When people ask how long a renovation project takes, they tend to be thinking about the construction itself—from the moment demolition begins to when they can move in—but that’s only part of the what goes into a successful project.

Whether you’re buying an apartment that needs a complete renovation before you move in, or you’d like to gut renovate your current home, it is important have a good understanding of the process and a realistic sense of timing.

To get a better understanding of what to expect, we have provided the guide below to give you a glimpse into each phase of a renovation project.


Owner/Operator, Element Design Group

“Your first step is to decide how to structure your project, and hire the team.”


There are two ways to approach any renovation: Build-Only or Design/Build

The first and simplest is ‘Build Only,’ in which you hire a general contractor to handle your project without drawings. “This works for simple, straightforward projects with very little design work,” Dyer says. However, in NYC—where few things are ever simple—you will likely need permits for your renovation from the Department of Buildings, and your building management may still require you to hire an architect.

The second option is ‘Design/Build,’ in which you hire a design and construction team who work together to deliver your project.  Dyer recommends this approach for budget-conscious homeowners doing smaller gut renovations.

Virtually all city apartments, whether in brownstones, pre-war co-ops, or new condos have space limitations or unusual shapes. The locations of building wiring, plumbing, structural elements, and other fixed features often pose design challenges. Creative and sophisticated thinking, combined with in-depth knowledge of city codes and building regulations, are essential to solving these challenges and designing to the maximum potential of your space.

For two Element Design clients, a pair of young professionals who wanted to gut renovate and combine two individual apartments on the Upper West Side, a Design/Build approach was the right fit.

After their real estate agent found two neighboring apartments for sale in the same building, Element assembled a renovation team consisting of LEED-accredited architect, Agustin Ayuso and Dyer as the project manager. As the architect, Ayuso’s role was to consider the couple’s vision for their apartment and define the project’s parameters in terms of lifestyle and functionality. And as project manager, Dyer was responsible for managing the renovation’s cost, schedule and overseeing the construction.


Appliances: Miele

Plumbing Fixtures: Hansgrohe

Tile: Walker Zanger

“Tip: If you don’t want to stay on site, opt for Design/Build”


Even if you’ve gone through a renovation before, it’s still beneficial to have a dedicated design team committed to your project. Without this, Dyer says, you won’t be able to leave the project site: “Take a bathroom renovation for example. Once you select your fixtures, you need to determine precise heights and locations for all the pieces. This requires coordination between the plumber and the general contractor. In order for fixtures to align properly with the tiles, these details need to be thought about in advance.”

There are many other decisions that have to be made daily on a renovation project. “An architect’s job is to think through all of the possible design questions in advance and document the decisions so that you get the best result and the construction process won’t be slowed down by indecision. In the case of a major home renovation, this is money well spent.”

Architects add a sense of formality to the process, which ultimately reduces stress and keeps the project flowing. As with any collaborative effort, it’s beneficial to have a design and construction team that is used to working together.

With its fresh, integrated and full-service approach to home remodeling, Element Design Group projects are completed more efficiently and with better results. Recognizing that every project is unique, the firm tailors its design process to meet the specific requirements of each client.

To get started with your home renovation project, visit elementdesignnyc.com/contact or call 212-537-6173.