If you’re thinking about purchasing a cape style home, here’s some pros and cons we’ve learned after living in ours for the past ~2 years:
- Great bang for your buck – Historically, cape homes make for a great investment as starter homes. The 1.5 floor layout put them in a more affordable price bracket than a colonial, which typically have a similar layout. This enables you to a get a similar number of rooms, but with the slanted ceilings. If you have your heart set on a certain number of bedrooms/bathrooms or a particular neighborhood and are having a hard time getting those specs within your budget, capes are a great way to get to that end goal.
- Character – Since most capes were built in the 1950s, they tend to have character in both the home itself and neighborhood you won’t typically find in new builds. Think original hardwood floors, woodwork, shingle siding, established neighborhoods without major construction noise, established yards/plant systems, and neighborhood features (free book libraries, historic downtowns, etc).
- Ability to modernize with affordable updates: A lot of the features that date cape homes can be updated with a little DIY – painting rooms, staining / painting orangey oak banisters, pulling out carpet, changing out switch plates, etc. If you’re willing to put in a little sweat labor, you can save some big budget dollars DIY’ing.
- Room for growth: Depending on the lot size and town regulations, you may be able to add onto the property as your family expands. A lot of times this can be more affordable (and better for your family) than moving into a new home. Our neighborhood is a circle of ~25 cape homes built in the 1950s. Not one home looks the same today, even though they were all build identically ~70 years ago. Most have garages / garage space on the side, back rooms ‘bumped’ out to give a larger living space/kitchen – the possibilities here are truly endless.
- Dream master bedroom – if you’re dreaming of a master with a huge walk in closet, en suite bathroom, and quaint reading nook, you may have to dream again. Unless there has already been an expansion complete on the home or you have major budget dollars for this expansion planned, this dream may have to wait.
- Major renovations needed to truly modernize – capes that are hitting the market today are often due to current home owners downsizing and tend to have bathrooms & kitchens that are from the ’90s. This means they need some serious love. Unfortunately these renovations will also require major investments and are generally not recommended as a DIY project. On the positive side, if you’re going to seriously invest in any project on a home, the kitchen/bathroom is where to spend given the positive ROI you’ll see.
Overall Recommendation: Buy
Each home is obviously unique with its quirks & inspection finds, but we’ve honestly loved living in our cape home for the past ~2 years and have had no regrets on purchasing. We’d buy it again tomorrow in a heartbeat if we could go back in time.