What's the difference between the terms, renovation, remodeling, rehabilitation and restoration?
You have a good question, but you may be surprised by the answer. In modern times, these words are frequently used interchangeably and one is meant to be equal to the others. However, traditionally, the terms meant:
- Rehabilitation: Also sometimes referred
to as reuse. Keeping the building the same but
changing its use: using an old church for a school,
- Sometimes it meant keeping its use but changing the specific type, i.e. changing a McDonalds to a Taco Bell.
- Currently, it is used interchangeably with restore.
Traditionally, remodel and renovate meant the same
thing. However, you will find some older references
- Remodel means a change in structure or volume (raising the roof, removing load bearing walls), and where renovate is referring to new finishes and colors.
- Restore means to bring the structure into a particular era of history, preferably authentically.
- Rebuild, a term not on your list, refers to a new structure built on a site where an existing building has been demolished, but I’ve heard it in reference to a large remodel/renovation of a damaged structure, such as the type currently found in New Orleans.
Michael Goldschmidt, AIA, Resident Instruction Assistant Professor, Housing and Environmental Design Specialist, Department of Architectural Studies, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Monday, May 18, 2009