The Sater Group, Inc.

July 7th, 2011

Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to introduce our readers to The Sater Group.

For over twenty six years, The Sater Group, has been providing award-winning, custom residential design and has become one of the country’s most recognized residential design firms that specialize in luxury home design. Led by Dan F. Sater II, AIBD/CPBD/CGP, The Sater Group has won over 450 regional and national design awards in its 26 year history.

In an effort to combine custom quality design with more affordable pre-drawn plans, Dan formed The Sater Design Collection. The Sater Design Collection has been serving builders and individuals both nationally and internationally for over sixteen years. 

”We give the same attention to detail in the pre-drawn plans we sell, that we give to our custom, luxury homes. I meticulously think through every aspect in creating these unique home designs, as if I was designing it for myself.”

Dan F. Sater II, AIBD, CPBD, CGP

The Sater Group, Inc. is a member of the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Institute of Classical Architecture (ICA), and the Chamber of Commerce.

Frank Values Wilmington

March 10th, 2011

Wilmington custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share the following information about Frank Deals with those of you located in the Wilmington area.


Launched in January 2010, Frank Deals was established to connect consumers and businesses by way of the “Frank Card”. Consumers are rewarded for presenting their Frank Deals card when making purchases; businesses are rewarded by receiving new and frequent patrons from the Frank Network. Most importantly, Frank Deals is active in our community, helping local organizations like the American Cancer Society raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. For more information or to get involved, visit

MJCH is not compensated from Frank Deals. We appreciate the value they provide our local area.

Monty’s Home Pet Expo

February 23rd, 2011

Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages anyone in the Wilmington area to attend Monty’s Home Pet Expo taking place this Sunday, February 27th from 11:00am – 4:00pm at the Schwartz Center, Downtown Wilmington.

Monty’s Home Pet Expo is the largest indoor pet event in the area! Allowing more than 70 pet related vendors to showcase a huge variety of pet items and services. Be sure to visit the Silent Auction, offering hundreds of items for bid.

Call 910.259.7911 for more information.
Cape Fear C.C. Schwartz Center
610 N. Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

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

It is no secret. 2010 was a hard year for home values. According to, 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:

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. 


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.


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 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:

Hidden Battleship

January 12th, 2011

Wilmington, NC builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages those in the Wilmington area to attend “Hidden Battleship” this weekend onboard the Battleship North Carolina. This is one of several events planned for the Battleship’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

In 1960, the Navy announced its intentions to scrap the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA (BB55).  On this news, two Wilmingtonians, James S. Craig, Jr. and Hugh Morton developed a plan of action to save the ship.  With their valiant efforts along with thousands of citizens and countless school children in raising funds, the BB55 would be able to come to the state whose name she held.

 On October 2, 1961, the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA was moored in her present berth across from downtown Wilmington.  Later that month on October 12, she was open to the public for all to view. 

 Now, as we move into 2011, the Ship gets ready to celebrate her 50 years of being part of the wonderful legacy and state of North Carolina. Visit for a list of events taking place.

Hidden Battleship: Join us for a unique, behind-the-scenes tour of un-restored areas of the Battleship. The four-hour tour consists of small groups with guides. Guests explore the bow (officers’ country and boatswain locker), third deck (Radio II, brig, after gyro, storage rooms, ammunition handling, Engineer’s office, torpedo area), Engine room #1, the refrigerator compartments, and climb inside the fire control tower to the top of the ship. The Azalea Coast Radio Club will be in Radio II to explain their work on the ship’s radio transmitters.

$45/$35 for Friends of the Battleship. You must be 12 years or older to participate. Wear comfortable, warm clothing and sturdy, rubber-soled shoes; bring a camera, but no large backpacks. 8:30am-12:30pm & 1:30pm-5:30pm. Registration and payment required by Thursday, Janaury 13. For more information call 910-251-5797 ext 3006 or 3026.
Battleship North Carolina
#1 Battleship Rd
Wilmington, NC 28401

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.

Waterproofing 5

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

Waterproofing 6

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


The Cypress Lane

October 5th, 2010

Wilmington, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with its readers The Cypress Lane house plan, courtesy of Sullivan Design Company.

Enjoy one-story living in this beautiful 3260 sf home. The plan includes 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and a private bonus room over the garage, perfect for guests. For more information, including the floor plan, visit the Mark Johnson Custom Homes inventory page.
All homes built by MJCH are energy efficient. This plan boasts a significant energy efficiency package which is estimated to be 25% more efficient than a code minimum home. These standard features include radiant barrier roof sheathing, a recirculating tankless water heater, bath fans with humidity sensors, 15 SEER Trane heat pump with programmable thermostat, R-23 blown-in-blanket insulation in 2×6 exterior walls, raised foundation slab construction and air barriers behind knee walls.