Renovation, Flip or Remodel:  What are the Differences?  

By August 27, 2019Home Makeover
Two men looking at specs for a home renovation

Flip or Flop. Fixer Upper. Extreme Home Makeover. Rehab Addict. What do all these TV shows have in common? Well besides most of them being on HGTV, they’re all about either updating it, flipping it, renovating it, tearing it down, modernizing it or restoring all flavors of residential properties. And of course, these shows add drama and suspense with some unexpected surprises and findings at the home projects.

Collage of HGTV show hosts & celebs

Common themes throughout these shows are renovations (or renos), flipping, and remodeling. These 3 terms are usually used interchangeably, however they actually mean different things within the home improvement business. But have you ever stopped and wondering if you’re using the correct word about a house project you may be wanting to start.   If you’re thinking about undergoing an upcoming project, it’s important to know what type of home improvement job is going to be performed in order to make sure you and your contractor are on the same page.

We put together a breakdown for you in this handy outline of the differences between renovations, flips, and remodels.

Home Renovation

Real Simple defines a home renovation as something old that is restored into something new.  Cause they state that a renovation and a remodel are definitely different animals. An example of a home renovation is when one is repairing a creaky hardwood floor or updating an older kitchen. It could also mean gutting the house and rebuilding everything.

room in a home under constructionThe main thing to remember about home renovations is simply put it is the process of improving a broken, damaged or outdated structure.  Thus, renovations can be small, like only focusing on flooring in one room or updating the kitchen cabinetry for example, or they can be large – all up to you and your creativity.

When to Undergo a Home Renovation

Home renovations make sense if you’ve recently bought an older home and want to restore it or if you’ve been living in an older home and are finally ready to update certain features. The nice thing about renovations (and all home improvement projects) is that you get to decide what you want to do.

It does help to consult with a contractor and/or interior designer before trying anything yourself, but it’s possible to do some renovation projects yourself.

Newly finished hardwood floors.If you’re thinking about selling your home in the next year or two, restoring your hardwood floors, bathroom, kitchen, or deck can add value to your home, boost your selling price, and more.

A renovation could also be considered a flip if you buy a property with the intent of restoring the home to its original condition and then selling at a higher price point. However, most flips are remodels. (we’ll talk more about this below)

Home Remodel

A home remodel is typically used interchangeably with home renovation, but the two terms are slightly different. A home remodel is when you’re changing the form of something or creating something new. Real Simple’s example of a home remodel is if you were to add a shower to an existing bathroom.

Renovation team adding a counter top to a kitchen island.

Other examples include:

When to Undergo a Home Remodel

When considering whether to undergo a home remodel or not, you’ll probably use the same thought process as a home renovation. It makes sense to remodel your home if you want to add additional functionality, space, and value.  Most homeowners focus on remodeling of a bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom.  Why?  Cause not only are these rooms fun to personalize but, updated with key elements in mind can add loads of value to your home if you ever decide to sell in the future.

Before and after photo of a kitchen renovation.Similarly, you can do some home remodeling projects on your own. Although it is best to consult a contractor to ensure you aren’t taking out any load-bearing walls or not following certain codes and regulations.

Before going forward with a project, ask your contractor how long the update is going to take. After all, you’ll be living amongst the construction and want to make sure it won’t interfere with your day-to-day too much.


Unlike renovations and remodeling, flipping a home is where you buy a home at a lower price, update the interior on a surface level (or cosmetic level), and then re-list the home at a higher price point. You’re probably more familiar with flipping because of shows like Flip or Flop.

Newly updated and staged kitchen.

When flipping a home, most ‘flippers’ don’t completely gut a home and make major structural changes. It can be more of a remodel, but sometimes they can involve restoration elements. For example, flooring, built-in bookcases, countertops, and more can all be restored.

When to Flip A Home

To flip houses, you’re going to need cash. That cash can come from you, a bank, or better yet, other people. If you have money of your own to invest, then you’re already ahead of the game.

Flipping a home is not something you do lightly. There’s just too much involved in a house flip for you to know everything about all aspects of real estate investing. It does take time, a substantial investment, and a thorough understanding of how the home remodel/renovation process works. Shows like Flip or Flop make home flipping seem easy, however when timelines get shifted or contractors go over budget, that’s money out of your pocket.

If you’re thinking about flipping a home, we recommend learning as much as you can about the process before buying a property yourself. It’s also a good idea to talk to flippers in your area, talk to contractors, and even consult banks to get more insight.

Whether you decide to renovate, remodel, or flip a home, there are a lot of choices you have to make to turn your project into a home sweet home success! Need some inspiration? Get in touch with our home experts today!


Leave a Reply