Shirley, Arkansas — Green Home For Sale

(((Update 8/5/10: House is under contract. Closing to take place September 15th.))) 12" thick AAC walls! Vermont purple slate roof! Temp-Cast masonry woodstove! Durable and natural materials make this home both comfortable and energy efficient!

Green Home
Annual Property Tax $713
Annual Utility Cost $1,002
Home Area 2,026 sq ft
Bedrooms 3
Total Property Area 23 acres
Year Built 2005

Listing ID: 19033

Property Description

Probably the first thing you'll notice about the property is the natural beauty - the bluffs, the creek, and the privacy. The house sits against a south facing sandstone bluff that provides a peaceful backdrop. Native Americans lived and hunted here, used the overhanging bluffs for shelter - evidenced by the various flint scrapers and arrowheads we've found while gardening. Deer and turkey are abundant, as are songbirds. The year round creek welcomes great blue herons, kingfishers, and even an occasional beaver. In the springtime and summer the call of the whippoorwill fills the night air.

The property is mostly timbered, covered with a mix of pine, oak, hickory, and sweetgum trees. The house sits within earshot of the creek in a cleared area of approximately three acres.

The house is a charming 1 1/2 story Cape oriented and glazed using passive solar principles. The house's long axis is situated east to west. Generous roof overhangs block the summer sun, yet allow exposure to all of the winter sun's warmth.

If you've ever traveled to Europe, then you'll appreciate how this house is constructed! It was built using durable materials and methods.

The walls are composed of 12" thick AAC block (aerated autoclaved concrete). The block exterior is covered with an integrally colored stucco, while the interior surface is covered with a gypsum plaster. AAC is a unique material that's been used in Europe for many decades. It provides a good insulating value with a thermal mass benefit (what building scientists call Dynamic Benefit of Mass Systems). It's ideally suited for the Arkansas climate. In addition, it's termite proof and fire proof.

The roof is covered with a Vermont Purple hand-split slate that's guaranteed to last > 100 years!

High quality Loewen windows provide beautiful views from both the inside and outside. These Canadian made window frames are built with a clear grade Douglas Fir, then covered with an extruded aluminum for a maintenance free exterior. Southern windows have a high SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient).

If you like country living, then you probably enjoy the ambiance of a cozy fire too. But maintaining a woodstove can be a hassle. That's why we installed a Temp-Cast masonry heater. Masonry heaters are the most efficient woodstoves yet designed (see the Fine Homebuilding article from November 2008 for details). We typically burn 40 - 50 lb. of wood each evening, in three hours or less. The fire burns quickly and cleanly. The dry-stacked sandstone masonry absorbs and slowly radiates the fire's heat for the next 24 - 36 hours. One cord of wood (or less) provides heat for an entire winter. With a masonry heater you can have your fire and enjoy it too!

As if that weren't enough, a Trane XL14i high efficiency heat pump provides air conditioning and back-up heat. We installed an AirCycler controlled ventilation system too, with a fresh air intake.

Perhaps the kitchen is our favorite room in the house. Kraftmaid cherry cabinets are topped with granite tile countertops. A lowered butcher-block countertop section is perfect for preparing breads or pies. The GE Monogram range is dual-fuel - the professional gas stovetop is combined with a wonderful electric convection oven.

A large pantry is easily accessible for storing canned goods, larger items.

And guests can sit at the custom walnut bar while you prepare dinner!

High quality materials are used throughout the remainder of the house:
* Kohler bathroom fixtures
* A.O. Smith direct vent water heater
* Travertine, porcelain, and Southern Yellow Pine flooring

What are we missing . . .

An 865 sq. ft. outbuilding sits close to the house. It was originally designed as a woodworking shop, but could easily be converted for other purposes (it has a kitchen).

The property is well situated for raising your own food. We planted blueberries and fruit trees when we established our home here. And we always plant a vegetable garden. Raising livestock is another possibility (did we mention that the property has a pond too?).

There's just too much to tell! Here are a few more items:

* We just added a large deck!
* The playset is great for the kids.
* There's a woodshed.
* We own the propane tank. It conveys.
* All appliances convey.
* A large double compost bin sits next to the garden and orchard.
* There's a small cave.

So you're thinking . . . the property sounds wonderful - why are you moving? In a word, family. I come from a large family in Virginia (eight brothers and sisters!). My parents are aging. Seeing them once a year is just not enough. My wife is an only child. Her father passed away and her mother plans to move to Virginia with us. Her property adjoins ours. It is available also (26 acres + house).

Final notes:

We listed the property with a local realtor: Goodwin & Herman. Our listing agent is Roger Goodwin. The property MLS: # 10253110.

I would be happy to answer any questions or take additional pictures.

What makes your home a Green or Healthy Home?

When we built the house we focused on several ideas:

1) Natural materials
2) Energy effiency
3) Durability
4) Aesthetics

We avoided the use of plastics whenever possible. All interior surfaces are cleanable (no carpet!). We are not chemically sensitive, but built the house as if we were. We used low or no VOC products, tried to make prudent choices when purchasing materials.

We compost our kitchen waste and add this as an amendment to our garden soil while planting. We've used natural pesticides in the garden area (like BT, or soaps).

Note that when listing the house we hired a pest control company to treat for termites. We didn't think it necessary (the walls are completely termite proof), but we were informed that banks won't loan money on a home without a termite contract - no exceptions. The contractor used a pyrethroid based insecticide.

Regarding the energy use, we have copies of electric bills for the last couple of years, as well as summary spreadsheets. For those who know about KWH and Btu ratings, for the past year I calculated we used 52MMBtu total (for all energy sources - electricity, propane, and firewood).

Neighborhood Description

When we look outside we don't see any artificial lights. The nearest house is at the end of our driveway (a 1/4 mile distant). Lucas Farms sits across the highway; there we pick strawberries in the spring, purchase other vegetables in the summer. The property is extremely private, yet close to nearby communities. The property entrance is from Highway 16 East, a two lane country road that connects the towns of Fairfield Bay and Clinton. Both towns are approximately 10 miles distant. Our children attend Shirley Schools, which are less than three miles away. The closest launching point for Greers Ferry Lake is part of the Fairfield Bay community. The Greers Ferry Lake fishery has two world records: 1) Walleye and 2) Brown Trout.

Market Area

Clinton is the county seat of Van Buren County. We do most of our shopping and business there. Conway is approximately 1 hour south. Little Rock is 1 1/2 hours south.

School District

Shirley School District


Home Type or Land

Single Family - Two Story

Location of Home or Land


Elevation of Home


Building Details

Air Quality

Agriculture in Area Yes
Industry in Area No
Air Pollution in Area No
Pesticide Free No
Fragrance Free Yes
Cleaned with Green Products Yes

Interior Environment

Heating System Forced Air - Heat Pump
Solar - Passive
Wood Stove
Cooling System High Efficiency Heat Pump
Passive Cooling
Ventilation System Part of Cooling System
Part of Heating System
Whole House Filtration Other
Whole House Vacuum No

Energy & Water

Energy System Municipal Energy
Water System Well
Wastewater System Composting Toilet
Septic System

Construction Information

Construction Type Masonry/Concrete
Wood Framing: 2x4, 2x6, etc.
Exterior Finish Stucco
Interior Finish Earthen Plaster
Gypsum Board - Sheet Rock
Interior Paint Low VOC
Floor Material Tile
Wood - Solid
Roof Material Slate
Window Material Wood Dual Glazed
Insulation Material Fiberglass
Recycled Newsprint

Garage / Car Port

Garage / Carport No

Contact Information

Daniel Ernst

8607 Highway 16 E
Shirley , NA 72153