Whole-House Renovation

What’s 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. The end result is you’ll have a better understanding of the renovation project you’re about to tackle and confidence in what the best process is 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 commonly used terms. You’ll often hear the terms, “interior design”, “home renovation” and “home remodel” used interchangeably to describe residential work. Interior design is an integral part of both renovations and remodels so let’s set that aside for now.

To remove uncertainty and 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. Hence your plan and measures to protect your investment need to be adjusted to match. Here e are going to start with the whole-house home renovation.

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

A ‘whole-house’ home renovation is focused primarily on interior design. Three key factors that will help you determine whether you’re looking at a home renovation vs. a remodel are:

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 is good as-is or with minor changes

3. Your house was built in 1980 or newer

Why 1980? Because 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 home remodel. 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.

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

♦ Replacement of existing windows & exterior doors with 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 interior design focused work to create your dream home, you’ll want to check out what a major Home Remodel entails.

The good news about home renovations in South Florida

The good news is the bulk of older residences in South Florida were constructed with concrete block walls on concrete slabs, just like newer homes. That means on a home built in 1980 or newer you can focus the bulk of your investment on the interior design, finishes and other aesthetic features.

The common pitfalls that come with a home renovation

As developers of more than 50 of our own designer spec homes we understand the challenges that come with the interior design and renovation of an existing structure. We’ve faced and overcome challenges with designing, gutting and rebuilding existing structures that the majority of people would see as hopeless.

We’ve also learned the hard way what can go wrong if you take the conventional approach to your interior design and whole-house renovation project. Annoying issues like:

⊗ An Architect or Interior Designer who is unable to advise you on a reasonable budget relative to the scope of work. (This means BIG and often shocking budget surprises when you’re ready to start construction)

⊗ Contractors who can mislead you with quotes based on lots of allowances and assumptions just to get you into contact. (Frankly, it’s not really their fault. Without full permit plans along with detailed interior and exterior design drawings contractors don’t have the details needed to provide you realistic numbers at the conceptual phase.)

⊗ A chaotic process and a “triad of miscommunication” that consumes your life with all the headaches, conflicts and mis-steps that come with a whole house interior design and renovation project. (Trying to complete a whole-house home renovation without an experienced leader managing all the moving parts you WILL become the center of what can become a very nasty finger-pointing triangle between the architect, designer and general contractor.)

But you don’t have to fall prey to those problems. With STUDIO 818 as your advocate we stand in the gap to help you avoid the design flaws, change orders and time-suck that come with the typical interior design focused home renovation.

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

We understand how unsettling a whole-house renovation can be

A whole-house home renovation is a big undertaking. You rightfully have concerns about how the project will turn out and the financial risks involved. There’s also the fact that designing, planning, constructing and furnishing an entire home can often take a year or more from pre-planning to move-in. That means having a good relationship with the right team you can trust to lead your project is important. 

From our real estate investment and development experience we understand all those concerns and considerations. That’s why our step-by-step Design + Build Management process lays the practical foundation for success and simultaneously builds the relational comfort needed to make the process as fun and stress-free as possible.

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 the alignment of your project scope with the investment it will realistically take to complete that scope of work. This is a key step in putting your interior design and home renovation 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 overall investment it meant we and our investors would lose money. A BIG no-no!

With your own home renovation project, if you fail to make this alignment at the very beginning of the process it will result in months of wasted time, financial stress and frustration as the project moves forward. I’m sure you’d agree these are not desirable outcomes.

The good news is the STUDIO 818 team with our Design + Build Management framework mitigate those headaches right from the start. Here’s how we lay the right foundation and at the same time incrementally build that relational trust and comfort level you want with your team.

Your path to a pain-free home renovation project

Let’s meet & discuss your project

Regardless of project scope the first step with a new 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 project scope with the overall investment for your whole-house renovation.


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.



Programing & Conceptual Design


Once we have refined your project scope and targeted overall investment with the Project Assessment process we’re ready to move into pre-planning. This 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:


– Generate a 3D model of your existing spaces
– 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.



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 protecting you throughout the build process with our Construction Administration:


– Document all communications with contractors via your client portal and project management dashboard
– 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



STUDIO 818 is not the General Contractor on our client projects, and that is by design. By not being both the designer and general contractor we eliminate the concern many owners have about increases the construction budget being made to benefit the contractor. This also allows the GC to focus on the minutia of day-to-day site activities while we maintain a clear perspective on the project design, scope and goals.  

Thanks to our 20+ years of real estate investment and development experience the STUDIO 818 team provides you professional unbiased guidance with our 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 real estate development project. Under our watchful eye you can have confidence that you’re getting the best quality work executed the most efficient way.

An advocate who guides & protects you

A whole-house renovation is a big investment. You deserve an advocate who will guide and protect you through what is a complex and at times chaotic process. A whole-house renovation project is like designing and building a plane while flying it and being shot at. 

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 your move-in date. 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.

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.

Finding the right team to entrust with your interior design focused whole house renovation in South Florida is critical. Design, permitting and construction can take anywhere between six to twelve months and sometimes longer. 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 Design + Build Management framework is different and it’s not right for everyone.

Consider your whole-house home renovation analogous to commissioning a custom work of art. Since your home is being designed and built to reflect your personality and enhance your lifestyle it is unique and will take commitment to do it correctly.

To help you decide for yourself here are some reasons clients have chosen to work with STUDIO 818. 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 that the return on investment to design and plan in detail before the first hammer swings is the mitigation of change orders & acceleration of construction timelines.

♦ You want the confidence 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.

STUDIO 818’s Design + Build Management framework works best with interior design & home renovation projects that are “whole-house.” In most cases working with us to design, plan and manage the renovation of your kitchen will not be cost-effective for you. 

When you are looking at the interior design & home renovation of an entire home you should consider the following:  

♦ With current supply chains, labor and material costs you can figure on investing in the range of $150/Sf. to $250/Sf. for an interior design focused home renovation . This is very broad and rough “ALL-IN” cost per/Sf. to use as an initial guideline. Where your project falls in this range is highly dependent on the level of depending on finishes, fixtures and equipment.

♦ “ALL-IN” means that cost per square foot range includes general allocations for design, planning & engineering, construction, management, fixtures, finishes & equipment. The only things that investment range does not include is the land, furniture or furnishings.

♦ There is a cost-efficiency that comes into play on projects with smaller square footages. A property may have less square footage but often has a similar number of design areas as a larger home, so you should figure on a minimum base of $400k for your targeted investment.

♦ For the best return on investment for our advocacy and services, your home should end up with a valuation of $1-mil or higher after the project is completed. (Something we let you know in the Project Assessment.)

This general guidance provides 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, 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 construction budget will equate to 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 the scope and overall project investment increase the investment for our services decreases as a relative percentage of the construction costs.

The more complex the scope of work the greater your return on investment for our services – in efficiency, cost savings, timelines . . . and. your peace of mind.

The budget paradox

On the flip side if the targeted investment for a project is unrealistic or excessively constricted that doesn’t eliminate steps in our Design + Build Management process. Neither does it reduce the work required to deliver stellar design results. In fact it takes proportionally MORE time to create stunning results with a tight budget than it does with a targeted investment more appropriately aligned with the scope of work.

That’s because a project with a tight budget for construction and materials creates limitations that must be worked 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 targeted investment matched to the scope of work. 

With this in mind we know it won’t make good financial sense for clients 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 design and plan something that in the end far exceeds the investment you wanted to make. That is why we provide this very preliminary budget guidance.

To get a clearer picture on what your project will entail the first step is to schedule your free Discovery Call so we can review your project together.

Our framework covers much more than interior design, finishes and other ‘pretty stuff.’ Much of the value Studio 818 provides you comes from the alignment of scope to targeted investment, the master-planning throughout, and owner’s representation during the construction phases.  

Many of STUDIO 818’s full-service Design + Build Management services are 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. Instead the investment for our services is based on the number of design areas a project entails and the complexity of the design.

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 (Pre-planning)

♦ Master planning 

♦ Finish material specifications

♦ Orchestration and oversight of Architectural & engineering plans required for permitting

♦ Detailed technical drawings & specifications (for contractors)

♦ Management of the contractor bidding process

♦ Procurement & order management for critical finish materials

♦ Construction Administration and owners’ representation throughout the entire construction process right up to your move-in. We can optionally handle fully furnishing and decorating your home for a fully turn-key experience. 

♦ STUDIO 818 standing in the gap as the Owner’s Project Manger protecting you from concept, through construction, right up to your move-in

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


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.