“This house smells…different than the rest. Actually, it doesn’t really have a smell?!” said Mrs. Lee as she walked into the Parade of Homes entry I was manning last year. Mrs. Lee, like many other visitors in years past, noticed what most builders are missing across the country, the fact that IAQ is important.
I had the privilege, two years ago, of sitting in a research lab think tank with seven other top builders from across the nation. The question was posed to us “What is the greatest concern that you have about the homes that you are building today”? Each builder at the table said that they were concerned about building homes so tight that they might be poisoning the people that move into them. When they got to me, I was dumbfounded by their answers and had to ask my own question, “Are you using a rater”?
The National Association of Home Builders last night honored 12 individuals who have excelled in teaching NAHB education courses and for their professionalism as NAHB educational designation holders as the Educators and Designees of the Year. The awards were given during the 2017 International Builders‘ Show® held this week in Orlando, Fla.
“These home building industry professionals definitely ‘walk the walk,’” said 2016 NAHB Education Chair William L. Shaw, Jr., GMR, CGR, GMB, CAPS and CGP, a Houston remodeler and NAHB instructor. “These leaders don’t just talk about the importance of education. They also work to stay current and even ahead of industry trends so they can set an example for the home builders, remodelers and other industry professionals who make up our great Federation.”
Black Mountain, NC, Living Stone Design + Build project, “Rhodo Reno”, is the overall winner for the Best Renovation in the 2017 National Green Building Awards by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
“The NAHB Green Awards represent the best of the best in green building practices and advocacy efforts, and this year’s group of winners is particularly impressive,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “The demand for green building is growing exponentially, and these honorees are a great example of what can be accomplished in terms of sustainable and energy-efficient building practices.”
Sean Sullivan, the president of Living Stone Construction, is an award-winning builder who specializes in designing and building high-performance green homes in Asheville, North Carolina. We recently spoke with Sean to learn more about today’s green homes and why they are becoming more popular among home buyers.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to concentrate on building green homes?
My father was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. After he ascended the leadership ladder and finished taking command of different air bases, he began teaching TQM (Total Quality Management) and later formed his own consulting company. I learned not only from his teachings, but also those of others like W. Edwards Deming who said, “It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.”
So when we first heard that there was a rating system coming to western North Carolina for ENERGY STAR and Greenbuilt-certified homes, we immediately signed up. We simply believe that if you are going to do something, do it right.
A timeless setting
The first thing you notice about French Broad Crossing (FBC) is the exquisite Western North Carolina setting: pure, pristine, secluded, and in perfect harmony with the lush, densely forested hills that form a natural amphitheater of majesty and timeless beauty. Residents here liken it “to living in one’s own national park,” yet it’s just a short drive from the dynamic city of Asheville, NC. Indeed, much of the land at FBC is permanently preserved, held in conservation to prevent further development. Families are drawn to an idyllic living experience that can be passed down to future generations, in the same undisturbed state that exists today. It is here, against the backdrop of ancient rolling mountains and the mighty French Broad River—third oldest river in the world according to geologists—that the new 2016 Southern Living Inspired Home will reside.
“The Water’s Edge is a classic example of how to design+build mountain living to maximize views. This home works for anyone, but especially those who are looking for style.”
A Southern Living model home
Universally designed for main level living and aging-in-place
Master bath wet room with undermount tub
Beams, wainscoting, millwork and built-ins
Second floor suite with adjacent reading loft and ‘ready-to-finish’ basement
Incredible great room with wall of glass and over-sized slider doors
Covered back porch with fireplace and incredible mountain views!
An Energy-Star and Greenbuilt NC certified home
We are thrilled with our green built home designed and built especially for us by Living Stone Construction. The care they took in choosing materials and using sustainable building practices are allowing us to enjoy excellent air quality inside our home while we realize amazing savings on our energy bills.
Living Stone Construction, and ID.ology Interior Design, were a pleasure to work with throughout all facets of our project. They were integral during our design stage and handled our fast-track schedule like true professionals. It is so rare to work with people who don’t make excuses or point fingers – Living Stone Construction and ID.ology are comprised of those rare people.
With Sean and Laura’s design-and-build business model, we knew exactly what was going on. It was helpful as far as keeping us on point for the amount we’d budgeted for each part of the house. It was very transparent and reasonable to me, more so than with other builders. We knew what we were getting.
Sean Sullivan and his group are the most professional and pleasant builders I have the had the pleasure of working with. They go to great lengths to determine what their customers want (and their budget requirements). Then they do everything possible to “under sell and over deliver”. Sean is an exceptional builder that delivers an exceptional home.
Over the last 10 years, time has not marked the home – nothing on the inside has needed re-staining, and nothing on the outside has needed re-painting. It’s been very minimal for the yearly things you would think you had to do. We don’t have a list of repair people because we haven’t needed them.
The building supervision was good. The communication was good. We didn’t have any problems with the billing. There really weren’t any surprises. It was really easy, which is almost unheard of in a construction situation.
He does things right for the sake of doing them right and that was the impression we got with every facet of our experience with Living Stone. That made us just be able to trust them and trust their system.
They have a process that is thoroughly thought out, thoroughly vetted and thoroughly effective. The process from start to finish was totally transparent and the bottom line was that it was a fun process and not a stressful process.
I was impressed with the emphasis on high quality construction, energy efficiency and an aging in place concept. If you choose LSC and ID.ology you’ll have the piece of mind that you’ve chosen the best.
I couldn’t be more pleased. Michael and I feel like we are on vacation, everytime we walk into the kitchen. Frank and all the crew has really made this project go smoothly, and I can’t thank Living Stone enough.
We chose Living Stone because of Sean but we love Living Stone because of their team. Molly, Pam, Frank, Laura and our main man Mike! Mike drives our home’s construction, can answer any question at a level you can understand and is a pleasure to work with. Laura organizes and improves all of our design decisions, gives us inspiration and keeps everything on track. Sean, it is a credit to you that you have surrounded yourself with so many truly good people.
I have to comment on everyone’s integrity. Everyone has been of the highest caliber and truly made us feel like they care about us as people, our satisfaction and that we are getting a home, not just a house. I rate every aspect of this process, every member of this team and every subcontractor, an A plus!
The process of design+build and creating something that is so energy efficient is a miracle to me. Sean has a way of putting things together so that we get the product that we want and then he puts together the quality product that he knows he can build.
I don’t know why someone would not choose Living Stone to build their home. It is such a polished production that gives you a polished complete finish. You have no doubt that the product you have is the house you dreamed of!
We built this home from a remote location so we had to put a lot of faith in Frank the Superintendent, Sean of Living Stone, and Laura the designer, to make sure they were building this home to our specifications and to meet our needs. Frankly I have to admit I was extremely impressed. I don’t think they missed anything and they exceeded our expectations.
It’s special, it’s wonderful and I keep pinching myself because I cannot believe that this is our home. Living Stone Construction, headed by Sean Sullivan more than met our expectations. They hit a grand slam out of the ball park. This house is amazing!
Your integrity, skill, kindness and warmth shows in your words as well as your actions. We are and will forever be grateful to have worked with such an amazing group of people. Being part of the Living Stone family is our blessing. Thank you.
The energy efficiency of the house has made it very comfortable through some very extreme weather and our energy bills have been remarkably low. The energy star rating of the home has really paid off. Truly, I haven’t had energy costs this low in 20 years.
Sean has the rare quality of being able to see the big picture while being engaged in the fine details of his projects combined with the ability to effectively and efficiently communicate both in a way that not only gets the job done but gets it done with a commitment to excellence that has enabled him to be a leader among his building industry peers across North Carolina. I have known Sean for close to 10 years and have a great professional and personal admiration of his work and character.
Sean’s knowledge of building practices and principles, conceptually and practically, really impressed me. I eventually saw his work in person and was blown away by the craftsmanship. He is a TRUE craftsman — no cookie cutter work here. The houses he builds are incredible — the floorplans are well thought out, and the details are really special.
The Living Stone Construction Design/Build team, are the best in the area. I have been in, and around, the building and real estate industry throughout my life and I have never met a builder that has as much integrity, passion for what he does, care for his clients and the motivation to always exceed expectations, drive to continue learning and honing his skills and techniques to offer his clients the best. Anyone who hires Living Stone Construction will not be disappointed and will have the home of their dreams!
I have known Sean for many years and can say with out a doubt he has the highest degree of professionalism, attention to detail and desire to provide a spectacular customer service experience I have ever seen.
Sean has an extremely professional TEAM who supported my clients initially and now throughout the process. He builds trust and it is deserved — Sean has high standards for himself and that is obvious in how he does business.
I have built or renovated 5 homes and completed tens of millions of dollars of commercial construction. Sean is the most professional, knowledgeable, honest, organized residential builders it has been my pleasure to know. He recently completed our custom home in the Settings of Black Mountain and exceeded our expectations in every way. From his staff to his sub contractors, excellence is practiced every day.
From a professional standpoint Sean Sullivan with Living Stone Construction goes above and beyond to make sure his clients as well as the general public and colleagues are as educated as possible with building homes in the mountains.
Simply awesome company !!!! If your looking for the best, you need not look any further. Custom built quality homes and fantastic folks who care about you and your new home! Living Stone Construction you are the BEST!
Sean Sullivan’s team of builders are top notch. They converted a small residential building into a arts n crafts commercial masterpiece.. With over 2,000 sq ft of addition; everything looks as if it’s been here since day one. I highly recommend Sean and his team of experts.
The process of design/build and creating something that is so energy efficient is a miracle to me. Sean has a way of putting things together so that we get the product that we want and then he puts together the quality product that he knows he can build.
Sean is the most organized manager I have encountered. I would match his management skills against any of the Managing Directors of the Fortune 500 Company that I worked with in project management, financial planning, and negotiations. He expects and demands the best from his employees, as do Living Stone’s clients. He is a true leader. Pam Potter
From the beginning, Sean was a great listener, offered ideas and introduced us to his team. We have been extremely happy with everything that has been done so far. We anticipate the building phase with great joy! A top professional for sure.
Having worked together on an award winning home, I found Sean and his team to be attentive to the quality of construction, committed to incorporating sustainable building practices and materials, and thorough in tracking costs. He was very willing to work with my team during the construction process which provided the best level of service to our client. Sean is a builder that I recommend highly.
LSC was a pleasure to work with throughout our remodeling project. Frank worked diligently to meet our deadline for completion of late January, despite snow and ice. Their ability to deliver a quality product in a timely manner while still being able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances was greatly appreciated.
We love our home. In addition to building a quality home, Sean is honest, responsive, a pleasure to work with. He really makes the entire process flow quite comfortably. Living out of state when we had our home built was initially cause for some concern for us. Sean and the superintendent of our project were in constant communication with us, letting us know well in advance when decision points were approaching. And the weekly pictures were wonderful. I wouldn’t have been able to cope without them. Probably the best comment I could make is that if we were to build again, we’d use Sean again in a heartbeat
Sean Sullivan’s skills and experience exemplify superlative leadership in business and construction. His commitment to doing the right thing and being focused on the best interests of his customers is always clear. The consummate professional, Sean’s strong relationships with the many disciplines within the trade establish him as one the best go-to contractors in the business!
Living Stone did a fantastic job on our mountain house. They far exceeded our expectations and always kept us informed throughout the entire job. Their crew are real craftsmen- from carpenters to painters, they were professional in every way. If you want a beautiful and well-done job, these are the guys. We highly recommend them, so if you have bad experiences in the past, call Sean and deal with a real pro
As an architect specializing in custom residential home design in the Asheville area, I have had the opportunity to work with Sean Sullivan on multiple custom home designs in The Settings of Black Mountain. Our experiences have been very positive, as has been the feedback from my clients. Sean’s strong work ethic, commitment to quality craftsmanship, attention to detail and customer satisfaction was exceptional. In the world of construction it’s refreshing to work with someone who values honesty and integrity. Sean takes pride in each and every home he builds. I look forward to our continued working relationship and can confidently recommend Living Stone Construction