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Homeowner’s Guide to Remodels vs Renovations

A kitchen being renovated

So, you’re working on a DIY home project. Is it a home renovation or a remodel? What are the key differences? When it comes to measuring home remodel vs. home renovation, where should you aim?

The truth is that it all comes down to your goals. It's not necessarily accurate that one is more extensive (or expensive) than the other. Instead, the difference is in your target outcome for your home project.

Definitions: Remodel vs. Renovation

A couple planning out their home rennovation on a laptop

Although the terms home remodel and home renovation are used interchangeably by many people, the terms are, by definition, slightly different. 

What does remodeling mean? Remodeling means to reshape or reform something. Usually, you’re taking an old room or an area of your home and giving it a facelift—you’re turning it into something brand new and different from its previous form.

The home renovation meaning, on the other hand, is restoring something to its previous glory. You might restore the wooden banisters of an old staircase by sanding them down and staining them to bring out the natural finish of the original wood. You might renovate a kitchen in a mid-century home to include nods to the original style and appliances. 

Renovating is updating, restoring, and making changes. Remodeling creates something new in the space and gives it an entirely fresh look. Changes to a floor plan are considered remodeling. Interior design updates like wall treatments or refinished flooring are examples of renovations, depending on the scope of the project. Cosmetic changes often fit into the definition of renovations.

Fortunately, no matter the definition of the project or what you plan to do, Do It Best has all the supplies you need for your home remodeling and home renovation projects. Update your home and create the beautiful, inviting space you dream of with Do It Best.

Home Renovation Process

A woman installing laminate flooring

Home renovations usually involve updating and making over a space, so they can be simple or extensive. For example, you may renovate a bedroom with some new fixtures, paint, and updates to furnishings. Or you may renovate the kitchen with a thorough overhaul that includes new countertops and refinished flooring. You may rearrange your living room and redo a fireplace to look more modern. 

When first-time homeowners move into their new house, there are often some renovations on the agenda. You may need to update trim and woodwork, make repairs and upgrades to areas of the house, or add exterior renovations. Renovations don't change the square footage of a living space, and they often complement and enhance the original design

Because of the wide range of home renovations, the cost and difficulty level can also vary. Some simple renovations might be a weekend DIY project for a few hundred dollars. More elaborate renovations may take days or even weeks and require some investment.

That said, many home renovations are well within the capability of a willing homeowner. If you’re hoping to save money on needed renovations, look into ways to put in your own "sweat equity" by doing as much work as possible yourself. There are plenty of resources, including Do It Best ideas and expert guides, that you'll find on our website.

Renovation Project Ideas

 A man installing tile to a bathroom wall

What are the most common home renovations? Again, it varies by home age, the preferences of the homeowner, and many other factors. Some of the most common renovations include:

  • Kitchen Updates: Changes to countertops, tile, flooring, and fixtures can give a kitchen a much-needed facelift without a complete remodel. Painting cabinets, changing cabinet pulls, or swapping out some appliances can make a kitchen feel fresh and new.
  • Bathroom Renovations: Bathroom updates can include a wide range of changes, like installing new fixtures, updating tile, changing countertops, or upgrading the flooring. You may install little luxuries like a towel warmer, additional storage, or new lighting that can transform a bathroom into a spa-like space.
  • Walls and Trim Makeovers: If you’re looking for an impactful change, renovations to your walls and trim or woodwork can be transformational. It may mean removing old wallpaper, painting walls, refinishing wood trim, or installing crown molding. 
  • Exterior Upgrades: Home renovations aren't limited to the interior only. Exterior upgrades can change your home. Painting shutters and trim can brighten and enliven your house. Landscaping makes a huge difference in your curb appeal. Some home renovations, like new roofing, may require professional assistance, but there are many that you can take on yourself.

Remember, success with any renovation project depends on your priorities, budget constraints, and the specific needs of your household. Before starting any renovation, it's essential to plan thoroughly, establish a budget, and, if necessary, consult with professionals to ensure the work is done safely and meets local building codes. Home renovations can breathe new life into your space and are well worth the effort. 

Home Remodel Process

A couple talking to contractor in a home that is being remodeled

Home remodeling is often defined as changes to the structure of your home (or at least a specific room). As you remodel your home, you might knock out a kitchen wall, change the shower placement, or expand your entryway--these are more complex design considerations.

Home remodeling can also include more significant updates to the style and structure of your home. You may work with professionals during your home remodel, especially for plumbing, electric, or drywall projects.

On the whole, remodeling is often more extensive than renovating and restoring, and the associated costs are often higher. Even though remodeling can be more challenging, there are still many ways to save, especially if you’re willing to DIY certain projects. 

Do It Best supports home renovators and remodelers with our comprehensive inventory of home improvement tools and supplies. Shop for the items you need to make your dream home happen. 

Remodeling Project Ideas

Construction workers adding a room on to a house

Home remodeling projects go beyond basic renovations and often involve more significant changes to the existing structure or layout of a home. Home remodeling projects run the gamut from tub and shower conversion to whole-house makeovers. Here are some of the common remodeling projects. 

  • Basement Finishing: Many homeowners enjoy working on basement finishing. If you’re starting from scratch, the project could include installing drywall to section off rooms, insulation, flooring, and storage. Even if you only plan to finish a portion of a basement or remodel a corner into a studio or home gym, it can be a satisfying upgrade to tackle that can increase your home's functionality. 
  • Room Additions and Expansions: Whether you have an expanding family or you’re an empty nester, there are times when the rooms in your house need a new purpose. Remodeling rooms may mean expanding the kitchen, adding a sunroom, or converting a bedroom into a home office. A bathroom remodel might mean changing the placement of the tub or sink. Room remodels may require architectural changes and modifications to your home’s foundation and structure. 
  • Attic Conversion: Another popular remodeling project is converting your attic into a functional space. With some elbow grease, an attic can become a bedroom, a home office, or a recreation area. Attic conversion might involve insulation, flooring, windows, and HVAC or ventilation. Whenever you modify the structure of a room, it's essential to ensure you comply with building codes.
  • Opening a Floorplan: Older homes were often sectioned into small rooms for separate living spaces. More modern trends have moved toward open-concept plans, where walls are removed to create a spacious and connected feel within a home. Changing to an open floor plan often requires working with experts to ensure the structural integrity of the change.

Before undertaking a big remodeling project, the first step is to consult with professionals, such as architects or contractors, to ensure that the changes meet building codes and are structurally sound. Additionally, obtaining necessary permits and establishing a realistic budget are critical steps in the planning process. Homeowners who are willing to do some of the work themselves can save. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to the amazing new look of your home.

Should You Do a Remodel or Renovation?

A couple laying on the floor with a tablet discussing design plans for their kitchen

So, you may be trying to decide if your vision requires renovating an existing space or a total remodeling of the room. In the early stages of planning, start looking for inspiration and ideas for your ideal outcome for the project.

Once you have a vision in mind, consider if it requires structural changes to your home and if the project is within your skill set. Consult with contractors and experts to understand the project details. For example, you'll need to know if the project will involve changes to your home's plumbing, HVAC, ventilation, or electrical systems.

Certain home renovation and remodeling projects may require building permits. You may need to meet building codes and ensure your home updates are within safe parameters. Even though it's tempting to forgo this step, consider it a long-term investment in your home. Sometimes, even minor changes may require permitting. Major structural changes to interior walls and electrical wiring need oversite to ensure they're up to code.

Should you decide to sell your home in the future, you’ll need to prove that renovations and home remodeling projects were up to code. Save yourself the stress in the future by taking the necessary steps now to cross your T’s and dot your I’s. You'll get a better ROI on real estate.

Doing your homework and research on a project can also help you plan with a close budget and make sure you've gathered the necessary supplies and tools for success. Whether taking on restoration projects, adding new flooring or new light fixtures, or remaking your entire home, you'll have a good idea of what's ahead and how much money to budget.

Renovate and Remodel with Do It Best

A fully renovated living room

Your home is as unique as you are, and so is each home improvement project you take on. Every project will present new challenges to tackle and new skills to learn—but that's what makes home improvement so satisfying. As long as you start with a clear vision, you'll be able to make the home of your dreams a reality. 

If you're considering tackling a home renovation or remodel, Do It Best has everything you need for success. Explore your local Do It Best, and don't miss our ideas guides to help you figure out the step-by-step process for any home improvement project.


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