within the house to fix it, it’s such a costly endeavor it’s better to muddle through your time there and save that money for your next house (which is hopefully your forever home). If you must renovate any room in your starter home, you’ll want to focus on the kitchen or bathrooms. Those are the top two earners when it comes to adding value to the house for resale, and recouping your losses. You’re likely to get back 85-88% of what you spend in a kitchen or bathroom renovation.


If renovations are a “scrap it all and start again” sort of situation, then it stands to reason that remodeling is keeping most of it and upgrading the rest. Remodeling basically refreshes the cosmetics of a room. You’re not changing the layout or adding a bunch of space, you’re mostly upgrading a few things here and there and calling it gravy. As far as expenses go, you can still spend a pretty penny on a remodel, as much as a renovation if you’re fancy like that. Depending on what you’re upgrading and how nice/high in quality you choose to go with materials you could throw down several thousand dollars for a remodel. Replacing the appliances in any room, for example, will automatically drive up the cost of remodeling.

Remodeling is the best use of funds in a starter home, as well as your forever home. You don’t have to go crazy remodeling it as you prepare to put it on the market. Choosing a few ways to enhance the appeal and value of your starter home will benefit you, though. Minor kitchen and bathroom remodels will bring back almost all of the initial investment. For example, replacing the facing of the cabinets, painting, laying new floor, or replacing the countertops are all included in minor remodels. The structure remains the same, the materials are simply new and breathtaking.

There you have it. It isn’t so much about cost as it is the amount of changes being made. Now go forth and be prosperous in your reno/remo projects.