Defining Home Improvement Terms: Restoration, Remodeling, and Renovation

While all three terms are closely related to each other, they bear different meanings. Here’s a little help in telling the difference.

Editorial team
6 Min Read

Whenever we talk about home improvement, décor, and other aspects of construction, we regularly use home improvement terms like home or building remodeling, renovation, and restoration. And while we tend to use them interchangeably, that shouldn’t be the case.

As you might guess, the three terms all bear different meanings, yet are closely related to each other, which often creates confusion. In this guide, we’ll go deeper into their meaning and compare these three home improvement terms for you to know exactly which one to use, and when.

Overall, these terms are normally used when a property or a housing unit needs a tune-up. It could be damaged by natural disasters or simply needs an update to make it look presentable and functional for the next homeowners or renters.

Restoration, renovation and remodeling are three projects that aim for one goal — to restore or improve a home. Now, let’s clarify them a little further.

What’s a renovation?

painting and renovating your house

Building renovation refers to the process of making an object (a home or any other type of establishment) look and function like new. The process focuses on making use of what is already present and readily available, fixing it, and adding new items for maximized comfort and functionality.

This makes the renovation the most affordable option, when compared to remodeling.

As some project managers would describe it, renovation takes creativity and a great deal of resourcefulness. Moreover, it proves to be more cost-effective than remodeling, making it more appealing among homeowners with have limited financial resources.

Renovations and restorations usually go hand in hand. Let’s say that you have a house with a bathroom with cracked walls and filled with rusty showerheads. You restore the bathroom to its original condition and renovate it by adding a new bathtub and other items to make it look modern.

What’s a restoration?

home restoration brick building

From a historical viewpoint, a home restoration is when you recreate the look to match its original form, in all its glory. For example, if the home initially had a blue interior, you’d want to restore it with blue paint. Likewise, if it had a Victorian feel, you’d want to buy pieces that match. 

Restoration can be compared to the process of maintaining the property from its original state so that gradual deterioration won’t be noticed. This method can be used when your water system gets destroyed by a natural disaster. Or when fire or a flood has taken a toll on your home’s beauty. In most cases, you’d need to hire professionals like to help you with the restoration process. 

Of the three processes, home or building restorations can be the cheapest. In addition, it requires less energy for conceptualization and the actual process itself. It doesn’t require a hectic level of manual labor that other types of home improvement projects come with.

What’s remodeling?

The most tedious and daunting process of the three is home or building remodeling. It involves taking a worn-out property and reimagining it into a more modern or functional one.

Most remodeling projects entail fairly complex work like expanding the property, removing, gutting or adding walls, and adding cooling/heating systems. Among the three, remodeling is deemed the most expensive, as you’ll need new materials and additional items to complete the project, more time to finish, and a lot of people to help accomplish your vision.

According to established project managers and contractors, it is best to assess whether you have the funds for remodeling and if you do, ask for a cost estimate so you can agree to a remodelling contract that’s within your budget. Don’t forget to set aside a contingency fund for unexpected problems.

Now that you have a clear idea of the difference between remodeling, restoration, and renovation, you can carefully assess what project to undertake to achieve your house goals. Take into account the property’s condition, your financial resources, and your vision to make sure you’re spending within your means and still get the results you want.

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