Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 9, 2013

Event allows builders to show off new home concepts

BY MARY BEVANS GILLETT Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Homebuilders across the region will showcase the latest trends and techniques at the annual Parade of Homes, starting next Saturday in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties.

The Parade of Homes is presented annually by the Home Builders Association Grand Traverse Area Inc. The event is June 15 to 23 and features 15 newly built homes by nine different contractors in locations throughout the region. Attendees can tour homes in any combination of days and locations during parade week.

The association serves as a professional trade organization for licensed builders, tradesmen and related professionals who are committed to constructing quality housing, providing associated services and utilizing progressive technologies. Serving the five-county Grand Traverse region, it is also an industry resource for consumers and businesses.

The Parade of Homes can be a win-win for builders as well as visitors, according to Home Builders Association marketing and events coordinator Kerry Gartland.

“Builders and subcontractors are excited to share their concepts and designs…and the chance to showcase their work,” she said, noting that visitors enjoy seeing the houses while also picking up ideas that can be incorporated into their own homes. “There is so much for everyone and (for every budget)...even if you take away just one idea, it can add the same uniqueness to one’s home.”

A few highlights of the 2013 show include an Incochee Woods home with an extensive chef’s kitchen including a wood fired pizza oven, an Underwood Ridge kitchen featuring a four-drawer French door refrigerator complete with built-in LCD screen, 5-star energy houses and a Silver Lake waterfront home.

Other building industry trends seen in the Parade of Homes as well as new home construction throughout northern Michigan include greater use of granite and custom finishes and technology like cameras or security systems that can be programmed and accessed long distance via smart phone or iPad. Green building and energy efficiency are strong with many incorporating “LP wood” or “smart siding,” which is an engineered product that looks like wood but requires little upkeep and can provide a longer lasting exterior. Geothermal heating is also being used with increasing frequency.

Sean McCardel, owner of Sean McCardel Construction and a Home Builders Association board member, has had several homes featured during the past six years. His work will be seen in Parade home #13, an 1831 square foot family home at 1649 Strasbourg in the Verndale @ East Bay development. Promotion for his work, the industry, the association and area nonprofits are reasons he is involved.

“From the builder’s standpoint, this is the most effect way to market your company,” McCardel said. “We will have 1,000 to 2,000 visitors. That’s a great value for marketing your work, but it is also a great ‘feel good’ event…because we know we are directly giving back to the community through the nonprofits that host our homes.”

Gartland and McCardel noted at least $275,000 has been donated back to nonprofit organizations since Parade of Homes began in 1990. In addition, the association supports nonprofit participation in the Home Builders Expo and Showcase for Remodeled Homes.

“This is a fun event…long days and lots of work, but it is great to interact,” McCardel said, noting 99 percent of attendees are ‘lookers.’ “It’s fun to do, fun to host, fun to talk…while we put our best foot forward.”

Competition also encourages builder participation, he said. Awards are presented in such categories as master suite, kitchen, interior design, craftsmanship, exterior design and judge’s choice. Judging is done by a panel of local building industry professionals including a cross section of architects, kitchen designers, builders, structural engineers and others from the field. Parade home builders meet with the panel to discuss all aspects of the project including challenges and unique features. In addition, attendees have the chance to vote for the people’s choice awards.

Homes are hosted by volunteers from nonprofit organizations who receive a donation from the association for serving as host ambassadors at each Parade Home.

Sue Schwartz has coordinated volunteers at Unity Church for the past six years, recruiting and organizing about 40 people from the congregation each year to host attendees. Volunteers look forward to the event each year, she said, because they enjoy the interaction and the chance to support the business community.

Mike Hamilton, treasurer of the Antique Automobile Club of Michigan-Northwest Michigan Region, agreed.

“This is a great opportunity for our club to work together as a team for a common goal,” he said, “and a relatively easy way for our group to raise funds (through the Home Builders Association,) which we donate to charity.”

Tickets to the Parade of Homes are $10 prior to June 14 and $12 after. They can be purchased at the Home Builders Association as well as ticket sites throughout the region. Hours are 11am – 8 pm on the weekends and noon – 8pm on Thursday, 6/20, and Friday, 6/21. The show homes are closed Monday-Wednesday, 6/17-19. For more information, a map of Parade homes and a full listing of ticket sites, visit