Harry L. (Chip) Lundy Jr., Richard D. Bishop and James Greenfield are not exactly household names, but their construction company, Columbia Builders, Inc., is making a name for itself in the new town of Columbia, Md.

Based in the Howard County community that is currently marking its 10th anniversary, Columbia Builders will be two years old on July 15. The firm is not officially connected with the new town from which it took its name, but buys its building lots from the city developers. The three partners also live there - and sing its praises.

The three worked for area builders and got to know each other at the Mathew-Phillips building firm in Columbia in the early 1970s. When Lundy, Bishop and Greenfield decided to have a go of it on their own, each put $1,000 in the pot and then they got a $130,000 construction loan from First Federal Savings and Loan Association in Annapolis.

Lundy, 36, who heads the firm, is the oldest. He said he and his partners share an interest in "building traditional single houses in a modest price range. We started in the $52,000-$57,000 range and now, with inflation and some extras, we are in $65,000 to the mid-$70s."

Bishop said the firm is low on overhead because he and Greenfield are out in the field daily as "superintendents working with our sub-contractors."

The company builds only eight or 10 houses a month and seldom has an inventory of unsold dwellings, according to Greenfield. In two years, CBI has built about 120 houses in Columbia. It currently has 40 sold houses under construction.

Columbia Builders recently opened models in a subdivision called Macgill's Square in Columbia's new Kings Contrivance Village. Houses are being built near a country inn from which the village takes its name. Columbia Builders is competing head to head with models by Ryland and Washington Homes in the same new model park.

Eight of the first 10 houses by Columbia Builders in its first section of Macgill's Square were snapped up during a sneak preview. Additional homes will be built in small sections.

In buying finished lots and building houses only when buyers have signed up for them, CBI has followed a trend started in this area by Ryan Homes, Inc. The Ryland Group and adopted by Washington Homes and many other builders in recent years.