The Home Owner's Toolbox

December 18th, 2009

Jacksonville, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share a recent National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Tip: “The Home Owner’s Toolbox.” As a member of the NAHB, we value their resources and this article highlights the essential tools every homeowner should own in order to maintain and care for their greatest investment. Here are just some of the basic tools in the Home Owner’s Toolbox, and to read the complete article, click here!

Drill and drill bits: Whether you buy a hand drill or a power drill, a good drill will last you a lifetime. Make sure your choice is based on the types of projects you expect to work on in your home. Don’t forget to get a variety of drill bits, since you’ll want to drill precision holes. If you choose a power drill, you can grind, sand, polish and accomplish other jobs with the correct accessories.

Plane: This tool is used to shave wood from boards. When using a plane, cut with the grain, use both hands and work at a slight angle. Be sure to keep the blade sharp.

Caulking gun: A metal device with a trigger handle and a notched rod that extends from the back. It is used to apply caulk (which you’ll need in a variety of types and colors) and other sealants from standard 10.5-ounce cartridges.

Putty knife: Also known as a spackling knife, this tool has a narrow blade with a squared-off end and is used primarily to apply glazing compound or for small scraping or spackling jobs.

Needle-nose pliers with wire cutter: One of several specialty pliers, needle-nose or long-nose pliers have thin, tapered jaws for reaching into tight spots or to hold and bend wire. This tool is especially helpful in electrical projects.

Jacksonville, NC home remodeler Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to keep our readers aware of the latest in government legislation that affects the home building industry. Yesterday our local Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builder’s Association (WCFHBA) endorsed the proposed “Cash for Caulking” program. Below is an excerpt of the article from the Cape Fear Business News, and to read the complete article, click here!

“If passed by legislators, ‘Cash for Caulking’ will provide homeowners with a 50 percent rebate on energy-efficient items such as air conditioners, heating systems, washers and dryers, refrigerators, replacement windows and insulation. The rebate is capped at $12,000 so homeowners spending $24,000 or less will essentially get reimbursed the full 50 percent of their cost. During tough economic times, this program will give homeowners the ability to invest in changes that will lead to overall savings in the long run.”

Jacksonville, NC Green home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share a recent article outlining the future of Green Building. A new study from the U.S. Green Building Council estimates how many jobs Green building will support and how much money Green building will generate.  Below is an excerpt and to read the complete article, click here!

“The USGBC writes on its Web site that ‘buildings in the United States are responsible for 39 percent of CO2 emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption, 13 percent water consumption and 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity.’ The study found that from 2000 to 2008, $178 billion in gross domestic product was contributed to the economy and 2.4 million direct/indirect and induced jobs were created or saved which generated $123 billion in wages.

‘Our goal is for the phrase ‘green building’ to become obsolete, by making all building and retrofits green — and transforming every job in our industry into a green job,’ said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of US Green Building Council.

Fedrizzi says, ‘This study validates the work that the 25,000 people gathered here at Greenbuild, and every member of our movement, do every day.’ According to the press release, ‘The study also assessed the U.S. Green Building Council’s 19,000-plus member organizations and found that they generate $2.6 trillion in annual revenue, employ approximately 14 million people, come from 29 industry sectors and include 46 Fortune 100 companies.’ It further included results from workers including architects, construction laborers, truck drivers—all aspects of the green building industry.”

Above and Beyond EnergyJacksonville, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages all of our readers to understand why energy efficient homes are important to the environment, human health and land resources. When building our Energy Star home in Wilmington, NC we utilized the services of Above and Beyond Energy in Wilmington, NC, a third-party independent company that strives to help homeowners minimize their home’s carbon footprint through improved efficiency and durability.

We’d also like to share a recent article from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide by Wisconsin Green Building Alliance member Tate Walker in which he outlined the reasons homeowners should be aware of energy efficiencies. Below are the points he addressed and to read the complete article, click here!

What are the environmental costs of energy waste in U.S. homes?
Can you scale the big picture down to the homeowner’s perspective?
What are the health benefits of more energy-efficient homes?
What are some of your favorite innovations or design ideas for energy efficiency?
What got you interested in green remodeling?

Going Green Cover (Small)Jacksonville, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes’ LEED Platinum home was recently featured on the cover of Cape Fear’s Going Green magazine. The issue also included a re-cap of the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance’s 5th Annual Solar and Green Building Tour, which Mark Johnson Custom Homes’ LEED Platinum home in Wilmington, NC was featured in. Below is the complete article and for more information, visit Going Green’s website!

Going Green Article

EPAJacksonville, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes has had experience building Green homes in North Carolina. Our Energy Star home in Wilmington, NC received the highest LEED for Homes certification from the U.S. Green Building Council earlier this year. But it seems the Energy Star Program, which is overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, has received criticism lately for not keeping up with the latest in energy efficiency improvements. According to a Custom Home Online article by Stephani L. Miller, the EPA has promised to strengthen its program to maintain its benchmarking role. Below is an excerpt and to read the complete article, click here!

 “EPA will implement several enhancements to the Energy Star products program that ultimately will benefit consumers, including:

  • Setting specifications that will ensure consistent application of the Energy Star logo to identify the top 25 percent most-efficient products within a category.
  • Expanding product coverage to include new consumer product categories that have high energy-saving potential.
  • Increasing verification of compliance with program requirements and improving efforts to identify and address product performance issues. All products will be required to submit product performance testing results to EPA from an accredited laboratory before a product can be qualified under Energy Star.
  • Implementing measures that will ensure Energy Star performance specifications are tightened as necessary so that the program consistently represents top-performing products and doesn’t fall behind performance improvements in the marketplace.
  • Developing an Energy Super Star program as a higher performance tier within the Energy Star program to help consumers more easily identify the top-performing products within a category. The Super Star tier will comprise approximately 5 percent of products within a category and will include advanced technologies and products that have a longer payback period than those qualified under the main Energy Star program.”

UNCW-ColorJacksonville, NC home builder is proud to share that local our university, UNC Wilmington, met the state deadline for reducing energy consumption over eight months early! Per Senate Bill 668, all North Carolina agencies, including universities, were mandated to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by July 2010. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington announced this month that it dropped its usage by 28 percent over the past six years, and 11 percent in 2009 alone.

“As a university, we’ve done well in reducing our energy consumption and costs,” said Tom Freshwater, physical plant director for UNC Wilmington. “We’ve cut our energy costs by almost one-third over the past six years, which is a significant savings in both energy and dollars.”

UNCW met their energy savings goal by:
• Building temperature setbacks at night and during weekends and holidays
• Improving the heating/air conditioning controls at the Center for Marine Science
• Standardizing a uniform temperature in buildings across campus
• Replacing/upgrading HVAC equipment and controls in Kenan Auditorium, Dobo Hall, Cameron Hall and Friday Hall on the main campus
• Installing high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) heat pumps in residence halls

For more information, visit the UNCW News & Events Website!

Real estateJacksonville, NC builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages first-time home buyers to not only understand the $8,000 Federal tax credit, but a lot of other critical information that is available to them.’s Phoebe Chonchua recently wrote an article outlining what first-time buyers should expect research and prepare for. Below is an excerpt and to read the complete article, click here!

“There are many aspects to consider when buying your first home. Your price point, location, lifestyle, expert help, mortgage programs, inspections, how quickly you want/need to move, the list goes on. It can seem like an overwhelming process for first-time buyers. In fact, some shy away and continue to rent simply because they don’t know who to turn to or where to begin. Today there are more resources than ever available with just the click of a mouse; however, that can create information overload! But if you take a breath and relax, I’ll sort through some important factors for home buying. And even if you’re a seller, it’s good to review this material because it helps to remind you where first-time buyers’ mindsets are when they make an offer on your home.

Give yourself more time than you think you need. Due to the housing crisis and credit crunch, the mortgage process can take even longer than it did previously. Searching for a home is averaging about 12 weeks while getting the mortgage process wrapped up can take up to 60 days, according to information released by National Association of REALTORS 2008 Profile of Buyers and Sellers.”

In a recent Realty Times article by Kenneth R. Harney, Harney discussed the passage by the House last week extending the $8,000 home buyer tax credit next year for military, diplomatic and intelligence personnel serving overseas. As a Jacksonville, NC new home builder, Mark Johnson Custom Homes is excited about the possibility of not only building for military personnel but also the chance that Congress will extend or expand the tax credit program. Below is an excerpt and to read the complete article, click here!

“Congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, sponsored the one-year extension of the credit for military and other personnel serving overseas, and is reported by aides as favoring an extension for the entire program.

The White House has not publicly committed to an extension, but has confirmed that the President is seriously examining that option.

An unexpected development that emerged following last week’s White House meeting was the possibility of opening up the credit to a broader group of buyers next year – people who sell their current homes and buy a replacement home.”

Jacksonville, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes utilizes an Internet-based tool to keep clients up-to-date on the progress of their home building via an electronic concierge. To view the Client Progress Portal of our Energy Star home in Wilmington, NC, click here and enter the Username 51 and Password 2009.

CPP log in stillMark Johnson Custom Homes, a family-owned and operated business, takes an innovative approach to the complex process of home building. The company’s Internet-based tool, the Client Progress Portal, allows homeowners to log on to the company’s website to receive full access to the progress of the building of their home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This client-focused website, developed in collaboration with Provis Media Group, LLC, serves as an electronic concierge to homeowners and prospective clients.

“We are very excited about our Client Progress Portal,” said Mark Johnson, President and Founder of Mark Johnson Custom Homes. “We believe that the tool’s innovation and creativity will set the experience of building a new home with our company apart from other builders. Our company relies on the efficiencies of technology to keep our customers and trade partners up to speed on our progress. In our dynamic industry, change is constant and updates need to be communicated to the homeowners. Streamlining the vital aspects of the home building process will keep our projects on schedule.”

At the start of the building process, MJCH clients receive a unique user ID and password to access the Client Progress Portal, allowing them to be involved in every step of their new home or renovation project. The Client Progress Portal provides pertinent information to the homeowner, including construction schedules, current photos of the client’s home, change orders, site plans, plan design and a customer care request form.

Mark Johnson Custom Homes’ commitment to their clients does not end at the closing table.  Homeowners can continue to access the Client Progress Portal for warranty requests, documentation, and tips for home maintenance well after they have moved into their new home.

Dr. and Mrs. Richard Mahfood had this to say in regards to the Client Progress Portal: “The Client Progress Portal on Mark Johnson Custom Homes’ website was extremely valuable in the construction of our home.  Residing in Ohio and not being able to travel to Wilmington frequently, the website enabled us to see the continual progression of the house. Mark Johnson Custom Homes’ investment in the Client Progress Portal made the construction process a very enjoyable experience.”