How Does A List Manage Complexity In A Program Code.Org Building a New House – Initial Steps in Developing Plans in Florida and Other Areas

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Building a New House – Initial Steps in Developing Plans in Florida and Other Areas

Building in Miami or anywhere else in South Florida is completely different from building anywhere else in the country. While most of the east coast of the United States, and much of the rest of the country, build homes with wood framing and finished with brick or wood siding, South Florida builds with concrete block and concrete.

Quality versus price

Because of the hurricane winds the structures in this area must be very strong. Where other countries look down on us because they only use concrete blocks in their basements, for my money, I really like concrete and block construction. Concrete blocks do not get termites and do not rot. Therefore, a concrete block structure will last for 100 years or more with almost no maintenance. Unfortunately, most houses in Miami have wooden trusses with plywood sheathing for the roof, then paper roofing and even shingles or concrete tiles on top. This type of construction is not very good at resisting hurricane wind conditions. Although the Florida Building Code does its best to improve the requirements for the installation of roof shingles and the finishing of the roof, it cannot begin to compare to the strength that the roof will have if a concrete slab used for the roof structure.

So why, if we know this, we do not build with concrete slab roof? Cost – the only factor is cost. It is more expensive to design and install a concrete slab roof, especially on a slope to get the concrete tile finish.

So one of the first things a homeowner should establish when starting the design process for a new home is how much the homeowner wants to spend on construction. There is a cheap way to build a house and the expensive way. This is an issue that comes up many times during the design and construction process.

The program

But to determine a budget, the homeowner must first determine the square footage of the new home. To establish the total square footage, he needs to create a program for the house. The program is a list of rooms with the same size.

See a sample list as follows:


Living Room 240 square feet
Dining Room 120 square feet
Kitchen 170 square feet
Family Room 240 square feet
Master Bedroom 240 square feet
Master Bath 64 square feet
Bedroom No. 2 216 square feet
Bedroom No. 3 192 square feet
Bath No. 2 36 square feet
Laundry Room 100 square feet
Linen closet 9 square feet
A/C Closet 9 square feet

Total square feet = 1,636

The circulation and walls of 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 major areas of the house and approximately how many square feet the home owner needs in total for the house.

Also, this is a good time to decide if there will be any outdoor areas, such as covered terraces or pergolas. In Florida these are great additions to indoor spaces. With the unusual temperatures during the winter there is no reason to spend all the time in air-conditioned indoor spaces.

The budget

So what does a house under 2000 square feet cost in South Florida? There is no magic formula to determine this. The cost of the house depends on many things related to the design, such as: the type of roof, the height of the ceiling (s), the complexity of the design, the finishes, if it is placed in the septic. tank or sewer, and the type of foundations. Then, there are costs that have nothing to do with the design, such as the location of the house, how busy the contractors are in the area, how well-known and reliable the contractor is, etc. Although the price of a house can be very different because of all the things mentioned above, at this time a range of $150 to $250 per square foot can be used for a house that is not very detailed in standard construction. So if we go back to the example. A 2,000 square foot house will cost between $300,000 and $500,000 excluding the land.

The design team

The Miami-Dade County Building Department does not require plans for a single-family home to be signed and sealed by an architect or engineer. This is not true for all cities in the area. For example, Coral Gables requires all plans to be signed and stamped by an architect. But for all practical purposes the amount of information that must be included in a set of plans of any municipality within Miami-Dade County, usually, requires the hiring of several professionals: a architect, a MEP engineer, and a structural engineer. MEP stands for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. The mechanical engineer designs the air-conditioning, the electrical engineer designs the electrical, including the lighting, and the plumbing engineer designs the plumbing. The structural engineer designs the structure and provides the necessary structural calculations for the building envelope. The architect designed the entire house and coordinated the work of everyone. The coordination of all disciplines is perhaps the most important task of the architect because without coordination there can be real conflicts during the construction phase. Although it is legal to draw up plans yourself in some parts of the county, it can be an insurmountable task to draw up building drawings for approval (unless the homeowner has a background in construction have actual experience and knowledge of the Florida Building Code and local zoning code).

How much do homeowner design services cost? They also vary but also have a variety of good, established professionals. This range from 6% to 10% of the construction cost for permit plans for all disciplines. Services during the construction phase are often billed hourly or in a separate package.

Home style

Another important decision to make early on is the style of the house. There are basically three styles that are popular for home design in South Florida – modern, Mediterranean, and Key West.

Once the homeowner has decided what styles he wants, it is important to communicate the style and the details to the architect. The best way for an architect to explain what he wants is through images from magazines or actual photos of other houses.

Choose an architect

Now that you have the basics down, the next step is to choose your architect. This is very important because this is the person you will be working with for the next year.

Take the survey from the existing land from the time you closed your loan. If you have lost it or it is outdated or inaccurate, the architect will arrange for you to update it or create a new one.

Ask to see photos of his work. Ask for references. Question. Ask him how he approaches the project. Start to feel if this is someone you can work with. Do you like the prevailing style of the architect’s work? Are you attracted to his work? Ask about the process. Ask what you can expect in the way of his services. Ask him to show you plans for a similar project.

People are individuals and everyone is unique. I remember how many people hired me because they liked my “Mediterranean” or “Spanish” style or my modern or post-modern style. One person told me he hired me because I returned his phone calls so quickly. The chemistry between people is meaningful. Don’t ignore your initial impressions.

The construction documents

Generally, construction documents include several parts: the drawings, the specifications, instructions to bidders, and the addenda. Typically, when the architect handles the construction bid phase for the owner, he or she selects the type of contract the owner will obtain from the contractor. This document is also part of the construction documents.

The drawings are the main part of the work, which along with the specifications act as a step-by-step guide for the contractor to use during construction. Sometimes in large works, the details are put in a separate book and called the Project Manual. In most residential projects, specifications are usually included as notes right on the drawings. For detailed interiors a separate package is prepared by the architect and charged separately.

Construction documents are created in phases from general to detailed. I like to divide my projects into 4 phases: Preliminary design, design development, 50% construction documents, and 100% construction documents. Each phase builds on the previous phase until the architect feels that the drawings are all compatible with the various disciplines and are ready to be submitted for approval.

With careful planning and communication with your architect, his good drawings and coordination and the careful selection of a reputable contractor, your new home project should flow without major problems. Although there are often changing orders due to unforeseen conditions or changes the owner wants to implement, most issues should be resolved before construction.

For more information on the role of the architect during construction, see my other article on the role of the architect during the construction process posted here.

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