Waterproofing Your Deck

November 1st, 2010

With all the rain we have had in the past month, Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers our method of waterproofing a second story floating deck that has a finished ceiling beneath it. 

 After framing the upper deck subfloor with a slope, we install a rubber membrane on the subfloor that wraps up and over any doorways leading to the second story floating deck.

Waterproofing 2

The rubber membrane is then installed to completely cover the subfloor.

Waterproofing 4

Any penetrations coming through the deck floor (such as handrail posts) need to be wrapped with the membrane.

Waterproofing 3

Next, we install the floating deck system. This involves placing (but not fastening) treated 2×6 boards flat on the membrane. The reason it is called a floating deck is because it isn’t fastened to the framing beneath. We then cut treated 2×4 boards down to basically form a wedge. The purpose of this is to keep the finished decking where you stand flat and level. Remember that the subfloor decking still slopes under the membrane so the water that drips through the deck boards will still run down the membrane and away from the house.

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The picture below is the finished floating deck before paint and handrails are installed.

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This view (before paint and handrails) shows the finished ceiling beneath the second story floating deck.

Waterproofing

Rainy Day Kid Tips

May 3rd, 2010

New Hanover County, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share the following article courtesy of RealtyTimes.com.

This season brings with it its share of rainy days. And while you and other homeowners may not be able to work in your yards, clean out gutters, or install that new walkway, a stormy day can be a perfect time to settle in to enjoy family and the home you’ve put so much effort in to. 

Here are ten great stay-at-home activities for you to try with your crew.

1. Plan a Scavenger Hunt. Hide a prize, such as a movie to watch or a treat to eat, in the final location, and then leave a succession of clues and riddles around your home for the kids to investigate and follow.

2. Go Camping. If you have the space, consider setting up your camping tent in a large room, such as your family room. If you don’t have a tent, use chairs and a large blanket to mock the structure. Make smores in the microwave and tells scary stories against the backdrop of rain and thunder.

3. Talent Show. Set up a “stage” in your family room, and then let everyone take their turn showcasing what they do best. This is a great confidence booster, and can provide even more entertainment years down the road if you take video proof! Your family is probably full of musicians, dancers, comedians, and artists, and now is their time to shine.

4. Arts and Crafts. Let your inner Picasso shine forth. From crayons, to paints, to Popsicle sticks, there is no limit to what projects you and your family can tackle.

5. Baking Cookies. There’s a reason that home stagers light cookie scented candles during showings; nothing is homier than an oven full of baking cookies. Pull out your dusty Betty Crocker cookbook and make the delectables from scratch. This can be just as educational as it is fun.

6. Bocce Socks! Bocce ball is a classic Roman sport, but a rainy day calls for a new twist. Use rolled up socks as substitutes for the wooden balls.

7. Card games and board games. One great thing about board games is they are offered for a wide range of ages. From “Chutes and Ladders” to “Risk,” there is a little something for everyone.

8. Reading aloud. Before the age of iPods, DVDs, and even Television, there was a family activity that brought a story alive. Reading aloud can be a great activity, and “research and practice show that …. reading aloud is the best way to prepare children for learning to read and to keep them reading as they learn and grow. ” (Reading is Fundamental.org)

9. Puppet shows. Dig though your dresser drawers to find old socks that need new life. Assemble the glue gun, markers, scrap fabric, yarn, and construction paper and make hand puppets.

10. Movie-a-thon. It’s a rainy day classic. Fix a tray of snacks, such as popcorn, “ants on a log” (that’s celery, peanut butter, and raisins!), or some of those cookies you made in number five. Have everyone pick out their favorite movie, new or old, and then settle in for an afternoon of classic cinema.

Use some of these tips and have a great rainy day!

Article Written By: Carla L. Davis, RealtyTimes.com

  

 

How to Build a Compost Bin

March 15th, 2010

Waterford Leland, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an informative article about how to build your own compost bin courtesy of Jennifer Stimpson, This Old House magazine.

If you love to garden, nothing feeds your plants better than compost from your very own backyard, and its priceman pouring compost into his compost bin (free!) is impossible to beat. But the pile itself isn’t exactly an eye-catching feature. Though you can buy a compost bin made from budget-friendly plastic or even chicken wire, a wood bin, typically made of rot-resistant cedar, will conceal those yard clippings and kitchen leftovers without sticking out like a sore thumb on your landscape. The gaps between the wood slats let air circulate around the pile to keep odors at bay and ensure that wastes are breaking down; removable slats, front panels, or doors make it easy to turn the pile and remove compost when it’s ready to spread. Click here and follow the directions to make a rustic little structure that will help you keep your yard thriving year-round.

Wilmington, NC Green builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes understands the importance of recycling and would like to share the following information about recycling paper, courtesy of NCGreenPower.org.

  • Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees compared to paper made from virgin materials.
  • Instead of using a new piece of paper for rough work, turn over a used copy and write on the other side.
  • Junk mail is more than an annoyance. It clogs landfills as well as your mailbox, and costs millions of trees and tax dollars every year.
  • 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in U.S. landfills annually.
  • The average U.S. household receives unsolicited junk mail equal to 1.5 trees each year—That’s more than 100 million trees for all households combined.
  • 44 percent of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (33 percent) is recycled.
  • Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that doesn’t get recycled.
  • On average, Americans spend 8 months opening junk mail in the course of their lives.
  • Start by registering with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). It won’t guarantee you a life free of junk mail, but it can help.
  • You can also go to OptOutPreScreen.com, which can enable you to remove your name from lists that mortgage, credit card and insurance companies use to mail you offers and solicitations.
  • One option is to use the Stop the Junk Mail Kit developed by the Consumer Research Institute.
  • The website JunkBusters.com provides further guidelines for reducing junk mail and other intrusions, from unwanted e-mail (Spam) to telemarketing.
  • Pay your bills online! Eliminate your paper trail as well as the energy used to transport paper bills.
  • Go digital. If only 10 million people in the US change Mon-Fri newspapers to online, we could save almost 50,000 trees each year!
  • Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires substantially less energy and natural resources than products from virgin materials.
  • You may think that a lot of paper gets recycled, but according to the National Recycling Coalition, Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 13-foot-high wall of paper from New York to Seattle.
  • Do your part – recycle!

 New Hanover County, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes realizes that many of our clients have homes to sell before they can build a new home or move to our area. Consider these tips when selling your home. 

Home buyers and home sellers have the same goal: an exchange of property. Buyers want to pay as little as possible for the nicest house they can afford; sellers want to earn as much as possible on their property. They may seem like conflicting interests, but they aren’t. Buyers and sellers goals, at bottom, are both about making a fair trade.

For sellers, there are some intangible factors they simply can’t control, like fluctuations in the market in their city or neighborhood, interest rates on mortgages, and the price at which nearby homes are selling for. Sellers can, however, control how their home is presented when their Realtor shows their property to prospective buyers. One of the best ways for home sellers to ensure the sale of their property is to make it attractive to buyers.
 
Having a pleasant interior design can put buyers at ease and reassure them that your home is well cared for. Buyers don’t easily get excited about purchasing a home that is sloppy, dirty and poorly decorated.

Interior design professional Emily Spreng, who holds degrees in interior design and historic preservation, says working with just two elements of your interior design can reap huge benefits in the overall feel of your home.

Lighting

“Lighting is one of the most important elements in interior design,” Spreng says. “By changing lighting you can instantly change the mood of a room.”

Whether you’re showing your home day or night, pay close attention to the mood being created by your lighting. In the bedroom, Spreng recommends creating a relaxing, ambient feel by turning off your overhead light and adding lamps with opaque shades to your bedside tables.

For cramped or dim spaces, Spreng says mirrors can make a room feel larger and warmer. “Put a mirror on the opposite wall of yours window to bounce the light around,” she says. By reflecting the sunlight, mirrors create the illusion of a second window.

You should also pay attention to your choice of window dressing to use the daylight you have, Spreng adds. “Use blinds that open and close and go up all the way, so you can let in a little bit of light or a lot—it’s just another way to control your lighting.”

Accessories

“Your accessories are the cheapest thing to change if you’re working on a budget,” Spreng says.

Accessories are the stuff you put in the room to make it more interesting, things like vases, candlesticks, pottery, flowers and wall hangings. For Spreng, the thing to remember about accessories is: less is more.

“I think the most important thing to remember when accessorizing your home is that one very interesting accessory is better than six or seven knickknacks,” she says. “If you want to emphasize the design of your home, it’s important to remove as much clutter as you can.”

Spreng advises home sellers to focus especially on area rugs, paintings or photos and throw pillows to spruce up a room. “An area rug is probably the best way to warm up a room,” she says, adding that it will bring a room together and make it feel cozy. Paintings and photos are a good way to add color and character to your room, and you can liven up drab furniture with cheap, colorful throw pillows.

An extra tip: if you have a big room with an empty corner, folding screens are a great way to round out the space and bring the focus back into center of the room.

Courtesy of: Drew Johnson, RealtyTimes.com

Low E Argon Windows

February 23rd, 2010

Pender County, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes is preparing to break ground on our second Insulated Concrete Form home. The owner of the home being built in Currie, NC has chosen to add Argon gas to the standard Low E windows. What’s the benefit of using Argon gas in addition to the Low E glass? Read below to find out!

Today, more than ever, the environment is a major concern. With the effects of global warming almost universally recognized, and the problems with climate change becoming gradually more apparent, the time to act is most certainly now. Add to that the weight of increasing energy bills, and you have got yourself a real incentive to save energy and the world in which we live.

By making simple decisions around the home, we can increase our insulating properties and require less energy to heat our homes, which can help the earth and our wallets. One such way is through installing low E argon windows. In this article, we will look at the benefits of low E windows, and why they should be a realistic consideration for anyone looking to update their household windows.

What does Low E Argon Mean

Regular windows lose heat through four recognizable processes; namely convection, conduction, radiation and leakages. Convection is where warmer air is cooled by exterior air and as a result moves in a downwards direction, thus creating a draft. Conduction is the loss of heat directly through the window.

Air leakage is the physical gaps within the window and its frame, which is another means by which heat is lost. Finally, radiation is the loss of heat in the form of infrared energies through the window. This process is obviously inefficient and costly, in terms of the wasted energy.

What is more, this means that we aren’t getting the most from the energy we are producing, which means we need more energy, which is subsequently more harmful to our environment. However, low E argon windows can change all that.

Low E argon windows work primarily by reflecting heat which would otherwise be wasted back into the room in question. Because it contains argon, the window is significantly better at reflecting heat rather than conducting heat, and consequently keeps the heat in, and keeps the unwanted heat out. This results in a massive energy saving, which is reflected in the first instance when the bill arrives at the end of the month.

Why Low E Argon

Low E argon windows should be a very important factor when it comes to replacing windows. One thing you may notice in the first instance is that low E argon windows are more expensive. This is due to the more technologically advanced manufacturing process, which is also more labor intensive. Having said that, it is estimated that the average household could save $240 every single year through installing low E argon windows, a massive saving over its lifetime. By making the initial investment, the windows will generate a tangible saving, year on year, whilst also going a long way towards saving our planet.

Low E argon windows are becoming increasingly popular and it is easy to see why. With society’s greener conscience, and a determination to cut down on energy bills, there has never been a better time to install low E argon windows in your home.

With that minimal initial investment, you can rest, safe in the knowledge that you are increasing your energy efficiency and doing your bit to protect our volatile environment in these crucial environmental times. Alongside household recycling, maximizing energy efficiency is one of the easiest tangible things you can do, and with such an enormous saving, it is hard to justify not making the transition.

Courtesy of: OnlineTips.org

 

 

Green Up Your Valentine's Day

February 8th, 2010

 
 

 

Pender County, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to wish all of our reader’s a Happy Valentine’s Day and share this very informative article courtesy of NC GreenPower that gives Green gift suggestions for this special day.

Flowers, cards, candy? GREEN up your Valentine’s Day with these ideas that both your significant other and the environment will appreciate!

  •  Instead of traditional flowers for Valentine’s day, give a beautiful, long-lasting potted plant from a local garden.
  • Cook a romantic meal using all organic ingredients from local markets. www.carolinafarmstewards.org
  • Want to take your date to dinner? Then think about supporting a restaurant that uses locally-grown produce.
  • Around a billion valentines are sent each year globally, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. Those one billion cards laid end to end would stretch around the world 5 times! That’s a lot of trees. NOT including cards exchanged in classrooms between children, 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the U.S. alone. So forget traditional paper Valentine’s Day cards! Instead send an e-card that will save paper and get to your Valentine right on time.
  • If you’re really splurging this year and want to get jewelry, find a jeweler who uses conflict-free diamonds, like www.brilliantearth.com. Brilliant Earth uses Canadian diamonds and recycled gold, which means their sales never support slavery, child labor, or terrorism.
  • Take a green vacation with your loved one – visit our website to purchase carbon offsets for your trip.
  • Send your sweetheart organic fair trade chocolates this V-day. www.equalexchange.coop
  • If you want to get a really unique gift, check out Ten Thousand Villages. It’s not only a socially responsible business but also eco-friendly.
  • For a simple $24 tax-deductable donation, you can also give the gift of clean air with an NC GreenPower gift card! www.ncgreenpower.org
  • Consider natural perfumes. Other fragrances are synthetic and often from toxic petrochemicals from crude oil.
  • Take a trip to your local park, aquarium or zoo. Or better yet, make a donation to the ASPCA or Humane Society.
  • If Valentine’s Day is an important day for you, show a bit of extra love for the environment by carefully considering what you buy.

Courtesy of: ncgreenpower.org

Wilmington, NC remodeler Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an article written by Gareth McGrath of StarNewsOnline.com regarding protecting sea turtles in our area.

A traditional way of fishing in North Carolina’s extensive inland and near-shore waters is under threat because of its impacts on an already endangered species.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has proposed a temporary closure of large-mesh gill net fishing from May 15 through Dec. 15 for most areas south of Orgeon Inlet – including the Cape Fear River south of Snow’s Cut – as it struggles to balance the popular and economically important fishing practice with federal rules protecting sea turtles.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has called the growing number of interactions between sea turtles and fishermen in the state’s inshore waters “excessive and unacceptable,” and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Beach could soon move the matter into federal court.

“We haven’t seen or heard anything that meets or addresses our needs and concerns,” said Executive Director Jean Beasley, adding that the filing of a suit could be imminent.

Gill nets, used up and down the coast in a number of fisheries, are stretched from the water bottom to the surface. They are effective fishing tools in the state’s extensive estuaries and sounds.

But the nets, which are often left out overnight, catch everything that swims into them – and that includes sea turtles. The animal’s head or flippers can get caught in the net, and the air-breathing turtles eventually drown.

That has incensed environmentalists, who consider the nets among the biggest controllable threats to sea turtles. They also note that North Carolina and Mississippi are the last states still allowing the fishing practice. To read the complete article, click here!

Courtesy of: StarNewsOnline.com

Selecting Green Paint

February 2nd, 2010

Wilmington, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an informative article from GreenHomeGuide.com that explains things to look for when selecting Green paint. A new coat of paint can make a room feel fresh again, but it often has the opposite effect on the air quality in your home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paints, stains, and other architectural coatings produce about 9 percent of the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from consumer and commercial products, making them the second-largest source of VOC emissions after after automobiles. For the complete article, click here

Courtesy of: GreenHomeGuide.com

The Light Bulb Goes Digital

January 27th, 2010

New Hanover County, NC Green home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers a recent blog post from Michael V. Copeland, a senior writer for FORTUNE Magazine. In the post he examined the growing popularity of LED lights for both residential and commercial use. Below is an excerpt from the article and to read more, click here!

“The $100 billion global lighting industry is undergoing radical change: New office buildings and retail outlets are abandoning fluorescent lighting in favor of LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, those tiny, energy-efficient, long-lasting, and blindingly bright points of light. Giants such as GE (GE) and Philips are shifting production from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. Even the local Home Depot (HD) — which today probably stocks only a couple of LED lighting products — will soon carry a bouquet of LED bulbs, ultimately edging out fluorescents and halogen lamps. By the end of the decade, analysts predict, LEDs will be the dominant source for commercial and residential lighting.

LEDs, which are based on a technology similar to that of computer chips, have more in common in their design and manufacture with your laptop than with the incandescent bulb that Thomas Edison patented almost 130 years ago. As lighting goes digital, the industry is likely to encounter some of the same upheaval that took place when television, music, and other businesses shifted away from analog technologies.

Lighting is dominated by three enormous global companies: General Electric, Germany’s OSRAM (makers of Sylvania products), and the Dutch company Philips. But with LEDs coming on strong, the industry is now opening up to companies such as Samsung, LG, and Panasonic (PC), which have expertise in semiconductors.

‘From where I sit, lighting is undergoing the same transition that the film business did when digital cameras first came out,’ says Chuck Swoboda, CEO of Cree (CREE), a publicly traded LED manufacturer and lighting-systems company based in Durham, N.C. ‘I think the writing is on the wall for older types of lighting technologies. It’s just a question of how quickly we make it happen.’”

Courtesy of: CNNMoney.com