Energy Guide LabelThe EnergyGuide label gives you two important pieces of information you can use to compare different brands and models when shopping for a new appliance:
Estimated energy consumption on a scale showing a range for similar models

Estimated yearly operating cost based on the national average cost of electricity

Brunswick County, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an interesting article courtesy of EcoHome Magazine.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) eagerly awaited WaterSense label for showerheads was finalized on March 4, and manufacturers can now submit products for testing.

Like WaterSense certifications for lav faucets and toilets, qualified showerheads must meet performance specifications as well as flow rates. Units receiving the label will have a flow rate of 2 gpm or less—20 percent lower than the current federal standard of 2.5 gpm—while also meeting performance-attribute requirements for flow rate across a range of pressures, spray force, and spray coverage, which the EPA has defined based on its consumer testing.

The specifications apply to showerheads and handheld showers, but not to bodysprays. Showerheads and handhelds must be tested by an EPA-licensed certifying body to qualify for WaterSense.

A number of manufacturers are already offering showerheads that combine lower flows with improved performance, which means buyers won’t have to wait long to purchase certified fixtures. The EPA told EcoHome it expects labeled products to hit shelves as early as mid-April.

Moen, for example, is anticipating certification for its 1.75-gpm single-function Eco-Performance showerheads and Envi three-function Eco-Performance showerheads, as does American Standard for its 1.5-gpm FloWise units and Kohler for its 1.75-gpm Purist and Forte showerheads and 2.0-gpm MasterShower.

Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome. This article first appeared on

 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 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.”


“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,

New Hanover County, NC remodeler Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an interesting article written by By Stephani L. Miller with CUSTOM HOME Magazine on how to detect problem drywall.

Following up on months of research into complaints of imported drywall causing corrosion in homes, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released a set of guidelines to help contractors and builders identify problem drywall in homes. Developed by the Interagency Task Force on Problem Drywall, the two-step guidance requires a visual inspection to detect the presence of metal corrosion followed by collection of corroborating evidence.

 “This guidance offers homeowners, contractors, and state and local authorities a course of action for knowing if they’re dealing with problem drywall or not,” said Jon Gant, director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, in an announcement about the guidelines.

 To determine whether a house has been negatively impacted by problem drywall, the initial Threshold (visual) Inspection, performed by a trained inspector, must show a) blackening of copper electrical wiring and/or air conditioning evaporator coils; and b) the installation of new drywall (for new construction or renovations) between 2001 and 2008.

 After establishing both of these conditions, individuals evaluating affected homes should move forward in gathering evidence of conditions in the home that confirm the presence of problem drywall. The task force notes that collecting this evidence may require contracting with professional assessors and possibly analytical laboratories for testing.

 Homes that display the characteristic metal corrosion and had new drywall installed between 2005 and 2008 must also show at least two of the following corroborating conditions; homes that had new drywall installed between 2001 and 2004 must show at least four of the corroborating conditions:

  • Proof of corrosive conditions in the home by the formation of copper sulfide on copper test strips that have been placed in the home for two weeks to 30 days, or by confirming the presence of sulfur by the blackening of the grounding wires and/or air conditioning coils.
  •  Confirmation of drywall bearing Chinese origin markings in the home.
  • Drywall core samples containing strontium levels that exceed 1200 parts per million.
  • Drywall core samples containing levels of elemental sulfur exceeding 10 parts per million.
  • Elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and/or carbon disulfide emissions from drywall samples tested according to ASTM chamber tests.
  • The formation of copper sulfide on copper metal during chamber testing using drywall samples from the home.

 CPSC is continuing its testing and studies and will refine and update this preliminary identification guidance as necessary. Full details and rationale for the identification methods is available at, the task force’s Drywall Information Center website.

 CUSTOM HOME previously reported on the task force’s research findings that linked Chinese-manufactured drywall to metal corrosion in homes in December.

Courtesy of:


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:

New Hanover County, NC luxury home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share a press release from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and MetLife Mature Market Institute. A survey conducted by the organizations found interesting data on the housing preferences between 55-to-64 year olds and the 65+ age group. Below is an excerpt from the article and to read more, click here!

“The data uncovered a strong similarity in housing preferences between the two groups, with a few exceptions. The younger age group showed more interest in technology-heavy features, while the older group expressed a stronger preference for a single-story floor plan or one with a first-floor master bedroom, and a variety of universal design features.

One striking difference, according to John Migliaccio, director of research at MetLife’s Mature Market Institute, related to the desire for home services and community services.

‘Very telling,’ said Migliaccio, ‘is that the younger group of mature consumers reported enthusiastically that they want services like home maintenance and repair as part of their next home purchase, along with services typically connected to older homeowners, such as housekeeping, onsite health care and transportation,’ noted Migliaccio.

According to Migliaccio, all of the aforementioned were ranked higher than the desire for organized social activities – a surprise, inasmuch as social activities and amenities have been thought to be valued quite highly by this group. This finding, he said, supports an emerging trend among builders to look for ways to partner with providers of such services to the residents of their active adult/lifestyle communities.”

Courtesy of:

St. James Plantation, NC Green home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes, a proud member of the National Association of Home Builders, would like to share a recent press release from the NAHB. Two condominiums in Tennessee have received the first multifamily certification from the National Green Building Standard, the Green certification for homes from the NAHB Research Center. Below is an excerpt from their press release and to read more click here. And to learn more about the eco-friendly features of our Green home in Wilmington, NC, watch our HD video!

“The bronze-level certification was awarded to the first two buildings completed in the Park Run community at McKay’s Mill in Franklin, Tenn. When completed, the development will comprise 23 buildings for a total of 92 condominium homes. The Jones Company, a top-100 single-family builder, also has certified dozens of single-family green homes.

‘Green certification has value to all home owners, both single-family and multifamily,’ said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a builder and developers from Tulsa, Okla. ‘Growing numbers of today’s home buyers want the benefits of a home that’s built with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind.’

The National Green Building Standard is a scoring tool and certification protocol that assures projects have met stringent benchmarks in energy, water and resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality and lot and site design. In addition, the builder must provide education and a manual for home owners to help ensure the home is operated and maintained to retain its green advantages.”

Fourth Friday Gallery Walk

January 18th, 2010

New Hanover County, NC builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages both locals and visitors to attend the Fourth Friday Gallery Walks. These monthly walks are self-guided tours through several downtown Wilmington, NC galleries and studios featuring exhibitions of various artistic genres including oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, photography, sculpture, woodwork, glass, metals, ceramics, mixed media and more. Showcasing art and art-related events, Fourth Fridays also include opening receptions, artist discussions, live music, wine tastings, food sampling and other traditional and non-traditional art-based activities. The next Walk is January 22, 2010 and goes through November 26, 2010. For more information call 910.763.3737, visit, or become a Facebook Fan of Fourth Friday Gallery Walks!

New Hanover County, NC luxury home builder would like to share an article from Wilmington’s WECT news station. Gavin Johnson reported that the Animal Planet network will feature Wilmington Fire Station Number Seven for their life-saving efforts for pets in house fires. Below is an excerpt and to read more, click here!

“Last September, firefighters rescued a cat from a burning house. They used an animal oxygen mask to save the cat’s life.

Producers with Powderhouse Productions heard about the story and felt it was important to share it with the world.

‘We found the story through an online search,’ said producer Ann MacMullan. ‘Often we’re searching and searching for these wonderful stories and they could land us anywhere.’

More than 40,000 pets a year die from smoke related causes. Wilmington’s Fire Department is one of the few fire stations in the country with oxygen masks for dogs and cats.”

Photo Courtesy of

New Hanover County, NC Green home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes is excited to share a press release from the US Department of Labor announcing $100 million in Green jobs training grants will be given through the Recovery Act. Below is an excerpt from the press release and to read more, click here!

“Washington, D.C. — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced nearly $100 million in green jobs training grants, as authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The grants will support job training programs to help dislocated workers and others, including veterans, women, African Americans and Latinos, find jobs in expanding green industries and related occupations. Approximately $28 million of the total funds will support projects in communities impacted by auto industry restructuring.

Through the Energy Training Partnership Grants being administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, 25 projects ranging from approximately $1.4 to $5 million each will receive grants. These grants are built on strategic partnerships — requiring labor and business to work together.

‘Today’s announcement is part of the administration’s long-term commitment to fostering both immediate economic revitalization and a clean energy future. It’s an investment that will help American workers succeed while doing good,’ said Secretary Solis. ‘Our outstanding award recipients were selected because their proposed projects will connect workers to career pathways in green industries and occupations through critical, diverse partnerships.’”