Understanding Home Improvement – Differences between Remodeling and Renovation

If you’re embarking on a home improvement project, remodeling and renovation are two crucial terms you need to know. Understanding the differences between a remodel and a renovation is a key step toward a successful project that suits your needs.

Here is what you need to know about these two essential aspects of home improvement so you can choose the best fit for your home.

What is the difference between remodeling and renovation?

If you’ve been researching home improvement, you might have noticed that “remodeling” and “renovation” are often used interchangeably. However, these two terms refer to very different aspects of a home upgrade.

What is a home renovation?

A renovation refers to the process of upgrading a room or the whole house without significantly altering its structure or purpose.

Renovations are typically done to improve functionality or aesthetics. To renovate means to make new again. This can look like:

  • Painting the walls
  • Installing new light fixtures
  • Upgrading the kitchen cabinets
  • Replacing windows
  • Adding or replacing bathroom fixtures
  • Upgrading the carpentry
  • Structural repairs

Not all renovation projects are minor. However, unlike remodeling, this process does not involve drastic structural modifications.

What is remodeling?

What is remodeling Intellebuild

Kitchen remodel by Intellebuild

Remodeling is the process of changing a space’s layout, design, or functionality. Unlike renovation, a remodel usually changes the structure of the home. Some examples of remodeling include:

  • Reconfiguring the layout of a room
  • Adding another structure to the house
  • Changing the purpose of a room
  • Converting the attic into usable space
  • Open floor plan conversion
  • Relocating appliances, plumbing, or electric

Remodeling vs renovation: which costs more?

Whether your project involves remodeling or renovation, the final cost can vary widely depending on various factors.

Overall, remodeling is more costly than renovation because it requires substantial work. Here is what to keep in mind when determining the costs for both kinds of projects:

Home renovation cost vs home remodel cost

Home renovations are typically less expensive than remodels due to the project’s smaller scale and lower labor and materials requirements.

Since home remodeling often involves structural changes and more significant alterations, the price can be significantly higher.

According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, buyers of new homes spend four times as much as non-moving owners and twice as much as existing home buyers during the first year after closing on a home sale.

Prices can vary from $10 up to $200 per square foot. Here are some factors that influence the final cost of a home renovation or remodel:

Scope of project

The larger the area, the more it will cost to renovate or remodel. A minor upgrade requires fewer resources than a complete home renovation or a significant remodel.

Materials & appliances

Choosing high-end materials and appliances can significantly ramp up the final costs.


Each type of room has its challenges, reflected in the costs. For instance, kitchens and bathrooms are some of the most expensive rooms to remodel. All the plumbing, fixtures, and appliances require more work and attention.


The hourly rate of a contractor will be influenced by aspects such as location and experience. Even if it might be tempting to work with a team that charges less, remember that a professional, highly experienced contractor is always worth their money.


According to Forbes Home, permits can cost anywhere between $100 and $1800, depending on the project’s scope.

While simple renovations such as painting walls or replacing appliances won’t require permits, a more extensive project will need approval.

Unexpected costs

Embarking on a renovation or remodeling project usually leads to unexpected expenses. You might discover that the plumbing needs to be replaced or that a shortage of materials extends your remodel timeline.

Whatever happens, put aside at least 10% of your budget for unforeseen expenses.

Do you need to renovate or remodel?

Do you need to renovate or remodel Intellebuild

Bathroom remodel by Intellebuild

Here are some aspects to consider when deciding between remodeling and renovation:


What do you need to achieve with this project? Are you looking for a cosmetic renovation to refresh the home’s look? Do you need repairs? Or does your home require extensive structural remodeling?

Here is more guidance on the home improvement process and how to make your dream home a reality.


Typically, renovations increase your home’s ROI more than a remodel, so it’s the best choice if you’re planning to sell the house. If this is your forever home, a remodel that improves functionality might be a better option.


Creating a budget is vital when planning your home improvement. Your contractor can help you with an overall estimate.

Why choose a local contractor for your renovation or remodel in NJ

Working with a local general contractor for your home improvement project is a wise choice, helping you save time, money, and effort.

A remodeling contractor in NJ will be familiar with the local architecture and know how to choose the best materials for the regional climate and environment.

A New Jersey contractor will also know the ins and outs of local permits and regulations, helping you avoid delays and rework.

Besides, having a contractor nearby means you can meet in person more easily, and communication will go smoother.

Intellebuild: Delivering superior home improvement in New Jersey since 2006

Intellebuild is your leading choice for remodeling and renovation in New Jersey. Our team in Bergen County has been dedicated to local home improvement and remodeling since 2006.

We strive to bring you the best value for your money with unparalleled services based on superior craftsmanship, vast expertise, and punctuality.

Whether you need to renovate or remodel, our experts can guide you through the process and help you achieve the home upgrade you’ve been dreaming of. Contact us to schedule your in-home consultation.