Whether you're planning on building new, looking for remodeling ideas or looking to the future, you'll enjoy the 2008 Parade of Homes.
The 23 houses on the tour open at 9 a.m. today.
They're scattered throughout the Tri-Cities and West Richland and run the gamut in size from 1,551 to 5,225 square feet, said Jeff Losey, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities in Kennewick.
"That's the beauty of a Parade of Homes," Losey said. "The houses range from your luxurious dream homes to something more practical, a little closer to the budget of a young family."
Building and furnishing trends still lean toward elaborate electronics and millwork, stainless steel appliances and high ceilings.
Yet there's a growing trend toward "green" building without sacrificing beauty, function and durability.
Builders are using lots of granite, tile and hardwood flooring, which tie into the environmentally friendly movement because they don't give off gas like vinyl does. You can smell the gases coming off plastics, Losey said.
Natural stone, hardwood floors and tile are perceived as being healthier than carpeting or vinyl. Because of that, even though they're more expensive up front, more builders and homeowners are choosing these "greener" options when it fits into their budget.
Building "green" isn't new.
There have been homes in the Parade of Homes which were built using green materials and practices, Losey said.
But in May, the Home Builders Association of the Tri-Cities launched its "Build Green Tri-Cities" program urging builders to use more energy efficient materials and building practices. They include beefing up insulation, incorporating passive solar features, using recycled materials and a host of other design features that are easy on the environment.
"Five of the 23 houses in the parade have been built under that program. To go from zero to five in just four months, that's amazing," Losey said.
At one point or another many of the contractors and subcontractors in the area get involved in the Parade of Homes. People who've made the tour before will see many familiar names and some new ones too, Losey said.
The houses are open until 5 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Sept. 13-14. They're also open from 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Cost is $7 per person. Tickets, which include a guidebook giving directions to each house and details on the construction and the contractors, are available at all Tri-City Sun Marts.
Tickets are valid for all five days but for only one visit per home. Tour the houses in any order. Visit all the homes in a single category -- marked on the back of the ticket -- have it validated and you'll be eligible to vote for your favorite. Visit all 23, turn in your validated ticket and you may win $500.
* Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; email@example.com.