Design + Build Management for Gut-Rehab & Expansion

A gut-rehab is a major restoration project performed on residential and commercial properties. It’s a major undertaking but it can give you a lot of the benefits that come with building a new home from scratch with less overall cost.

In South Florida a gut-rehab will typically apply to homes constructed prior to 1979. This is because most homes built prior to 1979 have mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems that do not provide the function or safety that come with systems that meet current code requirements.

In South Florida a gut-rehab will usually involve the following work:

♦ Ripping out old plaster back to the block exterior walls

♦ Removing all non-structural wood interior framing in the home and replacing it with metal framing to create your newly designed floor plan

♦ Expanding the building footprint to improve both form and function of your home with new additions

♦ Repairing or replacing roof trusses if necessary and installing hurricane strapping to meet current building codes

♦ Creating new masonry openings in the exterior walls for new impact windows and doors to complement the newly designed floor plan

♦ Cutting the slab to remove all cast iron sewer lines and installing all new PVC sewer lines along with new water supply lines

♦ Install all new mechanical (HVAC), plumbing and electrical systems to meet current building codes

♦ Removal all old roofing, repair roof decking and install new roofing that will meet or exceed current wind mitigation requirements

♦ All new flooring, interior doors, baseboard, trim etc. on the interior and all new stucco on the exterior

With a home constructed before 1979 your investment on a gut-rehab will be more than a cosmetic renovation. But whatever additional money is invested is well worth it in terms of both design and reliability. With the structure stripped down to the block walls it allows us to reconfigure the flow & function of your home while replacing all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

What’s possible with a gut-rehab & expansion

When properly designed and built a gut-rehab will provide much of the same benefits in function, flow, safety, reliability and lower maintenance costs that come with a new ground-up custom home. This is especially true in South Florida where the bulk of structures are built using concrete block on slab. Watch this video of a Studio 818 gut-rehab and expansion to see  the type of transformation we can achieve.

How our gut-rehab & expansion process works

As developers of more than 40 of our own designer spec homes we understand the challenges you face when it comes to renovating an existing building. We’ve tackled homes with so many seemingly unsurmountable challenges that most people said, “just tear it down.”

We know from experience that if you take the conventional approach to a gut-rehab you’ll end up with:

⊗ An Architect or Interior Designer who doesn’t understand or is able to guide you on costs

⊗ Contractors who mislead you on budgets just to get you into contact

⊗ And an un-managed process that takes over your life.

But you don’t have to fall prey to the typical problems. When you work with Studio 818 we’ll help you avoid the design flaws, change orders and time suck that typically come with a home renovation.  

Watch the video below for a brief introduction to our process and the benefits our clients enjoy.

With our Design + Build Management framework the first step in designing your masterplan is to create the ideal space plan for you and your family. Using our in-house lifestyle analysis, we determine the optimal flow and function that best compliments the way you live, entertain and relax.

With a gut-rehab that means starting with the existing shell of the home and designing functional additions to create the floor plan you want. Once we have developed the conceptual space plan then we design the structure and building envelope to create the aesthetic you want. 

During the Design Development phase, we take the lead working in parallel with the architect, engineers and landscape architect to create a cohesive integrated plan. By working this way, the conflicts and impracticalities that normally arise during construction are much more likely to come to light. These issues can then be handled in advance ‘on paper’ rather than during actual construction.


‘Full-service’ means we oversee the hundreds of moving parts required to create your dream design, document it and bring it into reality with turn-key convenience. With our Design + Build Management framework for gut-rehabs we simplify your life as your single point of contact for the project. We handle all the headaches for you from concept to completion.


With Studio 818’s designer-led framework the design team takes the lead from conceptual planning, into design development, through construction — all the way to completion. With this top-level design-focused oversight we’re able to keep your project on-target with a relentless focus on efficiency.

Before the first hammer swings every detail is pre-planned to control project costs and increase efficiency. When construction begins we stand in the gap for you handling all the challenges that arise while protecting you, your design and your budget.

Six phases to cover all the bases

Our designer-led Design + Build Management framework includes six phases of work. Each is critical to the success of your gut-rehab project. We’ll cover these in much greater detail as we meet and move forward with your project, but for now here’s a quick summary:

Phase 1: Discovery and documentation; to understand your vision and ensure your home is designed to perfectly complement the way you live

Phase 2: Conceptual design; to provide the critical guideposts for all design and development on your project moving forward

Phase 3: Design development; where all of the information we’ve gathered is translated into one cohesive design to meet your specific needs and design aesthetic

Phase 4: Technical and construction documentation (aka the ‘project bible’). This is all the critical documentation that tells the contractors precisely how to build your home with details, measurements and specifications. This includes the complete plan set for permitting developed by the architect.

Phase 5: Procurement; we handle sourcing and order-management of all finishes and fixtures to ensure an uninterrupted timeline for your project. Order management, tracking, receiving & inspection, handling damage claims and making sure the materials are on-site only when the contractor is ready for them.

Phase 6: Construction administration; to handle the headaches of keeping your project on track, minimizing change-orders and ensuring your dream design becomes reality.

As you can see, every aspect of your project is covered in these six phases. For permit plan sets we partner with select architects and engineers, choosing the ones that are best matched to the scope of your project.

Studio 818 is not a general contractor and that is by design. We eliminate conflicts of interest by not acting as both the master designer and general contractor like many design-build companies. This addresses the concern many owners have about increases the construction budget being made to benefit the contractor.

Thanks to our 20+ years of real estate investment and development experience the Studio 818 team provides you professional unbiased guidance construction administration. We oversee and manage contractor bidding, review and advise on requests for progress payments, and meet regularly with the contractor to ensure your project moves along smoothly.

We maximize the efficiency of your project by treating it as if it were a Spec Home being developed for profit. Under our watchful eye you can have confidence that you’re getting the best quality work, executed the most efficient way, and budgeted at the best possible value.

Finding the right team to entrust with your gut-rehab project in South Florida is critical. Design, permitting and construction can take anywhere between 9 to 18+ months. This should be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of your life. But making the wrong choice in who will lead your project could mean the process ends up feeling more like a very long bad date you can’t escape.

Ensuring we Are the right match for you and your project is important to us. Our designer-led Design + Build Management framework is different and it’s not right for everyone. To help you decide for yourself here are some reasons clients have chosen to work with us. We may be the perfect fit for you IF:

♦ The fit, finishes & details in your home are important to you.

♦ It’s crucial that the flow & function of your floor plan perfectly compliment your lifestyle.

♦ You understand the upfront investment to design in-detail before the first hammer swings will minimize change orders & accelerate construction timelines.

♦ You want the security that comes with having a trusted team standing in the gap representing and protecting you throughout the entire design-build process.

♦ Your time is important and you’re happy to let professionals handle all the moving parts for you.

♦ You want to get the maximum ROI from every dollar invested.

♦ You want your home valuation after completion to put you in a good equity position.

Studio 818’s Design + Build Management framework works best with gut-rehab projects that will have:

♦ Minimum budget of $500k* or in the range of $225/Sf. to $300/Sf. This includes design, construction, management, fixtures, finishes & equipment. This budgeting does not include the land, furniture or furnishings. 

♦ An after-improvement home valuation of at least $900k

These general minimums provide a starting point where it makes good financial sense to employ our services. The benefits you gain in efficiency, cost savings and return on investment increase exponentially as the budget, project scope and property valuation increase.

If you’re unsure what your construction budget is or should be check out this introduction to construction costs in South Florida for some valuable guidance, then schedule your free Discovery Call to review your project together.

For our Design + Build Management framework to deliver the results you expect there is a minimum amount of time and effort it will take to effectively deploy the system regardless the budget. Sometimes people have the misperception that a lower budget will mean a lower investment for our services, however the real-world math doesn’t work out that way.

On a larger design-build project it’s pretty obvious the broader scope and complexity will require more time, money and effort on our part. The cool thing is that as a construction budget increases the investment for our services actually decreases as a relative percentage of the construction budget. The more complex the scope of work the greater your return on investment for our services – in efficiency, cost savings and timelines.

On the flip side if a budget is too tight for a project, that lower budget doesn’t eliminate steps. It doesn’t reduce the work required to deliver stellar results. It still takes hundreds of hours and a year or more of work on our part to successfully take a gut-rehab project from concept to completion. In fact, it takes proportionally more time to create a stunning result with a tight budget than it does with an appropriate one.

That’s because a lower budget brings with it more limitations to work around in the design phase. And when it comes to the planning, project management and execution of the masterplan those things take the same effort with a tight budget as they would on a project with a more substantial budget. 

With this in mind we know it won’t make good financial sense for you to make the investment in our full-service Design + Build Management services below a specific budget threshold. Unlike the typical Architect or Interior Design firm we’re not going to take your money just to create a design that in the end you can’t afford to build. That is why we provide this budget guidance.

Thanks to our extensive property development experience we know construction costs. And because of that expertise we know what the budget threshold is for diminishing returns with a new ground-up custom home project. That is what is reflected in the suggested minimum construction budget above.

Our framework covers much more than interior design, finishes and other ‘pretty stuff.’ Much of the value Studio 818 provides you comes from the master-planning at the start, project management throughout and owner’s representation during the construction phase.  

Studio 818’s full-service Design + Build Management services are always a fixed-fee making it easier to determine the total investment in your project up-front. We do not price projects based on a percentage of budget or square footage like many design professionals do, but is instead based on the number of design areas a project entails. This approach ensures you receive the level of attention and detail your project scope requires, and that our compensation is commensurate with the amount of work dedicated to executing stellar design 

The investment for our services is impacted by various conditions such as total square footage, challenges with the building site, complexity of architectural design, quantity/level of custom millwork and level of finishes. This white glove service includes everything you need outside construction labor and material costs, including:

♦ Conceptual design

♦ Final design with renderings

♦ Finish material specifications

♦ Architectural & engineering plans (for permitting)

♦ Detailed technical drawings & specifications (for contractors)

♦ Management of the contractor bidding process

♦ Procurement & order management for critical finish materials

♦ Designer-led project management from concept, through construction right up to completion and your move-in

To get a better understanding of what your total project investment is likely to be schedule a free Discovery Call.


It’s simple to get started. Click the button below to schedule an appointment for your Discovery Call and tell us a little about you and your project. We’ll start out with a free phone meeting to review your project together.