By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
Rock-rimmed pools, villa-style entryways and dramatic scale are some of the features on display in this year's Temple Area Builders Association Parade of Homes.
None of the show's homes is smaller than 2,300 square feet, association executive director Cheryl Hunka said, and that makes for more fun. The homes start at about $225,000 in value.
The parade opened Friday and lasts through next weekend. It includes 12 homes in Belton, Temple and Salado by nine area builders.
The annual event is some of the best marketing that builders get all year, Hunka said. "Between 1,500 and 2,000 people come through their houses in six days, so it's a great marketing opportunity for them to show the public what they can do."
Amenities, decorating and energy efficiency features by both builders and subcontractors are on display, as well as the houses themselves, she said.
Builders volunteer their homes for the show. They must be finished and have been built within the year.
Looking can mean buying
After a relatively slow building season like this year's, Hunka said, a parade get potential homebuyers thinking about what's available - especially as summer approaches.
"Obviously, right now we're in the peak buying season for homes, and building usually does pick up this time of year. In the Temple-Belton area, it had dropped quite a bit, but it's beginning to climb its way back up. It's a slow climb. Professionals don't want to glutton the market with a bunch of houses they'll have sitting."
Less inventory makes the number of homes on the tour slightly fewer than in previous years, she said, but they make up for quantity in quality.
Best of the best
Copperas Cove-based builder Dustin Dewald, of Dustin Dewald Custom Homes, received a "best kitchen" nod from the association for his work at 1196 Niagara Heights in Belton. Beyond the grand kitchen, the home features a unique outdoor space just inside the "front door," a large master bedroom with a giant, walk-in closet, a pool and extreme energy efficiency.
The 3,000-square-foot-plus home has an energy star rating that is 41 percent more efficient than today's energy codes, Dewald said.
Parade spectator Lisa Gaffney of Harker Heights was struck by the home's uniqueness Friday.
"I like the concept of the open floor plan," Gaffney said. "You walk in, but you're still outside of the house."
Her friend, Melody DeVoe of Harker Heights, was also struck by its size.
"I could live in the closet alone," she said, laughing.
Across Belton, at 1301 Nolan Court, retired Col. Allan Evans was receiving compliments on the Carothers Executive Homes masterpiece he and his wife, Helann, will move into within the month.
The $650,000-plus, Eisenhower floor plan home won best kitchen, best master bath and builder's choice awards from the association for its price range.
Evans searched throughout the region for a home to retire in, he said, but kept "always kept comparing (everything) to this house." His favorite part is the backyard, with a rock-trimmed pool by Salado Pool and Waterscapes, he said, and his game room. He also likes its kitchen and great room, warmed by rich woods.
Carothers Executive Homes is based in Belton. Representative Scott Tyson said the parade can translate into new business.
"We pick up customers throughout the year" from this event, he said.
Temple resident Chelsea Loafman was excited to see Evan's home's floorplan. She and her husband, Lucas, bought land in Salado and will soon build a house.
They'll take elements from homes they liked in the parade and try to incorporate them into the design, Lucas said.
If you go
The parade is open today, Saturday and next Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults $2 for children 12 and under. Babies are free.
Tickets are available at any home on tour or at the Dead Fish Grill in Belton.
They allow unlimited viewing of all homes through the end of the parade. For more information on the Parade of Homes, and to see an interactive map of all 12 homes, go to www.tahb.org/parade.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.