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Sarah Watkins knew what kind of house she wanted to build. She just had to find the kind of builder who would love the challenge of creating it as much as she did.
She and husband Casey found the builder they wanted in Living Stone Construction and its president, Sean Sullivan.
“The thing about Sean was that when I presented what I wanted in our home, he loved it,” Sarah said. “It was a bit different from some other projects he had done.”
Sarah had spent a year and a half putting her family home near Asheville together in her mind. Picking up just about every architectural magazine available, she knew enough about what she wanted that she sketched it all out. She knew the textures, finishes and ambience she wanted in the home.
She and Casey visited several builders in the Asheville area. Living Stone was among the last they visited, and they were immediately impressed by the company’s approach, plan and thoughtfulness. They liked that Sean took them to Living Stone job sites to see not only the houses under construction but also the process by which Living Stone built them. They liked that the owners loved the homes Living Stone had built for them.
“We never heard one bad thing about Sean,” Sarah said. “Living Stone has an extremely good reputation.”
Sarah especially liked that Laura Sullivan, Sean’s wife and the company’s interior designer, presented her with a host of options for each room, all devised to help the couple stay within their budget.
“Once we reached that point of putting a room together, Laura considered our loan amount and how much of it applied to each room,” Sarah said. “She pointed out tile patterns and faucets and sinks, with each piece itemized. She was right on the same page as me as far as the style I like. Without her, it would have been extremely overwhelming to be told to go pick out your tile and stuff. You walk into a tile store, and there are 3,000 tiles to select from. With Laura, you don’t waste a lot of time.”
The building process was “fairly stress-free, I have to say,” Sarah said. Living Stone’s foreman talked to the couple nearly every day to solicit their thoughts and decisions, to suggest some of his own and to keep them current with the construction. Laura worked in tandem with the foreman to get the couple’s choices and selections to the job site on time for installation.
Sarah and Living Stone collaborated on what she calls a Mountain Rustic Modern home. With three bedrooms and two and a half baths, the 3,500-square-foot house has a private master suite and a roomy open floor plan. Huge sliding glass doors open to allow the outdoors indoors. When the couple needs even more fresh air, Sarah and Casey can step out onto their patio. Awaiting them there is an outdoor living room that Living Stone rendered exactly to Sarah’s meticulously thought-out plans.
The pool there is a refreshing break from sultry summer days, while the covered poolside sitting area with contained kitchen is a pleasant place to spend the evening hours. The whole house looks modern but not overly so. It has warmth, Sarah said, a term that also describes her dealings with Living Stone and especially Laura who helped her find the finishes, textures and appliances she wanted in the home.
Living Stone’s process worked beautifully for Sarah and her husband, she said.
“With Sean and Laura’s design-and-build business model, we knew exactly what was going on,” Sarah said. “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.”
Living Stone’s process delivered what Sean said it would on an agreed-upon timeframe, without expensive surprises, Sarah said, expressing delight.
“It gave us some peace of mind,” she said. “Building can be stressful. You put the money thing on top of all the details of building, and that puts a lot of strain on people. Living Stone took a lot of the guesswork out of it.
“It was a fun process for us. It really was,” Sarah said.

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