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December 10, 2021

In real estate, construction, interior design, and contracting, two of the most commonly used words are “renovation” and “remodelling.” Though they are frequently seen as interchangeable, there are plenty of differences between these terms. While both offer improvements and updates to living spaces, they each have their fair share of perks and considerations. In fact, “renovation vs. remodelling” is often the first thing that comes to the minds of those about to commence a construction project.

In simple terms, renovation refers to reviving something or restoring it to a previous state through upgrades. It is essentially a form of restoration including repainting and refacing. In contrast, remodelling means restructuring the state of something; remaking it, if you will. However, there is more to differentiate the two than these simple definitions.


Generally speaking, renovations involve certain types of restoration work. For instance, a project may entail repainting walls or cabinets, or hardware or fixture replacements. Additionally, there could be updates to old or obsolete items. The purpose of renovations is to revive a room or home, but leave the layout as is. Additionally, they may also add value to a home before a person lists it for sale. This means that most renovation projects are of a smaller scale.

Common types of renovation include:

  • Repainting
  • Cabinet refacing
  • Replacing windows, flooring, and tiles
  • Installing new hardware and light fixtures
  • Appliances updates and replacements of out-of-date systems

To learn about what is necessary for a renovation project, read The Ultimate Renovation Checklist.


While renovation involves house revival or repairs, remodelling pertains to alterations in a room’s layout, structure, or overall purpose. remodelling completely changes the structure of whatever part of the house it is focusing on. Put simply, remodelling is the transformation of a home rather than an update of a room or two. More often than not, they involve modifying the use of space or multiple spaces at the same time.

Common types of remodelling projects include:

  • Combining two rooms to create a single room
  • Wall removal
  • Room layout modifications
  • Kitchen island installation
  • Raising ceilings

If you want to learn about commercial remodelling, check out our article How to Prepare Your Next Commercial Property Remodelling Job.

Renovation vs. remodelling costs

Most of the time, remodelling projects will cost more than renovation projects because they involve intricate design and layout modifications. There is more professional labour in a remodelling project. On top of that, the material cost is usually higher due to remodelling typically involving the construction of new additions. The final cost comparison will often depend on how big the project is, as well as materials’ quality. Because renovations are comparatively less complex, they are a lot easier in terms of the budget.

Permit requirements

Permits are essential in guaranteeing that proper building codes are adhered to. Communities establish their own rules, but a local building authority will require a permit whenever a structure undergoes changes.

Painting, carpet installation, and other simple renovations don’t normally require permits. However, a permit is necessary when replacing a roof, which counts as renovation because design and function face no alterations. Reroofing is a process that exists in a special category. If a new roof’s installation is wrong, it may run the risk of leaking and the structure of the home could suffer. Therefore, in most communities, reroofing requires a permit.

The better ROI

Renovation projects usually cost less and involve repairing and updating the basic features of a house. Because of this, homeowners often see a better return on investment (ROI) on renovation projects than remodelling projects when selling their homes.

Rectifying poor home design

Owning a home with a poor layout or design can no doubt have negative effects. Not just in appearances, but also safety concerns. Imagine your kitchen’s water supply lines residing in the exterior wall, thus freezing the water almost every night. Or the only way to reach your bedroom is to go through one or two other bedrooms. Neither sound ideal, do they? Renovations, especially simple ones, won’t resolve these issues; remodelling or redesigning is the answer.

Summarizing renovation vs. remodelling

While renovation focuses on upgrades to basic features and repairing, remodelling is comparatively more complex. It involves intricate construction, movement, and/or redesign. remodelling almost always requires a permit whereas renovation only might require one. Finally, while renovation provides better ROI, remodelling will make more improvements to shoddy home designs.

Understanding the differences between remodelling and renovation is crucial and will help you in choosing one over the other. Ultimately, the selection boils down to want, need, cost, and return. To get a quote for your next renovation or remodelling project, contact our Calgary construction location.