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Houses built by local builder will be featured in Zionsville’s Homes of Distinction tour

Chris Cornell and Scott Bates

It’s impressive enough that Zionsville is set to host a Homes of Distinction tour, an honor currently enjoyed in just 10 locations around the country.

What’s more impressive, however, is that behind the scenes of the event lie even more Zionsville tie-ins.

Christopher Scott Homes, the brainchild of Zionsville’s own Scott Bates and Chris Carnell, and the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis, directed by town resident Steve Lains, are two key cogs in the tour, which takes place at Lost Run Farm and runs June 7-17.

Bates and Carnell were the exclusive builders of the tour’s two homes, while Lains and BAGI will coordinate and provide oversight for the event.

“Lost Run Farm is worth the trip,” Lains said of the 21-site community situated a stone’s throw from the Village. “The idea of the tour is to promote that the industry is alive and well, and there are things you can do whether you’re building or remodeling. Come tour the homes, find something you like and bring it into your house.”

Visitors are likely to find more than one thing they like in the estate-sized homes. One abode boasts more than 6,500 square feet of English Tudor-style architecture with hand-carved cabinetry and beamed ceilings, while the other is of rustic, European design and features a glass elevator and 9,500-plus square feet.

It is no accident that the two homes are so different, said Bates.

“Our goal was to make it look like two different builders built them,” he said. “We didn’t want any carryover; we want to show we can build different styles. Being able to adapt and be versatile are signs of a good builder and I think we accomplished it.”

“We’re into being creative and trying new things,” added Carnell. “We wanted to build something that people couldn’t just drive by and know who built it by the look.”

A differentiation in style is nothing new for Christopher Scott Homes. Reunited after being childhood friends, Bates and Carnell started the business in 2002, and their operation has been unique from the very start. They have no proper office space, choosing instead to rely on technology to reduce overhead.

“That was part of how we survived the recession,” Carnell said of his and Bates’ business model. “We work out of home offices and out of our cars on the jobsite. We keep things as simple as possible, and that’s not the usual way to do it. People can try to take on too much, but (in 2008) we didn’t have to worry about cutting people or extra expenses going out the door.”

The 2008 economic downturn certainly affected BAGI as well, but Lains, a Cincinnati native and 11-year Zionsville resident, sees reason for hope in incremental improvement.

“The market is swinging up,” he said. “We’re seeing a slow and steady increase, and we want to get people engaged in building homes or remodeling them, because that is a double-digit percentage of Gross Domestic Product. You could say we’re a main driver of the economy, so that’s one of our focuses.”

He added that, “The tour is a big opportunity to get people engaged.”

Aside from that, the tour – as with all Homes of Distinction tours – has a philanthropy aspect. The St. Vincent Foundation will receive a portion of the tour’s ticket sale proceeds, which will benefit the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.

In addition, Indianapolis-area businesses were contracted to outfit the tour homes with the latest A/V equipment, appliances and other additions. That, coupled with the inclusion of a local charity, simply continues the theme of keeping things as close to home as possible.

Bates knows a little something about that.

“I grew up in Raintree Place, which adjoins to Lost Run Farm,” he said. “I used to up play in this field with my buddies, so it’s kind of neat that 25 years later we’re building here for a big home show.”

If You Go
What: WTHR Homes of Distinction at Lost Run Farm
Where: Intersection of Michigan and Templin (121st Street) roads
When: June 7-17 – Thursdays and Sundays 12-5 p.m. – Fridays and Saturdays 12-7 p.m.
How Much: $15 admission benefits the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital
More Information: