January 28, 2021

“Should I invest in a major home remodel in Cambridge, Mass in 2021?”

This is a question I am fielding with increasing regularity from clients and friends as we shed 2020 and move into our new year of 2021. As we are working on several beautiful major home design & remodel projects in Cambridge at the moment, I wanted to take a moment and share my viewpoint in this amid the swirl of change that this new year has continued to introduce.

In short — yes. Here’s why:

There are two basic scenarios you may currently be confronted with:

  1. Your existing home is Cambridge is not ideal, and now that you or your significant other have been working from home for 10 months, you’ve had enough. You have a concept of your ideal space and its design and layout but are unsure where to begin.
  2. You are considering purchasing a home in Cambridge but haven’t found exactly what your heart desires. You are considering purchasing and then remodeling the new home to fit exactly what you want.

If this past year has shown us anything, it’s the value of having a home that is well-designed, practical, aesthetic, and safe. For many, the home has become the home office and central workplace (often for more than one partner), educational hub, entertainment venue, and sole platform for everything family related.

Every flaw, poor design, and inadequacy of the home has shown itself in vivid glaring detail. The value and importance of having an ideal home is paramount for overall happiness, safety, and wellbeing, as well as productivity.

Cambridge is a strong and vibrant neighborhood to invest in — whether you are purchasing newly or upgrading your existing Cambridge home. 

The real estate value in Cambridge has risen roughly 59 percent over the last decade and over 100 percent in the last 20 years. All things considered, it’s a solid investment and market that looks likely to continue to appreciate.


A snapshot of the current Cambridge Real estate market

  • • Cambridge Homes for Sale: 107
  • • Average Cambridge Home Sale Price: $953,000 USD (up 4.7% from last year)
  • • Average Days on Market: 22
  • • Price per square foot: $771

Cambridge is definitely a competitive real estate market with homes consistently rising in value. It is a solid, upscale, and vibrant neighborhood to be a part of. Cambridge is a community with clear values in sustainability, eco-consciousness, and care for the environment — many clients are interested in sustainable design and Passive Houses are becoming increasingly popular. 


There are other definite positives and special aspects of Cambridge

The people: Cambridge is home to Harvard, MIT and the abundance of international culture, intelligence, and dynamic innovation these world-renowned institutions afford. Many of our clients are professionals and educators connected to these institutions who chose to make their homes in Cambridge. There is an educated and cultured air to Cambridge — the people are kind, environmentally aware, and generally interested in the world and its wellbeing.

With regards to travel, Logan Airport is 8 miles from Cambridge — that’s about 14 minutes on the I-90. In normal times Logan International Airport is the 16th busiest airport in the US and will take you just about anywhere you need to go in the world with relative ease. 

Uber and Lyft ridesharing services operate in Cambridge and cycling is a huge part of Cambridge culture, both for exercise and its environmental benefits.

There are an abundance of healthy eateries, groceries, and coffee shops in Cambridge. Several of my favorite Cambridge venues are still standing despite COVID-19 and are currently open for and very deserving of your business:


1369 Coffeehouse — Inman and Central Square, Cambridge


Awarded best coffeehouse in 2017, 2018, and 2019 by Scout Magazine, this wonderful coffee house has two locations in Cambridge — Inman Square (original site of the 1369 Jazz Club) and Central Square, both established in the early 90s. A vibrant, locally-owned and operated small business, 1369 has provided the best coffee, tea, and culture Cambridge has had to offer for nearly three decades. During these COVID-19 times they will deliver straight to your door. We truly love and highly recommend them. 


Mr. Bartleys — 1246 Mass Ave, Cambridge


A family-owned venue established in 1960 by Joe and Joan Bartley overlooking Harvard Yard, these are some of the best gourmet burgers in Boston. Featured in major media including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Esquire, their clients/fans range from Bill Belichek and Adam Sandler to Al Pacino and Katie Couric. Their specialty burgers have names like The Tom Brady, The Julian Edelman (actually invented by Edelman), and the Kamala Harris (to name a few). 


Pammys —  928 Mass Ave, Cambridge.


Think some of the best Italian Boston has to offer in an aesthetic family environment established and run hands-on by husband and wife team Chris and Pam Willis — locals who live nearby. They’ve taken Restaurant of the Year in Boston from the Boston Globe and garnered numerous other media awards and accolades. They are consistently excellent and currently offering take out during COVID-19. Support them — you won’t be disappointed.


Cambridge is a leader in sustainable home design & remodeling trends

Design-Build is proving to be the sought-after approach for those seeking maximum creativity, value, and quality for their investment in home remodelling projects in Cambridge. Here are the two contrasting approaches with very different levels of client satisfaction.

Design-Bid-Build: This is an arbitrary process introduced over the past 150 years or so whereby the client hires an architect to draft plans and design the project — to then have it bid out to contractors seeking to perform the project. This approach has many liabilities for the client due in no small part to the fragmented spheres of responsibilities which exist. There is no single person or entity fully accountable to the client for the entire project’s success. Thus you can have impractical and expensive design work, impractical planning, numerous change orders, shoddy craftsmanship, and projects which are off timeline and over budget. In the end the client can be left damaged. You may have experienced this in the past. The horror narratives of this approach are unfortunately rife — we had another client referral last week from a neighbor who’s contractor walked off the job after a falling out with the Architect. This system simply doesn’t work well from my view.


Architectural Design-Build: This is clearly the way to go if one wants to save on time and money, reduce stress, and eliminate a fragmented sense of project responsibility in the people working for you. Architectural Design-Build is a model which stresses single-source accountability with the creative design, planning, and home remodel executed start to finish by one firm.

Architectural Design-Build is being turned to by professionals, families, and individuals as the cutting edge of efficiency, aesthetics, practicality, and accountability when it comes to designing and remodeling a home. This approach packages architectural design and interior design services with highly-skilled and artisan-level building and remodeling services. This natural synthesis makes for a simple, efficient, and accountable creative process followed by a streamlined and responsible execution process — reducing cost, time of execution, and client stress throughout. In the Architectural Design-Build modality, the client is dealing solely with one fully accountable firm. 

Here at New England Design and Construction, we do Architectural Design-Build with a focus on high end and luxury sustainable homes. Here are several examples of beautiful architectural Design-Build remodels we are in progress on and have done in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Boston area.



In summary, Cambridge is one of the most beautiful, cultured, and vibrant parts of Boston. I would recommend investing in a Cambridge home remodel as we move into 2021. You may have a vague concept of what you would like and are uncertain how to proceed. That’s perfectly normal in these circumstances — please feel free to reach out and ask any questions you have. Our Design Consultations are free of charge and may help unlock a creative vision for your ideal home!









Published January 28, 2021 | By

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