Experienced design/builder Cotuit Bay Design LLC is rising to meet a new wave of demand in Cape Cod.
KNOWN FOR UNIQUELY incorporating New England’s traditional design appeal into residential and commercial properties, Cotuit Bay Design LLC has been part of its home community of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for the past 15 years.
The breezy, beachy look – and sturdy design to withstand stormy weather – requires a unique skill set, and the company’s designs cater to the styles that have lured homeowners to the cape for decades.
Founder and designer Steve Cook, a native New Englander, has a background in the critical elements of designing for a heavily regulated construction environment, with degrees in architectural engineering and mechanical engineering. He also has a heart for creating homes that take advantage of what so many homeowners seek when they decide to build or renovate in Cape Cod, where Cook himself resides.
“The homeowners on Cape Cod are asking for open floor plans with space for their extended families, especially for the summer,”
he says. “Many of the homes in this area were constructed 25 to 70 years ago with small spaces and are not set up for seaside views.”
Cook’s design work can transform a home into a true seaside retreat, reflecting the Cape Cod lifestyle by including open interior spaces, functional elements and proper glazing as well as integrating interior and outdoor spaces.
The designs of coastal New England, infused throughout Cook’s work, incorporate some shingle-style components and old colonial designs with white cedar shingle siding, cornerboards, dormers, gable roof lines and double-hung windows. The Capestyle home is the most prevalent design along with cottages, some contemporaries and gambrel homes.
“We take the client’s wish list and redesign the spaces, adding onto existing homes to improve their property,” he says. “New homes are designed for maximizing views.”
The economy on Cape Cod has been steady for the last 15 years, with homebuilding following suit. The new home growth was very quick in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s with a few slowdowns due to recessions – and then a surge in the early 2000s, Cook says.
That created ideal timing for the company, which Cook founded in 2001.
“Our firm has grown due to the demand from the baby boomer generation retiring and the second-home demand,” he says.
Cotuit Bay now designs new homes, cottages and additions. The Cotuit team also performs interior remodeling design and small commercial projects for clients on Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. The majority of the company’s work is addition/remodeling with about eight new homes built per year. No matter the project, Cotuit Bay builds quality and craftsmanship.
The attention to detail helped the company land a recent recognition – an award from the Home Builders and Remodeling Association of Cape Cod, for a charming seaside cottage.
The cottage was an exact replica of a circa 1900 bathhouse, which was the last remaining bathhouse for the Squeteague Harbor section of Cataumet. The existing bathhouse, on a bluff below a client’s home, was partially destroyed during Hurricane Bob in 1991 and was propped up on wood blocks without a floor.
Thanks to Cook’s work, clients now use it as their private beach house getaway. The siding and roof matched the original building, along with the balcony. The Cotuit Bay team used a picture from the 1920s to replicate the building.
With work that speaks for itself, the company’s biggest challenge so far has been trying to keep up with the demand, Cook says.
“Other than the 2009 recession slowdown, the workload has increased every year,” he adds.
That uptick has kept the team busy, especially because Cook’s engineering and design prowess keeps him in demand. Due to the shape of Cape Cod, which extends into the Atlantic Ocean, and its hurricane-prone location where wind loads are higher and flood zones have expanded, obtaining building permits can be difficult. A designer with the know-how to tailor plans to the demands of various regulatory boards and guidelines – local, state and federal – becomes a critical element for builders and homeowners, who often seek intricate design requests.
“Those all demand strong structural engineering,” Cook says. “Having an engineering background along with strong design experience definitely helps and is an important part of obtaining a building permit.”
Once plans are permitted, Cook’s construction background also helps with communication with the builders and framers.