Renovation and remodeling often get used interchangeably when discussing home improvement, but they do not refer to the same thing. When you renovate a building, you change its inherent structure, such as reframing a room or expanding it. Home additions also qualify as renovations. If you knock out a wall, you’re renovating a space. If you only move the furniture around and re-paint, that’s remodeling the space.

Examine Your Home

Examine your home to determine what you need to do. While most people think of renovation as prettying up the home, it also deals with upgrading the septic system, plumbing, electrical, and fireplace conversions.

Understand Utility Maintenance and Replacements

According to Circle of Blue, about 21 million U.S. households use a private septic system. Those homes need septic maintenance and cleaning each year, which falls under home maintenance. It’s neither renovation nor remodeling, but upgrading a septic tank or system does come under renovation. The service personnel provides you with an annual report on the state of your septic, so you’ll know when you need to update it or replace it.

Water heaters and HVAC systems need to undergo similar maintenance annually. These regularly scheduled maintenance visits include cleaning of the HVAC and water heater coils. The service person lets you know when equipment needs replacing.

Check for Window and Door Drafts

If you find your doors and windows let in drafts, replace them. Drafty windows cause 20% to 35% of heat gain and loss in U.S. homes, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Upgrading your windows comes under home renovation. Some states offer incentives for energy-efficient upgrades, so choose low emissions (Low-e) windows of double or triple pane design.

Examine Kitchen Cabinets

Sagging cabinets or drawers that won’t close signify the time has come to renovate the kitchen. If cabinet doors won’t stay shut or water damage occurred inside the cabinets, they need replacing. That’s renovation.

If the doors and drawers open and close fine but show wear, such as scratches, you only need to strip their paint or varnish, sand them smooth, then repaint or re-varnish them. Your whole kitchen will look new.

Check  Kitchen and Bathroom Fixtures

Does the toilet rock back and forth? Do you slip on loose tiles when you step inside the room? Does the faucet or shower head leak? You need to renovate. The bathroom flooring underwent damage. Toilets get laid into the subfloor, then surrounded by the tile. If your toilet rocks in place, the subfloor got damaged and probably rotted. Tiles slipping out of place indicate the same thing. Leaky plumbing fixtures could point to a larger problem or they could simply need new washers.

Repurpose Furniture and Redesign It

Instead of throwing out your furniture to purchase new, avoid creating that waste by redesigning it and repurposing it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. households throw out about 12 million tons of furniture each year. The solid waste that it creates has grown 450% since 1960.

When remodeling, simply strip the furniture, then re-varnish it. Paint it or cover it in a glaze or other coating. Revamp it and use it in a new way. Change its location in the home, such as moving a refreshed credenza to a bathroom counter to create an organizer or adding a bottom shelf to it, then hanging it on the wall as a bookcase.

Renovate or Remodel?

Your home examination tells you if you need to renovate just one room or several. You can easily remodel a home by changing furnishings and painting the walls a new color. If you’ve been considering which option may be better for you, be sure to do your research and determine which best fits your lifestyle.