Wilmington new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes is excited to announce that we have completed construction of The Angelique, a custom home in the Landfall community. We invite you to take a tour via the two minute video below to experience the home’s New England colonial style and old world charm. Simply click “The Angelique” below to view the video.

The Angelique

Wilmington home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an interesting article, courtesy of environmentalleader.com, about the Empire State Building being awarded LEED Gold Certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally-recognized green building certification system that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in March 2000. LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

The Empire State Building has been awarded LEED Gold for Existing Buildings certification.

It is the tallest and almost certainly the best-known building in the U.S. to receive the award, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, the company that managed the retrofit.

Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle conducted the retrofit, and say the $20 million project is guaranteed to reduce the building’s energy consumption by more than 38 percent and should save $4.4 million in energy costs annually. The improvements also reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 105,000 metric tons over 15 years.

In January 2011, the Empire State Building Company agreed to buy wind-based carbon offsets totaling 55 million kWh per year from Green Mountain Energy, making the Empire State Building carbon-neutral.

In March, the window technology used in the retrofitting of the building went on sale for commercial use. The iWindow is a thin material frame which is installed on the inside of existing windows. This then improves the thermal performance of single pane aluminum systems.

Article Courtesy of:  environmentalleader.com

The Angelique

July 11th, 2011

Wilmington builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to introduce our readers to The Angelique, a custom home we are currently building in the Landfall community.

This client, currently residing in California, brought The Angelique plan to us from Southern Living House Plans. We purchased the plan and had a designer redraw it locally with changes.

The 3800 sf home has a washed and aged tumbled brick exterior that offers a feeling of old world European charm. The dark brown windows will match the gutters to contrast the soft and creamy white color tone of the home’s exterior. Soft arches on a courtyard wall will be lit by large carriage lights and softened by natural green landscaping, leading overnight guests to their own entrance and private suite. Walnut colored operable composite raised panel shutters will complement the pallet nicely.

The interior of the home will be a study of clean lines, layers of soft white with gray tones. The chef’s kitchen will be set with Thermador stainless appliances that will contrast white cabinets and a subway tile backsplash. For a little flair, there will be black granite counter tops with a complementing carrara marble island. Mini crystal and nickel chandeliers will punctuate the setting with a perfect amount of accent lighting.

We invite you to visit The Angelique on our Flickr page to view the construction progress.


MJCH Client Testimonial

May 10th, 2011

Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes values our clients’ feedback in an effort to grow and improve our business. Below is a testimonial from one of our recent clients.

“I would indeed recommend Mark Johnson Custom Homes, I already have. My design, worked out with the architect, required some imagination and attention to detail, especially in regards to building codes. The job was completed exactly as I wished and required considerable ingenuity.”

Virginia Baker

Wilmington builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an article written by Carla Hill with RealtyTimes.com that gives tips for increasing the value of your home.

It is no secret. 2010 was a hard year for home values. According to Zillow.com, homes were expected to lose $1.7 trillion in value. This is an even greater loss than what was seen in 2009.

They report that “the bulk of the total value lost during 2010 was in the second half of the year. From January to June, the housing market lost $680 billion. From June to December, Zillow projects residential home value losses will top $1 trillion.”

Some of the largest losses in value were seen in the West. Los Angeles’ values fell by $38,000 over the course of 2010. And they are down a whopping $676,000 from the peak in the second quarter of 2006. Phoenix, Arizona, saw values falls by $36,000 in 2010. This is down $222,000 from peak times.

There were exceptions to this loss trend. The Boston metropolitan statistical area (MSA) gained $10.8 billion in value, while the San Diego MSA gained $10.2 billion.

Now, while you cannot protect yourself against market corrections such as these, you can take small steps to help increase your home’s value and make it more marketable. The following tips are meant to inspire and motivate you to treat your home like the investment it was meant to be.

1. Make Repairs: Homes require regular maintenance and repairs are a necessary component of homeownership. Procrastination gets you nowhere when it comes to home value. Stay on top of repairs as they are needed. And be sure to address large projects before placing your home on the market. For example, roofs are expensive to replace or repair. Many buyers will pass up your otherwise wonderful home when faced with roof issues.

2. Curb Appeal: Curb appeal is about first impressions. It is also about neighborhood values. Drive down a street lined with manicured lawns and well-maintained homes and the values are sure to reflect the care their owners take. On the other hand, streets with overgrown trees, junky yards, and chipped and faded paint are fighting an uphill battle in the values game.

3. Community Involvement: The classic quote from Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu says, “A journey of 1,00 miles begins with a single step.” This is especially true for improving the health and wealth of a community. Change starts with yourself. By becoming an active member of your community, you can inspire the change you desire. Family, friends, and neighbors will follow your lead of civic duty. How can you get involved? Run for city council, join the PTA, volunteer, and help organize fund raisers and events that inspire community togetherness.

4. Updated Kitchen: Kitchens are a real selling point. Outdated cabinets, counters, and appliances will stick out like a sore thumb to buyers. Be sure, however, that you research your comparables before beginning a remodel. You don’t want to price yourself out of the running. This means if while you love granite and travertine, other homes in your area are selling with laminate, you will probably not be able to ask for a drastically higher price that covers the price of the granite.

5. Updated Bath: Bathrooms also hold much of a home’s value. New low-flush toilets cost as little as $100. And tubs and showers can be easily replaced or resurfaced. Be sure, above all else, that your bathrooms are clean for showings.

6. Energy Savers: Buyers are looking for homes that are energy efficient. Low-flush toilets, solar panels, water filtrations systems, and insulated windows are all inexpensive fixes for energy zappers.

Consider these simple tips and decide for yourself what may help your home retain its value.

Article courtesy of: RealtyTimes.com

Exposed Aggregate Driveways

February 3rd, 2011

Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes recently installed a grey exposed aggregate driveway using recycled sea shells at a home being built in Landfall. Exposed aggregate with broadcast sea shells gives concrete the elegance and beauty of the old south. 

Shells

The process includes broadcasting and pressing recycled sea shells into concrete when wet, then removing the top surface when the concrete flashes (water evaporates) allowing the beautiful shells to appear.

Buckets of Shells

Adding the Aggregate to the Concrete:

The most commonly used method is to seed the decorative aggregate onto the slab surface immediately after the concrete has been placed, struck off, and bull floated. This involves sprinkling the aggregate by hand or shovel uniformly onto the surface and then embedding it with a bull float until it’s completely covered by a thin layer of cement paste.

Before Shells

Exposing the Aggregate:

There are several exposure methods contractors can choose from, depending on the look desired and size of the project. Only the top of the stone is exposed while the rest remains permanently embedded in the concrete. The general rule of thumb is to remove the surface concrete to a depth no more than one-third the diameter of the aggregate particle. Brushing and washing is the oldest method and the simplest because it doesn’t require chemical retarders or special tools. You just wash away the thin layer of surface concrete covering the aggregate by spraying with water and scrubbing with a broom until the aggregate is exposed to the desired depth. The timing of the operation is critical, however, so this method is often better suited for small jobs. The work should begin as soon as the surface concrete can be removed without overexposing or dislodging the aggregate. You can test this by lightly brushing away the surface mortar in a small area with a stiff nylon-bristle broom.

Sea Shell Driveway

Choosing Decorative Aggregate:

The color palette of an exposed aggregate surface is largely determined by the type of decorative stone that’s used. Aggregate selection can also have a big impact on the total cost of the project. Expensive aggregates are not always needed to achieve impressive results. You can also use manufactured materials such as recycled colored glass.

Glass

Lighting With Style

January 27th, 2011

The right light – the right touch

Wilmington builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an article courtesy of GEAppliances.com about lighting for your kitchen.

Good light helps make any kitchen safe and comfortable. Natural light is important, but think about the places that natural light won’t reach or light well. Consider cloudy days, and remember that much of the work will be done in the evenings.

That means artificial light is key. Multiple light sources and different modes of lighting will reduce shadows, glare or blind spots, and put enough light right where it is needed for kitchen activities.

As a rule, you should provide a mix of three lighting modes.

  • Ambient light – For overall room illumination, typically provided by ceiling, track or recessed lighting fixtures. The number and placement of fixtures should provide even illumination without dark spots or “hot” spots.
  • Task lighting – For shadow-free, concentrated lighting of food preparation and other kitchen work activities. Typically comes from under-cabinet fixtures or strips, or hanging fixtures such as pendent lights.
  • Accent lighting – Contributes a decorative element and helps create focal points such as a dish display, a favorite painting, or an eating area. May come from high-intensity recessed or track lights, or hanging fixtures.

Each of these modes should be separately controlled, so the proper mix of lighting can be selected for each activity in the kitchen. Dimmers for ambient and accent lighting will enable you to alter the mood or look of the kitchen, as well as the overall lighting level.

And of course there is a choice of light type. Often a combination of these types is the best plan, utilizing the advantages of each.

  • Incandescent – The traditional choice for its warm effect. Produces quite a bit of heat.
  • Halogen – A brighter, “whiter” light for the same or lower wattage. Longer life than standard incandescent.
  • Fluorescent lamps – Now includes a variety of colors and warmth, to create the same effects as incandescent. Lamps are available for use in all types of fixtures, as well as the traditional tubes. These use less energy; produce less heat, longer lasting.

Programmable Thermostats

January 17th, 2011

Wilmington Custom Home Builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers a helpful article about how the proper use of programmable thermostats during cold winter months can help save energy and money.

Did you know that the average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills – nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling? Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings.

Did you know that properly using a programmable thermostat in your home is one of the easiest ways you can save energy, money, and help fight global warming? A programmable thermostat helps make it easy for you to save by offering four pre-programmed settings to regulate your home’s temperature in both summer and winter – when you are asleep or away.

  • The pre-programmed settings that come with programmable thermostats are intended to deliver savings without sacrificing comfort. Depending on your family’s schedule, you can see significant savings by sticking with those settings or adjust them as appropriate for your family.
  • The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when you don’t need as much. Use the programmable thermostat calculator to see what you can save with set-back temperatures that work for your family. The pre-programmed settings for a programmable thermostat are:
Programmable Thermostat Setpoint Times & Temperatures
Setting Time Setpoint Temperature (Heat) Setpoint Temperature (Cool)
Wake 6:00 a.m. ≤ 70° F ≥ 78° F
Day 8:00 a.m. Setback at least 8° F Setup at least 7° F
Evening 6:00 p.m. ≤ 70° F ≥ 78° F
Sleep 10:00 p.m. Setback at least 8° F Setup at least 4° F
  1. Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
  2. All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
  3. Units typically have two types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you’re planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You’ll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you’re away.
  4. Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats, including ENERGY STAR qualified units, begin to heat or cool at a set time, to reach setpoint temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule — Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By “examining” the performance of the past few days the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when unoccupied.
  5. Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you’ll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
  6. If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don’t forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

Article Courtesy of: www.EnergyStar.gov

Architect Sarah Susanka on designing houses that feel spacious but don’t waste space.

Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers a helpful article written by Evelyn Royer in ECOHOME Magazine that gives tips for “rightsizing” your home.

Dream homes designed by noted architect Sarah Susanka used to include grand foyers and formal dining rooms-spaces often vacant but for the dusting of the cleaning lady and the rush of air conditioning. But as the author of the Not So Big House book series, Susanka now advocates for “rightsizing” the American home.

“Oftentimes, when people hear the words ‘not so big,’ they assume I mean we should all be squeezed into little shoeboxes,” said Susanka during a webinar she recently conducted for the Journal of Light Construction, a sister publication of EcoHome. “Far from it.”

In her equation, homes built one-third smaller than the homeowner’s original design scheme routes square footage dollars into more purposeful space. For example, combining the dining room with the kitchen omits an entire room, while installing proper lighting can transform the space into an elegant dining area for entertaining.

Susanka shared several other simple tricks for building and remodeling a right-sized house:

Make it feel spacious. Walls make homes feel smaller but removing them is not the only answer for creating a spacious feel. To avoid a large, amorphous area, differentiate ceiling and floor levels, and add a column, a beam, or an arch.

Ceilings are like commas in a sentence, she said. “The commas break up the phrases into segments so you can understand the meaning; a lot of times architects will use ceiling height in the same way.”

A lower ceiling over a bed adds charm and character and a heightened one in the center of a living room makes the space feel larger. But don’t make it too high: “A 40-foot-high ceiling is wonderful for a state capital but it’s not exactly what you want in the evenings in which to watch television,” she notes.

Light it right. Adding a window at the end of a dark hallway or a lighted painting in a basement stairway transforms the experience for as little as it takes to install a recessed can.

Build to scale. A smaller room, designed to the scale of its occupants, is more comfortable and saves square footage, money, and wasted space.

Make it personal. Small touches such as beautiful tiles in a kitchen backsplash turn a generic space built for resale value into one that feels like home. And people stay in “homes” far longer than “houses,” the architect says. “If you don’t allow yourself to make your home personal, you’re actually going to want to move,” which isn’t as green of an option as staying put, says Susanka.

Remodel it small. Instead of adding a standard 20-foot-by-30-foot addition out back, “you may well be able to solve the problems of your existing house by staying within the footprint,” says Susanka. Look for places to redistribute space, remove a wall, or alter traffic flow.

If eliminating obstacles in the original design does not solve the problem, build a small bump-out to accommodate a necessary space, such as a shelf for shoes instead of entire mud room. And if there’s no way around it, build the smallest addition possible and make every square foot count.

Make it green. Green retrofits impact the environment more than most people assume, according to a study by the DOE’s Energy Information Administration. “A very little known fact is over 20 percent of all carbon emissions from all sources in this country come from existing housing stock,” Susanka quoted.

Evelyn Royer is assistant editor of Building Products magazine.

Article Courtesy of customhomeonline.com.


Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an article courtesy of RealtyTimes.com regarding cost-effective projects for your home.

Buyers are hit hard by first impressions, and sellers take advantage of this fact, aiming to amp up their curb appeal.

This is, after all, where they get the most bang for their buck. According to the latest Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports that “nine of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects.” These exterior projects are outperforming their remodeling counterparts.

Interior projects should not be forgotten, however. These spaces earn returns on costs, as well. Many times interior updates can make you stand out from the competition in your area. It is simply that in today’s economy, “remodeling projects, particularly higher cost upscale projects, have been losing resale value in recent years because of weak economic conditions.” (NAR)

With curb appeal projects, however, a little money can go a long way. Topping the list? Steel entry doors are returning 102.1 percent of their cost upon resale.

What other projects are sellers tackling? While most projects don’t bring the profit returns of steel entry doors, sellers have some other great options for attracting buyers.

  • Siding and window replacements – 70 or more percent of costs recouped
  • Midrange garage door replacement – 83.9 percent of costs recouped
  • Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement – 80 percent of cost recouped
  • Wood deck additions – 72.8 percent of costs recouped

“It’s important to remember that the resale value of a particular improvement project depends on several factors,” says National Association of Realtors® President Ron Phipps. “Things such as the home’s overall condition, availability and condition of surrounding properties, location and the regional economic climate contribute to an estimated resale value.”

Yet, says Phipps, “Curb appeal remains king – it’s the first thing potential buyers notice when looking for a home, and it also demonstrates pride of ownership.”

Article Written By: Carla Hill, RealtyTimes.com

South Atlantic — Midrange

2009-10 National Averages

Job Cost

Resale Value

Cost Recouped

Project

Job Cost

Resale Value

Cost Recouped

$43,540

$39,171

90.0%

Attic Bedroom

$49,346

$40,992

83.1%

$13,215

$7,909

59.9%

Backup Power Generator

$14,304

$8,428

58.9%

$55,337

$46,707

84.4%

Basement Remodel

$62,067

$46,825

75.4%

$34,876

$21,692

62.2%

Bathroom Addition

$39,046

$23,233

59.5%

$14,784

$10,630

71.9%

Bathroom Remodel

$16,142

$11,454

71.0%

$14,598

$10,389

71.2%

Deck Addition (composite)

$15,373

$10,904

70.9%

$9,505

$7,589

79.8%

Deck Addition (wood)

$10,634

$8,573

80.6%

$3,286

$2,217

67.5%

Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass)

$3,490

$2,275

65.2%

$1,065

$1,562

146.8%

Entry Door Replacement (steel)

$1,172

$1,470

128.9%

$73,736

$50,632

68.7%

Family Room Addition

$82,756

$54,051

65.3%

$53,307

$35,132

65.9%

Garage Addition

$58,432

$36,361

62.2%

$26,794

$12,754

47.6%

Home Office Remodel

$28,375

$13,648

48.1%

$53,900

$40,199

74.6%

Major Kitchen Remodel

$57,215

$41,260

72.1%

$92,606

$63,341

68.4%

Master Suite Addition

$103,696

$67,578

65.2%

$20,504

$15,923

77.7%

Minor Kitchen Remodel

$21,411

$16,773

78.3%

$16,775

$12,042

71.8%

Roofing Replacement

$19,731

$13,133

66.6%

$9,562

$7,698

80.5%

Siding Replacement (vinyl)

$10,607

$8,476

79.9%

$68,362

$37,805

55.3%

Sunroom Addition

$73,167

$37,118

50.7%

$140,210

$102,908

73.4%

Two-Story Addition

$156,309

$107,286

68.6%

$9,705

$7,417

76.4%

Window Replacement (vinyl)

$10,728

$8,217

76.6%

$10,627

$8,332

78.4%

Window Replacement (wood)

$11,700

$9,044

77.3%

Information Courtesy of: Remodeling.hw.net