by Christy Heitger-Ewing | photos by Juan Guillan
It’s safe to say that 2020 will go down in history as a year we will never forget. While much of the country was forced to close their doors and hunker down, those in the construction industry were building homes and ramping up, keeping busier than ever to help make homeowners happy.
“It’s really interesting the way that housing hasn’t slowed down, particularly in our market,” says Kristen Bowen, Director of Communications and Special Events with the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis (BAGI). “People have been cooped up in their homes, spending a lot of time overanalyzing the things they don’t like about their house. [As a result,] they start thinking about new homes and the opportunities to customize exactly what they want.”
When it comes to home design, folks are installing expansive windows to let natural light pour in, blending the indoor & outdoor spaces to make it feel more expansive. Another trend centers around creating ample space for aging relatives as multigenerational living has become increasingly popular, as well as a variety of home office and study spaces.
Homeowners today crave smart technology, and with the onset of COVID-19, they seek touchless controls in faucets, motion-sensor lights, and voice commands. Also, since people are eating at home more often these days, they are interested in building supersized pantries that enable them to organize. Homeowners are also investing in their HVAC systems now, more than ever, they want to make sure the air in their home is filtered properly.
Today’s buyers are informed and have clarity regarding their desires. That, coupled with the shortage of existing homes on the market and low interest rates, makes now a phenomenal time to buy a newly constructed home.
Luckily, the 2020 First Internet Bank Home-A-Rama is right around the corner. And while many events over the past six months have been canceled, organizers of this event have gone to great lengths to ensure a safe & exciting experience. Not only will there be ongoing sanitation of each home as well as cleaning all public areas, benches, and bathrooms, but also the way tickets are being sold this year – online and in 30-minute increments in limited quantities – will ensure that capacities adhere to health department expectations.
“Say I wanted to go to the show on the first day and be the first one there. I would buy the 12-12:30 arrival time block ticket and show up within that timeframe,” explains Bowen, noting that this system helps them monitor the number of people who are onsite at a time. In addition, windows will often be open in the homes to create more airflow, and outdoor spaces such as patios and garages will be utilized to spread out conversations among attendees. The event site – Holliday Farms in Zionsville – covers ten acres, and each of the 11 featured homes is more than 5,000 sq. ft. so there is plenty of space for participants to socially distance both inside and outside the homes.
This year BAGI is also implementing revolutionary changes in technology that will make this and all future Home-A-Rama’s extra special.
“We worked with Haven Media to develop an incredibly cool virtual experience for our guests,” says Bowen. The virtual option offers an alternative solution for people to immerse themselves in a home without physically being there fully. Interactive 3-D Matterports allow visitors to tour the homes and click on tags that interest them to obtain specific product and vendor information.
“We have more information available for people at their fingertips than we ever have before,” says Bowen. Participants can save photos to a “favorites” file – in effect, building their own vision board.
BAGI’s team is thrilled to offer an experience that will live well past the in-person show as all attendees (both in-person & virtual) will get the link to the virtual experience, enabling them to go back and refresh themselves on what they saw.
“I can’t tell you how often someone calls the office and says something like, ‘I went to the 2002 Home-A-Rama. I’m ready to build now. Can you tell me who Builder #4 was?’” says Bowen.
“Now attendees will have such information archived – and not just builder info but going as deep as, say, recalling who the supplier for a particular countertop was.”
The BAGI team saw this as a progressive opportunity not just to adapt for COVID-19 but to really build something moving into the future that would last.
“We certainly don’t look at the virtual experience as a band-aid or a Plan B,” says Bowen. “This really is next-level awesome and a great resource for both in-person attendees and those who are unable to join us on-site this year.”
Stay up-to-date with BAGI and the First Internet Bank Home-A-Rama, visit bagi.com/home-a-rama for more information.