Save More With A PRO Account

Designed specifically for builders, developers, and real estate agents working in the home building industry.

See what PRO SERVICES can do for you!


America's Best House Plans

*Passwords must be at least 8 characters, and include a lowercase letter, an uppercase letter, a number, and special character: .=!@#+\-$%^&*
Notify me of promotions and discounts.
I work in the home building industry.

Forgot your password?

Enter your email address and we'll send you a password reset link.

One of America’s most beloved and cherished styles, Cape Cod house plans are enveloped in history and nostalgia. At the outset, this primitive house was designed to withstand the infamous stormy and frigid weather associated with the cape of New England and those who settled there.

One of the most recognized and admired home styles in today's housing market, the Cape Cod design has steadily adapted to the needs of the modern family. These floor plans provide generous floor space, an open layout, and a versatile layout situated beyond its modest façade.

Despite changes over time, Cape Cod house plans remain a popular and affordable home style because they are perfect as a small starter home; however, today’s Cape Cod homes have often been updated and expanded to be an ideal choice for even larger families. Expanded room sizes, improved traffic flow, and the addition of a complete second story offer even more reason for homeowners to embrace this iconic house plan.

Quite often, along with a full second story expansion, today’s Cape Cod homes will also feature a bonus space of some type, thereby, increasing the square footage and flexibility of the home to suit the modern family. Additionally, the updated Cape Cod plans may have adopted the open floor plan layout as a means of improving the traffic flow, livability, and efficiency of the home’s interior.

What is a Cape Cod house design?

Cape Cod house plans originally were designed for practicality and comfort in harsh climates and they continue to offer protection and visually pleasing elements to the coast of New England and elsewhere throughout the nation.

The clean symmetrical lines often associated with this home design extend into the 21st century beautifully and translate into a home style beloved and sought after for its “Main Street” appearance and idealism.

Although it was originally adopted for its function rather than its form, modern amenities and everyday conveniences have been added to Cape Cod house plans in such a way as to sustain the functionality of the home while increasing the form.

These are the traditional elements you’ll find in most Cape Cod floor plans:  

  •  A large centrally located chimney
  • Cedar shingles
  •  A steeply pitched roof line
  • Multi-pane, double-hung windows with shutters
  • Lack of extraneous details/ornamentation
  • Central entrance
  • Neutral color palettes
  • Symmetrical design

Modern improvements over the years often included:   

  •  Dormer windows to open the attic/second story floor space  
  • Open floor plans  
  • Shingle siding may have been replaced with brick, stucco, or stone
  • Unadorned entrance but today’s Cape Cod home styles may include porches – sometimes, complete wraparound porches but usually an expanded front covered porch and quite often, a rear porch as well.
  • Many Cape Cod home plans have increased their square footage to include either an expanded half or full second story, used for bedrooms and other practical space; not just attic or storage space.

Why is it called a Cape Cod house?

While the style of home known as Cape Cod has been built as early as the 17th century, the name “Cape Cod house” wasn’t used until the 1800s by the president of Yale University during a visit to Cape Cod. While the name itself doesn’t have much history, the design of the home dates back centuries.

Cape Cod house plans are designed as protection from the regional climate that brought frigid temperatures, the home’s centrally located fireplace provided warmth and comfort for the occupants. The steep pitched roof was a necessity to avoid accumulation of the excessive snow piles and water drainage which could result in the subsequent ruin of the home’s exterior and interior.

The shutters adorning the windows were then a necessary element to the home’s design to withstand the wind and weather elements; however, today, they offer more of an aesthetically pleasing aspect.

As the home’s style progressed through the years, Cape Cod floor plans began to offer more space on the upper level for bedrooms so that heat could rise into the sleeping areas during cold New England winters.

How tall is a two-story Cape Cod house?

The height of two-story Cape Cod house floor plans will vary depending on the design of the home, but at a very minimum, it will be 16 feet. On average, most two-story homes are about 20 feet tall, and that’s generally no exception with modern Cape Cod house plans since they will be subject to today’s code requirements.

What is a 3/4 cape?

A 3/4 Cape or three-quarter Cape refers to the positioning of the door and windows on the layout of a Cape Cod house plan. Traditionally, Cape Cod floor plans are symmetrical, with an equal number of windows on either side of the door. A three-quarter Cape has two windows on one side of the door and a single window on the other side of the door.

What is a half Cape Cod house?

Like the 3/4 Cape, a half Cape Cod house refers to the layout of the doors and windows. A half Cape Cod layout has all the windows on one side of the door, and the other consists of “bays” or spaces.

Do all Cape Cods have dormers?

Not all Cape Cod homes have dormers. Unlike today's modern Cape Cod house plans, window dormers were not an original element of the home and were later added to gain space, light, and ventilation/air circulation for optimum comfort of the home’s expanded second floor.

Do Cape Cods have basements?

While most modern Cape Cod house plans can include basements (depending on the region of the country, of course), original Cape homes had what is affectionately referred to as a “Cape Cod basement,” which is a little more than a small brick or stone enclosure that holds the house essentials like the water heater, electrical panel, and the boiler. They aren’t functional basements.

How much does it cost to build a Cape Cod house?

While the original home design was simple, no-frills Americana, as tastes have evolved, so has the number of floor plan options for Cape Cod homes. The cost to build a Cape Cod house ranges from $148,00 to over $320,00 and depends on various factors, some of which are in your control and some, unfortunately, are not.

Cost factors you can control include home size, house features and amenities, and finishes. Cost factors that are typically out of your control are things such as labor and materials availability, code requirements, and seasonality. By balancing these two, you can build a beautiful home that fits within your budget.

At America’s Best House Plans, we offer a cost-to-build report for any of our house plans. Each report takes into account the current price of labor and materials in your specific area. Click here for more information

How much does it cost to build a small Cape Cod house?

Small Cape Cod house plans are the perfect choice when building a smaller home since that’s how they were traditionally built. The cost to build a small Cape Cod house starts at $148,000, but the price ranges depending on various factors. To get an accurate idea of how much the Cape Cod home of your dreams may cost, America’s Best House Plans offers a Cost to Build Estimator.

This simple and sturdy house design is consistently positioned at the top of the list as the quintessential American style house plan and epitomizes post-war American housing. Although these homes originated as a New England style homes with their ability to provide solid protection against high winds and wet, snowy weather conditions, Cape Cod floor plans are popular nationwide regardless of regional weather conditions. Browse our selection of Cape Cod house plans to find your perfect fit!


214 Plans Found

    Plan Type
    Square Feet
    Garage (Vehicle Spaces)
    Architectural Styles
    Outdoor Living
    Bedroom Options
    Kitchen & Dining
    Laundry Location
    Additional Rooms
    Garage Type
    Other Features
    Foundation Type
    Plan Width
    Plan Depth
    Media Filters
    Matching Plans: 214