Remodeling Costs On Cape Cod

We frequently get inquiries about the cost of remodeling projects here on Cape Cod. Given that every house, project and homeowner is different, it can be challenging to provide a specific number without going through the process of looking at every aspect of a project which is time consuming. Design, selecting products and fixtures, calling suppliers and trade partners. Which can on average take about 8-12 hours on a small bath remodel!

Enter Remodeling Magazine , which is one of the best trade magazines for Remodelers and for the last 23 years, has undertaken the research, leg work and math on an annual basis on the costs of a wide range of projects. Below are some examples of projects that we extracted from their data. These are similar to projects that @design REMODEL has completed for clients across Cape Cod.

1. Basement Remodel  $66,675 2. Bathroom Addition  $40,753 3.Bathroom Remodel  $17,460 4.Minor Kitchen Remodel  $19,885 5.Major Kitchen Remodel  $58,982

For the most part, we have found that the project costs compiled by Remodeling Magazine are consistent with what we and others in the market are charging. While there is variation from project to project, the averages are right in line with reality.

In many ways, the costs of remodeling have followed a similar trajectory of the cost of purchasing a new car or truck. Costs have escalated as manufacturers add new features, use new materials and add higher labor costs, research and development and regulatory compliance, it all adds up!

It's not all unusual for a new fully loaded SUV to cost upwards of $60K much like the Major Kitchen remodel listed above at about $59K. Yet, after 5 years, most vehicles are heavily depreciated and you are ready for a new one. The kitchen on the other hand, is only one quarter into it's life expectancy of 20 years!

Note: The costs above are averages for New England and are for projects considered "midrange" in scope and cost.

“© 2011 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2011–12 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at

Cape Cod Kitchen Design & Usability Idea: Lighting

Lighting The Way Many of the Cape Cod kitchens we remodel, usually need lighting upgrades as the existing lighting is insufficient. I've seen kitchens lit by a single fixture located in the center of the ceiling and complimented by a small light over the stove. Lots of shadows in those kitchens! Even worse, are kitchens lit up by industrial florescents that flood the space with blindness inducing bright, sterile, white light.

The right lighting in a kitchen can make it safer to work in, easier to see (especially as we get older) and can create a warm, welcoming feel for everyday use or while entertaining family and friends. With forethought and good planning, this is easily accomplished in any size kitchen.

Let's review the types of lighting typically used in most kitchens.

Types of Lighting Overall This type of lighting is the most common, it can be a simple centralized fixture mounted on the ceiling or multiple fixtures either recessed or surfaced mounted and placed at different locations around the kitchen. Properly selected and placed, these fixtures can provide for most of your lighting needs.

Task When you really need to shine light on your workspace, task lighting is the way to go. In a kitchen, this will usually mean lights mounted on the underside of the upper cabinets. Having lights properly mounted as such, will flood the counters and workspace with lots of light. For task lighting, I would recommend that LED lighting be installed as it provide multiple benefits in reduced energy use, less heat shred then other types of fixtures and LED'S provide bright and dimmable lighting. It's interesting to note that the Starbucks coffee chain recently retrofitted their stores with LED lighting which significantly reduced their energy usage and costs.

Also, task lighting can be a overall lighting fixture placed in a specific location. An example of this, is installing a light over the sink area with a high wattage bulb that floods the sink with light.


If your kitchen is large enough to function as a entertainment space, then the right mood lighting can create a warm inviting feel that may make it difficult for guests to leave. It's possible that the right lighting, will make food look and taste better. Although some dishes will be beyond rescue! We often create mood lighting in a kitchen by simply replacing standard switches with dimmer type switch's which will allow you to control the intensity of the light.

Types of Fixtures Recessed Light

Ceiling Recessed is the most popular type of fixture used for overall lighting. They come in multiple sizes and style of trims. (Trims are the decorative surround that the bulb sits inside.) You can also install low voltage lights especially if you want a small, low profile light fixture. Usually you can use a flood type bulb or a focused beam bulb in these fixtures depending upon where and what you want to illuminate.

Be sure to install IC type recessed fixtures (As shown right) anywhere that they will come into contact with insulation. This allows for the insulation to be installed up to and over the fixture. Do not use non-IC fixtures below a non-heated space such as an attic. Doing so, essentially creates holes in your ceiling for heat to escape and will increase your homes energy usage and costs.

Blue Surface Mounted. We have had kitchen renovations here on Cape Cod where we have specified the use of surface mounted fixtures. In some cases, the period style and age of the home made it an appropriate choice and other times, high ceilings allowed for hanging fixtures. Surface mounted fixtures can create style and bring color into your kitchen as shown in the picture to the left. If a kitchen has an island, we usual install pendant lights over it and then install recessed lights in other areas of the kitchen.

Wall Sconces. Although rarely used in a kitchen, if you have the wall space and it's in an ideal location, a wall sconce can add style and set a mood. With a dimmer, it can also function as a nightlight for those late night raids on the fridge!

Under Cabinet lighting works great in really lighting up workspaces and we often use dimmable LED lighting under our cabinets. One tip: Make sure the fixtures are mounted in the front of the cabinet not the back. Installing the fixture forward, brings more light out over the countertop and makes the fixture it's self less visible.

In Cabinet Lighting can also create a fabulous backdrop while showing off your Waterford Crystal collection. Typically we use dimmable "puck" style fixtures mounted on the ceiling of the cabinet. Another tip: Replace the wood shelves in the cabinet with glass shelves to really allow the light to shine through!

Here are some links to some of our favorite light fixtures.

Rejuvanation.Great period fixtures and fabulous quality!

Hubbington Forge.Very elegant old world fixtures.

Restoration Hardware.Love the mix of old and new.

Hopefully, I've lit the way forward in helping you select the right lighting for your new kitchen! Feel free to comment or ask questions.

West Falmouth Kitchen Remodel: Start to Finish

This month finds us remodeling a kitchen in West Falmouth. This kitchen remodel will replace a typical eighties builder grade kitchen which primarily consisted of laminate cabinets and counter tops. The redesign of the kitchen improves the look, layout and provides for more storage. The Homeowners selected a frameless cabinet in a natural maple finish manufactured by Dewils.. The countertop will be granite and the apron front deep stainless steel sink will be a focal point in this kitchen.

Follow along as we document the progress, the challenges and the final outcome in this soon to be fabulous makeover! IMG_5442

Demolition of the old kitchen was tacked by the homeowners. They did such a good job, that I asked if they wanted to hire on as my demo crew! When we arrived to start, the space was clean and ready for us to take over. The old cabinets and counter tops were recycled into storage/workspace in the garage.

IMG_5450One of the first things we did, was set up a dust wall with a zipper door as shown in the picture at left. This dust wall will help keep the spread of dust to a minimum.

IMG_5462 As shown in the picture above, our first task was to remove a section of the drywall so the Electrician could update the wiring and placement of assorted electrical devices. We also needed to provide a new backer or substrate for the tile back-splash to come. If you look at the picture closely, you will see that the seams will be hidden by the base and upper cabinets. We also removed just over the width of a standard drywall width of 48" This will allow for faster and neater installation of new drywall.

We also removed some of the plywood on the floor as it was damaged and weak in some spots. Unfortunately at this point, we discovered that the sub-floor consisted of 1/2" plywood which is insufficient to support the new tile. A typical-sub floor will have at minimum, 3/4" thick plywood supported at all edges.

It was decided to install an additional layer of 1/2" plywood laid perpendicular to the existing sub floor to provide more support under the large/substantial tile that is going to be installed.


The picture above shows the exterior wall where we are preparing to open up and install an additional window while replacing the window on the left with a new Andersen gliding window. We will need to relocate wiring and carefully measure placement of the new windows, as we plan to install several receptacles and switches between the window bottom and the top of the counter top. Space will be at a premium here!


Meanwhile on the exterior, we have constructed and set up staging over the stairs. In this picture, we have carefully removed the existing shingles for reuse around the new windows. Soon this wall will show two new Andersen gliding windows!

Next up, is framing the window opening and preparing the flashing system for the windows. As you can see in the photos below, we have added an opening for the new window and now we are preparing the openings with flashing on the sill and around the edges.

IMG_5490 IMG_5489

The windows are now being set in the openings. At this point, we make sure the windows are level and square before securing them permanently in place.

Here is a picture of the exterior with the shingles that were saved during removal, now reinstalled around the new windows.


On the interior, the window framing is complete, the electrician has completed his rough wiring and new insulation has been installed as seen in the photos below. At this point, we have gotten the inspections we need from the town and are now ready for the installation of the sheetrock.


Just before the sheet rock is installed, we cover the insulation on the exterior wall with 4 mills plastic which acts as a vapor barrier. You can also see on the floor, that we have installed new plywood fastened with screws. This additional layer of plywood, will provide strong support for the new tile.

Coming up: Mud-time! The seams on the drywall will be coated with mud-aka Joint compound which will hide the seams. We'll also be slapping mud or thinset down on the floor as we install new tile.


In the above picture, you can see that the team from Spooner Drywall has worked their magic in patching the walls. They also worked magic on the the ceilings which have the dreaded popcorn finish on them. In fact you cannot see any evidence where the ceiling was patched at all!

On the floor, the bright orange covering you see is a product called Ditra which is a provides great support under tile and also isolates the tile and grout from the movement of the wood below. Ditra is used by professional tile installers the world over. Here, the Ditra is has been dry-fitted and is awaiting the tile setting to trowel down a layer of thinset mortar over the plywood. He will then embed the Ditra. The tile setter will trowel more thinset onto the Ditra and set the tiles. Going through this multi step process will ensure a strong floor that resists movement and cracking.IMG_5583-1 Here is a snapshot of the cabinet install in progress.

IMG_5577-1 The space above is for the sink base and you can see how planning ahead avoids many problems later. 1. We left out a section of tile to make it easier to install the water piping. If we did not, the plumber would have to drill through the tile inside a very confined space. 2. We drilled the holes for the water piping ahead of time. 3. These cabinets require a site built base and in building the base for the sink cabinet, we created a chase for the piping for the dishwasher to be threaded through in the right hand corner.

IMG_5579-1 As shown above, the sink base is now installed and you can see that multiple holes have been made to accommodate the plumbing, electrical and the new sink.

IMG_5580-1 The picture above shows the stainless steel sink now installed. Coming up. Bumps in the RoaAs you can see in the

As you can see in the pictures below, all of the cabinets are installed and the granite has been carefullly put in place and then we hit a couple of bumps in the road.Dunphy-Stove

Turns out the interior finish on this stove was defective. The homeowner decided that they wanted to replace it with another brand which in turn required returning the over the stove microwave. This delayed installing the backsplash tile.

On top of this, the weight of the refrigerator punched a hole in the tile as we were shifting it in to place. If you look at the photo below, you can see a round hole punched through the travertine tile which is somewhat a delicate tile. The kicker was, that the damaged tile was partly under the refrigerator side wood panel which would have to be removed so that the tile could be replaced. This in turn held up the completion of the upper cabinet moldings...

Tile_Punch Fortunately, replacing the tile was a relatively simple if a bit messy task that was done quickly and efficiently by the tile installer.

At the start of the tile install for the backsplash, it was found that the varying thickness of the different tiles did not work well together. The homeowner decided to go with a different look as you can see in the pictures below.



All Wrapped Up and Done!


Dunphy3 Dunphy2

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.