Small and Mighty: Model ReModel East

This retirement home packs a lot of quality construction into a small space

October 24, 2019
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model remodel east

The crew sheathed the walls with ZIP System panels from Huber Engineered Woods. ZIP System panels have an air- and moisture-resistive barrier that, when used with ZIP System Flashing Tape, protects against air and water intrusion. Theflashing tape is very sticky, and technique matters. Tape in a sequence that creates overlaps that promote moisture drainage: lowest horizontal seams first; then vertical seams immediately above, overlapping at the intersections; then the next course of horizontal seams; and so on.

The 650-square-foot cottage is in Rehoboth Beach, Del. It will receive a full interior-exterior remodel, plus an addition that will nearly double its size. Plans include energy-saving options, universal design, and a contemporary light-filled aesthetic. 

The homeowners are husband and wife who plan to retire there. The cottage has been in the wife’s family for many years, and she grew up spending time there during the summer. The couple now wants to downsize, and remodeling the cottage meets several of their goals, which include a one-level, accessible floor plan; a guest room for visitors; improved energy efficiency; and low-maintenance materials. 

Accessibility is especially important because the couple's nephew, who will eventually inherit the cottage, was injured in an accident and uses a wheelchair.

Boardwalk Builders met the owners when they accompanied a past client to the company’s customer appreciation barbecue. The annual get-together has been a company highlight for over a decade and attracts more than 100 people.

The plan is to expand the cottage to almost double its current size, from about 635 square feet to about 1,190 square feet (including a 194-square-foot screened porch). The foundation and the frame of the original front section of the house will be preserved; the walls and roof of the rear addition and porch will be demolished to make room for the new addition, which will be built partly on the existing foundation and partly on a new masonry block foundation.


The final step before framing began in earnest was to lay the subfloor using the AdvanTech Subfloor Assembly from Huber Engineered Woods. Since its introduction more than 20 years ago, high-density AdvanTech subfloor panels have earned a reputation for dimensional stability and moisture resistance. The latter was put to the test when the area experienced a long period of rain. With wall plates acting as dams, water quickly accumulated on the subfloor. With only brief dry spells between near-constant rain, the subfloor was wet for almost 10 days. But once it dried out, it showed no signs of sponginess or swelling at seams.


PEX tubing has revolutionized plumbing rough-in, but fittings are still needed at both ends and at branch lines. That area is undergoing a revolution as well with the advent of push-to-connect fittings.

Boardwalk Builders used SharkBite PEX pipe and SharkBite EvoPEX fittings, along with HoldRite PEX support brackets. 

One of the advantages of SharkBite fittings is that they don’t require any special tools to make a connection: All it takes is moderate hand pressure and a slight twisting motion. And the newer version of SharkBite fittings used on this project have a green indicator that confirms a watertight connection. Now you can just look for the green to be sure you’re fully engaged into the fitting.


Drywall was straightforward, but the splayed ceilings and trimless window returns required added labor. To speed the taping of all those corners and off-angle joints, the drywall crew used vinyl profiles from Trim-Tex. The “Magic Corner Expansion Bead” has a flexible insert at the corner that can handle movement of up to 3/8-inch, according to Trim-Tex. The bead is set, not in mud, but with “847 Spray Adhesive,” a proprietary, pressure-sensitive spray adhesive designed specifically for use with the company’s vinyl beads. The time needed to apply the adhesive is balanced by not having to apply mud and trowel in the bead, and the end result is a dead-straight joint.

About the Author


About the Author


Sal Alfano is executive editor for Professional Remodelersalfano@sgcmail.com, 202.365.9070

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