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  • Writer's pictureMaria Luisa Castellanos

What does 'good bones" mean and what makes a good floor plan?

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Floor plan showing cross-ventilation

Recently, I was quoted in, but they didn’t include everything I said. So let me expand on what I said here.

Adriana Velez, a contributor to, asked what does it mean when a house has “good bones”.

To me, “Good bones” means a house with a working floor plan, solid structure, and windows. In other words, it may need to be remodeled or updated, but the floor plan works. The kind of remodeling that it needs to undergo is superficial – maybe the floor finish, or the bathroom finishes and cabinetry. Maybe it needs a new kitchen, but walls do not have to be moved and neither does the roof or the floors.

Then, she asked me about what makes a good floor plan. So this is my response below.

I think that floor plans need to have the right orientation. In Miami, the best floor plans are oriented with the main rooms with windows or glass doors on the east and south walls. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. That means that in the morning the sun is in the east when the day is still cool. Bedrooms with eastern sun are absolutely delightful! At midday, the sun is overhead so with some overhangs or eyelids over the windows and glass doors, a southern exposure for a family or living room makes a great floor plan. The garage should go on the western side. The west brings the hot sun at the end of the day, a sun which casts long, disagreeable shadows. A garage which normally has no windows is perfectly positioned on this western side.

The other thing about floor plans is that they must flow in a way which is practical. Related rooms need to be near each other. All bedrooms must have windows so they always need to be on the perimeter of the house. If you want a porte-cochere, it is best located on the side of the house. Some people put it on the front of their house and I think this is a big mistake. The porte-cochere will take light away from the front room, which is usually the living room, and this makes the room really dark and uninviting.

Kitchens and bathrooms do not need windows so they can be more in the center of the house, although most people like their kitchens on the rear of the house next to the Family Room. This arrangement usually works well and allows for some double or triple glass doors to the back of the house, which is usually a nice yard or a pool.

One last thing I would like to say is about cross-ventilation. If a person wants to save on air-conditioning costs and be "sustainable", one way is to open the windows. However, unless there is cross-ventilation, rooms are likely to be stuffy. See the drawing above showing cross-ventilation.

Keep these points in mind when buying a house or a lot to build a house. If you are looking for a lot to build, let me know. I can help you with the acquisition as well as the design and permit plans. Call me at 305-439-7898 or email at

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