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What's the Difference Between a Home Remodel and a Home Renovation?

Tilghman Builders Team
By Tilghman Builders Team - February 6, 2018

Have you seen the terms "remodel" and "renovation" used synonymously in your home improvement research? 

While you may find sources that use the terms interchangeably, they are very different types of home improvement projects. Using the wrong term can give your contractor the wrong idea of what you want to be done to your home.


So what's the difference between a remodel and a renovation?



If you want a renovation, you're asking your contractor to aesthetically update your home. Renovations include updates to cosmetic features of your home, like fixtures, paint, tile, appliances and more. Say you want to replace your kitchen counters, backsplash and faucet - that would be a kitchen renovation. As long as the electrical and plumbing remain in its original location and the changes are superficial, your project would qualify as a renovation.

See more photos from this project.

If your house feels a little dated but the functionality is working for you, a home renovation can give your home the facelift it needs to make it feel more modern, like the project shown above. Renovations are great for updating outdated-looking bathrooms and kitchens when the tile, paint color and fixtures start to look out of place. Once you start moving the structure of the room, it becomes a remodel project.



If you want a remodel, you're asking your contractor to change the actual structure or form of your home. This involves moving pipes and electrical, changing the floor plan by building, moving or removing walls and new construction. Say you want to knock down a wall in your kitchen to make the floor plan more open - that would be a kitchen remodel. Say you want to move your shower and sink, requiring your contractor to move the pipes from their original locations - that would be a bathroom remodel. 

Kitchen Renovation | Bucks County Renovation | Tilghman Builders
See more photos from this project.

Home remodels can improve your home's functionality by moving structural obstacles such as walls and plumbing to change the floor plan. A kitchen remodel, like the project shown above, involves demolition, plumbing and electrical work, and new construction. While remodeling projects take longer and can cost more than a home renovation, they are permanent fixes to practical issues. 


What are the cost differences for a home renovation vs home remodel?

Generally, renovation projects are less expensive than remodels simply because you are making superficial changes to aesthetic pieces of your home. You are paying for the materials and labor of replacing cosmetic aspects and surface details. There will typically be fewer unexpected complications because you aren't encountering structural challenges with the cosmetic changes. 

In remodeling projects, there is more planning and contractor expertise involved. When getting a bid, make sure you ask about things like:

  • Timelines for permits
  • Cost of new appliances and their installation
  • Flooring
  • Paint, tile and other wall coverings
  • Load bearing structures

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Where do home additions stand on the remodel and renovation debate?

For us, home additions and home remodels are similar projects. While additions are their own type of project, they always require some degree of remodeling too. In a home addition, we are adding new living space to your existing home. To attach this new space, be it an addition off your kitchen, living room, bedroom, or an entire second story, we have to make functional changes to your existing structure. To add space to a kitchen, like we did to achieve the desired changes for the Holly kitchen shown above, we have to remove walls and siding to open an entryway to the new square footage. We also have to lay a foundation and change your electrical and plumbing plans to accommodate the extra space. 

Home additions are the ideal projects for homeowners who have outgrown their home, bought their home knowing it needed updates or want to make room for more family. We do many home remodels for clients who want to make room for their growing family or add space for aging parents to move in with them. We've had clients add basements, mother in law suite additions and whole second story additions to their homes. All of these projects involve changing the actual floor plan of your home and reconfiguring your electrical and plumbing to service the new space.

See more photos of our home addition projects.

Still have questions about the different types of projects contractors are offering in your area?

You can ask us about options for Bucks County and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania home renovation and remodel projects. Ask us here.