J. Sarno

Owner of
- February 2013

Hi Mike,

Island Cottage Survives SandyI built your Coastal Cottage Design (the Island Cottage) over 10 years ago. My family and I have enjoyed the home very much and we live on a point on the bay with water on both sides. We have weathered many bad storms in this house and we really owe it success to your design. The roof plays a huge role in protecting us from nor’easter storms which hit us often.

This is our primary residence. Recently we were hit with hurricane Sandy – the eye hitting our community directly. Homes on either side and many more were destroyed by the ferocious wind and waves. We were left with some cosmetic damage, lost stairs and railings, but structurally we are okay and are currently up and running in our home while, unfortunately, most of the community is abandoned.

Thank you for designing a heavy-duty house. Check out YouTube – put in Tuckerton, NJ Sandy. You will see your design under direct attack in the storm. Also, the picture was on Fox, CNN and many other newscasts around the country. Most of this community calls our house the blue lighthouse and uses it as a landmark and GPS and radar setting for their boats. Anyway, thanks Mike.

Hurricane Sandy News Report

Update – February 2015

Houzz Review: J. Sarno, Owner of the Island Cottage

I came across Mike’s designs after looking for about a year for just the right design to fit on my bayfront lot along the southern New Jersey coast. The site is very exposed to extremely harsh weather conditions. Flood waters, wave action and very high winds are commonplace on the site, which forms the point that juts out into the bay. Mike’s design of the Island Cottage fit perfectly on our site. The hip roof, which makes up a large part of the architecture of the building, not only serves an aesthetic look but also serves an important function in deflecting the commonplace 70 mile-per-hour-plus wind-gusts that we get here on the site and is one of the most important features of why the design was chosen.

As someone who had the pleasure and experience of building his own home, Mike’s Island cottage became a labor of love. It’s symmetry in the framing process made it a pleasure to build although the hip raptors and commons required a lot of patience, especially on this windy site.

Island Cottage Satellite ImageI have now lived in this home for the past 13 years and in that time the house has kept us safe and we have survived some incredible storms, notably Sandy. Our community was directly struck with an enormous storm surge that took out over 300 homes. Unfortunately, we lost our neighbors around us, but we survived even though we were struck by debris of other buildings breaking apart and massive waves that struck our house. That’s a testament to its designer and all the great craftsmanship that were involved in putting her together.

Currently, we have been fortunate and consider ourselves very blessed to have survived Sandy, but again it had a lot to do with the overall design and strength of the of the home. Most of the people in the community where we live call us the blue lighthouse since the roof is a blue aluminum standing seam roof. Many fishermen use the home as a landmark and Mark their GPS to our home.

D. Schiavo

Owner of
- 2013


Island Cottage Quintessential Beach HouseI looked at over 10,000 plans over the course of 5 years before I stumbled across your website one night at 2 AM.

My wife and I could never agree on a plan until that fateful night. I woke up at 3 AM and we both looked at your plan and said, “that’s it!” in unison.

I do want you to know that over the years we have had so many compliments on your design. Most people say it’s the quintessential beach house and the most unique design they have ever seen!

Island Cottage View from Porch
Island Cottage Interior
Island Cottage View


Owner of
- August 23, 2010

Island CottageWe truly loved the Island Cottage we built last time and we received so many compliments. The compliments we got that meant the most to us were the ones by all the contractors that bid on the home and worked on it. They stated how well-designed it was, and sturdy.

Then Hurricane Ike beat up all the homes near our Island Cottage and yet she stood totally unharmed! Proving this house was well-designed! So, when it came time to build again, I could not even consider anyone else’s plans. We are very excited!
Thank you,


Island Cottage

B. Turner

Owner of
- Aug 2010

Hello Mike and Associates,

Mountain Cottage through TreesWe returned to our island cottage or as you refer to it the mountain cottage on your website, in a few days, for the 10th year. It was over 11 years ago when we purchased your house plans with some minor modifications to accommodate Canadian winters.

We lived 4000 km (2486 miles) away during construction. With your excellently detailed plans and a distinguished local builder there were a few issues as it was being built. We did visit the site every several months to monitor activities.

The layout works. We can accommodate our family of 16 and 4 dogs for summer weekends and at Christmas. It is a great place to reconnect, with lots of getaway places if someone requires a bit of downtime.

In August we have friends over for an annual potluck supper, numbering over 40, without feeling too crowded. There are lots of conversation places to share news. After 10 years of enjoyment we would not change a thing.

The structure goes through a full 4 seasons. Temperature can hover around +35 C (95°F) during summer and it has seen -35 C (-31°F) in winter. No issues. During the hot days in July we open all the windows enjoy a cool breeze off the lake in the evening. The design sheds snow so as not to worry about snow load during the winter months. Attached is a picture we took during December 2012. The structure looks capable of embracing winter. We want to thank you for having had the privilege of enjoying your architectural skills.

Mountain Cottage from Rear