Full Home Renovations In NYC 101: What to Know & Where to Start

Considering a whole home renovation in NYC? Gallery is here to help. Read our latest blog and educate yourself on the intricacies of renovating your full home in New York City.

December 1, 2023


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Full Home Renovations In NYC 101: What to Know & Where to Start

Breaking down every inch of full home renovations in New York City, from process and challenges to costs and finding an appropriate contractor.


Imagine the excitement of walking through a version of your home that perfectly aligns with your architectural vision and interior design fantasies. From the intimate corners that provide refuge after a long day to the heart of your abode where the right meal can still bring the full family together, each detail paints a chapter of your ideal narrative. In reality, this dream home scenario isn’t that far away. 

Full home renovations are the gateway to this level of realized comfort, offering homeowners a symphony of living that reflects their personality and passions, without being limited by the constraints common in smaller, less comprehensive renovations. In this guide to full home renovations in NYC, we’ll cover everything from the importance of setting renovation goals and realistic budgets to common mistakes that can be avoided and the benefits of collaborating with a full-service design-build firm like Gallery. 

[#Goals]Determining Your Renovation Goals[#Goals]

Before diving into a lofty full home renovation, take a step back and critically assess your current living space. Begin by envisioning your ideal home—a canvas where aesthetics and functionality intertwine seamlessly, reflecting your unique taste and lifestyle. Imagine the spaces where you spend the most time, and consider how you could enhance them to better suit your needs and preferences.

Start by conducting a thorough evaluation of your home, room by room. Take note of areas that feel cramped, outdated, or simply don't align with your vision of an ideal living space. Whether you’re aiming for a spacious kitchen that caters to your culinary creativity or an inviting living room for regular gatherings, pinpoint the elements that need a transformation most. Consider aspects like natural light, storage solutions, room flow, and overall ambiance. Pay attention to both major structural elements and minor details that contribute to the overall aesthetic.

As you assess your renovation goals, prioritize based on urgency, budget, and potential impact. Identify essential upgrades that can significantly enhance your daily life while also addressing any safety concerns. Allocate your budget wisely, focusing on projects that will provide the most value and create substantial benefit in your living experience. 

Custom entertainment center in living from from full renovation at 801 West End Ave. View full renovation before and after.

[#Budget]Setting a Realistic Budget[#Budget]

Let's dive into a crucial aspect of planning a full home renovation, setting a budget. Renovating your home is an investment that demands a clear understanding of the associated costs. Let's break down the typical expenses involved in a renovation to help you navigate this essential aspect of your renovation journey.

Labor Costs

Labor costs are a significant component in the bottom line of your full home renovation. This includes skilled professionals like carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, who are instrumental in bringing your vision to life. When renovating via the conventional design-bid-build route, vetting various contractors and finding favorable pricing is the responsibility of the homeowner. However, many find the full-service approach a design-build firm offers to be much more streamlined of a process, offering all parties required for your home renovation under one roof. For more information on the two routes, read Design-Build Vs Design-Bid-Build: What’s The Difference?

Material Costs

Material costs encompass everything from flooring and cabinetry to fixtures and paint. It's essential to research and select materials that align with your design vision and financial plan. Keep in mind, material quality offers the biggest room for variability when pricing a full home renovation, so if cost is a factor, make strategic choices regarding materials, focusing on durability and cost-effectiveness. For a range of materials and their associated costs, read our in-depth guide on NYC Apartment Renovation Costs: Costs Per Square Foot

Permit Expenses

Don't overlook permit expenses—necessary paperwork required by NYC authorities to ensure your renovations comply with building codes. When managing the project yourself, you’ll need to consider these costs and potential permit delays when drafting your budget. When working with a design-build firm, these expenses are all factored into the total cost of your project, and every piece of red tape is handled by your project liaison. 

Unforeseen Costs & Overages 

Even with careful planning, unexpected expenses may arise. That’s why we always recommend setting aside a contingency fund of around 10% of your total budget is crucial. This fund acts as a safety net to cover unforeseen costs or necessary adjustments to the initial plan. 

Living room from our full home renovation at 130 E 18th. View full renovation before and after.

[#Rooms]Planning Full Home Renovations Room-By-Room[#Rooms]

Embarking on a full home renovation in NYC is a journey that demands strategic planning and a keen eye for design. Let's delve into the specifics of tackling full home renovations room-by-room, shedding light on the essential considerations and trends that add-up to transform your living spaces into a cohesive, stylish sanctuary.

Kitchen Renovations

The heart of any home, the kitchen, deserves special attention. Trends in NYC kitchens often lean towards a blend of functionality and modern aesthetics. Consider sleek, handleless cabinets for a minimalist look, and embrace smart storage solutions to optimize space in compact NYC apartments. For plumbing, integrating high-quality fixtures and considering energy-efficient options is key. For more kitchen design inspiration, view our full portfolio of kitchen renovations in NYC.

Bathroom Makeovers

NYC bathrooms often benefit from a clean, contemporary design. Opt for neutral tones, large mirrors to enhance space perception, and luxurious touches like rainfall showers. Practicality is crucial, so ensure ample storage options, and if space permits, a separate bathtub and shower can add a touch of luxury. If you’re hoping to lean into a more eccentric design scheme, consider doing so in a powder room, where splashes of personality are more common. For more bathroom design inspiration, view our portfolio of bathroom renovations in NYC.

Common Areas and Bedrooms

Choose durable, stylish flooring options like hardwood or engineered wood throughout common areas and bedrooms. For lighting, embrace natural light where possible and complement with well-placed artificial lighting fixtures. Aesthetically, consider accent walls or textures to create focal points and infuse personality.

Renovating Specific Spaces

For home offices, prioritize ergonomic furniture, added storage, and excellent lighting. Secondary guest bedrooms can double as functional spaces like gyms, entertainment rooms, or additional living areas with proper planning and creative decorating. Outdoor patios in NYC, like the one we renovated as part of an apartment combination in Greenwich Village, often benefit from space-saving furniture and built-ins for greenery to create an outdoor oasis.

The Power of Full Home Renovations

A holistic approach to renovating the entire home, whether it's a townhome, condo, loft, or pre-war apartment, ensures a cohesive living space. Piecemealing renovations can disrupt the flow and aesthetic harmony of the home. Additionally, considering NYC specifics like space constraints and architectural nuances, a comprehensive renovation approach provides a more effective way to optimize space, enhance functionality, and achieve a harmonious design throughout your residence.

Kitchen from full interior renovation of Brooklyn condo. Full view renovation before and after.

[#permits]Navigating Legalities and Permits[#permits]

While a full home renovation in NYC is mainly focused on aesthetics and functionality, every successful renovation goes above and beyond to align with local building codes and regulations, ensuring a safe and compliant living space.

Understanding Local Building Codes

NYC has specific building codes and regulations that govern construction and renovations. These codes cover a wide range of aspects, from structural integrity to fire safety and electrical standards. Before diving into your full home renovation, familiarize yourself with these codes to confirm your renovation plans align with legal requirements. If you’re unsure how to proceed, contact a full-service design-build firm who’s familiar with all building codes and regulations, and can leverage their knowledge and experience to ensure your renovation is able to proceed as planned. 

Permits for Renovations

Renovations, especially in crucial areas like kitchens that involve cabinetry, plumbing, and electrical work, typically require permits from the NYC Department of Buildings. This guarantees renovations are compliant with safety standards and won’t run into any unforeseen work stoppages after work begins. Full-service design-build firms, like ours, often take the lead in securing these permits on behalf of clients, ensuring a smooth and compliant renovation process.

Prioritizing Safety Standards

Adhering to safety standards and regulations during the renovation process is non-negotiable. Safety should always be at the forefront of any project. Not only does this ensure the well-being of the occupants during and after the renovation, but it also safeguards your investment and minimizes potential legal complications.

Navigating legalities and securing permits is a crucial step in any renovation project. With the assistance of a full-service design-build firm, you can navigate these complexities efficiently while ensuring your project complies with all safety standards and regulations, providing you with peace of mind throughout the renovation journey. For further consideration, read What To Know About Renovation Approvals And Permitting In NYC.

Dining room from full condo renovation at 360 E 88th. View full renovation before and after.

[#Living]Living Through the Renovation Process[#Living]

Living through a renovation in NYC can be both exciting and challenging, especially when it involves a full home makeover. Here are some valuable tips to help you navigate this temporary disruption while maintaining your comfort and sanity during the renovation process.

Plan Ahead For Temporary Housing 

When embarking on a full home renovation, meticulous planning is essential, especially when arranging temporary housing. Understanding that residing in the midst of a comprehensive renovation may not be feasible due to noise, dust, and potential safety concerns, we highly recommend proactively seeking alternative living accommodations. Planning ahead involves researching short-term rentals, extended stay hotels, or staying with family or friends nearby. By securing a comfortable and convenient temporary living arrangement, you’re removing unnecessary stress from an already insecure situation, eventually settling into a smooth transition during the renovation process, allowing contractors and workers to execute their tasks without disrupting daily life. 

Maintain Communication

Effective communication is vital to ensuring the project stays on track. Regular check-ins with your contractors or design-build firm allow for real-time updates, addressing concerns promptly. Express your needs, expectations, and any changes in plans clearly to avoid misunderstandings.

Flexibility is Key

Understand that even with meticulous planning, unforeseen challenges may arise during the renovation. Embrace flexibility and be open to adjustments in the project timeline or design elements. Trust your design-build team to navigate these challenges efficiently.

Kitchen from Hell's Kitchen loft renovation at 419 W. 55th. View full renovation before and after.

[#Mistakes]Common Mistakes to Avoid When Planning A Full Home Renovation In NYC[#Mistakes]

When planning a comprehensive full home renovation in New York City, avoiding common mistakes is as crucial as making the right design choices. In this section, we shed light on some frequent errors that homeowners should steer clear of when planning their full home renovation.

Sacrificing Quality for Cost

One of the most significant mistakes is compromising on the quality of materials and workmanship to cut costs. While skimping on finer materials may seem prudent in the short term, subpar materials can lead to hefty maintenance and replacement costs in the long run. Investing in high-quality materials ensures durability, longevity, and ultimately, cost savings down the line. A strong design-build firm will offer options at various price points, allowing you to weigh the pros and cons from an informed POV.

Overlooking Small Details

Small oversights can escalate into major inconveniences. For instance, improper sealing in bathrooms or kitchens can lead to water damage and mold, necessitating extensive and expensive repairs. Thoroughly addressing every detail, no matter how minor, is key to a successful renovation. By partnering with a thoughtful design-build firm, these details should all be addressed proactively, allowing you to make any pivots ahead of time. 

Neglecting Functionality for Aesthetics

While aesthetic enhancements are important, they should never compromise the functionality of the space. A stunning design is incomplete if it doesn't align with your lifestyle and daily needs. Striking the right balance between aesthetics and functionality is paramount, so consider all your options carefully when planning your interior design. 

Unrealistic Budgeting

Setting an unrealistic budget can lead to disappointment and compromises during the renovation process. It's essential to research and estimate costs accurately, considering potential contingencies, permits, and unexpected expenses. 

Ignoring Professional Advice

Homeowners often underestimate the expertise of professionals. Before you’ve completely committed to certain must-have improvements as part of your full home renovation, consult with an experienced design-build firm to ensure what you’re trying to accomplish makes most sense. By getting a consultation prior to committal, you’re confirming there are no limitations you didn’t account for, and also factoring in what could be a better route altogether. 

Neglecting Permits and Regulations

Overlooking required permits and local regulations can bring a renovation to a halt and lead to fines. It's crucial to familiarize yourself with the necessary permits and comply with local building codes from the outset, or work with a professional who has your back on all these key formalities that can easily be forgotten amidst a full home renovation in NYC.

Stairwell from Manhattan townhouse renovation at 529 West 87th. View full renovation before and after.

[#Choosing]Choosing the Right Professionals[#Choosing]

Navigating a full home renovation involves not just envisioning your dream space but also finding the right professionals to bring that vision to life. Choosing the right renovation partner is a crucial step, and here are some invaluable tips to guide you through this process.

Research and Reviews

Begin by researching local contractors and reading online reviews. Platforms like Yelp, Google Reviews, or specialized home renovation websites can offer insights into the experiences of previous clients. Look for consistent positive feedback regarding project quality, timelines, and communication. For information on Gallery’s glowing rapport with our clients, read the Testimonials section of our website. 

Portfolio Assessment

A contractor's portfolio is a window into their expertise and style. Review their previous projects to ensure their design aesthetic aligns with your vision for your home. Pay attention to the diversity of projects and their ability to handle varying scales and complexities. To get an idea of what Gallery can provide, view our full portfolio of NYC renovations

Licensed and Insured

Verify the contractors you're considering are licensed and insured. Licensing ensures they meet industry standards, while insurance protects you from liability in case of accidents or damages during the project. When renovating your home with Gallery, rest assured you’re in good hands. We are fully licensed with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and the New York City Department of Buildings. We also carry lead-safe and Occupational Safety and Health Administration certifications, as well as all other necessary certifications. Finally, we carry insurance that’s significantly higher than the required limits ($5 million in general liability, $1 million in workers’ compensation, and $3 million in auto).

Cohesive Design-Build Approach

Consider the advantages of a design-build firm, like ours, that offers a cohesive design-build approach. With a unified team managing both the design and construction phases, communication is streamlined, and the project flows seamlessly from concept to completion. For more information on this full-service approach, read Design-Build: The Best Method For Your NYC Apartment Renovation.

The Role of an Interior Designer and Architect

If you prefer to be more hands-on and manage multiple contractors, you might consider hiring an interior designer or architect. An interior designer can help refine your vision, select appropriate materials, and coordinate aesthetics. An architect can handle the technical and structural aspects of the project. With both approaches, the homeowner is required to coordinate directives to achieve the combined design vision, while also securing and managing additional contractors for the demo and construction portion of the full home renovation. 

Open Communication and Clear Expectations

Regardless of the approach, maintaining open communication is paramount. Clearly articulate your expectations, budget, and timeline to all professionals involved. Regular meetings and updates ensure everyone is on the same page, promoting a collaborative and efficient project.

Choosing the right professionals sets the foundation for a successful renovation journey. Whether you opt for a design-build firm like ours or choose to collaborate with various specialists, the ultimate goal is to create a home that resonates with your unique vision and lifestyle.


In conclusion, embarking on full home renovations is a significant endeavor, made considerably more manageable and successful with experienced and competent assistance. Design-build firms, in particular, offer an integrated approach, seamlessly blending design and construction expertise. Their guidance ensures adherence to legalities, streamlined processes, and a harmonious, well-executed project. Trusting professionals to navigate the complexities of renovation not only eases the burden but also guarantees a home that mirrors your unique vision and lifestyle. With the right team, your dream home becomes a tangible reality, a testament to skilled craftsmanship and creative collaboration.

Considering a full home renovation in New York City? View our portfolio of NYC apartment renovation before and afters, learn more about Gallery, or contact us today.

We are an award-winning design-build firm in New York City with a full-service approach to renovations in Manhattan and Brooklyn that includes everything from interior design and architecture services to filing permits and construction management. We’re experts in pre-war apartment renovations, apartment combinations, room creations, full gut renovations and all that falls in between. Let us bring your dream home to life.

Marketing Director

Ben Bowdonhttps://www.gallerykbny.com/authors/ben-b

Ben Bowdon is the Marketing Director of Gallery KBNY, a full service design-build firm specializing in the design and interior renovation of apartments, townhomes, and lofts in NYC. For over a decade, Ben has navigated the ever-changing landscape of online marketing, delivering digital strategy solutions for companies of all sizes, until finding a permanent home with Gallery. As lead brand champion and curator, the proud Western Michigan Bronco strives to deliver thoughtful, industry-leading expertise to Gallery’s esteemed clientele via the most seamless omnichannel experience possible.




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