Gut-rehab & expansion

Full Service Design + Build Management

A gut-rehab is a major restoration project performed on residential and commercial properties. It’s a major undertaking but it brings a host of big benefits making it comparable to building a new home from scratch in the right situation. In South Florida a gut-rehab will typically apply to homes constructed prior to 1979. This is because typically homes built prior to 1979 have mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems that are far from meeting the operational function and safety needed to meet current building codes.

In South Florida you can figure your gut-rehab will generally involve:

  • Ripping out plaster walls back to the block exterior walls
  • Removing all wood interior framing in the structure and replacing with metal studs based on the newly designed floor plan
  • Expanding the building footprint and improving both form and function with new additions
  • Repairing or replacing roof trusses if necessary and installing hurricane strapping to meet current building codes
  • Creating new masonry openings that compliment the newly designed floor pan in the exterior walls for new impact windows and doors
  • Cutting the slab to remove all cast iron sewer lines to install all new PVC sewer lines and 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 will obviously require a greater investment than a cosmetic renovation. However the added investment is well worth it the structure is stripped to the bare bones and you’re starting with pretty much a blank slate. 

Here’s the type of transformation 
you can expect with a gut-rehab & expansion

When properly designed and constructed a gut-rehab will essentially provide all the same benefits of a new-build in function, flow, safety, reliability and lower maintenance costs. This is especially true in South Florida where the bulk of structures are built using concrete block on slab.

How our gut-rehab & expansion process works

Studio 818’s full-service Design + Build Management for gut-rehab and expansion projects handles all the headaches from concept to completion with a focus on function and design. ‘Full Service’ means we handle the hundreds of moving parts required to create your dream design and bring it into reality. 

Our process is designer-led which is unique in the gut-rehab & expansion arena. In conventional home-building and renovation processes design and construction operate on two separate planes. This structure often leads to miscommunication, unnecessary change orders, delays and even adversarial relationships.

One of the big reasons you hear so many horror stories about renovation and new home construction projects is because the homeowner had the wrong person leading the project. Most of the time these nightmares went off the rails right at the very beginning with the wrong person taking the lead on the project. (A gut-rehab & expansion project has a lot in common with building a custom home. You can read more on the mistakes in leadership commonly make when building a custom home here.)


When an owner needs to build a new structure or complete major renovation they need a designer and contractor to handle its’ construction.

Typically the owner starts interviews and then hires an architect and a contractor. It’s at this point the owner has set themselves up for disappointment. 

Without realizing it the owner has unwittingly placed his or her project on an inevitable track to costly change orders, delays and ultimately a subpar product at completion.

The reason: the designer and contractor both have an array of consultants and subcontractors. With no clear single point of leadership and responsibility for the project a wall grows between the two sides each charged with fulfilling their own role.

This wall over the last half-century has grown impenetrable. It is legal, cultural and adversarial.

There is real need for communication and strategic decision making across the wall. But the need for communication has devolved into a cumbersome legalistic attempt to avoid liability.

When inevitable conflict evolves between the two sides the owner becomes the arbiter in an arena where he or she has little or no knowledge.

The solution to this dilemma is to put in place a project leader that can merge the interests, knowledge and talents for both design and construction into one singularly-focused cohesive team.

Our experience developing, marketing and selling over forty of our own designer spec homes and interacting with dozens of contractors, architects and engineers has given us a practical insight. We’ve learned the most efficient way to help you avoid avoid many of the pitfalls experienced by homeowners in gut-rehab & expansion projects and to achieve a stunning integrated design is for us to take the lead on the design and build process from the start. That means the Studio 818 team begins working with you from your first serious intention to take on your renovation or new-build project. 

With Studio 818’s designer-led process the design team takes the lead from pre-planning, into design development, through construction — all the way to turn-key completion. Before the first hammer swings every detail is pre-planned to control project costs and increase timeline efficiency.

During design development your lifestyle and aesthetic is integrated with critical architectural and interior details to create the master-plan for your project. This is key to creating a home that is perfect for you in function and form. When construction begins we stand in the gap for you handling all the challenges that arise while protecting you, your design and your budget.

Our Six-Phase Full-Service
Design + Build Management Process

Through our Six-Phase Full-Service Design + Build Management Process and partnership with select architects Studio 818 provides all you need to make your design dreams a reality; from concept to completed construction.


  • Phase 2: CONCEPTUAL


  • Phase 4: TECHNICAL



Studio 818 is not a general contractor and that is by design. By not being the general contractor and the master designer we eliminate conflicts of interest. Through our extensive real estate investment and development experience we are able to provide you unbiased guidance and professional construction administration. 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.

Are we the perfect fit for you?

Finding the right team to entrust with the leadership of your gut-rehab & expansion project in South Florida is critical. The design, permitting and construction for a gut-rehab & expansion will generally take anywhere between 6 to 12+ months so making the wrong choice can mean your custom home project feels more like a VERY long bad date than what’s supposed to be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of your life. 

Our process is different and it’s not right for everyone. 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’re willing to make the upfront investment in time and money to minimize change orders & accelerate timelines by designing in detail before the first hammer swings.
  • You’d like the security of 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 okay letting professionals handle all the moving parts for you.
  • You want to get the maximum benefit from every dollar you invest in building or improving your home.
  • You’d like to ensure your home valuation after completion is greater than what you invested.

Although not exclusive, an optimal return on investment can be expected from Studio 818’s Design + Build Management processes with a home valuation of $1-million+. Our systems work most efficiently with gut-rehab & expansion budgets of $400k+ for finished building only; exclusive of landscaping, furniture, and soft costs (design, plans and permits.). Benefits and return on investment increase with property valuation and budget size.

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.

What’s the investment for our services?

The investment for Studio 818’s full-service Design + Build Management on a gut-rehab & expansion project generally ranges from 12% to 20% 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 project management throughout construction to completion

Similar to construction costs, 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.

Take the First Step

Finding the right team to lead your gut-rehab & expansion project can be overwhelming. We believe the best way to make sure we’re the right match and your project ends up a top-notch success is to learn about each other right out of the gate.

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 phone meeting to review your project in more detail.