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Remodel vs. renovate

The words “renovate” and “remodel” are often used interchangeably when it comes to real estate, contracting, and interior design. However, for professionals working in one or more of these industries, these terms actually entail two very different things. Essentially, the difference between them is that a renovation refers to restoring something to a previous state, while a remodel refers to creating something new.

To quote from the dictionary:


  1. To restore to good condition; make new or as if new again; repair
  2. To invigorate; refresh; REVIVE


  1. To alter the structure of: REMAKE

As you can see, the differences between the two are pretty clear, at least from an everyday perspective. But what do these differences mean when it comes to real estate and home maintenance? Read on to find out with this updated guide from our experts!

Residential Renovation: What’s it Really Mean?

As you can see, in the broadest sense, “renovate” means to make new again—to revive. When you apply this definition to the world of home construction, “reviving” could mean anything from repainting and refacing cabinets to installing new light fixtures to adding other finishes and fixtures. Regardless of the task at hand, the original design is never dramatically altered. Rather, it is simply updated or tweaked to meet a new or revised standard.

For example, a custom renovation not only makes a room more attractive, but it also adds a welcoming sense of personalization. Renovating your kitchen makes it feel more personalized to your lifestyle, giving it a comfortable and homely ambiance. Meanwhile, smaller and less-expensive renovations like changing a room’s color or replacing old windows before putting your house in the market will greatly increase the chance of a successful re-sale while also delivering a very nice return-on-investment.

What About Residential Remodeling?

Now, take a moment to revisit the dictionary’s definition of “remodel,” which is “to alter the structure of.” As opposed to renovations that are “revivals” of previous state, remodeling a room is more of a complete “remake.”

So, whenever you take on a project that completely transforms the layout, structure, and style of a room, you are remodeling it. In other words, you’re definitively changing the look and layout of its space, not merely updating or tweaking it. Likewise, if you want to do something like reconfiguring a household floor plan, you’re also remodeling!

For instance, you may decide to combine your kitchen with your living room to create a more contemporary and open-concept layout. If you do, then you’re planning a remodel, not a renovation! Similarly, if you’d like to install a kitchen island to create more functional cooking space, you’re also remodeling a room.

Essentially, if the project involves a drastic alteration of a space that breathes new life into it while giving off a whole new look and feel, you can bet that it’s a remodel—not a renovation!

Which Costs More: Remodeling or Renovating?

A remodeling project will almost always cost more than a renovating one. That’s because remodeling typically involves much more complex design considerations, as well as numerous construction, electric, and plumbing expenses. If you’re planning a remodel in Boston, check out our pricing guide here.

Also, if you’re in the Boston area, it’s important to know how the costs for both renovations and remodels will very likely be much higher than other areas of the U.S. Because of this, it’s important for you to consult an experienced design-build contractor or architect before getting too involved with your project. After all, if you’re seriously interested in renovating or remodeling a room, it definitely pays to make sure your project gets done right the first time.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Now that the differences between remodeling and renovating have been explained, the next step is deciding making the choice: renovate vs remodel. If you’re curious, you can learn all about what project type will best suit your needs, as well as how to best allocate your budget, the most popular rooms to remodel, and the best times to remodel or renovate.

If you have questions about a remodeling or renovation project, feel free to contact us. Our professional team is always happy to help. Finally, you could also take some time to explore some of the recent remodeling and renovation projects we’ve completed.