When a Whole House Remodel Makes The Most Sense

Sometimes the perfect house doesn’t have the perfect layout. You may love the neighborhood, the architectural style of the home, the landscaping, the price, and everything… except the layout. That’s where we can help. Many new homeowners in the Cape Cod area have discovered the beauty of buying an old bungalow, or an old Victorian home, and simply remodeling the entire interior to create perfection. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can help you improve your almost perfect home before you move in.

1.     Remodel the Kitchen: Open up the floor plan and improve flow through the kitchen, dining room, and living room.

2.     Remodel the Bathrooms: Update all of those fixtures and fittings in secondary bathrooms, and create an amazing master suite that includes the master bedroom, closet, and bath.

3.     Replacement of Windows: Most old windows are single pane. If you’re purchasing a home that has been remodeled in the last 20 years, it may have double paned windows, but you may need to replace them anyway due to aging or trapped moisture between the glass.

4.     Replacement of Doors: Old entry doors can be amazingly beautiful – or they can be amazingly drafty and horrible. New entry doors give you the opportunity to also add surrounds to the entryway and design something that’s uniquely you.

5.      Discover Flooring: Remove the old carpet and you may be surprised to find hardwood underneath. Many homeowners in the 70s and 80s covered gorgeous hardwood flooring with carpet. With professional sanding and finishing, your floors can really sparkle.

6.     Repair Walls: We would repair all damage to the walls unless we’re removing the walls anyway to open the floor plan. All remaining walls will likely need to be repaired and painted.

7.     Closets: Remove plastic or metal closet systems and create new custom closet systems that meet your individual needs.

8.     Remove and Replace Trim and Doors: Often times replacing the interior doors and trim can have a dramatic effect on the appearance of your home.

9.     Paint the Exterior: A lot of older homes have wood siding which will likely need to be painted. All trim should be painted to tie various aspects of the curb appeal together.

10.  Mechanical Systems: Most remodelers don’t take care of your mechanical systems, but we do. We can have our experts assess the hot water system, and the HVAC system to make sure they are in proper working order. We can replace them if they are not functional.

Give us a call at 508-477-9003 if you’re on Cape Cod and you’re considering purchasing a home that you love, but you aren’t in love with the existing floor plan or decor.  We will schedule an appointment for a consultation and get the ball rolling on creating a home of your dreams.

Choose High Quality Products for Your Whole Home Remodeling Project

Whouse House Remodel FalmouthEveryone has heard the old adage you get what you pay for; it’s true in most situations from electronics to homes. A cheap laptop may last six months where a high quality laptop will likely still be running strong a few years down the road. The Formica-covered particle board countertop will eventually absorb water and look horrible, but the granite or marble countertop will look amazing for many years. These are the types of things we’re going to cover in today’s post.We are homeowners as well. We understand the desire to save your hard-earned money where you can. But we also wholeheartedly recommend that you do not cut corners for the sake of money during your home remodeling project. Let’s take a look at a room-by-room analysis of places you should never go cheap for your whole home remodel. Kitchen Remodeling – The kitchen is the number-one remodeled room in the home for a variety of reasons. It’s often referred to as the heart of the home because this is where meals are cooked, families share dinners, and where we entertain family and friends on special occasions. This very important room in your home deserves the absolute best we can give it. We often tell homeowners to splurge on the kitchen and cut corners somewhere else during the remodel, because it has so much to offer the entire family. Bathroom Remodeling – The master bathroom is the second-most remodeled room in the home. Many homeowners are turning their small master bathroom into a luxurious getaway that rivals some of the nicest spas throughout the Cape Cod area. Your bathroom should be designed to help you relax after a difficult day, not have you cramming yourself into a tub that’s too small without any jets to massage your tired muscles. Invest in an oversized tub with jets so you can truly relax. Bedroom Remodeling – The master bedroom is much more than just a place to sleep, it’s your sanctuary. Create an amazing master suite that includes a bedroom, sitting area, luxury walk-in closet, and amazing bathroom. Add a few extra large windows to enhance the area and make it feel much larger. Quality Workmanship – Don’t overlook the importance of high quality workmanship. Our craftsmen at @designREMODEL are dedicated to providing the absolute best in overall design and workmanship. We work hard to ensure that your remodeling experience is as pain free as possible. The quality of our workmanship has nothing to do with the quality of the materials you choose. We will provide top notch work whether we’re working with high quality woods or particle board. Quality materials will cost more initially, but they will ultimately provide a much better finish and long-lasting beauty. We invite you to call us or text us any time at 508-477-9003 to get the scoop on the latest progress on your home remodeling project or to schedule an appointment for a consultation. We will work with you to design the perfect kitchen, bathroom, or whole home remodeling project, and then build it out for you in a timely manner.

Whole House Makeovers - Transforming Houses Into Homes

Whole House Makeovers in Cape Cod MAWith the real estate market here on Cape Cod improving for the 13th straight month, home sales have taken quite a jump. As a result, we're seeing more requests for whole house makeovers where we remodel, update and fix just about every part of a home prior to the homeowners moving in. A whole house makeover involves restoring part or all of house to a like new condition. Often times much of the work will involve making changes requested by the new homeowners wanting make the house a home with changes that reflect their personal style.

As I write this post, we have a condo makeover underway in Maushop village which is located in New Seabury MA. This makeover has us doing the following:

1. Remodel main bathroom which includes removing the outdated tub and installing a cast iron shower base with tile surround. Replacing all of the drywall on the walls and ceiling. Installing all new fixtures and fittings as well as new floor tile.

2. Removal of wall paper throughout and repainting the walls, ceiling and woodwork. A fairly involved process as the wall paper was installed over walls that were not properly finished smooth and are in rough shape.

3. Complete remodel of kitchen which includes adding more cabinets, granite counters and a tile backsplash with cool glass accents. Convert electric stove to gas.

4. Update 1/2 bath with new fixtures, fittings and new flooring.

5. Correct and update electrical wiring. Add outside water spigots. Insulate exposed heat pipes. Build and install rain baffles over vents in attic. Add and update lighting throughout. Install new venting and ceiling fans.

6. Refinish floors and stairs.

Once completed, the entire inside of this Maushop condo will be all new and ready for the homeowners to use as their home away from home on Cape Cod!

Another example of a whole house makeover that we are scheduled to start this winter, is located in nearby Waquoit, a village within the town of Falmouth.  This project is much like the Condo makeover above except on a much larger scale.

The following is planned for this project.

1. Installing wide pine floors in the rooms that currently have carpeting.

2. Replacing windows and doors that are due for replacement.

3. Fabricating and installing built-in shelving throughout the house for the homeowners large collection of books.

4. Replacing all of the interior doors, jambs and casings. Replacing woodwork that was poorly installed.

5. Complete remodel and expansion of the kitchen.

6. Full remodel of the master bath.

7. Correcting issues in a recently remodeled (by others) guest bath

8. Painting all walls and ceilings, finish stained woodwork throughout home.

9. Build out home office.

10. Correct multiple issues that were found by home inspection company prior to the sale of the house.

11. Complete interior sanding and finishing of all wood floors.

12. Change out exterior decking and railings.

These kind of makeovers are intensively involved and costs range anywhere from $60,000 to $250,000 Many of these projects are about creating "Forever Homes" that the homeowners are planning to enjoy for the balance of their lives.

Whole house makeovers are one of our favorite projects as we can really transform a house into a home!

@home On Cape Cod Newsletter. April 2011

April Banner Winter Yankee

Winter HarborNo, not the ones from New York, even though I'm sure more then a few Red Sox fans would like to blame them for the weather. You may ask: what's a Yankee Winter? A theory I heard years back, was that deep in the psyche of a New England Yankee, was the expectation that winters needed to be long and punishing, thus building sturdiness and character.

Given a long tough winter, a Yankee would relish the warm spring days and feel that they had beaten the scourge of icy cold days and nights yet again. On the other hand, when a Yankee had an easy winter, they were said to feel guilt and anguish when spring rolled around.

Strangely enough, even though I'm hardly a New England Yankee, in years past, I've experienced both elation and guilt at winter's end. So yes! After spending plenty of days this winter working through the icy blasts coming in off of Buzzards Bay, I'm delighted that the air is warmer and that the sun feels good both on the skin and my soul.

I hope you spend time with family and friends soaking up the sun and the scents of spring after our long Yankee winter here on Cape Cod.

Spring Doings Sampler:

25th Annual Brewster in Bloom , last weekend of April/first weekend of May, dates TBD. Town-wide spring celebration. Arts and crafts show, road race, town parade on Sunday, concerts and much more. Full schedule at Brewster In Bloom

@home Tip for April

Daffodil Days at Spohr Gardens , 45 Fells Road, Falmouth. April 30th and May 7th from 10 am - 2 pm spohrgardens.org

30th Annual Herb Festival, Green Briar Nature Center in Sandwich presents its 30th Annual Herb Festival. Enjoy lectures and demonstrations on the use of various herbs, taken guided garden walks, and pick up special flora during a grand plant sale. Reservations are required for the luncheon. For more information, visit thorntonburgess.org or call 508-888-6870 May 13-15


Spring is the season to clean the outside of your home. And with our Cape Cod climate conducive for the growth of mold and mildew, many of us will use a combination of water and chlorine bleach to do the job of removing the nasty stuff.

But wait! Chlorine bleach is toxic to all vegetation around your home, and it's no fun inhaling bleach fumes.

A better and Organic choice is Oxygen Bleach. It's safe for your vegetation and actually helps plants as it inserts oxygen into the soil as it seeps in.

Oxygen Bleach will do an excellent job of removing mold and mildew from exterior surfaces. When you're ready to clean (or have cleaned) the exterior of your home, be sure to use Oxygen Bleach. Your plants and your lungs will thank you!

Diary Of A Locavore Locavore Logo

Cranberry Apple Cider Donuts

Hmm..Intriguing! As a fan (too much, my wife say's) of both homemade donuts and apple cider, there is a combination that includes cranberries that I discovered on a local Cape Cod foodie blog: Diary of a Locavore.. Owned by Elspeth Hay of Wellfleet whom is also the author of the Local Food Report on NPR. I came across her website while writing about Rein Ciarfella AKA: The Rye Bread King who was featured in my last newsletter.

If you really would like to dive into the belly of the Cape, Islands and the South Coast, this website has it. From recipes for Ratatouille preserve, fresh salsa and rosemary fried lamb to mention a few. An extensive list and reviews of local farmers markets and resources for food grown and harvested locally. The Diary of a Locavore is a great online resource for leaning about local foods especially those unique to Cape Cod.

Now how about those cranberry apple cider donuts? Click here for more.


Remodeling Repeat...with pictures. Update.

It's been sometime since I lasted posted about the remodeling repeat on Scraggy Neck. Very busy with projects. As it stands, we have completed the framing and exterior trim for the most part. We finally got a break from the winter storms long enough to have the roof shingled over to make the house weather tight once again. The plumbing and electrical rough-in's have been completed. While we wrap the new addition with pre-stained white cedar shingles, the bathroom prep work will be completed. And as soon as we get outside temperatures in the 40's, we can have the entire interior of the new addition insulated with spray on insulation. Spray on insulation is superior to any other type of insulation as you have an excellent heat resistance value's as well as creating an air tight barrier from the cold winds blowing off Buzzards Bay!

Next up will be the installation of special order windows in the stair tower and completing all of the exterior sidewall. During this time the plasterers will hang blue board and then skimcoat the plaster with plaster mud for a smooth and durable finish.

Back of House During Trim Install

Tower Framed and Ready for Special Order Windows

Weaving White Cedar Shingles. This Part of the House has 13 Inside and Outside Corners to Weave!

Post Been Weaved or Laced. This is When you Custom Cut Each Shingle to Create a Finished Corner.

Tub Surround Almost Ready For Tile.

Custom Shower Ready for a Poured Base and Tile.

Buzzards Bay- VERY COLD!

@home On Cape Cod Newsletter. March 2011

home_Banner-2 Thanks for taking the time to read this brief newsletter. In the past, I've sent out printed newsletters, however I found that writing, printing, addressing and then mailing a printed newsletter a time and labor intensive project. This ultimately prevented me from keeping in touch with my clients and friends in a timely manner.

Now via email every month, I will send a short note to keep in touch, as well as useful tips and ideas for keeping your home in tip-top shape. I'll also share some of my favorite things about Cape Cod for all the natives, washashore's and mainlanders to enjoy!

All the best!


Here's Katiebeth!

KB2Lot's of folks always want to know what my daughter KatieBeth is up to these days. Over the holiday's, KatieBeth performed in the radio play, It's A Wonderful Life at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. She was smashingly wonderful in all 11 performances! Her mom and my wife Tara, also delighted audiences with her multiple character performances!

KatieBeth is now about halfway through 3rd grade and working hard at trying not to get caught reading during class, as she loves to read! She's looking forward to summer and the beach and hoping another show will come along so she can be the drama kid yet again. Watch this space for more on the Adventures of KatieBeth. :-)

@home Tip for March: Dryer Venting Safety DryerWith the onset of Spring, now is a good time to check your dryer vent for excessive lint buildup. Fires caused by excessive lint cause 15,000 fires a year.

Some Warning Signs 1. Longer drying times, are your clothes taking longer to dry? 2. Clothing is hot, yet damp at the end of a cycle? 3. Is your dryer hot to the touch? 4. Is there excessive lint outside the dryer?

A yearly check-up of your dryer vent will keep your home safe and your drying running optimally. Feel free to call me if you need someone to check that your dryer is venting properly. You can also Google dryer vent cleaning to find a service provider.

Don't Forget the Washing Machine. I always recommend that you throw away the rubber hoses the connect the water supply to your washing machine. They become brittle with age and can burst unexpectedly, leading to costly water damage. My recommendation is to replace the hoses with braided, burst resistant hoses for your peace of mind.

Also, always shut off the main water supply to your home if you are going to be way for an extended period of time.

Credit: Cape Cod Times/Merrily Cassidy

Cape Cod Characters On New Year's Day, we were visiting with friends in Falmouth who were hosting a small gathering. Of course, I was drawn straight to the table of various appetizers and finger foods. While we were chatting with our friend and NPR radio personality Dan Tritle, I noticed a fellow weaving in and around the guests offering chunks of bread. Taking a sample of the bread and popping it in my mouth, the texture was perfect and the taste fabulous! This was our introduction to Rein Ciarfella of Cotuit. AKA the Rye Bread King.

In talking to Rein about his handmade rye bread, this soft spoken fellow who has the look and a twinkle in his eyes of Santa Claus, exuded a passion for the making and baking of rye bread. He shared with us his experience of finding just the right recipe during months of trial and error and of waiting 35 years to create his own rye bread after discovering it while living in England. He is an artisan bread baker you'll want to meet.

Read or watch a video about Rein here.

Compliment Do you have friends or family thinking about remodeling? Help them avoid the hassle and pain of hiring the wrong contractor to work on their home. They will love you for sharing with them your favorite go-to-guy for remodeling!

It's a compliment when you refer someone you know who needs remodeling to my company. Feel free to share this newsletter with them. A Big Thanks! to those that have already referred my company to friends and family.

Remodeling Repeat...with pictures. Week 2

Week 2 finds us wrapping up the bulk of the demolition out on Scraggy Neck.  The rain finally ended. Was it 8 days of rain? Sure seemed like it. Here are some pictures to enjoy...


This is the view from the house we are working on. The spit o' land in the right is Wings Neck in Pocasset. Beyond is the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal where we can watch cruise ships, barges and sailing ships plying the waters of Buzzards Bay.


This is the back of the house that overlooks Buzzards Bay. In the weeks ahead, we'll be adding dormers and a observation tower. Oh, that's Blackie checking out the view just before he took his daily dip. LOL!


Front of the House.


Looking up at the chimney from the first floor. Notice the new engineered lumber "sistered" on to the existing joists. We're waiting for steel here, which will carry the floor loads in front of the chimney.


Stairs. Now just a memory. Many hundreds of feet have gone up and down.


Dennis. Crackerjack Carpenter and head comedian. Looking serious for the camera.

More next week. Cheers!

Adding On To Your Cape Cod Home

For those of us that are fortunate to live on beautiful Cape Cod, we love our homes and have deep roots in our communities and have every intention of staying. But oh, the house is just so small. The dining room is about 2 feet short. The kitchen could be just a bit more roomy, not to mention another bathroom would be just fabulous. Of course, some of us could free up tons of room just by having a yard sale. Hint! Hint! to my significant other... "We could have a nice family room honey...!"

If holding a yard sale and haggling at over grandma's soup tureen that last held soup in the disco era, is not your ideal way of spending a weekend or won't solve your space issues; Let me share the ways you can gain more living space in your home.

Adding living space within the footprint of your home.

1. Basements. Or lower level makeovers to use a fancy term. Often times, this can be the best bang for your buck. With the foundation built and the mechanicals such as heating systems in place, it can be a straightforward process to gain more living space. Drawbacks can be ceiling heights and moisture issues not to mention you're going to have to find a new home for your stuff.

2. Garage. You can find quite a fair amount of living space within the confines of your garage, for some, a 2 car garage can be equal to 25% of your home's square footage! That's quite a bit of space to give up so you can keep a car dry and toasty. Often times you can build a new garage at a later date.

3. Attic. Once in a blue moon, we'll find a home here on Cape Cod that has an attic that can be converted into additional living space. Access issues can be over-come by installing spiral stairs rather then standard stairs. Yet, many times, we find that an attic floor is not tall enough to support the new floor loads and headroom can be problematic. Skylights can be useful in bringing in light and air.

Putting in a POP-UP Dormer can turn an attic into a useful space. Also, consider that garages will sometimes have attics that can be converted into living space.

4. Raise The Roof. We have raised the roof on what are typically called ranch style homes. This type of project is not for the faint of heart, but can be done without exposing your home to the elements. The beauty of this project is that you can double your living space virtually overnight. To undertake this project, the remodeler must determine if your home is an ideal candidate for this type of project. Pulling it off, requires precise planning and co-ordination by all parties involved.

5. Reconfiguring. Sometimes just changing the use of a room will gain additional space. Do you have a dining room that gets used once or twice a year? Do you have a living room and a den? You may have to move some walls or add a door or two and then wunderbar! you've just improved the liviabilty of your home.

6. Enclose. Another other way to gain living space is to enclose what is commonly called a breezeway. This is an open roof structure that connects a house to a garage or outbuilding.

Expanding the footprint of your home to gain living space.

1. Addition. Large. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and add-on in a big way. If the options outlined above do not provide you with the living space you need, then an addition, will most likely be the way to go. Proper placement of the addition will be critical here. You also have four ways you can set the base of the addition: Full foundation, crawlspace, on piers or a slab style foundation. If you have a two story home, it may also make good sense to consider a two story addition.

A 2 story addition we designed and seamlessly tied into the back of a ranch.

@designREMODEL has built what is known as a Shell Addition. This is where we build an addition and make it weathertight and look finished from the exterior. This option, allows the homeowner to complete the interior themselves or have our our company come back as finances allow. This is a pretty neat way to gain short term 3 season living space without breaking the bank!

2. Addition. Bump-Out. Perhaps all you need is to make the bathroom 3' longer, is to build a short bump-out. Perhaps the kitchen can be made larger by adding on a bump-out that is 3' x 12' for example.

Notice all of the bump-outs? The back of this house was orginally straight and flat

Typically bump-outs are sited on the ground level and can be built over piers. They can add visual interest to a home. The biggest challenge with bump-outs, is tying the roof line in and making sure it does not detract from the curb appeal of the home. Bump-outs can provide a nice bang for your buck!

3. Connect. One other way to gain living space, is to connect a free standing garage or out-building to your house with an addition.

In terms of cost, building a large addition or raising the roof can typically be the most expensive way to add on. Basement makeover's can be cost effective, but having multiple rooms, built-in's and adding a full bath can put the cost between $60-$75K and up. Bump-out additions can be a good value in some cases. Every project will be different and almost always require a custom approach for the best fit.

Please feel free to post comments or questions. We're here to help.

Game Changer For Homeowners and Trades People

Starting on Earth Day: April 22, 2010, a new nationwide law intended to protect children and adults from lead poisoning will take effect. It’s impact will be broad. Prior to 1978, paint that contained lead was commonly used on both the interior and exterior of homes, schools and workplaces. Over time, elevated levels of lead were discovered in children and pregnant women. The culprit was found to be ingestion of lead paint chips as well as dust containing high levels of lead. Action was taken to ban the use of residential products that contained lead.

Since the implementation of that law, the EPA has compiled new regulations which will take effect on Earth Day. The restrictions covered by the new law govern how work can be performed on homes built prior to 1978.

Dust is a Larger Threat

When I recently attended the Certification course for the EPA’s Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair, and Painting, I, along with the other attendees was surprised to discover that lead paint chip ingestion is the culprit in only a small number of cases of lead poisoning. The primary transfer of lead occurs when lead contaminated dust is inhaled or otherwise ingested.

The course instructor pointed out, that when you operate a double hung window that has been painted with lead paint, the sashes rubbing together, create a small amount of dust that will add up over time and will contaminate the entire room. The amount of lead that can cause brain damage or learning disability's in children, problems for pregnant women is very small.


New Rules Very Inclusive

The EPA wants a large number of people to comply under with the requirements of the law. For example, if you are a property owner who performs your own work on your Pre-1978 rental property, you are required to be certified by the EPA to perform the work . You will be required to follow the strict work procedures. The same will apply to any remodelers, plumbers, electricians, painters and so forth. Even simple window replacements of any kind are covered under the new law.


Workspace Bubble

In the Certification training, we were required to engage in hands-on methods of containment. Prior to starting any work, workers will have to dress in disposable coveralls that they step into leaving only their face exposed. Then, they will have to put on latex gloves followed by work gloves. Finally they either put on a respirator or a properly rated dust mask.

In the workspace, all floors have to be covered by plastic at specified distances from the work area. All items such as furniture not removed from the room need to be covered and completely taped off to create an air tight barrier.

Entrances to the room are required to be sealed with a plastic barrier with additional flaps on both sides. A slit is cut in the center of the middle barrier with which people and materials will be passed through. The EPA requires that a bubble be created to avoid contamination of adjacent areas. On the exterior, the EPA will require plastic extending out from and sealed to the house to catch any lead contaminates.

All debris from the workspace, will be required to be bagged or wrapped in plastic and sealed off before placing in the dumpster. It will take a lot of plastic bags to dispose off drywall from a typical room. Not to mention, that the drywall will have to be broken up so that it will fit into the bags.


Throw The Brooms Away

No longer can jobs be just left broom clean. If anything, the EPA would prefer that we throw our brooms away and solely use professional grade HEPA Vacuums. Sweeping can create air bourne dust.

After a through cleaning of all walls, floors and other surfaces that can contain dust. A cleaning verification process must be followed that can require multiple cleanings before the area is considered clean per EPA standards.


Costs Will Increase

Training, certification, new equipment will add a small increase in project costs. However, significant cost increases will occur in following the procedures mandated by the EPA. Work will slow to a crawl as containment areas are created and worked in.

Imagine an employee wearing a full body suit with a respirator, trying to perform demolition work in a non-vented space in the middle of July, wrapping all the debris in plastic and passing it through a slit cut into the plastic barrier. Some project costs could double or triple as a result of the increased labor.


$37,500 Fine

The EPA can assess fines up to $37,500 per violation in addition to other fines. They have also made it clear that they will play hardball in enforcing the law as they want compliance to take place as rapidly as possible.


Avoid Risks

It is possible that some contractors will ignore the law and continue with business as usual. They will in turn, provide quotes to homeowners that will be lower then any quotes from certified and compliant firms. As most homeowners will be unaware of the new law, they unknowingly place their family at risk from lead exposure, they may also place their pocketbooks at risk if the EPA finds out that work is been done by a non certified firm. The project will get shut down and the money that the homeowner has paid to the contractor will most likely be passed along to the EPA to pay fines.


Lead Law, Here to Stay

This new law has been in the works for 2 decades and has the backing of several influential advocacy organizations. It will take some time for the dust to settle as the impact of this law is assessed and adjusted to. It has been made clear by the EPA that we need to change our work practices for the benefit of our children's health.


A Thought For The Day...

In buying just about anything, there is always the risk you'll pay too much.

There is however, a much more significant risk in paying too little.

I bring this up, as we're getting many folks looking to purchase on price only. Then we're hearing stories about requests for more money and projects that are left unfinished.

Remodeling is expensive in any economy. If you cannot afford to pay someone to do it right, can you afford to pay to get it fixed when it goes south?