Construction in Miami or any area of South Florida is completely different from construction in any other part of the country. While much of the eastern seaboard of the United States, and much of the rest of the country, builds houses with timber framing and brick or lumber, South Florida builds concrete block and concrete.
Quality Vs. price
Due to the hurricane winds, buildings in this area must be very strong. Where the rest of the country is looking at us because in the cellars they only use concrete block, for my money, I really love concrete and masonry blocks. Concrete blocks do not receive termites and will not rot. Therefore, the concrete construction of the block will last 100 years or more with almost no maintenance. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Miami homes have wooden grids with plywood lining for the roof, then paper for the roofs and shingles or concrete tiles on top. This type of construction is not particularly good if it is resisted by hurricane wind conditions. Although the Florida Building Code has tried its best to improve the requirements for the installation of roof cladding and roof cladding, it cannot be compared to the strength that a roof would have if a concrete slab were used for the roof structure.
So why, if we know this, are we not building on concrete slab roofs? Cost – the only reason is cost. It is much more expensive to design and install a concrete slab roof, especially on a slope for laying a concrete slab.
So, one of the first things a homeowner has to establish at the beginning of the process of designing a new home is how much the owner wants to spend on construction. There is an inexpensive way to build a home and a more expensive way. This is a question that will come up repeatedly during the design and construction process.
But to determine the budget, the homeowner must first establish a square of the new image. To establish total square footage, he will need to create a home program. The program is a list of rooms of appropriate sizes.
Look at the sample list as follows:
Living room 240 square meters
Dining room 120 square meters
Kitchen 170 square meters
Family room measuring 240 square meters
Master bedroom of 240 square meters
Master Bath 64 square meters
Bedroom no. 216 square feet
Bedroom no. 3 192 square feet
Bathroom no. 2 36 square feet
Laundry room 100 square meters
Bedding closet 9 square feet
Air conditioning cabinet 9 square meters
Total square feet = 1,636
Circulation and walls at 20% = 1,634 square feet = 327 square feet
Total = 1,634 + 327 = 1,961 square feet
So now we have a basic idea of the main spaces in the house and about how many square feet it will take for the house.
Also, this is the right time to decide if there will be open spaces, such as covered terraces or pergolas. In Florida, these are especially good interior accessories. With the beautiful temperatures during the winter, there is no reason to spend all your time in the air-conditioned indoor areas.
So what will a home that is just under 2,000 square feet cost in South Florida? There is no magic formula to determine this. The price of a home depends on many things that have to do with the design, such as: type of roof, ceiling height, complexity of the design, finishing, whether it is a septic tank or sewer and the type of foundation. Then, there are those costs that have nothing to do with the design, such as the location of the house, how busy they are in the area, how well the contractor is known and trusted, etc. Although the price of the house may vary greatly due to all the items mentioned above, a home that is not too complex with standard construction can use the $ 150- $ 250 per square meter range. So if we go back to the example. A 2,000-square-foot home would cost between $ 300,000 and $ 500,000 without land.
The Miami-Dade County Construction Department does not require that plans for a family residence be signed and sealed by an architect or engineer. This does not apply to all municipalities in the area. For example, Coral Gables requires that all plans be signed and sealed by an architect. But for all practical purposes, the amount of information that must be included in a set of plans in any Miami-Dade County municipality most of the time needs to be hired by several professionals: an architect, an MEP engineer, and a civil engineer. MEP stands for mechanical, electrical and plumbing. A mechanical engineer designs air conditioning, an electrical engineer designs electrical, including lighting, and a plumber designs plumbing. The designer constructs the structure and provides the necessary structural calculations for the building envelope. The architect designs the whole house and coordinates everyone's work. Coordination of all disciplines is probably the most important role of the architect, because without coordination, real conflicts can arise in the construction phase. Although it is legal to make plans independently in some parts of the county, it will be an insurmountable task to produce building drawings for permits (unless the homeowner has a background in construction with actual Florida Building Code experience and knowledge and local zoning codes).
How much do these design services cost the homeowner? They are also very different, but there are a number of good, established professionals. This range would be from 6% to 10% of construction costs for permit plans for all disciplines. Services are usually billed separately, hourly or in a separate package during the construction phase.
Another important decision to make early is the style of the house. There are basically three styles popular for home design in South Florida – Modern, Mediterranean and Key West.
Once the homeowner decides which styles he wants, it is important to convey the style and details to the architect. The best way to explain to an architect what he wants is through pictures from magazines or real photos of other houses.
Choosing an architect
Now that you have the essentials together, the next step is to choose your architect. This is very important because this is the person you will work very closely with over the next year.
Perform a survey on existing land from the time you closed your mortgage. If you lost it or it is too old or inaccurate, the architect will instruct you to update it or create a new one.
Ask to see photos of your work. Ask for references. Asking questions. Ask him / her how they will approach the project. Start feeling if this is someone you could work with. Do you like the prevailing style of the architect? Are you interested in his work? Ask about the process. Ask what you should expect from his services. Ask him to show you plans for a similar project.
Humans are individuals and all are unique. I remember how many people hired me because they liked my "Mediterranean" or "Spanish" style or my modern or postmodern style. One person told me she hired me because I quickly returned her phone calls. Chemistry among humans makes sense. Do not discount your initial impressions.
Construction documents usually contain several parts: drawings, specifications, instructions to tenderers and accessories. Typically, when the architect is processing the bid phase for the owner’s construction, he chooses the type of contract the owner will have with the contractor. This document is also part of the construction documents.
Drawings are a major part of the job and together with the specifications act as a detailed guide for the contractor used during construction. Sometimes in big jobs the specifications are put in a special book and called the project manual. For most residential projects, the specifications are usually included as notes directly on the drawings. For complex interiors, the architect creates a separate package, which is charged separately.
Construction documents are generated in stages from general to detailed. I like to divide my projects into 4 phases: conceptual design, design development, 50% construction documents and 100% construction documents. Each phase is upgraded to the previous stage until the architect feels that all the drawings are coordinated between different disciplines and are ready to submit them for licensing.
With careful planning and communication with your architect, his good drawings and coordination, and careful selection of a reputable contractor, your new home project should flow smoothly. Although there are often orders for change due to unforeseen conditions or changes that the owner wants to make, most issues should be addressed before construction.
For more information on the role of an architect during construction, see my second article on the role of an architect during the construction process, posted here.