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Considering making changes to your home? If you’re feeling like your home is no longer up to date or doesn’t match your current lifestyle, you have choices to make it better. However, you might wonder whether it’s better to focus on updating specific areas or go for a full-scale overhaul of the entire space. To make an informed decision, it’s essential to understand the distinction between a home remodel and a renovation.

Remodeling is a more complex process that entails completely reshaping your home by changing its underlying structure, while renovating is simpler, involving updates to the aesthetic elements of specific rooms. This guide provides an in-depth look at the key distinctions between a remodel and a renovation to help you determine which you should opt for to achieve your desired home transformation.

Understanding Remodeling

What is Remodeling?

Unlike minor renovations focused on repairs and upgrades, remodeling is a whole-home transformation. This intensive home improvement project allows you to reimagine and completely reshape your living space.

With remodeling, anything is possible — knock down walls to open up rooms, expand and combine rooms to increase square footage, raise ceilings for a loft-like feel and so much more. You can relocate wiring, plumbing, HVAC and other infrastructure to accommodate significant layout changes. Building additions like a bedroom suite or sunroom, finishing the basement or attic into livable spaces, or adding new levels can reinvent your home from the inside out.

When to Consider Remodeling

There are several situations where you may want to consider taking on a remodeling project rather than just minor renovations:

  • Increasing your home’s square footage.
  • Converting unused spaces like attics or basements into living areas.
  • Updating home systems like electrical, HVAC or plumbing.
  • Changing your home’s layout and floor plan.
  • Adding new rooms like a bathroom, bedroom or sunroom.
  • Giving your home a completely new aesthetic look and feel.
  • Retrofitting for solar power or energy efficiency.

A laughing older couple looks at one another as the husband perches on a ladder, helping his wife paint a vibrant blue accent wall in their home.

Pros of Remodeling

Remodeling allows for dramatic transformations that even the most substantial renovations can’t provide. Here are some of the key perks that remodeling offers:

  • Total home customization: Rather than making minor improvements, remodeling lets you fully customize your home by changing fundamental aspects like the floor plan. Remodeling allows you to restructure your living space in any way you can imagine — build the additional space you’ve always wanted, finish the basement or convert your attic into a retreat — remodeling allows your vision to become a reality. This total structural reinvention can increase the functionality of your home, replace outdated designs and allow the customization of your home to fit your current lifestyle. 
  • Avoid relocating: Remodeling eliminates the need to move. Rather than packing boxes and leaving memories behind, you can instead reconfigure your home to avoid the frustrations of relocating. By remodeling, you can add space, create flexible rooms and modernize amenities while staying rooted in a home you love. 
  • Increase eco-efficiency: Remodeling creates opportunities to improve sustainability and efficiency. Whether you need to reconfigure your space to install solar panels, upgrade insulation to improve climate control or install an electric vehicle charging station in your garage, remodeling allows you to make significant modifications that can make your home greener and more energy efficient. While renovations can help you make minor upgrades, remodeling enables more comprehensive enhancements for maximum sustainability.
  • Solve structural issues: Remodeling provides solutions when surface renovations cannot fix fundamental flaws. Whether you need to reconfigure wiring, upgrade insulation, move water lines or make some other extensive change, remodeling allows you to enhance your home down to its bones. Making deep structural changes to your home creates lasting enhancements that can help you solve home improvement issues once and for all rather than just temporarily covering them up.
  • Enhance livability: Remodeling enhances your home’s functionality and livability. For instance, you can convert underutilized basement and attic spaces into living areas, rearrange layouts for an improved flow, upgrade connections and features for optimal convenience, and so much more. There are many ways you can craft your ideal living environment with a remodel.

Cons of Remodeling

While remodeling provides you with the ability to make extensive customizations, it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks that come with such construction. Here are some significant disadvantages to consider:

  • Significant upfront costs: Remodeling requires a hefty investment compared to minor upgrades and repairs. Demolishing and rebuilding core structures demands more materials, labor and time. Permits and professional assistance also drive up costs. With so much required just to get started, expenses can add up quickly as you progress through the remodeling process.
  • Time-consuming process: Changing a home’s inner framework is a lengthy process. From design plans and securing permits to structural demolition and rebuilding, remodeling is much more time-consuming than surface renovations. Expect your home to be in disrepair for many months as the transformation unfolds.
  • No guaranteed return on investment: Remodeling does not guarantee you will recoup costs. While improvements impress potential buyers, extensive customizations won’t always substantially increase your home’s resale value. Remodeling to better suit your taste may limit its appeal to future buyers when you someday sell your home. For this reason, you’ll want to ensure you consider any future expectations you may have when it comes to how much you’ll profit from major remodeling investments.

An interior shot of a Brite Home.

Understanding Renovating

What is Renovating?

Renovating refreshes and enhances only specific areas of your home, unlike remodeling, which changes your entire home. It involves improving the aesthetic appeal and function of a room or area through updates and replacements while keeping the existing structure and layout intact. For example, a bedroom remains a bedroom, whereas in a remodel, a bedroom could become something entirely different.

Renovation projects can vary from surface-level cosmetic changes like new paint and flooring to replacing worn-out components like plumbing fixtures and cabinetry. Projects may include:

  • Refinishing floors.
  • Installing new lighting.
  • Repairing damaged structures.
  • Swapping outdated finishes.
  • And more!

When to Consider Renovating

There are a few key situations where renovating makes more sense than remodeling:

  • Updating the look and feel of specific rooms, like the kitchen or bathroom, without changing their layout and purpose.
  • Refreshing worn or damaged finishes like flooring, cabinets and lighting fixtures.
  • Making necessary repairs and safety upgrades like electrical wiring or plumbing.
  • Boosting energy efficiency by replacing windows, adding insulation or upgrading appliances.
  • Improving functionality by installing new fixtures and storage solutions.
  • Completing projects room-by-room over time rather than all at once.
  • Undertaking manageable do-it-yourself projects versus undertaking significant construction work.

Pros of Renovating

Renovating allows you to renew rooms and systems in your home without the work of a full-scale remodel. Here are some of the other benefits renovating offers:

  • Enhance home value: Strategic renovations like kitchen and bathroom updates can boost your home’s resale value for a reasonable cost. Small yet high-impact fixes such as new cabinetry, counters and fixtures can increase appeal to potential buyers. Tasteful renovations can elevate your home’s worth.
  • Improve energy efficiency: Renovations provide an opportunity to boost insulation, upgrade HVAC systems, replace appliances and install efficient windows. Enhancing your home’s energy efficiency reduces utility costs over the long term and increases livability.
  • Preserve original character: Cosmetic renovations can modernize and update the aesthetics of a home while still retaining its unique vintage architectural details and old-world charm. You can enhance an older home without completely erasing its story and character.
  • Gradual, more affordable approach: Renovate at your own pace, space by space, instead of tackling major remodeling all at once. Take on what you can afford now and spread larger projects over time. The gradual room-by-room approach is less disruptive and more budget-friendly.
  • Do-it-yourself potential: Many renovations like interior painting, refinishing hardwood floors, replacing lighting fixtures and swapping out hardware can be done on your own without the help of expensive professionals. You can save significantly on labor costs by doing select renovations yourself. Renovations are less intimidating when done as DIY projects than intensive structural remodeling.

Cons of Renovating

While renovations allow you to refresh your home affordably, this approach also has its downsides. Here are some drawbacks to consider:

  • Superficial fixes: Cosmetic renovations only improve surface aesthetics, not foundational or structural issues lurking underneath your home. Problems like poor insulation, leaks, outdated wiring or bad plumbing could remain unsolved without remodeling. 
  • Piecemeal approach risks: Room-by-room renovations can result in clashing styles if not properly coordinated. It takes thoughtful design and planning to make incremental improvements flow together into a cohesive whole.
  • Timeline and budget unpredictability: You may uncover underlying issues that extend timelines and increase renovation costs. It’s difficult to accurately anticipate all potential problems hidden behind walls and under flooring. These surprises can disrupt your plans and strain the budget.

How To Make the Decision to Remodel or Renovate

When determining whether remodeling or renovating will suit your needs best, consider your goals and budget. Remodeling often incurs higher upfront costs than renovating due to structural changes and unexpected expenses like needing to relocate electrical wiring or ductwork. However, renovating room-by-room is typically more budget-friendly, and even more so if you take the DIY route, which can further reduce costs compared to hiring professionals.

While more costly, remodeling empowers you to reimagine your home from the ground up. It allows you to reinvent your home’s fundamental design and layout to suit your preferences perfectly. Renovating takes a targeted approach by reviving any worn and outdated areas room-by-room through cosmetic updates. It restores the beauty of your existing home without the cost of a full-scale remodel.

Carefully weighing your goals and resources can help you determine whether remodeling or renovating will best fit your home, overall goals and lifestyle needs.

An exterior shot of a Brite Home.

Embark on Your Journey to Ideal Living With Brite Homes

Whether remodeling or renovating, transforming your home is a journey to creating ideal living spaces tailored to your lifestyle. A new construction net-zero Brite Home is the superior option for ultimate customization and maximizing sustainability. With new construction, you’ll also save more in the long run as energy efficiency is optimized from the start, giving you lower energy bills.

Living in a Brite Home offers you the benefit of advanced energy efficiency, allowing you to reduce environmental impact and keep energy bills low. View our homes now to begin your journey toward getting the home of your dreams.

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