Bathroom Remodel vs Renovation

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Bathroom Remodel vs Renovation

Is there a difference between a bathroom remodel vs renovation?  Yes.  Although “remodel” and “renovation” are often used interchangeably, to a professional remodeler, they mean two very different things.

Let’s take a look at how these two terms differ.

Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel vs RenovationWhen considering a bathroom remodel vs a renovation, the focus of a bathroom remodel is on making changes to the appearance.  This includes the design, layout, and look.  The object is to revive your bathroom to give it a fresh new look.  There are no changes to the structure when performing a bathroom remodel.  Structure refers to moving or eliminating walls, adding, or removing space, or changing the ceiling elevations (height).  In other words, with a bathroom remodel, you are not changing the size, only the space.

Performing a bathroom remodel can also mean focusing on what is already present (sometimes referred to as a “facelift” or “refresh”).  Making changes to the existing layout also falls into this category.  A bathroom remodel can be broken down into two components – Cosmetic and style (or layout).

Cosmetic Bathroom Remodel

These bathroom changes are referred to as “remove and replace”, “like-for-like”, and “brushing up”.  Changing out the existing cabinet, toilet, floor, mirrors, bathtub, shower, and applying a fresh coat of paint are all cosmetic.  A new countertop is also cosmetic.  Simply painting the cabinet and changing plumbing and wall fixtures are also cosmetic.  Most, but not all bathroom cosmetic items require a building permit.

Cosmetic changes can be less expensive.  It depends on how much you do.  Painting the walls and cabinet costs less than replacing the cabinet, floor, and toilet.

Bathroom Remodel vs RenovationStyle or Layout Change when Considering a Bathroom Remodel vs Renovation

In this situation, the aesthetics and/or functionality are changing in addition to the cosmetic nature of the bathroom.  Converting the bathtub into a shower, moving the toilet, enlarging the shower, or adding a second sink are examples of layout changes.  Increasing bathroom storage are also layout changes.  In similar fashion, converting a fiberglass shower or bathtub into a tile surround shower or bathtub, or adding a bathtub are style changes.  Adding a steam shower is a style change.  These also include changing the window, adding a skylight, removing a medicine cabinet, and changing the door.  Adding recess lights, changing, or adding updated switches and receptacles (outlets) are style changes.  Changes to the bathroom style or layout require a building permit.

Don’t get wrapped around the axel on semantics.  Changing the floor from vinyl to tile or onyx countertop to quartz can represent a cosmetic or style change.  The easiest way to understand the difference is by considering the aesthetics.  Think of a cosmetic change like lipstick.  Changing the color does not change the look of a person – it changes the aesthetics and accents the lips.  However, cutting and changing the style of your hair absolutely changes the look of the person!

In summary, a bathroom remodel can include any combination of cosmetic, style, or layout changes.  When performing cosmetic, style, and layout together, that is a full bathroom remodel (aka gut-and-redo).

Bathroom Renovation

Installing a bathtubA bathroom renovation includes all of the elements of a bathroom remodel plus removing, adding, or changing walls.  Removing the wall separating the tub/shower and cabinet areas is an example of a renovation.  Other examples include removing the drop ceiling over the cabinet, installing a pocket door, or adding space.  Adding space includes taking areas from inside the house or adding on to the outside to make the bathroom bigger.  Raising or changing the height of the ceiling is a renovation.  Thinking about adding a window or a door to the bathroom?  These are renovation items.  The same is true by removing the bathtub and creating a large “super shower”.  In other words, you are altering or changing the existing space.  Bathroom renovations require a building permit.

Renovations generally add a lot of value to your home.

When thinking about a bathroom remodel vs renovation, these items are important:

There is one final area to consider when thinking about a bathroom remodel vs renovation.  Some work falls into both categories – remodel and renovation.  The best example is removing all the drywall and replacing with new drywall.  This is a health and safety issue.

  • Bathroom RemodelLead – Homes constructed prior to 1979 (1978 and older) contain lead in the paint. Lead is extremely dangerous for pregnant women and children.  It can cause permanent brain, nervous system, organ, and development damage.  See Lead Safety When Remodeling.
  • Asbestos – Prior to 1980, homes were built using materials containing asbestos, a hazardous health material. Lung cancers are one the more common illnesses from asbestos.  Asbestos was used extensively in the manufacture of drywall.
  • Appearance – When remodeling a bathroom, installing new recess lights, running wire, and updating/adjusting the plumbing is typical. It is far more expensive to cut a bunch of holes in the drywall and then patch vs. simply removing and replacing the drywall.  Moreover, you will see these patches after painting over them.  Your bathroom remodel will look great but the only thing you and your friends will see are the unsightly patches.
  • Building code – The first four (4) feet of drywall must be moisture and mold resistant. It makes little sense to have the first 4 feet of the bathroom wall looking gorgeous with next 4 feet looking nasty.  Moreover, the amount of labor and materials required preparing the old drywall for new texture is more expensive than simply replacing it.  You also must have an exhaust fan if there is a shower, bathtub, or tub/shower regardless of the presence of a window.  If the outside walls are not insulated, these must be insulated.

What About Cost of a Bathroom Remodel vs Renovation?

Which Costs More: Remodeling or Renovating?  This depends on a host of factors.  Either can easily cost more or less than the other.  That is because bathroom remodeling and renovation typically involves more complex design considerations.  These also require numerous constructions, electric, and plumbing expenses.  For further guidance, see How Much Does a Bathroom Remodel Cost? and Bathroom Remodel.

The next time you are considering bathroom remodel vs renovation, you now know the difference.

To learn more about what is trending in bathrooms and kitchens, read bathroom and kitchen trends.

Always Hire a Reliable and Dependable Contractor to Remodel or Renovate your Bathroom

Design Build Bathroom Remodel | Best Local Contractor DAD's ConstructionAlways work with a trustworthy contractor like DAD’s Construction.  We are experts in bathroom, kitchen, and full interior remodeling and renovation.  We remodel and manage projects in an efficient manner.  DAD’s Construction will do everything to minimize the possibility of change orders.  Our team will make sure we have all the necessary information to prepare a proposal that meets your requirements.

Rest assured that we will provide you with a detailed, by line-item contract.  We will make sure that the contents of this agreement are properly and clearly communicated to you.  If you have questions or need updates regarding your project, we will always answer your inquiries.

For over 45 years, DAD’s Construction has been helping Orange County homeowners remodel and renovate their homes to better serve their needs, enhance their lifestyles, and make them fall in love with their homes all over again.  With DAD’s, you get a home designed to make you happy.  Your project will run smoothly and be both pleasant and satisfying.

DAD’s takes special pride in the thoughtfulness, responsiveness, and innovation of our design work.  DAD’s uses high quality materials, products, and craftsmanship.  The personal service we provide our clients is second to none. Turning spare rooms into cozy personal spaces…adding or remodeling a bathroom or kitchen…or remodeling an entire home, gives you the space and feel you are looking for.  We can turn the house you have into the home you want; a home designed and remodeled to make you happy.

How Can I Receive More Information on Remodeling and Renovating my Home?

If you would like more information on enjoying the best bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience in Orange County, call Dan at (949) 380-0177 or at for a free in home consultation.  DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California.  This includes Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo.

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“Taking Care of Your Home . . . The Way We Would Our Own”

Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD’s Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation Contractor,  © DAD’s Home Services & Construction, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.