65,000 to visit builders' convention

January 29, 1995|By Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON -- Hotels are sold out. Restaurateurs and cabdrivers are giddy with anticipation. And one builder is getting ready for more than 20,000 people to traipse through his model home.

There's no mystery to what's happening here.

The National Association of Home Builders trade show -- the biggest convention to hit Houston in a decade -- opened Friday at the Astrodomain complex.

More than 65,000 builders and housing industry types were expected in Houston this weekend.

More than 20 acres of exhibit space at the Astrodome facilities are covered with 1,000 booths and displays featuring every kind of building product imaginable.

Slated were speeches by former President George Bush, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan.

In attendance, it's the biggest convention in Houston since the Offshore Technology Conference brought in 100,000 people in the early 1980s, according to the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The builders convention is far bigger than the Republican National Convention, which had 45,000 people in 1992.

And the builders convention may even get larger before it winds down tomorrow.

"It's grown bigger than what we anticipated," said Kathy Abrash, spokeswoman for the convention bureau. Attendance was at first expected to be around 55,000, then it was raised to 65,000. But in the final days of preparation, it appears a total of 70,000 builders may invade Houston, she said.

Thousands of builders will travel to residential communities where showcase homes have been carefully constructed and groomed for display.

The most prominent of them is the New American Home '95, a 3,144-square-foot house in Greatwood in Fort Bend County.

The home was built by Emerald Homes of Houston in cooperation with the National Council of the Houston Industry, Builder magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Popular Science and Home Mechanix.

More than 20,000 people will be bused to the New American Home, where they can view the latest trends in home design and construction.

What's new at the New American Home? A resurrection of the traditional covered front porch, designed to give the homeowner a place to socialize, may be one of the first things to be noticed. It is big enough for several rocking chairs and has a brick floor.

The home also has an outdoor courtyard on the side. The courtyard looks like it was paved with slate squares, but it was concrete poured in place, then colored and patterned.

The two-story, red brick home has a three bedrooms but, with a minimal amount of construction, walls can be added to convert the downstairs parlor, the upstairs game room and the room over the garage to bedrooms.

That flexibility is a key feature, said Brian Binash of Emerald Homes.

The New American Home also has first and second-floor computer alcoves for home offices and children's study areas.

Another tour will take conventiongoers to the Country Place seniors community near Pearland. The homes showcased there by U.S. Home Corp. have features that can be adapted as homeowners grow older. This includes wider-than-usual hallways and doors that can accommodate wheelchairs.

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