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Ground Floor and Site Plan of Building by United Architects.jpg

Site Plan and Floor Plan of a Building by United Architects in City of Miami


If you own a Miami-Dade County property or would like to by one, and would like to discuss your investment objectives, call me Maria Luisa Castellanos on my cell at 305-439-7898 or email me




What is zoning?

Maybe we should start with telling you what “zoning” is.  In Miami, as in many other parts of the country, the local government sets up a system to determine what kind of uses can be built where.  For example, in the city of Miami, there are several variations to residential zoning T-3.  There is T-3O (for open), T-3L (for limited) , and T-3R (for restricted).  You can read more about this here. .  Then, you can have higher density in T-4 and even more in T6-8 and so one. 

Before you buy anything, you really need to understand what the zoning is for the property.  If not, you could end up buying a property that will not fit your needs. You must also understand that you cannot place a high-rise building in the middle of a T-3 zone.

Parking almost always determines what you can build

Prior to buying a property, a potential buyer needs to find out the zoning classification and probable construction area which a site can develop legally.  But remember this one principle, if you don’t remember anything else from this article, just because a building is zoned T6-8 in the city of Miami, which normally means you can build 6 to 8 stories, if you cannot get the required parking spaces on the lot, either surface parking of a parking garage, you will not get the maximum stories you want. 

In addition, the city of Miami is quite different from Miami-Dade County.  Miami-Dade County is very confusing to people from other areas in that there are so many municipalities within the county.  Each one has its own zoning code with its own regulations.  The county also has its own which only regulate the “unincorporated areas”.   How do you make sense of it all?

United Architects can study a site for you to determine whether the property you are considering can be used for the purposes you have in mind.
Then, what about a site you want to purchase which does not comply with the present zoning?  Often, we can tell you right away whether there is a chance to re-zone it or get a variance.  Or we can make a few simple phone calls to the zoning officials and get an answer.

Photo of computer and calculation by Scott Graham on Unsplash.jpg

Photo by Scott Graham from Unsplash

But what about when a variance or a zoning change is required?

Each municipality has a different process.  Is it necessary to hire a zoning attorney?  Sometimes the answer is “Yes”, but often, the answer is “No”.  If what you are intending to build is very similar to the required zoning classification, there is no need to hire a zoning attorney.  Many times, if what you want to build is similar to what the county or municipality envisioned, an architect can handle the entire process for you. 

We at United Architects, as local Miami architects, understand the process of zoning.  We can prepare the required documentation and drawings, talk to the zoning officials, and get as much information as possible to help you prepare your application for a variance or zoning change.  If you need an attorney, we can recommend one to you.

Read our other article

Also, before you buy, read our article: 11 Steps to Building a Commercial Building.

Photo of man with roll of tracing paper and architectural scale by Daniel McCullough from Unsplash.jpg

Photo by Michael McCullough from Unsplash


Call us before you buy the property to make sure the plans you envision can be actualized.  Contact Maria Luisa Castellanos, R.A., LEED AP, the principal of the firm at 305-439-7898 or email at  She is both an architect and a realtor, so if you need help locating a property, she can help you find it and buy it by becoming your real estate buyer's agent.  Or, you can hire her to just analyze it from a zoning perspective.

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