Home Parade Preparations Underway

March 7, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Spring Parade of Homes will mark its 45th anniversary when it opens May 27.

The event showcases the work of member firms in the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids. It runs through June 11 and will feature 212 homes, said Barb Bestrom, the association’s assistant executive vice president.

The highest number of homes ever on Parade to date was 254 and that was in the 1994 Spring Parade. The following year, the association launched the Fall Parade of Homes to try to “even it out a bit,” Bestrom noted, but the organization has never set a limit on the number of homes that can be on the Parade ticket.

Tickets this spring will again be priced at $12 for people ages 13 and up and $6 for children ages two through 12.

Typically, both the Spring and Fall Parade tours include a variety of homes that are priced anywhere from just under $100,000 to more than $1 million, Bestrom said.

Once in a while, two builders collaborate on a Parade home, usually when it’s a team effort to raise money for a charitable cause, she said.

But most Parade homes are the work of one builder and his subcontractors.

Bestrom said there has been a lot of growth in the number of Parade homes being built in the western portion of the metro area, in suburbs like Allendale, Jamestown, Hudsonville and Jenison

The 212 homes scheduled for display stretch from Greenville to Middleville and Muskegon to Lowell

“There are a lot of new developments being introduced, so this will be a great opportunity to see those as well,” Bestrom added.

Aaron Kitson, the association’s president, and vice president of production for Lee Kitson Builder Inc., said he expects to see a couple of new trends this year in home building.

“One of the things we haven’t seen before is the kind of ‘new urbanist’ concept where the garage is set either back away from the house or else completely behind it,” he said.

“It kind of goes back to that ‘old town look,’ with the big raised front porch and no garage in sight. I know there are at least three houses like that, and I think there are several more.”

He said his family-owned and operated company is a big supporter of the Energy Star program and that it tries to push for energy-efficient construction and appliances.

“Over the last few years we’ve been kind of disappointed because we feel the demand isn’t quite where we’d like it to be yet.

“We wish more people would ask for it.”

Another trend seems to be the newly adopted notion that bigger is not always better.

“A lot of people are building smaller homes but putting more features in them and dressing them up a little more to create really nice, livable spaces without the emphasis on the most square footage for the money.

“There’s a lot more attention to detail.”    

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