Choosing a Kitchen Backsplash - featured image

When helping our clients plan their custom home in Northern Michigan, the kitchen is one of the most scrutinized rooms. After all, it is one of the most important rooms in the entire home and sees more use than any other. Details in the kitchen really do matter – aesthetically and functionally.

Kitchen backsplashes are meant to protect your walls from damage and enhance the beauty of your kitchen. The ideal backsplash will be easy to clean, and resistant to heat, water, and scratches.

Consider the following materials for your perfect kitchen design.

Ceramic or Glass Tile

This is an affordable and very versatile choice with and endless number of styles and patterns. The grout must be sealed for better durability and, so it won’t absorb water. It’s also easy to replace any sections that might get damaged.

Stainless Steel

Durable, affordable, heat resistant, and easy to clean, Stainless Steel has a lot to offer. It can be dented or scratched although it takes quite a bit to do so.


Natural or painted, brick is durable and heat resistant. It needs to be sealed and does require more frequent cleaning. Brick can add a charm or warmth in the right setting.


Popular for countertops, Granite is an easy choice to extend the same look throughout the kitchen. A natural beauty that’s easy to clean and tough. It’s porous so it will need to be sealed to prevent staining.


Like granite, marble has a wonderful natural beauty but also requires periodic re-sealing and falls on the pricier side.


Another popular countertop material, Quartz is most commonly used as a composite material. Natural quartz stone is mixed with resin to fashion a tough material that stands up to heat, stains, water and is more scratch resistant than most stone. Because it is a composite, it can be fashioned with shapes and curves that would otherwise be difficult or expensive in granite or marble.


Probably the most affordable material, it is sometimes overlooked. While it is not heat resistant, it does clean easily and is durable. It comes in a myriad of colors and patterns; some of today’s modern laminates can almost pass for real stone.

Whether you are building a new home or remodeling your existing house, Mason Construction is dedicated to quality construction with meticulous attention to detail. Contact us today to discuss your home building or remodeling needs.

Selecting a Countertop Material - featured image

Whether you are building your new dream home or remodeling your existing home, choosing the right material for your countertops is no easy task. The variety of materials and the selection of finishes and colors is vast. Your choice will likely be influenced by your personal style, your home décor, and perhaps the scenery around your home. Here in Northern Michigan we are blessed with a rich palette of natural beauty. No matter what inspires your choice, here are a few tips to help you decide.

One of the most common question that we’re frequently asked is, “Which is better: granite or quartz countertops?”

Both are great materials with each having advantages.


  • 100% natural.
  • Available in a multitude of colors.
  • One of a kind. Natural variations in color and veining means that each counter top will be unique.


  • Low maintenance. Just wipe down with warm water and mild soap.
  • Non-porous and non-absorbent. It won’t draw in moisture from food that can harbor bacteria.
  • It’s made from quartz stone and resin. The resin adds durability and greatly reduces the risk of fracture or chipping.
  • Wide variety of colors and finishes. Since Quartz is a manufactured surface, an almost infinite number of looks are available. And yes, you can get Quartz that looks just like granite.

Care and Maintenance

Regardless of material, reasonable caution should be used. Always use a cutting board! Don’t cut directly on any countertop. This is especially true with ceramic knives or any other high-end cutlery that can scratch almost any surface.

Use a trivet or potholders. Don’t place hot pans directly on the countertops. This can scorch or burn the surface.

Wipe spills as soon as possible. Granite may become discolored or stained if a spill is left too long. While quartz may more stain resistant, don’t delay cleaning any longer than necessary.


Neither material is necessarily costlier than the other. Price varies by brand, surface finishes and styles, and edge style. An exotic piece of stone will cost more than a common variety.

Other Materials

There are many other options for countertops that you can consider. Just a few other options include Soapstone, Tile, Marble, Butcherblock. Stainless Steel, Concrete, Recycled Glass, and Laminate. Each of these have unique properties and appearance. It all comes down to your personal style and budget, and imagination!

Spring Cleaning and New Beginnings …Remodel or Build New? - featured image

It is something we just can’t avoid, that itch to start fresh each spring! For some, it involves cleaning, changing decorations based on the holidays, recycling furniture and replacing linens with items lighter and more seasonal. That said, sometimes the spring resurfaces that desire for MAJOR change…Remodel to create more space, redesign existing space, add a seasonal room OR building new in order to accomplish the changes you desire.

With home prices depressed and the resale market slow in the last several years, many homeowners with life changes or structural needs, have chosen to remodel their existing homes as a way to freshen up and redesign their living space. Home equity loan rates have been desirable offering homeowners with significant equity assurance when borrowing on a home they intended to remain in for many years. Sometimes, the option to refinance for remodeling purposes has allowed homeowners to reduce their interest rate while keeping their payment the same, even following remodeling costs. Further, studies have shown over time that investments in kitchens, bathrooms and even outdoor livings spaces in northern Michigan add value that will remain for many years and through resale.

As the housing market begins to rebound, making the decision to remodel or build new becomes more challenging. As housing prices creep upward, gaining on the pre-2008 values, some homeowners may be hopeful that a “For Sale” sign will result in their ability to start fresh recouping their investment and walking away with funds for a new beginning.

So…how do you decide whether to remodel or build? Factors to consider include:

1. Where are you in your family life? Just beginning to have children, in the middle of the teen years, empty nester, new grandparents, assisting aging parents in a different community?

If you are just beginning family life, assessing “room to grow” and flexible spaces will be pivotal to your decision to remodel or rebuild. A walk-out lower level in your home could be divided in to two bedrooms as your family grows. Large, unfinished spaces are fabulous gathering places for healthy, teen activities right in your home. Further, they could even be made in to efficiency apartments for aging parents who may need seasonal or occasional assistance from family members.

2. Where does employment factor in to the location of your home? Do you work from home, commute on public transit, drive your car alone at night?

If you work from home, having a dedicated space that separates work from personal life can help create a healthy balance in your family. Redesigning a bedroom, den or large closet can offer a small office like environment with very little cost. If you commute a long distance to your place of work, perhaps remodeling is not appropriate if you anticipate a career position with your company. You may be better served economically and logistically by building closer to your place of employment.

3. Does your current neighborhood, village, city or state offer the climate of social, cultural and weather conditions that satisfy you?

Are you happy with the lifestyle that your current community allows you to lead in your current place of residence? Do you escape from urban settings every weekend to find the woods, or do you come in to town twice each weekend just for night life? If so, remodeling may not create the sanctuary you desire, if you always have to leave it to enrich your life with those activities that you are passionate about. That said, if you love living away from it all, and currently reside in a remote area…remodeling offers you a chance to create the “nest” you’ve always craved.

4. Physical practicalities…are you able to navigate your current floor plan, have any health issues, are their structural items that need major attention before you can invest in the design and decorating? How tolerant are you of disorder should you decide to remodel OR do you have somewhere you could move temporarily until remodeling is complete?

Does your current floor plan, and condition of your house, lend itself readily to remodeling or are their infrastructure or accommodations that need to be made that might cause expense to exceed return even before you get to the fun stuff of new paint, furniture and decorations? If you need a new roof, cracks in the foundation repaired or rewiring before you can begin to redesign space for pleasure, perhaps leaving the heavy lifting to a new owner who loves the current layout would be your best option to achieve the next dream home you have in mind. Assessing your own tolerance for disorder, contractors in and out, as well as noise and some disruption in your family routine will also be a pivotal factor in determining if you are a candidate to live in/with remodeling or if building new would be best for you.

No matter where you are in the process of considering refreshing your living space, Mason Construction is here to provide advice, support, resources and the professional standard of building you’ve always heard is our reputation. Give a call, review our portfolio and let us help you realize that new beginning you’re dreaming of this Spring.

The idea of custom construction can be overwhelming. From inception to creation, many steps are taken to ensure vision becomes reality. Your residential project is no different.

You are unique; your needs and desires stem from every aspect of your personality. Your family is unique. Your identity together sets the tone for your family’s legacy. Your home is unique. From location and layout, to brick and wood, your home is the extension of who you are and who your family is.

You are going to build a home where who you are meets where you are. Mason Construction brings the reality of you and your family’s identity through the process of making vision become reality. One crucial step in that process is structure and design.

The design of your home touches personally on every level. Your project may require the help of experienced engineers and architects. Here is a list of a few local firms that could help. All are reputable and could be an asset in planning your dream home.

Cornwell Architects, “Cornwell Architects is a second generation, practice-led business of architects focused on the goals of our clients and the growth of our community.  Over the past sixty-five years, the firm has earned a reputation as a comprehensive, multi-disciplined firm with successful projects located throughout Northern Michigan.

We provide every service your project needs – from planning, architecture, engineering, and program management, to construction assistance and environmental design.”

AAI, Inc., “AAI, Inc., has assembled a design team of expert consultants from various disciplines to provide the services that best meet the needs of each project.”

Cornerstone Architects, “Cornerstone Architects was established in 1989 by Tom Nemitz to provide creative design and full service architecture. With offices in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Traverse City, Michigan, Cornerstone has established a reputation of exceptional client service, design excellence, and results that work.”

N. J. White Associates, Architects – Our Mission

N.J. White & Associates, “Nicholas White has been providing high quality residential and resort architectural services since 1979. Our project scope ranges from small residential additions to large estate residences, commercial buildings and institutional projects.”

John Dziurman Architect Ltd., “John Dziurman Architects Ltd. Is comprised of skilled professionals trained and experienced in the art and science of architecture. Our knowledge, experience and vision will guide you through the entire planning, design and construction process—from helping you define what you need to do, exceeding your expectations with the products we provide, and ensuring that you receive value for your planning, design and construction costs.”

These teams solidify the vision of your project on paper, extending your personality and needs into the project itself.

Mason Construction will build your vision and bring it to life!

Oh the many adventures of being a contractor. Time and time again the good guys are coming behind the bad guys fixing poorly built structures and attending to leaks that all could have been prevented had the previous builder took an extra five minutes.

My advice as a homeowner is instead of going through the painstaking process of having to get things re-done on your house. Start your new remodeling project by digging deeper into the track record and client history of the builder you’re considering hiring. Calling on your contractor’s client references is a very good start. I would also encourage you to have them show you some step by step processes of any similar job that they have done. Check these pictures out. Is the jobsite clean in the pictures? If not, that trashed yard is going to be your house next. What kinds of materials are being used? In what ways are they preventing water from entering the home? I also recommend getting bids from several different builders that you have been referred. Really check out the differences in the ways they answer these questions, and the references they provide.

Flashing done right!

Doing your due diligence can save thousands of dollars in frustration, real structural problems, and even lawsuits. A good contractor will have no problem letting you peer deeply into their past work history, and should be okay with you calling on some past clients, and of course they better be licensed and insured.

If you’re looking for a reliable and well tested contractor in the Grand Traverse, Benzie or Leelanau county area, then give us a try. There is no job to big or small; we make sure each client is satisfied along the road to successful relationships and beautiful homes. Call me at (231) 642-0724

Sincerely, Chris Mason

Our New Website has arrived! Welcome and please let us know what you think. You can leave us a comment at the bottom of this post, we would greatly appreciate it.

Change can be good. It is our hope to use this website as a tool, not just a splashy brochure. Each of our clients are important to us. We would like to continue to educate and share with you information that can help with your home projects and maintenance. Look for a weekly update from us, which will cover all area’s of home construction and upkeep. We will also include a look at current projects that Mason Construction Inc is currently working on. We thank you for your coming to our website and hope that it can be used by you as a rescource in the coming months.

Sincerely, Chris Mason