Joe and Shari Parks had the good fortune to be able to retire wherever they wanted. But they were very particular about the company they chose to build their house.
They picked Living Stone Construction, largely on its reputation in Southcliff, the gated community in which they chose to build.
Southcliff, a gated community south of Asheville with dozens of acres of preserved forestland, relies on a few select contractors to build homes that look like they’ve sprung organically from their settings. One of those preferred builders is Living Stone Construction, an award-winning company that designs energy-efficient, green homes that enable residents to live at home far into their years.
At the time they met Living Stone, the Parks were living in Oklahoma in a beautiful 1920s house that they remodeled in 1980. They loved the home but were only partly satisfied with the renovations – “you never get everything you want in a remodel,” Joe said. So they were extra cautious in selecting the builder for the first new home they’d ever had.
Toward the end of 2013, after the Parks ruled out Sante Fe and Albuquerque and settled on Asheville as the place to retire, they toured a home in Southcliff that they loved. The owners couldn’t say enough about the builders – Living Stone – and how easy it was to work with them. That really impressed Joe, who comes from a building background himself.
He spent his entire working life in the retail lumber and hardware business. He and Shari had been involved in some commercial building and residential remodels. “So we understand the business,” Joe said. “We were impressed with the construction of the house Living Stone had built for this couple. They gave nothing but good reviews of Living Stone and the process. That’s what we were looking for. The quality of the home they built in Southcliff was excellent.”
Doing their due diligence, as any professional would, the Parks looked at the work of other area builders online. Living Stone emerged as “the clear choice,” Joe said. He was even more convinced when he and Shari met Living Stone’s president, Sean Sullivan.
“He had a ‘can-do’ attitude and wanted to know what we wanted,” Joe said. “He said let us know what you want, and we’ll build it.” The Parks were delighted with how deeply Sean and his wife, interior designer Laura Sullivan, listened to them and what they wanted in a house. The whole Living Stone team bent over backward to design and build the home that the Parks envisioned.
The Parks loved working with Laura, the owner of ID.ology Interior Design who helped Shari pick colors, finishes, tile patterns and plumbing fixtures, among other things. “My wife and Laura worked very well. They have very similar tastes in things,” Joe said. “Laura’s strength was being able to say what we needed to bring all the things we liked in a room together. She’d make it all work. Laura’s input was invaluable. She streamlined the process.”
The Parks also appreciated the solutions that Living Stone brought to the table. Informed, conscientious, environmentally aware, the team proposed ideas that worked well with the couple’s sensitivities, Joe said. That was especially beneficial because the Parks were still living in Oklahoma during the building process. They visited the site every six to eight weeks to make the selections that guided the Living Stone team through to completion.
“They kept us in the loop the whole time,” Joe said. That includes the building supervisor that Living Stone assigned to the job. “If we didn’t talk every day, it was three or four days a week,” Joe said. “Early on we established a rapport. Living Stone was absolutely responsible in the way they handled the house. Their mantra was, ‘if this is what the Parks want, this is what they’re going to get. It’s their project, not ours.’”
Joe said he and his wife appreciated the way Sean and Laura and the rest of the Living Stone team worked together. The company’s in-house design-and-build process and the wealth of ideas and possibilities the company brought to the table made everything work together well, in Joe’s opinion. The outcome was a harmonious blend of energies, a comfortable home inside an elegant house.
“We pretty much got everything we wanted in this house, pretty much without limitation,” Joe said. “We’re middle-of-the-road folks, not Taj Mahal owners. But it’s got to be a very nice house with nice finishes. They gave us exactly what we asked for.”
The Parks trusted Living Stone and feel amply rewarded. But more impressively, Joe believes, Living Stone trusted the Parks to know their own minds and follow their own dreams. The Living Stone crew listened to what they wanted and did what they said. To someone who knows a little about commercial building, that’s impressive.
“To do a project this size over that amount of time and when you come to the end of it, you’re still friends – that says a lot about the builder,” Joe said. “It says that they delivered what you expected.”