Everyone Loves a Parade

annual Parade of Homes offers diverse price ranges, options for potential home-buyers

Tom Giffey

A home by C&E Wurzer Builders in Eau Claire.
A home by C&E Wurzer Builders in Eau Claire.

If you can’t buy it, then you’ll have to build it. That seems to be the lesson the red-hot local housing market is giving to potential homebuyers, who are frequently finding their would-be new dwellings snatched up within a few hours of going on sale.
“A lot of people are looking to build or remodel because they can’t find what they want. The houses are selling so fast,” said Christina Thrun, executive officer of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association.

If you’re one of these people, the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association’s 44th Annual Parade of Homes comes at the right time. Slated for June 9-16, the parade features 15 homes across the Chippewa Valley that have been constructed by a dozen different builders. Five are within the Eau Claire city limits, both on the north and south sides, while others are in rural Eau Claire, Lake Hallie, Lake Wissota, and near Mondovi and Strum.

The homes represent a wide range of prices, styles, and options, offering a smorgasbord of choices for the home-buying (and home-admiring) public. About 6,000 people visit one or more parade homes every year, Thrun said. While some just like to explore beautiful new houses, other parade-goers are interested in building homes and want to get a firsthand look at the current options available in everything from fixtures to floor plans. “From the builders’ perspective, they’re putting (homes) in the parade as a way to generate customers,” Thrun said.

A home by Otter Creek Builders in Fall Creek.
A home by Otter Creek Builders in Fall Creek.

So what can those customers expect to see? Houses in the tour range in price from about $200,000 to more than $1 million, so options abound. Thrun said custom cabinetry and white trim are popular elements of many of the homes, as are vaulted and tray (or recessed) ceilings. Rustic decorative elements are also popular, including shiplap, the barn board-like wall covering popular on home remodel TV shows.

A number of the parade homes feature geothermal heating systems, which are more costly than traditional systems initially but are less costly – and more environmentally friendly – in the long run. You’ll also see a wide variety of flooring options: Thrun said the homes feature less carpet and more wood, tile, and laminate floors. One home is designed for aging in place: It’s Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, has an elevator, and features an outdoor courtyard with artificial turf that can be more easily traversed than grass by someone in a wheelchair.

Some of the homes including features that, while out of most people’s price range, are nonetheless fun to ogle at. Several have wine cellars, for instance, and one includes a built-in sports court made for basketball, volleyball, and pickleball, plus a batting cage.

And while all but a few of the homes on the parade are custom-built – in other words, they’re not for sale – they can still give potential homebuyers a sense of what options are available. Whether you’re in the market for a new home or are considering remodeling, Thrun advises taking note of what you like and don’t like in the parade and what various builders can offer you.

44th Annual Parade of Homes • June 9-16 • 10am-5pm Saturday-Sunday, 5pm-9pm Monday-Friday • $8 in advance (through June 8 or $10 at first house •  cvhomebuilders.com

Chippewa Valley Home & Garden is sponsored by:

Down to Earth
Garden Center

6025 Arndt Lane
Eau Claire, WI 54701
south of EC on Hwy 93

Chippewa Valley Home & Garden is sponsored by:

Down to Earth
Garden Center

6025 Arndt Lane
Eau Claire, WI 54701
south of EC on Hwy 93