Taos News April-May 2014
1 What motivated you to make what looks like a drastic career change, from schoolteacher to builder?
While a degree in special education and a master’s in Latin American studies may not seem to be the typical preparation course for a builder, I suppose it has not been a detriment. I taught straight out of college for five years and during that time I got my first taste of buying, remodeling, and selling little houses in an up-and-coming old neighborhood of east Dallas. I thought I had a knack and somehow managed to line up with a banker who was willing to take a chance on me. The rest is history.
2 As an artist and a builder, what attracted you to Taos?
When I decided to move to the mountains, I knew it had to be Taos
for the skiing, hiking, art, cultures, and the very sumptuous building
style. I began with a massive renovation of an old property in the Taos historic district where I also started a fast education in town of Taos planning and zoning, hearings, the Spanish Pueblo Revival style and the acceptable shades of Taos blue. From then on, I have been creating beautiful houses in different styles, old adobe style to contemporary. Art for sure!
3 What is your building philosophy?
Whether building a new home or restoring an ancient adobe, my focus is always on quality. I always listen and maintain very open communication with clients. I use daily photos, videos, and Skype to help non-local clients be involved in the building process. I remain environmentally sensitive and care for the houses during the design, engineering and building process, and all the years beyond.
4 What has been your experience as a woman builder in Taos?
I must say that my experiences as a woman builder in Taos have been positive from day one. I hire the best subcontractors who all are as particular as I am. They take pride in their work and their specialty. I think they like that I am so detail oriented, just as they are. Perhaps being a woman is helpful when developing design and function and in the final finish stages … not that men do not have the same capabilities, of course.
5 What’s the most unusual situation you have encountered in your career?
Besides digging up bones of uncertain origins and halting everything until we could get certain identification that they were cow bones, not human remains, I have had serendipitous things happen. Once we were pouring a foundation when great gusts of wind blew the fall leaves all across the slab. My first reaction was tears (perhaps that is where the gender thing comes in). In the end, that home has the most lovely, stained concrete floors I have ever seen. The leave imprints that fell naturally created art.
6 Could you give some tips to people who are planning to redesign their homes?
If your imagination is spatially challenged (very common) look at spaces everywhere you go (hotels, offices, stores, other people’s houses) and always carry a tape measure. This helps a lot. Also, if you think you have space for a small 10-by-10- foot guestroom, but you cannot imagine the area, get out the blue painter’s tape and mark out a 10-by-10-foot space around your bed on the floor. Leave it there for a few days to see how it feels.
7 Do you donate any kind of services to community organizations?
Over the last two decades, I have spent many years as a volunteer CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) for abused and neglected children. My business makes contributions to organizations like NonviolenceWorks and Taos Land Trust. I donate my contracting services for repairs and renovations to the building that houses the Methodist Church and the Shared Table. I always wish I did more in that arena.
8 Which is your most effective marketing technique?
By far, my best and primary marketing tool is word of mouth. All of my clients come from recommendations from other StanfordBuilt homeowners, their friends, neighbors, realtors and others who have been involved with my projects.
9 What’s the best part of being a homebuilder?
I truly love to see families enjoying their homes year after year, holidays, vacations. An advantage of being the builder of a home is that you get invited to special occasions in the home and often become friends of the new owners.
Lee Stanford |
owner of StanfordBuilt
BY TERESA DOVALPAGE
PHOTO BY TINA LARKIN
To contact Lee Stanford visit the website stanfordbuilt.com
Phone: (575) 770 6107