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Remodeling vs. Renovation

by Jennifer Kirby on June 10, 2007
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You see it everywhere, books on remodeling, renovation guides, and TV shows on how to fix up your home. When searching through the multiple listing service, I constantly see description notes stating that a home has been “completely remodeled” or “newly renovated”. It got me thinking…just what is the difference between the two?

The Webster Dictionary defines the two as:

Renovate : to restore to a former, better state
Remodel : to alter the structure /use of

If I was to say I am going to “remodel” something, I would be changing the use of it. So if I had a floor plan that wasn’t working and needed to reconfigure the whole thing, than I would be “remodeling”. If I was just taking the current floor plan and adding new floors, new sheet rock, paint, etc, then I would be “renovating” as I was just replacing the old with something new.

Case in point, we looked at a home this weekend that was built in 1957. The MLS said the home had been remodeled. What we found was a basement, originally a cinder block underground space, that had been converted to living space. So it had been “remodeled”, as the basement function was altered.

A good example of a “renovation” would be converting a multi-unit historic home, back to its original single family status.

It can get really confusing on the proper term to use because so many people use the two words interchangeably. I think it might be better to equate renovation with rehabilitation, but I am not a dictionary. I am of the nature that words mean something so I try and use the right term when needed. But with so much emphasis on housing the last four years, I doubt anyone will care or notice the true difference between the two words.

What do you think? Do you find yourself using the two words as one?

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