Some people don’t know the differences between home remodeling, renovation and restoration and so they use the terms interchangeably. However, technically the terms remodeling, renovation, and restoration mean different things. It’s helpful to understand the differences because some contractors are better at some of these types of projects than others. The different types of projects need certain skill sets unique to each type of project.
A whole house renovation is when you like your home and its basic layout and size, but it is old and really needs to be “renovated” and modernized. This usually means a new kitchen, bathrooms, often new wiring, plumbing, fixing of structural defects, new windows, new roof, and so on. It involves design work but does not change the layout or size of your home.
A whole house remodel on the other hand involves more design work, as it includes some combination of, making changes to the sizes and shapes of rooms, adding more rooms, modernizing your home, and changing the way your home looks, feels and works.
Whole House Restoration
A whole house restoration means bringing the home back to the way it was. Moreover, there are two kinds of whole house restorations.
Disaster Restoration: This type of whole house restoration is to bring the home back to the way it was before a disaster like a fire or some natural disaster. This requires some skill sets not all remodelers have, such as when a home is flooded and dealing with the water damage to the parts of the home not being replaced like framing.
Generally, insurance companies are involved in this type of restoration process. They don’t always recommend the best remodelers from a quality standpoint as they desire to get the home back to its pre-disaster state for as little money as possible. If you find their recommended contractors don’t do the type of quality work you want, you may need to work with a company that can deliver what you want. This may mean insurance won’t cover all of the costs.
Historic Restoration: The purpose of a historic restoration is to bring the home back to the way it was at some point in history. For example, if your home was built in the 1700 or 1800’s you may want to bring it back to the way it looked when it was first built or sometime after. Some areas require any remodeling or renovation be done as a historic restoration, at least on the street facing walls. Most historic restorations do update the inside of the home to be modern and may change the internal layout of the home or built on to it.
Within the category of historic restorations, there are some subcategories.
- Using today’s tools and materials bring the look of the home roughly back to the way or style it looked before. So, for example, you might use modern, energy efficient, double pane windows with a similar grill pattern that the home had but you would not replace an old wood, single pane window with new wood, single pane window looking exactly like the old one.
- Using today’s tools but historic materials, restore the home back to the way it was by repairing and replacing broken or missing parts with exact reproductions made of the same materials as the old ones.
- Using the same types of tools used (when possible) when the home was built or the period the home will be restored when repairing or replacing everything exactly as it was in the past.
- Certified or Approved Historic restorations. Typically using methods 2 or 3 above, but sometimes method 1, the historic restoration project would have its plans, and the final project reviewed by and approved by one or more historic restoration organization review boards. In some areas this is required in some areas this is optional.
Whole house projects can also be combinations of some or most of the above.