Your Guide to Building Restoration, Remodel, and Renovation

Your building might need some attention, but you're not sure which path to take. Understand the difference between a building restoration, remodel, and renovation with this simple guide.

When you purchase a new building or home, it becomes an investment. The extent of updates you need depends on the condition of your building and your design preferences. Many people don’t know the difference between renovation and remodel, let alone renovation, remodel, and restoration. However, understanding these differences is crucial before taking on a significant project. Only then can you effectively work with your architect.

What is a Renovation?

Many wonder about the difference between renovation vs. repair or restoration. Often, people use these concepts synonymously. While a renovation may include repairs, it focuses on refreshing and renewing a building or room with updates and replacements. The room retains its original function; for instance, a bedroom remains a bedroom.

However, there is some overlap between renovation and restoration. When you undertake a restoration, you might have renovations completed. For example, if you are restoring your kitchen, you may want to update it with a dishwasher. By adding a dishwasher, it becomes a restoration and renovation project.

A renovation might include the following:

  • Installing new floors
  • Painting
  • Replacing knobs and faucets
  • Removing rotted wood
  • Repairing broken or damaged structures
Newly renovated room. Photo of apartment after restoration. Concept of home renovation.
Old room with building tools. Photo of apartment before restoration. Concept of home renovation.

What is a Remodel?

Remodelling is a more significant project compared to renovating. Remodelling changes the design and functionality of a space, often involving structural changes, which makes it more expensive than renovating or restoring. A remodelling project may include the following:

  • Increasing the square footage of a room
  • Raising ceilings
  • Installing a plumbing system
  • Adding, gutting, or removing walls
  • Installing a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system

Due to the extensive work involved, you should only choose remodelling if your building lacks a significant component, such as an HVAC system. Review our project budgeting guide to create a budget for your remodelling project.

What is a Restoration?

The primary difference between property restoration and renovation lies in their definitions. Restoration aims to bring a building back to its original state, often preserving its historical and cultural heritage. This process can involve concealing modern technology like air conditioning systems, fire alarms, and furnaces.

Common updates in restoration projects include:

  • Replacing and refinishing original wood flooring
  • Replacing carpet
  • Replacing hinges, locks, handles, and damaged parts of doors and windows
  • Replacing doors and windows
  • Replacing damaged light and plumbing fixtures
  • Repairing holes in walls

Restorations typically require less labour and materials than remodels and renovations, making them the most affordable option if the building has a solid foundation and only needs small updates and repairs.

Remodel vs. Renovation vs. Restoration: A Closer Comparison

A remodel transforms the purpose of an area, a renovation repairs and updates an area without changing its purpose, and a restoration brings a space back to its original condition using replicas or original materials. When deciding between the three, consider the following factors:


  • Remodelling is more expensive due to potential electrical, plumbing, or construction work.
  • Restoration might be cheaper than renovation, depending on the work required.


  • Remodelling projects take longer than restorations and renovations due to the extent of the work.
  • Renovation time varies based on the complexity, such as new paint versus refinishing hardwood floors.


  • Restorations and renovations focus on the building’s appearance, while remodels transform the space.
  • Restorations involve replacing original hardware and flooring, whereas renovations focus on cosmetic updates and technology upgrades.


  • Remodelling offers the most design flexibility.
  • Renovations allow for some customisation, mainly aesthetic.
  • Restorations offer the least customisation, focusing on restoring the original condition.

Which Project is Best for You?

When considering changes to your commercial building or home, it’s essential to decide the best approach. Compare the benefits of each project type and ask yourself some key questions:

Restoration Benefits

Enhances value, increases sentimental value, and prolongs lifespan.

Renovation Benefits

Personalises space, improves functionality, and adds value.

Remodelling Benefits

Adds value, improves functionality, and creates your dream space.

Questions to Consider

  • What’s my budget?
  • How much do I want to change?
  • Do I like the current design of the room or area?
  • How much time do I have?
Photo collage of apartment after restoration. Concept of home renovation.
Old room with building tools. Photo of apartment before restoration. Concept of home renovation.

SJG Maintenance Can Provide Expert Help for Your Next Project

Once you understand the differences between these projects, it’s easier to decide which one is best for you. Planning your project is often the most challenging part, but we can help simplify it. Our team at SJG Maintenance consists of architects, 3D rendering experts, real estate marketing gurus, and construction managers. Having a blended design team allows us to provide high-quality designs

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