Amazing exteriors are the specialty of River Rock Builders. The company draws inspiration from natural surroundings, led by husband and wife owners, Keith and Patty Wingfield.

 

One of River Rock’s dreamiest projects rests on 11 acres in Searcy. The home of Ben and Alex Hollowell, it is truly a majestical wonder with 7,000 square feet of heated and cooled space that’s all about location, location, location.

 

 

“We used a combination of masonry brick veneer and stucco to create a unique Neo-Colonial architectural style, blending both Georgian and Federal architecture in a wooded setting,” said Lindsey Raney of Lindsey Raney Interiors. “These exterior materials are durable and sustainable and low maintenance.”

 

River Rock builds using only sustainable design and materials, and this home is no exception.

 

“This is the second home we’ve built to a net-zero rating … and we have followed LEED guidelines so hopefully we’ll achieve a gold rating once the final submittals have been reviewed and checked,” Keith said.

 

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Inside, the stately entry offers a crossbeam coffered ceiling detail that is mirrored by the wood floor inlay. The large-scale light fixture adds to the grand impact of the entry, setting the tone for the home inside and out. A beautiful Calcutta white quartz slab was chosen for the kitchen countertops, paired with a subtle light cyan elongated picket tile backsplash.

 

Quartz was selected for its durability and beautiful tones that accent the spacious bath area. A tonal subway tile installed in a herringbone pattern gives the shower an elevated feel. And, of course, LED bulbs fill every space for ample and efficient lighting.

 

Because no two ideas are ever the same, River Rock caters each design to the homeowner’s exact needs by using software that gives clients a unique 3D design experience. This allows them to virtually walk the space of their dream home before it becomes reality.

 

“We’re able to show the volume of the space while we’re building and designing the space, and customers love it,” Keith said. “It’s so important because most people who aren’t experienced in building can’t just take a 2D flat piece of paper and see it in 3D.”

 

In fact, Keith said, River Rock was the first in Central Arkansas to imitate a design-build concept.

 

“We take plans already designed, but we also offer [design-build] to help people who may not want to get a plan designer involved,” he said. “We’re able to give them preliminary work and show them right then what we’re able to do as well as previous projects that demonstrate our abilities.”

 

“In my role at River Rock, I not only provide customers with professional design assistance but also aid in the process of designing the home in a 3D format,” said Bridget McKenzie, project design coordinator and ASID interior designer. “Our clients can completely visualize how their new home will look when built.”

 

Keith has attained the certifications of Graduate Builder, Green Professional and LEED AP and has grown River Rock into the most active Energy Star® Builder in Central Arkansas. The company is behind the third-in-the-world single-family home to meet LEED v4.1 platinum standards and built the only net-zero home in Arkansas, which means balancing between the power a home needs and the renewable energy that can be generated to meet those needs.

 

This intense focus on green building practices is reflected in the company’s team. Ryan Renard, project manager, graduated from the University of Arkansas with a sustainability minor from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

 

 

“It’s one of the principles that first attracted me to River Rock Builders,” Renard said. “It’s easy to be ‘green,’ but it’s another thing to make it a creed and mindset that we bring to each build.”

 

“We try new products and new methods on each build to get better, and we test each and every home to make sure we are verifying the effectiveness and not using products or methods without a measurable result.”

 

Another project in Maumelle featured a number of specialty hold-down devices on all corners and both window and door openings to properly sustain wind. The team had a challenge of cutting off the top of the ridge to build the home, resulting in an eye-catching exterior setup.

 

 

“[Difficult terrain projects] do take more time, but once you get used to that, it makes it somewhat of a niche,” Keith said.

 

Located in west Little Rock’s private, exclusive Belle Pointe addition just north of the Villages of Wellington, is a multilevel project that features decks for days and a spectacular view at one of the highest points in the city.

 

“We worked with the owners to create their special space using the awesome views and creating the outdoor space that really makes the home unique,” Keith said.

 

The walk-out basement home consists of two levels, mirroring the hills of west Little Rock and western Pulaski County.

 

 

“This type of design is very much our wheelhouse of typical projects, as we have a lot of sloping topography.” Keith said. “Many clients like the walk-out basement space as another living level.”

 

Completing the awe-inspiring, multilevel deck is a luxury pool, constructed by Diamond Pools. The pool is complemented by abundant natural stone, providing a rustic and natural experience alongside the vintage French Country style of the home.

 

Custom-cut glass mullions match the shape of the front door, making for an out-of-this-world dining room window design. “It’s a very large piece of glass requiring very precise installation,” Keith said.

 

Materials such as glass are an important aspect of the company’s green mindset, especially the new generation of materials offering far more than meets the eye.

 

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“What many customers don’t know is the improvement of the efficiency in glass protects their furniture, saves on their utility bills and allows for the ultimate comfort in their new home,” Keith said. “Premium Low-E glass with argon gas between the double panes provides protection from the heat of the summer and loss of heat in the winter.

 

“We understand the availability of better solar heat gain coefficients in glass and can explain it to our customers in a way they can understand. We also provide shading for much of the rear glass with overhangs. Our architectural software can show the shading on any given day or time of the day, so we can customize the overhang and roof along with the glass. It’s all about the building science and our understanding of it.”

 

The team’s building mastery is showcased by another stunning home build located in Ferndale, described by homeowners Mary Jane and Mike Cole as their “little slice of Heaven.” Soaking in the spectacular view from the very high ridge that looks both north and south, it’s clear to see how it gets this name.

 

The entire project took about 19 months, due to extreme logistical challenges. The team could only bring in fill materials in half loads and concrete in six cubic yard bunches. The tough logistics led to one of the home’s greatest assets of all — the exterior — where landscaping features scenic highlights from the outcropping of rock placed on the embankment in the ridge to a peaceful running stream and small pond.

 

 

To give the owners a stone-and-wood siding look with a modern exterior, the team combined natural stone from Schwartz Stone in Scranton with a new reverse board and batten siding product from Louisiana Pacific called Smart Siding. Smart Siding comes pre-finished with a wood stain, and the reverse board and batten mirrors a cool, lapped horizontal siding. Thin veneer stone was cut into various rectangular shapes, then tumbled to take off the sharp edges. The blend of the two products looks like nature pulled it all together.

 

“If it’s not sustainable, River Rock doesn’t do it,” Keith said. “We use high-performance materials like Smart Siding, which is an engineered wood siding with a 50-year warranty. The stone is a natural product and extremely durable.”

 

 

The entire building assembly from the foundation to the tip of the roof is foam-filled to provide maximum efficiency to the walls and attic.

 

The team also used an exterior sheathing product manufactured by Huber Engineered Woods called Zip-R. It has an integrated moisture and air barrier membrane that is attached to the exterior surface of the sheathing. In addition, a half-inch closed-cell foam board insulation is laminated to the interior side of the sheathing, providing a thermal break between the wood studs and the wood.

 

“This thermal break not only adds the wall R-value but substantially reduces the thermal transfer that a wood-to-wood connection allows,” Keith pointed out.

 

Once inside, the mesmerizing two-story living room includes a circular stairwell that wraps around the elevator, creating a gap from the circle to the flat wall.

 

“It’s two stories tall, and the artwork that hangs in this gap is really cool,” Keith said. “As a bonus, the semicircle is formed on the exterior as well and is visible in the front elevation as a circular feature of the home.”

 

Additional chandeliers and pendant lights make for a modern and elegant ambiance throughout. The interior features subtle hues of mostly white and light grays brought to life by both Patty Wingfield and interior designer Carol Lantz. The interior doors and kitchen cabinetry were stained to look weathered.

 

“Our ultimate goal is always the same on every project, and that is to make the customer happy. We want customers to have the home of their dreams,” Keith said.

 

Homeowners Ann and Dr. Rick Owen researched their share of environmental homebuilding components before embarking on a dream journey with River Rock Builders to update their Little Rock Heights home. In this instance, “update” meant the home was completely torn down and rebuilt from the ground up to include a plethora of features meant to reduce its carbon footprint.

 

The finished product not only showcases eco-friendly at its finest, but truly exemplifies how sustainable design enhances comfort and livability in any home, from landscaping and irrigation to countertops and lighting.

 

 

Forty-two solar PV panels produce enough energy to power the 2,662-square-foot residence while interior green features include Energy Star appliances, WaterSense fixtures, recycled glass countertops and LED lighting.

 

In addition to the materials used in the American Craftsman-style project, various environmentally friendly building principles were also employed. In replacing the home, great care was taken to salvage fixtures, appliances and materials. During the landscaping process, the family decided to forego a lawn in favor of permeable surfaces, thereby reducing water and chemical usage. Native plants adorn the property with eight rain barrels used for irrigation. In addition, the driveway is filled with porous concrete to curtail excessive stormwater runoff.

 

 

The electric color palette throughout the home lends an aura of pure happiness from purple to lime green to aqua blue and orange, contrasting with bamboo flooring and porcelain tile. The roomy and eye-catching kitchen island bursts with color from the addition of six bright orange barstools. Recycled glass countertops Vetrazzo are used throughout.

 

“It’s another way to recycle and reuse materials over and over again,” Keith said. “These surfaces come in many, many different patterns and colors, and Ann’s kitchen counters are very bright and colorful, in many ways expressing her cheerful attitude of life.”

 

 

The owners had the goal of achieving LEED platinum rating through the United States Green Building Council, a daunting goal for any building project. Yet that’s just what the project achieved.

 

“When I found out we would get the platinum rating and told Ann, she was beyond excited to know that their home had made it to the top of ratings,” Keith said. “What we didn’t expect was how far we would go with the project, winning Arkansas Green Home of the Year and then finally the National Award for Project of the Year.”

 

 

Building an award-winning green home is always a fulfilling process for the team, but as Keith said, the real satisfaction comes from constructing a home that is earth-friendly.

 

“I wish more Arkansans would wake up and understand what a clean, energy-efficient and healthy home they can live in by practicing just a few of these principles while building a new home,” Keith said.

 

 

“I’m very satisfied to know that I have customers who understand the efficiency and sustainability in their home. I want them to tell everybody they know that you can live in comfort, with clean air, at a fraction of the cost of your neighbor. It takes an investment but really, what doesn’t?” 

 

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