Wake County Parade of Homes: Past, Present, Future

It’s been said everyone loves a parade. I will agree with that and also say that includes a parade of homes. Our company, Olde Heritage Builders, has participated in the Wake County Parade of Homes every year but one since 1986. The Home Builders Association, especially the parade of homes, has been instrumental to the success of our small family owned building business. The parade provides its builders the opportunity to showcase their best floor plan, craftsmanship, décor, and newest technology available. Although most parade visitors are just gathering ideas or checking out the newest trends, many builders find opportunities to build new relationships with potential clients. In today’s market those relationships are truly priceless.

Before we discuss the present, let’s talk a little about parades of the past. In the early days the houses were small in square footage and price. They were often in parts of the county that were thought to be “far” from Raleigh. The bath fixtures were brass, the wallpaper was plentiful, and the styles were very traditional. Rooms were boxy, hallways were long, and baths and closets were small. As the county grew so did our road system and our cities. Towns like Cary, Apex, and Wake Forest became forces of their own. Even further out bedroom communities like Zebulon and Holly Springs came into being a relocation destination for the many people moving to our area. The parade homes grew in numbers and square footage. It was in the late 90’s when the parade saw its first few million dollar homes. In the mid 2000’s there were dozens and a few near the $3 million range. Many of the parade homes earlier in this decade were a sign of the times. Really big homes with every amenity imaginable including saunas, gyms, wine cellars, 4+garages, theatre rooms better than the real thing, and so much more. Everyone including myself loved visiting those beautiful homes. It was a way for many of us to dream about what was a reality for a few. The plans were spacious; the level of craftsmanship was hopefully as high as the price tags. Many builders found all of their homes increasing in size and value as the jobs by the many Triangle companies kept being created. We truly live in one of the greatest and most blessed areas in the country. I think we can contribute that to our natural beauty, our universities, and our great citizens. Many of us, including myself, felt the Triangle was somewhat immune from the economic downturns in other parts of the country. The “Great Recession” has proved that to be a false sense of security.

The new reality is the world is a very connected place. The Triangle is somewhat dependant on the economic success of other national markets and even the success of world markets. During the downturn, no job sector has been hit harder nationwide than the homebuilding industry. Many people didn’t know how much a vibrant housing market contributes to the local economy. The problem was many national markets became overheated and a correction has occurred. We still have one of the healthiest housing markets in the country but it’s still awfully painful to many builders even here. The present day parades of homes reflect current market conditions. I believe that will always be the case. Builders are always doing their best to deliver what the current customers are looking for. So what are they looking for? What do I believe you will see in parade homes in 2010? There will still be very expensive executive homes because we are still creating and retaining those jobs. We are still rated as the healthiest housing market in the country. But on average you will see a shift in general. Homes will be a little smaller in square footage. Some will costs less and provide as much value as possible. Some will include extremely high levels of craftsmanship and amenities. Tastes are simpler with more emphasis put on the neighborhood itself more than any time in the parades history. People want a sense of community. Everyone wants to live in a neighborhood where it’s convenient to get to work and back home. People now want to feel like they are a part of a village and not stranded on an island.

For us here at Olde Heritage Builders we are staunch advocates and supporters of Green and Energy Star certified homes. We believe that homes that cost less to operate for the life of the home, have safer better indoor air quality, are more durable, require less maintenance, and have less environmental impact are the best investment for the present and the future. Us and other Green Home Builders of the Triangle members can build and deliver homes like this for prices very comparable to those of standard code built homes. Our parade home for this year is being built as a charity home with proceeds benefitting Duke Children’s Hospital. It is the 2010 Green Miracle Home. It features many highlights that make it as innovative as possible. Some of those highlights are CREE LED lighting, a conditioned crawlspace and attic, continuous mechanical fresh air, recycled glass tiles, recycled leaf mulch, Wildlife Habitat Preservation landscaping, multi decade warranted composite components made from recycled materials, and much more. A green home is centered on the home operating as a high performance system and not as hundreds of individual components.

What does the future hold for the Wake County Parade of Homes? No one knows but again we live in one of the greatest areas in the country when it comes to success in economic, educational, natural resource opportunities. For those reasons and many more our population will continue to rise. That creates both opportunity and responsibility. It is our belief here at Olde Heritage we must be builders and stewards of the land simultaneously. We must make smart decisions about where and how homes and buildings are built. We must maintain the reasons people come here in the first place and for the generations to come. That will require preservation of many areas. We also know the construction industry is the driving force for our tax base, local economic spending, and many of the public opportunities we all enjoy. Balance is the key. Parade Homes of the future will be balanced as well. They will be built for multigenerational families. They will be built with more flexibility to use spaces in them for different reasons at different life stages. They will be built with more emphasis on lifetime costs and not only upfront costs. They will be built using less raw materials and create less waste. They will be built this way because it will be too expensive to do otherwise. We live in a global society where we are all using the same resources including oil, gas, wood, food, water, and much more. Homes of the future will be built in ways to allow us the comforts we have gotten used to while simultaneously conserving all of the items mentioned above and more.

The Wake county parade of homes has always provided examples of the latest ideas and best homes available. That has been true for the past and present and I expect that to even be truer in the future. If you would like to learn more about green building, please visit our website for more information.

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