Major/Minor, Renovation/Remodel; What’s The Difference?

They all mean basically the same thing, right? Well… they all concern the same thing: home improvement. In reality, though, there are quite a few differences including the amount of money you’re likely to spend to the types of jobs that your undertake, these two seemingly interchangeable terms will be a bit more exclusive by the time we’re through gabbing about it. Let’s get started.

Opposites. Simple Concept.

Obviously, the most glaring difference is in the first two words themselves. Major implies a large, huge, massive, enormous, dramatic change to your home. Minor clearly conveys something smaller, less noticeable, simple, and more modest approach to home improvements. Already, you see the light. They are two different things. Renovating and Remodeling… not so clear cut. They both refer to changes, but like their self-explanatory major/minor cousin terms, these two terms refer to the amount of work you’re going to be diving into.

Renovations and Remodels

Renovate in its simplest definition means to restore something old or out of date to a good (better) state of repair. Ironically enough, remodel means to change the structure or form of something. In this case, a room in your home. Now, we say this is ironic because when it comes to contractor lingo, they actually mean the opposite. Renovations are drastic changes, usually having to do with changing the layout of a room. The term renovation also applies when you decide it’s best to just gut the room and start from scratch.

Remodeling, on the other hand, translates for contractors to changing maybe one or two big things, but mostly bringing the cosmetics/design into the present. Remodeling can be as simple as new paint, window treatments, and adding crown molding. It can be as intense as swapping out countertops and refacing the cabinets. For the most part, however, you’re focusing more on the visual appeal in a remodel.


It should go without saying that when you decide on a renovation, because it involves more work it will automatically involve a higher price tag. But don’t let that fool you. Depending on the type of work you’re doing and the materials you choose for your newly remodeled room, you can very easily spend the same on a remodel as you would a renovation. This is especially easy to do in the kitchen where simple upgrades like all new appliances will shoot you into the $10,000 range in the blink of an eye. Putting marble all over your bathroom and then changing out the towels and paint, you may as well buy the kitchen sink, too.

Size can also greatly affect this variable. Take an en suite, for example. You could replace everything from stem to stern and only spend a fraction of a minor kitchen remodel. When you have less space to renew, you spend less money. In general, however, expect to spend between $10,000 and $20,000 on minor remodels and anywhere upwards $50,000 or more for a major renovation. Ticket prices this steep may give you pause. These are national averages, and your local market may vary, but when done wisely you can still expect a pretty hefty return for your investment. Not only will you improve life in your new digs, but you’ll up the value for whoever comes after.

Why Is This Important?

It’s totally a game of semantics. But it will help you greatly in the research phase of your next home improvement project. You may find you only need to update a few things. You may talk to a contractor and decide with your vision and the current state of your house, you’ll need to throw down in reno territory to make it worth your while. In the end, it helps you to better understand what you’re in for and what you can expect along the way. And now you can impress all your friends with your fancy new knowledge at the next happy hour.

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