Phone Number: 786-217-6733

Dream Home Foundations

Are you looking to buy a fixer-upper to transform into your custom-designed dream home? Studio 818’s ‘Dream Home Foundation’ is what you need to avoid the painful and costly pitfalls of this process.

In South Florida the availability of fixer-uppers is no challenge. We have plenty of outdated homes and properties with funky floor plans. The problem is that too many people end up buying the wrong fixer-upper as the foundation for their custom-designed dream home. And in buying the wrong foundation they unwittingly turn what was supposed to be a dream into a nightmare — literally.

Buying the wrong structure will always mean you either A) massively blow your budget or B) seriously compromise your design ending up with a ‘half-way’ house you resent until the day you move out. 


We created the Dream Home Foundation program because far too many people come to us to design their dream home AFTER buying the wrong property! We’ve had to turn them away because they can’t achieve their goals within their budget using the property that they bought. They trusted a real estate agent to find them the right house. The problem is even the most experienced and well-intentioned Realtors are not equipped to help you identify these hidden budget killers before you buy.  

The most important question when analyzing a fixer-upper is; can you overcome the challenges a property has within your budget? If your budget and goals are out of alignment, we let you know that before we even begin working together.

Our experience is what equips us to provide this much needed service that no other South Florida interior architecture or interior design studio is able to match. The Studio 818 team has over a decade of real estate investment experience acquiring, designing and developing dated properties into designer showpieces with our sister company Restore 818.  With our Dream Home Foundation all that expertise is applied to your project right from the start.

House Hunting in South Florida

If you’ve spent any time looking for a home in South Florida you know that there are slim pickings when it comes to truly modernized properties.  Turn-key designer homes are even harder to find. This is particularly true in the high demand neighborhoods East of I-95 where most homes were originally built in the 1950’s and 60’s.

In your house hunting you’ve probably noticed that most homes fall into one of three categories:

1)  Run-down with LOTS of deferred maintenance . . . in other words, un-livable in its’ current condition. These are usually, but not exclusively, foreclosures or short sales. 

2) “Granny houses” (AKA: Clean But Dated) These homes are are so dated that you feel like you stepped through the front door of your granny’s house. On the surface you have windows, kitchens and bathrooms pretty much as they were when the house was built. And when it comes to the critical systems that form the backbone of the home like the roof, electrical system, HVAC, plumbing and sewers things usually just as dated.

3) Homes misrepresented on the MLS as “upgraded” or “renovated.” There are two versions of these homes:

a. Properties cosmetically updated decades ago in a hodge-podge manner. These homes are so ugly they may as well be a granny house with the amount of renovation and redesign they’ll require.

b. Houses done by the typical house flipper. These properties are typically renovated using a ‘lipstick on a pig’ mindset. Corners get cut during renovations and the property still needs $100k or more to fix a bad design, MEP problems (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) or other structural problems covered over during renovations. 

 The good news is a property from any one of these categories have the potential to be a good foundation for your custom-designed dream home. That’s because South Florida structures typically have “good bones.” Most were built with concrete slabs with concrete block exterior walls. Some even have great architectural features hidden by years of neglect or haphazard additions.

With Studio 818’s Dream Home Foundation finding and prequalifying the right fixer-upper from this pool of ugly ducklings can be done with scientific precision.

The ‘Dream Homes Foundation’ Process

Step 1: Discover & Define

To ensure the Dream Home Foundation program is the right solution for you it’s critical that we begin by discovering and defining exactly what “dream home” means to you. This means first and foremost making sure your goals are in alignment with your budget. We do this by analyzing your timelines, general design goals, functional requirements, target neighborhoods and overall budget.

Once we confirm that your goals and budget match, we guide you through the process of clearly defining your style. This includes your hierarchy of “musts”, “shoulds” and “wants” for your dream home.  Only then are we armed with the knowledge we need to effectively begin screening for the right property.

Step 2: Find & Prequalify

Next we go on the hunt to find a home with “good bones.” Since the Dream Home Foundation is consulting based, we can provide this service even if you are already in a working relationship with a Realtor. And this is critical because even the most experienced and professional Realtor is not equipped to identify the true potential or hidden challenges of these fixer-uppers.

If you don’t yet have a commitment to a real estate agent, we can provide you the brokerage services directly using an experienced acquisition specialist on our team.

No matter who you are using a Realtor, the consulting we provide through the Dream Home Foundation program allows you to benefit from our extensive design and construction experience gained on our own designer spec home development projects. We are able to see the structural and expansion potential lying dormant in an ugly duckling. And we can see many of the hidden challenges that could blow your budget.  

The ultimate goal of this phase is to help you prequalify a fixer-upper that gives you the right foundation for your dream home. 

Step 3: Buy At The Right Price

Just like the right fixer-upper will have certain structural conditions that will make or break your budget, buying at the right price relative to your overall budget is critical to achieving your goals. We understand how required changes to the property will impact your overall budget. And we can advise how the total investment cost (home purchase, design and renovation) will impact the appraisal value after completion so you can approach your custom designed dream home with an investors’ mindset. 

Next — The Design Process

Once you have the right property secured, the Studio 818 team picks up with a comprehensive design service package for a total renovation or rebuild. That is the real heart of the matter where the design of your dream home becomes a reality.

We begin the five-phase design process developing a space plan for the home including additions, pool and any other adjacent structures or property improvements. Without a doubt this is the most critical factor in successfully designing your dream home.

Construction administration is another a key part of the design package when completing a total renovation or rebuild. With this service we oversee and consult with the General Contractor to ensure the construction documents are followed in order to accurately bring your home is built as designed. 

You can learn more about Total Renovation/Remodel package under “Remodels and Renovations” on the Studio 818 services page. 

If you’re interested in the Dream Home Foundation, give us a call at 786.217.6733 or email us to schedule an initial phone meeting and see if the program is right for you.