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Remodel vs Renovation

When you read home and garden articles, the words “remodel” and “renovate” usually mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. However, if we check the definition based on architectural and construction dictionaries, they have different meanings.

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Remodel Vs Renovation

According to the dictionary:
Renovate means to “restore to good condition; make new or as if new again; repair”
It also means “to invigorate; refresh; revive”
Remodel on the other hand means “To alter the structure”


Renovation therefore involves improving the condition of what’s already there. For example, renovating a kitchen involves repainting, refacing the cabinets, adding lighting and other accessories to upgrade the kitchen. The original design and layout isn’t changed, but only the finishes are improved to give the area an uplift.
A bathroom renovation would therefore involve replacement of bathtubs, sinks and toilets with new ones. As well as changing the floor tiles, mirrors and other accessories. Another term for this is called a bathroom upgrade.
Some contractors totally demolish the bathroom to make the renovation easier. This also allows them to spot any inside problems that cannot be seen when the walls aren’t demolished. The time after the demolition is also the best time to add new vents or replace existing ones, and add lighting, outlets and switches.
If it was an old house, then you can also update the parts of the bathroom for it to meet the present local building code. This may include adding shutoff valves and replacing the pipe material.


Remodeling a home involves further work and effort than a renovation. It includes relayout of the space and totally changing the structure of the areas. Let’s say you want to increase the size of your kitchen and lessen the size of the adjacent bedroom that is considered remodeling. It significantly transforms the function of the room and the way you behave in it; not to mention it’s a complete makeover that makes it look totally different.
When remodeling a bathroom, for example, it means you will do more than just replacing the fixtures and the finishes. It will involve making an entirely different layout and relocating the bathroom fixtures and adding new ones, e.g. whirlpool, walk in shower. This will also affect the plumbing, hence new pipes will have to be installed. Want more natural light into you bathroom? Add a skylight. Aside from a relayout, most bathroom renovations involve an expansion of the area. If you’re going to demolish it anyway, might as well build a bigger one. Walls and closets are therefore removed and replaced or relocated.
A home remodeling will definitely cost more than a renovation because the electrical and plumbing lines will also be affected.
This is why it’s important for you to talk to an architect and a contractor before proceeding with the project. Once you’ve started and broken down one wall, there’s no turning back until it’s finished.

DIY vs Professional

If you have a bathroom that is small or medium in size, you can do the renovating yourself. If it’s a remodel, you can hire an electrician and a plumber while you still do the finishes. If the job is too big and will take too much of your time and effort, it may be best to leave it to the professionals.

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