Whole-House Home Renovation

What does an interior design-focused home renovation involve? What are the potential pitfalls you’ll face with this type of project? What’s the process you need in place to maximize efficiency and mitigate problems?

We’ll answer all these questions here and more. In just a few minutes you’ll have a better understanding of the renovation project you’re about to tackle and greater confidence in choosing the best process to get it done right.

Interior design vs. home renovation vs. home remodel

First before we begin let’s quickly clear up some confusion on terms you’ll commonly hear used. Often people will use “interior design”, “renovation” and “remodel” used interchangeably to describe residential projects. Interior design is an integral part of both renovations and remodels so let’s set that aside for now.

To properly plan your project the real differentiation you need to make is between a “home renovation” and a “home remodel.” Both will improve your quality of life and increase your property value. But the complexity, timeline and investment for a renovation vs. a remodel are vastly different.

How to determine if your project is an interior design focused home renovation

A ‘whole-house’ home renovation is focused primarily on the cosmetic side of interior design. There are three key factors that will help you confirm that the project you are considering is a home renovation with interior design as the primary focus.

1. Your house currently has the right amount of living area for your family and does not need expansion with additions

2. The floor plan works as-is or will need just minor changes such as moving interior walls.

3. Your house was built in 1980 or later.

Why 1980? Typically homes built after 1980 have mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems that are similar in materials and operational safety to a newly constructed home. This is one of the key factors in differentiating between a whole-house home renovation and the more in-depth and complex work of a major home remodel.

What’s involved in an interior design focused home renovation

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

♦ Interior design focused on cosmetic improvements for every room in your house. 

♦ Optimizing the floor plan and opening up spaces without major structural changes.

♦ Upgrading of existing windows & exterior doors. This may include minor changes, such as adding a window or changing a window to a patio slider.

If your home was built prior to 1980 or you’re thinking your project will require more than primarily cosmetic interior design work to create your dream home, you’ll want to check out what a major Home Remodel entails.

Where interior design & home renovations typically go wrong

We understand the challenges you face when it comes to tackling the design and construction phases of a whole house renovation. Before founding STUDIO 818 we designed, developed and sold over fifty of our own designer spec homes as investment projects.

We’ve seen how badly a project can go when you start things off on the wrong foot. That’s because the roots of a smooth-running successful project are embedded in the very first step you take.

It’s easy to get excited about radically transforming your current property with a whole house renovation. In the zeal to get a project rolling many people will take one of the paths common to the industry. Unfortunately common paths leads to common problems. That’s why you hear so many horror stories shared about home construction.

The three ways people are usually tempted to begin their major home remodel seem innocent enough. But by going down any one of these paths they unwittingly sow the seeds for a bumper-crop of problems as the project proceeds.

  • Beginning your project with a General Contractor.


    Some homeowners start a project by asking a general contractor (GC) to give them a quote. When they do they unknowingly put the GC in the position of having to provide numbers based on a lot of assumptions. The GC will need to protect themselves by including plenty of allowances (guesses) for things like finishes, fixtures, equipment, and more.


    Clients who have made this mistake on a previous project won’t make it again. They understand these type of preliminary quotes by contractors are often misleading. To give you even close to realistic ‘ballpark’ numbers the GC needs at least some sort of conceptual design plans. In fact, the best GC’s out there will refuse to give you any numbers without the information that will allow them to be successful.


    With the STUDIO 818 design + build management framework we lay the foundation for success in our Pre-Planning phase. Before getting the GC involved we develop the preliminary floor plan, conceptual design and direction on the level of finishes, fixtures and equipment that will impact the investment required. This process sets the GC up for success and helps you avoid the change orders, runaway budget and constantly expanding construction timelines that usually accompany a GC-lead project.


  • Starting your project with an Architect. 


    Some people start out their project working exclusively with an architect. They dedicate months of time and tens-of-thousands of dollars for permit plans. When the plans go out to GC’s for bidding, only then do they discover the “real” budget required to construct the structure their new home. And if a design firm has not been developing finish plans along side the permit plans, the owner still only has part of the overall number.  


    We respect architects and absolutely love the professionals we work with. Their job is to plan and work with a team of engineers to generate the architectural design you want. But it is not their responsibility to advise you on an all-encompassing investment relative to your desired scope of work. Nor can they advise you on the cost impacts of design choices. That’s how you end up with sticker-shock 6-months into the planning process.


    In contrast, with the STUDIO 818 framework we begin to align your desired design aesthetic and project scope with the expected overall investment early in the Pre-Planning stage. This is well before the architect begins their work. Our process helps you avoid the wasted time, frustration and disappointment of having to go back to the drawing board to redesign your project all over again.


  • Deciding to mange the project yourself. 


    Some homeowners decide to put themselves in a leadership role by cobbling together a team for a major design & build project, This is one of the biggest mistakes people can make. Our best clients have tried this in the past and they learned this decision created a Frankenstein-like project that literally consumed their lives.


    By following this path the owner ends up in perpetual reaction mode trying to manage what usually becomes pure chaos. Without an experienced organized leader on-point all the headaches, mistakes and conflicts that come with a project of this scope to fall into the homeowners’ lap. An owner leading their own project WILL become the center of what often ends in a very nasty finger-pointing “triad of miscommunication” between the architect, designer and GC.


    With the STUDIO 818 team leading your project from the Pre-Planning stage we help protect you from avoidable miscommunications, finger-pointing and ballooning budget. We are experienced in every aspect of design, construction and project management. Our framework handles all the headaches and manages the countless details that would otherwise fall through the cracks.


You have some concerns with the interior design and renovation of your home. We get it.

The interior design and renovation of your entire house is a big undertaking. You’ll be investing substantial amounts of your time, money and emotions into the project. You rightfully have concerns about what your investment will produce as an end result.

You will be enjoying your newly designed home with your family for years to come. So it’s important that the home is functional relative to your lifestyle and designed to reflect your personality.

To top it all off — with a whole house renovation you’ll be living elsewhere during the construction and furnishing phases of the project. So it’s critical the project is completed on-time and on-budget with the headaches handled for you.

We understand first-hand your concerns and considerations as the owner. In our real estate investment experience we’ve purchased, designed and developed dozens of properties of our own. On these development projects we bear the responsibility of managing millions of dollars in funds entrusted to us by our investment partners for the purpose of developing the property and delivering healthy investment returns.

This experience gives us an unparalleled “owners’ perspective” on every client project. STUDIO 818’s Design + Build Management framework is so different because it was developed by owners to serve the needs of owners.

Our blending of real estate investment experience, design capabilities and project management expertise makes our process unique amoung interior design and design-build firms.

The right approach to a home renovation makes all the difference

Thanks to STUDIO 818’s designer-led Design + Build Management framework you won’t have to fall prey to the problems, needless cost-overruns and disappointing results experienced by most home owners.

With our Design + Build Management framework we:

  1. Mitigate change orders and manage the headaches
  2. Reduce timelines for the construction phases
  3. Optimize project outcomes with attention to finish details from concept to your fully-furnished move-in day

With STUDIO 818 leading your project from the start we set you and your project up for success. We are your guide and advocate from pre-planning to your move-in day.

Watch the video below to learn about our process & the benefits our clients enjoy

The #1 key to less stress in your interior design focused home renovation project

In the video above you probably noticed we talk a lot about aligning your project scope with the investment it will realistically require to complete that work. This is the key to putting your major home remodel project on the right track from the start. 

In our real estate investment and development work if we failed to properly align the project scope and targeted investment that would mean we and our investors would both lose money. A BIG no-no obviously!

With your interior design focused home renovation it’s just as important to make sure the project scope and targeted investment are aligned from the beginning. If not you can look forward to months of wasted time, frustration and unnecessary financial stress as the project moves forward.

Even our clients who tell us “there is no budget” benefit from our framework. Having an open-ended budget overall may be true. But we always learn through our process that though a client may put no limit on what they are willing to invest designing and building some areas of the property, they may have caps on other areas due to personal preferences. .

The scope-to-investment alignment completed in the Pre-Planning phase of our Design + Build Management framework is essential to your project running smoothly. This is true regardless what your position is when it comes to the budget.

How we approach your project

Our process begins with an extensive Pre-Planning phase that includes feasibility analysis, conceptual design and alignment of project scope to budget. Next we master plan your entire project, iron out and document all the technical details, and manage the procurement of all finishes, fixtures & equipment.

Then as the project progresses we stand in the gap to protect your from the design flaws, change orders and time-suck that come during the construction phases.

On the practical side our process incrementally lays the foundation for the success of your project before the first hammer swings. Once construction starts we make sure the design and details you approved are built as specified. All the headaches are handled right up to your move-in day.  

Just as important is the relationship side of your project. The planning, interior design, construction and furnishing of a whole house renovation can take 10-12 months or more from pre-planning to move-in day. That’s a lot of time to be working together.

We love what we do. And we want you to enjoy the planning, design and construction stages as much as the end result. The only way that happens is for you to know, like and trust the team leading your project. 

That’s why our Design + Build Management framework is set up to build the relationship and trust between you and the STUDIO 818 team in natural incremental steps as well. 

What our Design + Build Management framework looks like in more detail

Meet & Greet

Regardless of project scope the first step with a new STUDIO 818 client is always a Discovery Consultation. This is a free 30-minute phone meeting where we discuss your goals with the proposed project, general design aesthetic, timelines, and more.


You’ll receive an initial analysis of your project including how your targeted investment aligns with the initial project scope. We’ll also discuss the best options on how to proceed with your project.


Schedule your Discovery Consultation here



Project Assessment


STUDIO 818’s exclusive Project Assessment process is invaluable for aligning your design goals and project scope with the overall investment for your major home remodel.


Our Project Assessment is a detailed feasibility study that gives you clarity and understanding of exactly what your project will require before any design or planning begins.


The resulting Project Assessment report provides three key pieces of information that will help you effectively plan and make accurate decisions on your project right from the start.


1 – Detailed all-inclusive budget projections for every aspect of your project

2 – Estimated timeline for the project completion

3 – The projected valuation of your property after completing the proposed scope of work


When we review your Project Assessment report together you’ll have all the practical and financial “knobs and dials” needed to make accurate decisions with confidence. If it becomes necessary to re-align the initial scope of work and targeted overall investment we are able to discuss practical, tangible options to fine tune your project.





Once we have aligned your project scope with the targeted overall investment in the Project Assessment process we’re ready to move into Pre-Planning. This step includes Programming and Conceptual Design phases where we pre-plan every aspect of your project to maximize efficiency in the design and construction phases.


There’s a substantial amount of work that is completed in the Conceptual Design phase, but some of the highlights are:


– Clarify design preferences though our exclusive Rapid Fire exercise
– Develop & finalize your space plan and conceptual exterior elevations
– Confirm design direction and general level of finish quality with mood & concept boards


Most importantly you will have a final project scope and final targeted budget locked in. Only once we have reached this point of our relationship do we sign into full contract on the remainder of the project.



Project Master Planning


After the Conceptual Design phase we head into Master Planning. This is where the real magic takes place.


There are multiple phases and hundreds of hours of work that go into this step. We will discuss this in more detail on your free Discovery Consultation but for now here are some of the high-points:


– Interactive 3D & virtual reality modeling for spatial study
– Physical samples of finishes to touch & feel
– Photorealistic rendered views with actual finishes & fixtures
– Finish plan with approved finishes, fixtures & equipment
– Coordinate with architect and/or engineers to create the permit plan set
– Pre-screen General Contractors (GC)
– Meet with GC on-site for bid-walks
– Place, manage & track all finish, fixture & equipment (FF&E) orders including inspection, damage claims & returns



Construction Administration


Construction Administration begins with managing the contractor selection process. Once construction begins we have regular on-site meetings with contractors to review work progress relative to plans. These visits allow us to proactively identify potential issues with construction work and creatively solve problems as they arise.


As the project progresses there are invariably questions that the GC and subcontractors will have. We provide quick responses with the requested clarifications. This ongoing communication is critical for work to proceed efficiently.


In addition to the above, here are some other examples of how STUDIO 818 stands in the gap as your advocate throughout the build process with our Construction Administration:


– Document all communications with contractors in our project management dashboard, available via your client portal 
– Provide you project update reports at a minimum of every other week during construction
– Review invoices from General Contractor and verify invoiced amounts are in alignment with progress of work or unexpected site conditions
– Punch list management & oversight
– Perform Project close-out procedures including handing off specifications, owner’s manuals, as-built drawings, warranty information
– Coordinate and manage final “construction” cleaning



One more important part of our framework for serving clients

Tackling a major home remodel project is a big investment. From the very start of the project you deserve an advocate who will guide and protect you through what is a complex and sometimes confusing process.

That’s why a critical component of our Design + Build Management framework is our role as the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM). As OPM we stand in the gap protecting you by preemptively foreseeing and solving problems, maximizing the return on your investment, and mitigating change orders or delays.

The STUDIO 818 team leads your project from Conceptual Design, into Master Planning and through construction — all the way to furnishing your home for your turn-key move-in.. We are your single point of contact throughout the project. This protects your time and prevents miscommunication between the key contributors to your project. With this top-level oversight we’re able to keep your project on-target with a relentless focus on efficiency.

Watch the video below.

With STUDIO 818 leading your project every detail is pre-planned to control project costs and increase efficiency before the first hammer swings. When construction begins we stand in the gap for you handling all the challenges that arise while protecting you, your design and your budget.

By now you have a good idea of how STUDIO 818’s Design + Build Management framework combined with our our real estate investment experience can best serve you with the interior design and renovation of your home. 

Let’s take the next step. Schedule a time to meet and discuss your project.


It’s simple to get started. Click the button below to schedule an appointment for your free Discovery Consultation and let’s review your project together.

Still have some questions about working with STUDIO 818 on your interior design project?

Visit out FAQ page to dig in deeper