Building Restoration vs Renovation

What is building restoration?

To better understand the differences between renovation and restoration it is easiest to begin by defining what restoration is. Restoring is

the action of returning something to a former condition.

In the simplest of terms as it relates to buildings we are talking about restoring it to the state it would have (or should have been) when it was originally built. Malta has a wealth of historic buildings that should if possible be preserved in their original state. Unfortunately many buildings have not been preserved and therefore the only viable solution is to perform a high quality restoration of the building. The older the building the more likely that it should be restored as opposed to renovated; which brings us to renovation.

What is building renovation?

This is where it gets tricky; renovation can be restoration. The difference is that restoration always means that we bring a property or thing back to the way it was originally; whereas renovation is about renewing, repairing and in some cases modernizing. When you say that you are renovating a Maltese farmhouse for example it could mean that you are adding stainless steel staircases, modern lighting, parquet flooring and coating one of the walls in stucco.

There is nothing wrong with renovating a building however it should not be confused with restoring; some renovations are in fact just restorations however many include other elements that go beyond restoration and would more correctly be called renovations.

The image above provided by Mediterranean Building Finishes; Restorations and renovations unit is a perfect example of a renovation that also includes restoration, as you will notice in the image above they have restored the arch, which was originally painted over a long time ago as well as restored some other elements; however unfortunately in this case much of the wall had been coated over years ago and this made it impossible to perform a restoration on it. Where it was impossible to restore the walls the team expertly used gypsum finishing modernizing (renovating) parts whilst restoring others.

Why is it important to know the difference?

There are a number of reasons why it is important to know the difference, one reason is of course simply for the sake of knowing the difference but we will give you a few much more practical reasons.

In some cases it is against the law to do anything other then restore a building; restoration work on historically relevant buildings also needs permits and skilled, qualified craftsmen.

Hiring the right people; if you are looking for someone to renovate your building, it may be unimportant if the company you hire is skilled in restoration; however imagine you own the facade above, it would be a shame to have it renovated instead of restored. Some companies like MBF Malta are able to perform both restorations and renovations so you would be in safe hands whilst other companies may simply be renovators.

Cost, a restoration requires skilled craftsmen that are qualified, unfortunately these are in short supply and therefore the cost to restore is often higher then to renovate.

If you are looking to renovate and want a modern touch to your building there are some very skilled renovators, hiring a restorer could be a mistake in such a case as they may not understand your vision for your property.

There are many other reasons of course and we would love to hear a few from you in the comments below. 🙂 In the meantime should you be looking to restore or renovate your building do follow the link below to get some expert advice.


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