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Project 5


Remodeling or adding to a residential property is always more complicated than new construction.  Many times people think it's easier than a new house because they see it as a smaller project.  However, remodeling or adding is actually more complicated than new construction because the new project has to tie into existing systems.  And in residential work nothing is more complicated than a condo remodeling.

Let’s do a case study on a Coral Gables condominium.


"Before" floor plans to a 2-story condominium
These are the new floor plans by United Architects after the remodeling

Above on the left are the plans for the condominium as it was prior to the remodeling.  The client wanted to convert this into a three-bedroom condominium instead of the two-bedroom condo that it was.  You can see the photos of this Coral Gables home above and below.


Condominium remodeling is particularly difficult since there are certain items which are common to the building and not just to the particular apartment.  However, as Miami architects, we understand the complexities of condominium remodeling.

In a condo the plumbing lines are fixed and do not belong just to the one owner who is remodeling.  The plumbing lines come from the units above and then go on to the units below.  In this case, this unit was not above another unit, but above the parking garage.

The client thought that in her unit the kitchen in the back was too far out of the way, so she wanted to move the kitchen to the center of the space.  To complicate matters, the structural floor slab was post-tensioned concrete which makes cutting any new holes a problem. 

Instead of adapting the existing A/C ductwork, the client chose to tear the ducts out and put in completely new ones.  The ducts were old and dirty so this was the client’s choice.

Sometimes the plumbing pipes have to be run above the slab, as is the case with the new bathroom downstairs.  This means there is a step up to the shower.  Normally, in a regular house, this would not happen, but this was the only way to put in the new required plumbing for the bathroom downstairs when it went from a 1/2 bath to a full bath.

One of the plumbing pipes ran in a partition in a closet in the Living Room.  With the remodeling the pipe is now running in the walls surrounding the new gas fireplace.  Again, this plumbing line could not be moved.

You can see below, the new layout for both floors.  

There are some very nice features to the new condo.  The Kitchen/Dining Area has a banquette for people to sit while the client is cooking, which she loves to do.  The Laundry Room was moved upstairs.  The Master Bathroom was expanded and a “spa” was created with the shower and tub.  There is a second bath and bedroom upstairs for the son of the client.  

You can see in the plans where the structural columns had to be respected since they could not be moved.

All in all, the client was quite pleased with the remodeling.


Condominium remodeling is generally not easy if any interior walls must be moved.  In this case, the client wanted to convert the ½ bath to a full bath. 

The slab needed to be x-rayed to determine where the post-tensioning cables were located prior to cutting any holes.  In this case, the client was lucky, the condo association allowed her to expand some existing holes and to make one or two new holes in the slab.  Many condominium associations would not allow this.

In this project we reconfigured both floors.  We moved the kitchen downstairs and gave the client an extra bedroom and the full bathroom she wanted.  The laundry was moved upstairs which we think is the better location since that’s where the clothes and bed linens are.  The client would not have to keep going up and down the stairs with clothes.

The general contractor was very good and was able to get the plans processed through the city of Coral Gables quickly and without complications.  As Miami architects with offices in Coral Gables, we understood the permitting process for the city.  The only comment from the permitting review had to do with the new railing the client wanted to install.  Normally, the city of Coral Gables is easy to deal with as long as there are no structural changes.  Structural and septic tank changes can delay the process significantly, but since this was an interior remodeling that was not the case here.   Also, there might be some time wasted when having to go through the Coral Gables Board of Architects, but again since this was an interiors project, the board did not have to review the plans.  The plans just by-pass the board with an administrative review. 

The client was very happy with the results.  You can see her personal note recommending the principal of the firm here.

Interiors or the apartment after the remodeling and the front entrance by United Architects
Photos of remodeled bathroom, bedroom, hallway & stairs

If you would like your condominium redesigned, call Maria Luisa Castellanos, the principal of the firm, on her cell at 305-439-7898, or email at

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