NYC Design Build

Our comprehensive Design Build approach and expertise enable us to work with you almost seamlessly to create and build a project from concept through completion. We analyze your existing environment – apartment, co-op or condo – to establish the possibilities of both the design aesthetic and functional aspects of your residential renovation or remodel.  It allows us to deliver a project that reflects your lifestyle philosophy.

Pre-Construction Budget Development and Planning

Pre-Construction Budget Development and Planning involves the creation of a detailed budget and plan for our Design Build project before it begins. This process is essential to ensure that construction will be completed on time and within budget.

  • Total Project Cost Development
    • Labor
    • Materials for Final Design
  • Asbestos Testing and Remediation
  • Engineering Services to finalize
    • Structural Changes
    • Central AC Engineered Plans
    • Acoustical Reporting

Project Analysis and Design Development

Project Analysis and Design Development covers the early stages of the Design Build project. Our goal is to provide a clear understanding of the renovation scope and objectives, identify potential issues and opportunities, and create a detailed design and renovation plan that will guide us every step of the way.

  • Design Concept & Planning
  • Lighting Design & Planning
  • Furniture/ Space Planning
  • Site Assessments
  • Site Surveys
  • Construction Drawings & Plans
  • Complete specifications for Final Material Selections

Architectural Drawings

We review building code and zoning regulations, prepare architectural drawings, plans, and necessary documents, and coordinate the submission and approval process with the DOB.

Expedited Building Management Board Approvals & DOB Filings

We provide comprehensive management and coordination of the Building Management and Board Approval process for projects, ensuring that all necessary approvals are obtained from the building’s management and board as well as preparation and submission of documents for New York City Department of Buildings (DOB). This includes review of building regulations, alteration plan submittals and approvals required by the Buildings (Townhome, Condo or Co-op), as well as building code and zoning regulations, and documents. Some examples of filings include:

  • Construction
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Special Inspections
  • Expediting
  • Landmark Preservation Commission


Design Build Services

A one-stop solution for your NYC renovation. Our full-service approach integrates both design and construction into a single contract, managed by a single entity, Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors. We handle everything from start to finish, including concept design, permitting, construction and final inspection.

  • Construction – Serving as General Contractor including Project Management in the Design Build Model
    • Custom Millwork
    • Kitchen and Bath Cabinetry
    • Custom Built Ins
      • Entertainment Units
      • Wall to wall built-ins to cover radiator, AC and combined PTAC units and storage
  • Custom Furniture Design & Production

Project Management

Our comprehensive Design Build construction project management approach provides clients with a seamless and stress-free experience. We manage every aspect of the process to deliver a final project that reflects our clients lifestyle tastes and preferences. Project management includes, but is not limited to:

  • Construction Plan Review and Management
  • Construction Planning/Timelines
  • Interior Design Project Management

Paula works closely with you to understand your vision, and provides expert guidance on what to expect during the Design Build process, including design, materials, budgeting, and project management. We pride ourselves on delivering an almost seamless process and we are committed to ensuring that your apartment, condo, or co-op renovation is a success.

  • Site Analysis
  • Preliminary/Concept Architectural Drawings
  • Construction Drawings
  • Complete Specifications for Material Finishes
  • Material Procurement and Delivery
  • Smart Home Systems

Interior Design encompasses more than aesthetics; a well-crafted design plan includes functional elegance in every element. Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors aims for the nearly flawless execution of your lifestyle philosophy.

  • Material Finish Selections
  • Material Procurement and Delivery
  • Window Treatments
  • Furniture Selections and Procurement based on Furniture Plans

How Do I Get Started

If you’re planning a renovation for your Manhattan apartment, condo, co-op, and want to work with Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors, please visit our contact page and provide your residence type, Street Easy link (if available), address, budget expectation and a description of your project.

You may find it helpful to browse our Design Build project portfolio – complete with before & after renovation images and videos – for inspiration.
Get Started


What is the Design Build Approach for residential construction projects in NYC?

The Right Design Build Partner Makes Your NYC Gut Renovation Easier.

Gutting a property and creating a luxury apartment in NYC is no small task. In fact, it is a daunting process. There are three or more separate disciplines and agencies that have to be aligned and agree to reach the approvals necessary before any project can proceed or start construction.

You have the vertical reality of living in NYC and apartment legal ownership–is it a Condo, Co-op, or townhouse? Multifamily Dwelling? If you don’t know how to navigate the complicated process and even if you do have experience in renovating your home, Manhattan is another world of regulations, codes, and red tape.

The three parts of knowing what has to be done architecturally, designing what the desired space should look like and how it should function, and then getting this approved by building legal entities and managers as well as approved to start construction really is an integrated, not separate, process by different firms. If they are not, then timelines, and budgets go out the window.

Fortunately, there is an alternative and possibly better solution with a Design-Build Firm. You can avoid these hassles and make your NYC apartment renovation project run smoothly by choosing the right design-build partner to work with.

How do I evaluate and choose a reputable Design Build Company in NYC?

Need help planning and managing your NYC apartment renovation project? Here are just a few of the things to evaluate to choose a reputable Design Build Company in NYC.

  • We Can Help You Understand Your Vision
  • We’ll Plan the Project with You
  • We’ll Work with You to Create a Realistic Budget
  • Necessary Building Permits or Building Limitations
  • Ordering Materials Needed for the Job
  • We’ll Organize the Workflow and Manage Contractors and suppliers

How does the Design Build approach enhance the residential project process?

Why NYC Apartment Renovation Projects Are Different When You Work With A Design Build Company: You’ll Get Exactly What You Want from Your Renovated Apartment

There is a lot that can happen between your initial design concept and finished apartment renovation project. Unfortunately, for a lot of homeowners that means cutting corners, changing plans, and making unintended sacrifices. You want to have a perfect space that you love living in after your NYC apartment renovation project is completed. With the right design build provider, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

There is a Critical Design and Planning Element to Creating NYC Luxury Apartments:

One thing about renovations that homeowners tend to overlook is the way small ongoing decisions can have unintended or unforeseen consequences. Make one small switch and you could end up with dozens of subsequent changes. That could be because blueprints have to be amended, technical requirements (like electricity or plumbing) don’t conform to new plans, or simple design aesthetics need to be altered. The point here, is that it’s much better to have a cohesive plan strategy mapped out from the first step to the last. Of course, that’s exactly how an experienced design build renovation team is going to work.

Your NYC Apartment Renovation Will be Finished Faster:

Even renovation jobs that seem simple from the outside will have hundreds of details and moving parts. Not only do you have to order permits and schedule work in the right order, but you have to be sure that you have the right materials and contractors in place exactly when they are needed. In truth, this aspect of renovating an apartment can be overwhelming for a lot of individuals and even contractors. However, a design build partner is going to have the experience and planning tools to help keep the project on track with an integrated decision process.

What are the advantages of Design Build?

The first thing a design build partner will do is help you to create an overall plan. Or, if you aren’t renovating other parts of your home, to get to know the features of your house so they can ensure their work will fit in seamlessly.

There are three things that separate Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors from other design-build professionals in New York City: her unique sense of style, her unmatched eye for detail, and her long track record of finishing projects successfully. So, if you want the very best working on your kitchen renovation, contact her today to schedule an initial consultation.

What questions should I ask when interviewing a Design Build company?

When it comes to interviewing a Design Build company, there are crucial questions to ask. For example, It’s critical that you have someone who knows what they are doing, and who can get the permits, inspections and final close out of the job with DOB to get your completion letter issued for closure.

  • Can you provide an accurate and reliable figure from the start, along with a workable plan to go with it?
  • Will you be on my side while attending to all design choices, budgets, permits, and schedules?
  • Have you considered how long I am planning to stay in my residence?
  • Can you organize the workflow and manage contractors and suppliers?
  • Do you know what materials need to be ordered for the job and when to order them?

Paula McDonald is the best at working with NYC apartment renovations–including gut and renovation projects. Contact her today to schedule an initial design consultation and see how she can help you bring your vision for changing your living space to life!

What are the challenges? Are there specific regulations for apartment remodeling in NYC?

For the Design Build process in NYC, we look at any space or coding constraints before starting any remodeling project.

Remodeling your apartment in NYC might seem simple from the outside, but from the perspective of a designer, builder, or renovation specialist they are anything but. You could have building codes that affect your ability to make changes to an NYC apartment, for example, or issues keeping certain spaces wet and dry. By getting the necessary plans, permits, and details in order before the renovation actually starts, we speed the process up and make sure you don’t have to go back and re-think any of your most important concepts later.

How long does it take to plan and budget for a Design Build project in NYC?

You’ll Save Time and Money With The Right Design Build Partner

Sometimes new clients are eager to take on a project on their own because they worry things will cost too much if they hire a design build specialist. In reality, the opposite can be true–you’ll typically save money by working with someone who knows what they are doing.

A good design build partner can help you order sturdy, stylish, and affordable materials. They can keep you from choosing the wrong contractors. They can speed the process up and help you avoid fines for violating building codes, and even get you discounts by buying in bulk. Add it all up and you have a job that's finished faster and for less money than you would spend doing things on your own or hiring individual contractors.

What are the challenges involved in building in NYC and does that make a difference

As a design-build professional in New York City, Paula McDonald, who owns Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors, is no stranger to tiny homes.

“How to maximize a small space without enough room to begin with in Manhattan is a persistent problem,” she says. Here are some of the challenges involved in building in NYC that make a difference:

  • Do your Homework. Before you tear down any walls, research what changes you can (and can’t) make in your space. “In Manhattan, the type of building determines the structural constraints, versus what the client might want,” McDonald says. “Co-op or condo buildings are often the limiting factor to work around. Projects are a combination of creating a design concept and layout that can be achieved within the building’s constraints.”
  • Form Follows Function McDonald works to ensure that all aspects of the design are both practical and beautiful. “My design philosophy is grounded in elegant simplicity and lived-in functionality,” she says. “I am inspired by nature, vistas, clean lines and elegant simplicity. I strive to create an aesthetic of calmness, serenity and light. My work is driven by problem solving and overcoming limitations to create what you can only imagine.”
  • Make Light the Focus In small spaces, opportunities for natural and ambient light should dominate the floor plan, McDonald says. “Taking down the walls is often essential for illuminating an entire space,” she says. “Skylights are also a great way to introduce light. In this Upper East Side apartment, the homeowners wanted a loft space and an expanded kitchen. By removing the walls between the dining room and living room, we transformed it into an open and bright living and entertaining space.”
  • Create an Open Floor Plan Removing or reducing barriers helps add light and create a better flow between spaces. “To achieve an open kitchen, dining-living room and entertaining space, this small Upper East Side apartment required a gut renovation,” McDonald says. “By removing the walls, changing the sink location, adding seating and upgrading lighting and finishes, we created a glamorous contemporary apartment.”
  • What are Some Considerations for NYC Kitchen, Baths and Small Space Renovations?

    A cramped kitchen is one of the biggest pitfalls of small-space living. Luckily, tiny-home and apartment dwellers can call Paula McDonald of Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors. She specializes in optimizing small spaces. Using her practical and aesthetically elegant approach, Paula turns these modest kitchens into highly functioning spaces full of creative storage, ample counter space, and beautiful design details.

    Small Space Renovation Recommendations

    Here are some considerations for small space NYC renovations that Paula recommends:

    • Look at the Bigger Picture
    • Renovating the kitchen works best when it’s part of a bigger overhaul of your home. Not only can save time and money by addressing multiple spaces at once, but you’ll be able to ensure that the design choices you make in one area will work well with your decisions in other places, too. There isn’t really such a thing as a “perfect kitchen.” Instead, what we look for ideal solutions that match the needs, preferences, and constraints our clients work with.Whether you are making over your kitchen or your entire house, your design build partner needs know what your vision for the project looks like. They’ll want to know how they can help you create the kitchen of your dreams. Then, they’ll start attaching numbers to the various choices so you’ll know exactly what the job will cost before work ever begins. 

    • Know Your Vision and Budget
    • There isn’t such a thing as a “perfect kitchen.” Instead, we look for ideal solutions that match the needs, preferences, and constraints our clients work with. Whether you are making over your kitchen or your entire house, your design-build partner needs to know what your vision for the project looks like. They’ll want to know how they can help you create the kitchen of your dreams. Then, they’ll start attaching numbers to the various choices so you’ll know exactly what the job will cost before work ever begins.