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refurbishment - renovation - modernization - we explain the differences - construction site

Refurbishment, Renovation, Modernization: the Differences

In recent years, a large number of older buildings have been renovated, refurbished or modernized in the Frankfurt city region. This usually happens when real estate is out of date, because the demands of tenants, owners, and legislators on real estate have risen continuously in recent decades. In particular, the energy efficiency (and thus the consumption costs) of real estate should be kept low. After renovation, buildings have a fresh shine and can be better marketed.

In the event of damage repair (refurbishment), refreshment (renovation) and slight improvement (modernization), skyscrapers are recorded in The SKYLINE ATLAS with their original information if basic components of the building (facade, use, area distribution, etc.) have not changed.

When a complete renovation (revitalization, total renovation, complete modernization, core renovation) takes place, it’s a different story. In these cases the building is usually stripped to its supporting framework and essential parts of the property are replaced, so that the property behaves like a new building after the revitalization. With a complete renovation, the character, technology, and/or architecture of a property change fundamentally: there is a different architect than the original, and the use may have been altered. Such a complete renovation is often accompanied by repositioning: the property is given a fresh branding and/or a new marketing concept.

The SKYLINE ATLAS therefore treats total conversions as independent properties and does not continue under their original building entry. This includes buildings such as:

The distinction between a complete modernization (complete renovation) and a simple modernization is not always easy to make. In this regard, the SKYLINE ATLAS uses the definition of SKYDB standards when dealing with modernized buildings: changes to buildings are versioned. This means that changes in the life cycle of the property are always assigned to a specific point in time and project.


A refurbishment is necessary if damage to the building needs to be remedied. For example, if mold is to be removed indoors, this is called mold remediation. Grounds for renovation also include cracks in the exterior plaster, moisture damage, holes in the roof skin, or efflorescence. The goal of a refurbishment is to restore the original state of construction before the damage occurred. The refurbished components then return to their original quality. A simple lack of a part is eliminated by a repair.


When renovating, the original condition is restored to a certain extent. However, this is more about visual enhancements and not the correction of construction defects (which must be corrected to prevent further damage). A renovation refreshes old components that have worn out superficially over the years. In this regard, one speaks of cosmetic repairs.

In an interior renovation, activities such as wallpapering or painting of interior walls are the rule. However, the old state will not usually be restored exactly: a different look and different colors are often chosen. The main thing is that the walls look freshly painted or newly wallpapered afterwards. The laying of new floor coverings such as carpet or laminate is also part of the renovations.


Modernization is always more than just a visual beautification. Nor is it about repairing damage and restoring the old state. In concrete terms, modernization does not even have to involve structural damage. The aim of modernization is rather to improve parts of buildings, to bring them up to date in order to increase their utility value.

Typical examples of modernization are the application of insulation to a building envelope that was not previously insulated. But the replacement of actually intact windows with energy-saving windows is also part of the goal of saving energy costs and improving comfort. Modernization may also include purchase of a more powerful and efficient heating system, the improvement of fire protection, or the soundproofing of apartment partitions.

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