Remodel vs Renovation: Future Home Dilemma Discussion

11:46 Dec 2023
Remodel vs Renovation

What is the difference in a remodel vs renovation? This is a common question that is often asked by property owners considering a property improvement update.

Both these terms are often used interchangeably by folks in the real estate industry like realtors and brokers when referring to the services required to renovate vs remodel.

By definition, a renovation means to restore or reinstate the existing conditions of the property to its previous and original condition, while remodel suggest to change the state of the original condition of the property to something different.

Although by definition these terms seem rather clearly defined, in the real world they are misused quite commonly to the point, no one ever corrects the misused terms.

Learn about the difference of remodel vs renovation and the dilemma concerning housing options

What is a Renovation?

As already suggested, to renovate something means to restore or revive the condition of the property elements. To use a few real world examples, painting would be a renovation item. Refinishing floors would be a clear example of renovating.

In a more extreme example, when an owner elects to gut an older house and replace the electrical, plumbing and HVAC system, this is considered to be a complete renovation of the property. This includes replacing the floors, drywall and cabinetry finishes.

What is a Remodel?

Technically speaking to remodel a property means to change or modify the existing layout or shape of the property space and function. A fair example of this would be to remodel the kitchen, which would be to change the location (function) of the components of the kitchen, like the sink or oven location.

Remodel vs Renovation

Why Do These Terms Get Interchanged?

Where these two completely different terms started to get used interchangeably is that it is common during conducting a renovation or remodel to cross over and execute some degree of renovation while you are in a remodel and visa versa.

An example of this is to use our previous example, when we are conducting a kitchen remodel and moving the location of some of the main components, we are also restoring or renovating the floors and painting.

So anytime an owner is executing a renovation project, they are likely to make either small or major remodel changes to the area they are updating. As you can see, in the real world these two different terms essentially mean the same thing to most people.

Which Improvement Will Cost More?

Generally speaking, remodeling will normally cost more than a renovation. Although it is common the replace property components as part of a renovation, the owner is not changing its intended use or its function.

When you remodel, you are without a doubt removing existing items with the primary purpose of modifying or changing its functionality.

As well, you can technically replace a kitchen floor and not replace or refinish any other items in the kitchen, but when you remodel, you are likely to have a substantial impact on many other consequential products within the kitchen, including the floor.

Is it Better to Buy a Property or Remodel vs Renovation an Existing One?

There are many challenges that property owners face during the course of their homeownership in metro Houston.

These include rising taxes, home maintenance expenses and what school district they want their children to attend.

But there is nothing more complex than sorting through the many moving parts of deciding if you should buy a new home, build or renovate vs remodel your Houston home.

This topic is much too complicated to address all its facets in a short article, but deserves some discussion about the major factors that contribute to making a well-informed decision to remodel vs renovation or build or buy a new home.

Nearly every homeowner that lives in a home that has not been extensively remodeled or is at least 20 years old, ponders over the idea of undertaking some form of remodel vs renovation project if they are to remain in that specific house for the foreseeable future.

They wrestle with the options available to them given their personal situation.

These personal situations can usually be categorized into smaller compartments such as financial influences, emotional influences and lifestyle factors.

Our discussion will be limited to understanding how these influencing factors affect the home owner’s decision-making process.

Remodel vs Renovation Houston

Financial Influencing Factors

For most people the financial analysis of the buy or remodel vs renovation decision is the greatest influencing factor in determining a course of action.

Preparing a financial analysis is a tedious process of accumulating bids for home improvements and collecting market sales data for their comparisons.

Each of the options require a great deal of research and analysis to reach an informed decision.

The process can begin with the pricing for any of the options being considered by analyzing the financial factors of a major renovation.

There is a large amount of data to gather like the remodeling cost, projecting the future market values and determining how you will redesign your home.

With the information in hand the owner will weigh the impact of the cost of improvements from a remodel vs renovation project on the projected aftermarket value of the property.

This exercise provides a financial benchmark for consideration for a remodel vs renovation project.

When considering buying another home the acquisition may present its own challenges in reconciling the owners’ equity when trading up.

When an owner sells their current home and buys an existing new property, they are in effect trading their built-up equity for the sellers built up equity.

From a financial perspective this is often a lateral financial move. Careful consideration should be given to the future price appreciation for home values in your new area to preserve and grow your equity, if that is a priority to you in purchasing.

Buying an existing or building a new house has its financial challenges as well. Finding a desirable neighborhood with an excellent school and a floor plan at the price you need can take a very long time in metro Houston.

Over the past three decades land prices have outpaced actual home prices. Due to the lack of available ready to build lots in metro Houston, many clients are forced to acquire existing outdated homes as tear downs.

Available building lots is not the only challenge for property owners wanting to build a custom home in Houston.

Planning and building a new custom home can test the owner’s patience and durability. The process requires an enormous amount of time in designing, planning and selecting the home building products.

In addition, it is very difficult to design and build a custom home to an accurate construction budget.

The owner must take a leap of faith in the architect or design build general contractor that a specific type of home and products selected can be built for a targeted budget.

The consequences of not meeting your budget goal often requires redesigning the home plans or reducing the cost of the product selections.

Houston Remodel vs Renovation

Emotional Influencing Factors

The emotional influencing factors are the most difficult of the determining factors to identify.

Emotional factors can be either a deep-seated experience from your past or a misinformed preconception.

So, coming to grips with your emotional perceptions is a very important part of the evaluation process.

For instance, many homeowners prefer to simply buy a new home as a hassle-free method of acquiring a new home, but as they think about moving, they get in touch with their emotions and realize how difficult it is to separate from a home that they have lived and raised their children in over the past years. This can result in buyer’s remorse during the purchase of the new home construction.

Other examples of the emotional influences that the owners may encounter are challenges with desired school districts, neighborhood friends & family and the fear of change.

Homeowners get very comfortable in their home and surroundings and can unconsciously struggle with the idea of the uncertainty of new surroundings. The emotional impact of these feelings can result in anxiety and anger if not dealt with.

Lifestyle Influencing Factors

Although most owners understand that their home is their principal source of a family’s day to day gathering location and their number one resource for entertaining, the owner can often overlook this influential factor when planning the design of a major remodel vs renovation project or new custom home.

Preparing the appropriate spaces for children or aging live in parents requires special consideration for unanticipated lifestyle uses.

Lifestyle influential factors play a significant role in identifying special purpose needs of the owners as well.

For instance, if you would like a master suite that provides unique features for the dressing area or a private exercising/message area, these are home features that are not always available when purchasing an existing home.

This is why many families that purchase an existing property plan begin planning on personalizing these homes by planning a remodel vs renovation to their newly acquired homes.

Although no one really knows what the future will bring to us it is a reasonable practice to consider a five year plan when accessing your buy, build or home renovation needs.

The recapturing of expenses associated with the buy, build or renovate vs remodel is a major factor in your evaluation process.

The shorter the period of expected time your family will be utilizing your home the greater chance that you will not recapture your investment.

As discussed earlier, this topic is complex and has many moving parts to properly evaluate.

Marwood Construction has prepared an e-book on this topic that we are pleased to share with you if you would like to know more about this subject matter.

You can find this link at;  Evaluating if You Should You Build or Buy or Renovate Your Home? (marwoodconstruction.com)

Addressing and being aware of these three main issues will provide you a viable insight in deliberating and evaluating the difficult chooses of determining if you should buy, build or renovate vs remodel your home.


There are many factors to consider when you are evaluating buying an existing house, building a new house or tackling a remodel vs renovation of your existing home.

The decision you make should be carefully evaluated with all the available data and information you can collect from the trusted advisers and resources you surround yourself with.

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