How to Make Your Home Renovation a Success

A ‘whole-house’ home renovation is for homes where the interior walls need minor re-configuration to create the ideal floor plan. If there are any structural changes needed they are minor and confined to a small area of the home. These are structural changes such as adding a couple new openings for new windows or exterior door. A whole-house home renovation is primarily for cosmetic / surface renovations where the structure was built after 1979.

Why 1979? Because typically homes built after 1979 have mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems that are similar in materials and operational safety to what would be installed in a newly constructed home. If properly constructed to building codes much of the remaining structure is going to be very similar to a new-build.  This is especially true in South Florida where the bulk of structures are built using concrete block on slab.

With many homes constructed after 1979 the MEP should not need complete replacement. This is of course is a general statement and there are outliers with some homes. For example; poly plumbing was used to cut costs by some builders in the 90’s and this material has proved itself to be prone to failure. The point is, in general with a home built after 1979 you can usually focus the bulk of your budget on designing the ideal floor plan, aesthetic and finishes to complement and enhance your lifestyle.

In South Florida a whole-house renovation will generally involve:

♦ Primarily cosmetic improvements

♦ Optimized floor plan within the confines of the existing structure

♦ Some altering of non-structural interior walls

♦ Direct replacement of windows and exterior doors with little or no changes in wall openings

If you’re thinking your project will require a lot more than cosmetic work to create your dream home, check out our Gut-Rehab & Expansion overview.

How our whole-house home renovation 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 faced and overcome challenges where the majority of people looked at a property and felt it was hopeless.

We know from experience that if you take the conventional approach to a home renovation 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 unmanaged process that takes over your life.

But you don’t have to fall prey to the problems that typically come with a home renovation. 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.

In 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.

Once we have developed the conceptual space plan then we design modifications for the building envelope to complete the overall aesthetic you want.

During the Design Development phase, we take the lead working in parallel with the architect and engineers 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 whole-house renovation 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 whole house renovation project in South Florida is critical. Design, permitting and construction can take anywhere between 6 to 12+ 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 whole-house renovation projects that have:

♦ A minimum budget of $250,000* (*Including design, construction, management, fixtures, finishes & equipment. Exclusive of building lot, furniture & furnishings.)

♦ An after-improvement home valuation of at least $700,000

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, 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 whole-house renovation project from concept to completion. In fact, it usually takes proportionally more time to create a stunning result with a tight budget than it does with a larger 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 design, finishes and other ‘pretty stuff.’ Much of the value Studio 818 provides you comes from the master-planning, project management and execution of the design.

The investment for Studio 818’s full-service Design + Build Management varies with the complexity of design, square footage and site conditions. We do not price projects based on percentages but for general guidance our complete framework for a whole-house renovation typically ranges from 12% to 18% of the construction budget. This includes everything you need outside construction and material costs, including:

♦ Conceptual design

♦ Final design with renderings

♦ Finish material specifications

♦ Architectural & engineering plans (for permitting)

♦ Detailed construction documentation (for contractors)

♦ Management of the contractor bidding process

♦ Procurement & order management for critical finish materials

♦ Designer-led construction management throughout the build process

Similar to construction costs the investment for our full-service Design + Build Management services is determined by the project scope, size of the home and level of finishes desired. Our services are provided primarily by fixed-fee making it easier to determine your total budget up-front.


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.