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  • Writer's pictureMaria Luisa Castellanos

What should you know to get a permit for a house addition in Coral Gables? Coral Gables residential architect explains

Updated: May 28

Kitchen remodeling in Coral Gables
Kitchen remodeling in Coral Gables

Getting a permit in Coral Gables is more cumbersome than in other areas of Miami.  Unlike most municipalities, Coral Gables requires additional steps in the process.

Prior to getting a permit, the city requires at least two visits to the Board of Architects.  If the board requires a lot of changes, they may even demand even more visits.

Normally, what I do as a residential architect in Coral Gables, is to start by establishing the new floor plan and the new elevations before even thinking about the Board of Architects.  If you are the owner of the house, you want to make sure that your architect is clear on what you want.  Then, this is established in the new floor plan and the new elevations.  Making changes later could require that you go back and get approval at an additional Board of Architects meeting.

In addition to the new floor plan and elevations, the Board of Architects requires that you submit a site plan, the existing floor plan with the demolition, the existing elevations, a survey that is not older than 5 years, color photos of the house from all sides and of any additional structures, and a tree disposition plan, which includes a tree protection plan for all specimen trees on the site and in the public right of way.

The architectural plans must be submitted in a 24” x 36” format in color, and if you want one for your records, submit two sets so that you can get one back.

The city then requires an additional 10 copies of the submittal in 11”x17” format.

If your house belongs to a homeowner’s association, it is a historic building, or if there are mangroves on the site, there are more requirements.

If the house is in Cocoplum, or any of the similar communities near the water, it may have its own Board of Architects, so the project may have to be approved by two Board of Architects. It's also important to note that these houses near the water were often built with a subterranean basement built below the FEMA minimum floor elevation. This space was not to be inhabited. Over the years, the owners of these houses went ahead and finished these spaces illegally. Now, if you buy one of those houses, you will not be allowed to remodel those spaces legally. Just be aware that you may encounter this issue in these areas.

Once your architect presents the documents to the Coral Gables Board of Architects and gets preliminary approval, your architect and the engineering team can complete the construction documents for the addition.  These plans are then again submitted to the Board of Architects and the architect again presents them at a meeting.  If the plans have not substantially changed, then the board should approve them with few, if any, comments.  Once the board approves the documents, they are sent to the building department for the other departments, such as, electrical, plumbing, structural, and septic tank, to review them.

It's not an easy process, but this procedure, for the most part, prevents horrible projects from being built in the Gables.  There is a consistency of good design and construction in the Gables that is not seen in other parts of Miami.

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