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Remodel, Restoration, Renovation: What's the Difference?

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Real Estate Glossary

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So you’re thinking about changing up your house. Are you remodeling, restoring, or renovating? How do you know which term applies to your project? Each word is used interchangeably by contractors, even though remodel, restoration, and renovation have very distinct meanings. But what do they mean and which one (or which combo) applies to the construction you’re hoping to do?


A remodel means to alter the structure of the building.
Maybe you’re extending the floorplan out another ten feet and adding that sun room you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe you’re tearing down some walls, creating an open floor plan. Maybe you’re making an old bedroom into a master bathroom and closet combo. These are all remodels, because they all require an alteration to the existing house structure.


A restoration means to return to the original form.
Instead of remodeling the space, in a restoration, you return the home to its original state. Let’s say you own a Colonial Revival home, which had beautiful crown molding and hardwood floors. Over the years, the floor has been covered in carpet and the walls have been painted bright blue. In a restoration, you would pull up the carpet and refurbish the hardwood floors. The walls would would be repainted, maybe a library pewter. The crown molding would be polished. The original beauty of the home would shine through.


A renovation means to make new again.
Instead of making the area look like it did when the house was built, a renovation means to make the space new again. Let’s say you love the set-up of your kitchen, but it was built in the 1980’s and has outdated appliances. The countertops are orange and you’ve always wanted granite. So you’re updating the space for the modern era, getting new appliances, a new countertop, and painting the cabinets. You’ve officially started a renovation.
Each term has a distinct meaning, but in a major home remodel, you might not just be remodeling. Let’s say you own a home that was built in the mid-nineteenth century. You bought the home because you love it’s rich history, but you need the space to work better for your needs. So you’re remodeling: you’re extending the back of the house out farther to make room for a large kitchen. But you’re also restoring the home. The exterior of the home was repainted many times over the years and you want to use a period-era paint to capture it’s original charm. And there’s also spaces in the home you like: a formal dining room that’s a little outdated. So you renovate, updating the chandelier, table, and chairs.
Knowing exactly which term applies to your project is key to knowing how you are approaching the change and what you need to do to prepare for the change.

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The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only, and while believed to be accurate, Trelora assumes no legal responsibility for accuracy. Information provided within should not relied upon as legal advice. Please consult with your local advisors for independent information regarding availability and applicability in your market.