What Is the Difference Between a Remodel and a Renovation?

With all the DIY shows and home improvement influencers, you might be getting ready for your house project. Knowing the difference between “remodel” and “renovate” helps you target your DIY searches and find more informed instructions. 


These terms seem interchangeable, but they are two different concepts. 


The differences are especially apparent when you discuss insurance for an old house. For example, some home modifications can lower premiums, while others can increase your policy. Either way, both remodeling and renovating can bring gratifying results. 


If you have a project house, you can transform it into the home of your dreams. Read on to discover the ins and outs of remodeling and renovating.

What is a home remodel?

The term “remodel” applies to any existing house plan changes that modify its use or structural space. You remodel a room intended for one thing into a new purpose. It may require more involved DIYing, such as making a scaffold for structural changes.


An example of a remodel would be changing the main floor to incorporate a bathroom or removing a closet to transition a bedroom to a home office. Remodeling will only sometimes add value to your home, but it allows you to change the house to fit your needs.


Anything that changes the function of a space can be considered a remodel. For example, changing a tub in a bathroom to a stand-up shower is even considered remodeling. 


If you are remodeling an older house, you may need to check to see if the house is on the historical registry. Local and state laws dictate your remodeling. Being on the National Register doesn’t mean you can’t remodel. But you may need to double-check to see if your remodeling fits the historic design guidelines for your area.

What is a home renovation?

A home renovation is simply an update. It’s typically less involved than a remodel. It typically includes cosmetic changes like painting your walls and replacing your carpets. 


Renovation happens when you update an existing room or feature or restore it to its original condition. For restoring older homes to their original specs, the term “rehab” is more popular. 


An example of a renovation would be changing or improving an existing bathroom. Another popular renovation is installing or refinishing hardwood flooring. Rehabbing the tin ceiling in a historical house would also be considered renovation.


Any changes that update or improve a space without changing its function or structure can be considered a renovation. Even new homes are candidates for renovation when there are stylistic preferences that the new owners wish to accomplish.


Historical homes sometimes have local guidelines, even for renovations. Sometimes, state and federal tax credits are available for people who rehabilitate a National Register home. 


You will want to make sure you know the requirements for your renovation depending on your state and even city. For example, the best homeowners insurance in Dallas for a renovated home will differ from that of Los Angeles.

Which home upgrades can lower my insurance premiums?

Any upgrades to your home that increase the safety or weather resistance to your home can lower your monthly premiums.


The following are examples of home improvements that can lower your premiums:


  • Adding weatherproofing measures
  • Improving windows
  • Replacing or improving roofing
  • Updating plumbing and electric systems


Think about it logically. Changes that improve the durability, efficiency, or safety of your home and belongings can improve your insurance company’s confidence in your property. 


The more extensive the upgrades, the more seriously you should consider professional help. It’s beneficial for homeowners to use certified workers because their business insurance will protect the construction process. This protection is essential for covering workplace injuries or accidental damages.

What home changes could increase my policy?

Any upgrades to your home that would increase the cost to replace it or add risk to your home will increase your policy. Increasing your policy is manageable; your goal is to have insurance to fit your needs. A less-than-adequate policy is no benefit when you need to file a claim.


Converting a bedroom to an office for a home business will increase your policy because of the added equipment and inventory. If you own your own small business, you’ll want to check with your insurance agent to ensure that your assets are protected if you use your home as a base for your business.


Remember that your home is not the only thing your home insurance covers. It also covers injuries that happen on your property. For example, adding a trampoline or a pool to your property could increase your premiums because of the injury risks involved. 


Finishing your basement adds resale value to your home but requires better insurance. If you remodel your basement without informing your insurance company, your policy might not cover replacing whatever you added.


If you plan to follow the DIY path for either a renovation or a remodel, ensure you have the resources and equipment to set yourself up for success. For example, have you ever assembled a scaffold by yourself? Do you know the difference between an o-ring and a washer?


A subpar remodel or renovation will not increase your home’s value or lower your insurance premium. So often, TV shows and influencers downplay the hard work and research behind the scenes.


Whether you renovate or remodel your home, whether historical or not, you can make a house a home through your changes. Upgrades might not revolutionize your value or insurance rates, but they can help you better enjoy your space.


Maria Hanson writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. She is passionate about empowering homeowners to find their best insurance options.

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