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Florida Licensed Architect

Maria Luisa Castellanos
No. AR0007706

Call 305-552-5465, If you have a question or would like to discuss your project.  There is no charge for the initial consultation, if you own the Miami-Dade County property and would like to discuss the project you envision in detail.



Today, at times you can find foreclosed properties for sale in Miami or you can participate in an auction.  For those who have cash on hand and good credit, this may be an opportunity to buy his first home or to buy an additional investment property. But many homes are left in complete disrepair once the occupant moves out.  What is the best course of action for the new homeowner or investor? What should he be aware of? And what is possible with a foreclosed property or a property in complete disrepair.

All of us, myself included, want to maximize the value of our investments.  One way to add value is to improve the property.  There are actually many things a new homeowner can do without a general contractor or architect.  In fact, there are actually many improvements which do not require a permit in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.  The following is a list from the Miami-Dade County Building website at

The following construction improvements are not regulated under the Florida Building Code. Therefore, a building permit is not required. However, other regulating agencies may require a permit or approval.

  • Surfacing of floors or slabs with carpet, tile, brick, wood or Chattahoochee. Note: Flooring in multi-family uses may require sound proofing.

  • Kitchen cabinets, vanities or paneling replacement inside residential units using same configuration. Any associated plumbing, ventilation and electrical work will require a building permit if relocated, reconfigured and or altered.

  • Playground equipment (swings, slides, monkey bars, basketball hoops and above-ground trampolines) for residential use. Note all equipment and structures shall meet zoning setbacks. Any electrical service to such playground equipment requires a permit and compliance with the Florida Building Code.

  • Decorative reflective pools and/or fishponds less than 24 inches deep or less than 250 sq. ft. in area and less than 2,250 gallons in volume (Requires Zoning Improvement Permit).

  • Excavation of swales and drainage holding areas above the water table and in compliance with the Department's environmental regulations specifically Chapter 24

  • Ironwork for decorative purposes only (security bars, doors and railings require a permit).

  • Interior or exterior painting and roof painting (water proofing roof coatings requires a permit).

  • Paving and drainage. (Requires Zoning Improvement Permit).

  • Painted wall sign. (Requires Zoning Improvement Permit).

  • Balloon Sign. (Requires Zoning Improvement Permit).

  • Resurfacing, re-striping or seal coating of parking lot. (Requires Zoning Improvement Permit). If parking layout is reconfigured a building permit is required.

Some of these may require another type of permit.  See the website above for more details. 

Although I, like you, would want to cut corners and save the most money, careful forward planning and detailed project management can be less expensive than the possibility of making a costly error.  Mistakes in construction can delay a project and introduce unnecessary and unplanned costs.  Construction materials and labor are expensive.  Do you really want to take the risk? What is possible with a foreclosed property or a property in complete disrepair? 

This type of property offers a rare opportunity to invest heavily in a property because the initial investment was smaller than it would have been normally.  Instead of having to live with certain peculiarities which come with a house, an architect can make suggestions on how to improve the floor plan and make it more livable or how to beautify the house and give it “curb” appeal. And once the architect finishes the plans, since he/she is well-versed in the construction process, he/she can work with the homeowner during the construction phase.  An experienced architect intimately knows the pitfalls of construction and has a working knowledge of construction law, including the Florida lien law.  In addition, an architect can make suggestions for protecting the homeowner for an unscrupulous or inexperienced contractor.

Planning ahead and using the services of an architect during the construction phase of a project can lead to a better outcome for the homeowner, especially those with little construction experience.  And again, avoiding a dispute with a contractor is much better than trying to fix one once it arises. 


If you would like to discuss with us a foreclosure or a property in complete disrepair you have just bought, or have a question in reference to one you are about to buy, call 305-552-5465 or email me at   I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.  If you buy the property, and want to add or remodel it, call to set up an appointment for us to see the property.  There is no charge for the first visit, if the property is in Miami-Dade County.


Call 305-552-5465 or Email to discuss your exciting project ideas.

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