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The Keys to Getting Your Dream Home: An Interview with Donna Bell of Christopher Lee & Company Fine Homes

By Donna Bell

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Since its beginnings over 13 years ago Christopher Lee & Company Fine Homes reputation for honesty and loyalty extends beyond our clients to professionals in our field. We work only with the finest subcontractors and suppliers, ranging from local craftsmen to national and international corporations, to ensure that each home is constructed with the utmost skill and highest quality goods and materials available. From the initial concept and planning phases, to breaking ground and construction, the exceptional team at Christopher Lee & Company Fine Homes manages each project with exacting attention to quality and detail. Combining honest and clear communication and sophisticated management skills, the team at Christopher Lee & Company Fine Homes does more than simply build luxury homes. Rather, we serve as our client's advocates, working to ensure that our clients' interests are secure, privacy is protected, and visions are realized. Christopher Lee & Company Fine Homes understands that building a home is one of the most significant financial and emotional investments our clients take on in their lives. We understand this on every level and are committed to helping each of our clients turn their dreams into reality.

What are some of the services your company provides?

  • LAND: we will provide a review of the lot or acreage to determine the best positioning for the new home. We will give our analysis of the surrounding lots and let our clients know how their views will be affected. If there is a home under construction which may affect their lot we will research and gather information to determine exactly what the impact may be.
  • CHOOSING A DESIGNER/ARCHITECT: Having the right designer/architect is critical to the successful build of any home. At Christopher Lee & Company Fine Homes, we are highly respected within the industry and they understand our high standards and share in our determined approach to get our families nothing less than the home they envisioned. We have our own architectural designer on staff that can help with conceptual drawings or redesign an existing plan. We also work with other architects/designers, interior designers and our clients to specify materials like rare hardwoods, chosen for their exotic grain texture, beautiful natural stone, polished by fine craftsmen and hardware and metalwork that form lasting impressions of style and good taste in the homes we build. We appreciate and respect working with some of the best: Brent Gibson Classic Home Design, Fillmore & Chambers Design Group, Brian Jaggers Designs and Sam Gresham Architects.
  • INTERIOR DESIGN: Building our client's dream home means more than just its construction. It takes just the right eye to give the new home the beauty and sophistication they are dreaming of. We make sure their dream home becomes a reality by bringing in interior designers like Amy Huxley of H Interiors, Andrea Meister of Meister Designs, Mark Taylor of TA Design Group, Christina Felder of Christina Felder Design & Interiors and Debi Weber of Debi Weber Design Group. We also work closely with a Certified Kitchen Designer, Bill Livingston at Luxe Kitchen and Bath, 1589 S. Broadway, Edmond, OK.

In your opinion, what are three qualities that every design and build company should possess?

  • LISTENING: The first step in our process is the most important. We dedicate our time and energy to getting to know the family to discuss their needs, their lifestyle, their habits and their desires, all of which are essential to understanding what they are searching for in a new home building process.
  • ADVOCACY: We will be their advocate. If subcontractors are having problems following the design on their project, we, the builder will make sure the integrity of the design is upheld.
  • EFFICIENCY: Having a design department within our custom home construction company enables the whole process to be smooth and timely. Changes or redesigns can be made almost immediately which provides the implementation of the construction process to be more efficient.

If you could describe your ideal client/home designer relationship, what would it be and why?

  • TRUSTING: To have trust in us that we are the professionals.
  • OPEN COMMUNICATION & TRANSPARENT: To be able to communicate freely and honestly throughout the preconstruction and construction processes.

Having these two elements apparent in our relationship provides a better experience for everyone.

As a fine homes design and build firm, how do you make sure you're understanding of what your client wants?

We write and share meeting minutes of our meetings with our clients. This confirms we are all on the same page. We also use a project management software program that all clients are trained on and have access to all information regarding their project. If there is any confusion, it is addressed as soon as possible.

What are at least three questions every homeowner should ask their fine home designer before hiring them?

  1. Describe how our relationship will work during the construction process. What are my responsibilities as the client?
  2. Can I see some examples of your work?
  3. How do you charge, and what are your fees? Will I see every invoice from all subcontractors/suppliers?
  4. What obstacles do you foresee based on the plans and lot?
  5. How long will this project take for design, building permits and construction?

What is your philosophy behind creating fine homes?

It's about satisfaction and assurance we constantly monitor the progress of each custom home to ensure the highest quality is achieved. Christopher Lee & Company Fine Homes hires only the best subcontractors and can provide references on each one of them. Our subcontractors understand the high standards we expect from them and will not settle for anything less than their best work.

TIME BENEFIT: Once construction begins, we can build each home much more efficiently because we have perfected the scheduling of each subcontractor as each stage of the building process grows into a beautiful new home. We provide a definitive timeline for completion and move in. Our homeowners have peace of mind that they are getting exactly what they want at prices they expect.

COST BENEFIT: Christopher Lee and Company Fine Homes keeps our homeowners completely up to date on all projected cost. We provide budget allowances based on our client's selections, whether they are of the finest materials and top of the line brands in appliances or more economical selections to complete the look and feel our clients are looking for. We are a transparent company and provide copies of all subcontractor/supplier invoices to our clients. Any changes in the home's design will always result in corresponding changes to the estimated home budget. The detailed process of refining the home's design to our client's needs and desires is a fluid process in which construction costs can change daily.

QUALITY BENEFIT: Our Project Managers utilize a task list consisting of over 700 items they are required to follow for every custom home. This quality control measure insures our clients of receiving the home of their dreams, saves them money and maximizes their quality of life.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

Donna Bell, Vice President of Operations: donna@chrisleehomes.com or 405-314-2098 or the office phone: 405-607-4882.

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