If you’re in the renovation process, the topic is bound to come up in social conversations. If you’re like us and are mortally embarrassed when someone corrects your pronunciation of quinoa (seriously, what is that word???) then it stands to reason that you’d like to know what you’re talking about when friends start asking you about your home improvement project. Social situations aside, it’s also helpful to know what type of endeavor you’re headed for prior to breaking ground. So whether you want to sound more intellectual or have a better grasp on the task at hand, we’re here to delineate between the renovation and the remodel.

Interchangeable, Right?
Maybe in that social setting. But part of budgeting and preparing for a home improvement job is research. There are differences in everything from what’s being done to the final price tag. Research the wrong thing and it’ll rock your world. In most basic terms, a renovation is a substantially larger project, while remodeling is on a much smaller scale.

What’s Done
For renovations, everything plus the kitchen sink. Okay, not every project will include the kitchen sink. But in a renovation you’re looking at either scrapping everything and starting fresh, or making drastic changes to the structure itself.

Remodeling means you’re changing as many things as you want, but keeping the layout intact. In general, it’s mostly cosmetic upgrades. If you decide to knock out cabinets and go for something custom, that’s a reno project, but refacing them with new hardware and such is remodeling.

Price Tag
This is where you really want to understand the difference between the two. While it’s totally possible to spend as much (or close) on a remodel as it is a renovation, you’ll never spend on a renovation what you spend on a minor remodel. Renovations typically cost around $10,000 and up. Converting or adding on a room to your house can land you closer to the $100,000 range. Customization drives up prices as does the amount of work being done.

What makes a remodel expensive is the cost of materials and large purchases. Say, for example, you’re remodeling your kitchen. Throw in some marble countertops and the price skyrockets compared to if you took the cheaper tile route. Replacing all the appliances (dishwasher $500+, fridge $1,000+, stove/oven $500+) will also add to the final ticket price. However, you can instantly touch up your kitchen with a fresh coat of paint, new fixtures and hardware for less than $1,000. Even if you did all these things, plus new appliances, floors, countertops, and refaced cabinets you would still spend exponentially less than $10,000 and get an equally dramatic change.

Does It Really Matter?
Most likely, your contractor will know what you mean regardless of the verbiage you choose to use. Same goes with your friends and family. But in terms of providing a good reference point in mentally prepping for what’s in store, we find this trivial information to be of the utmost help.