The Housing and Building Association’s annual Houses Parade takes place on the first two weekends of October, giving locals a wonderful sense of normalcy in this very strange year. It’s also a great opportunity to see the latest in home design, construction and finishing. Like everything else in 2020, however, the parade of houses has been changed due to COVID-19. Unlike other restrictions and changes, however, the changes to the parade may actually make it even better.
Those wishing to attend the live event and visit the homes in person are welcome to do so. Masks will be required and the number of visitors allowed into homes at any given time may be limited, so attendees may have to wait outside the home for a few minutes before entering. They will also be required to enter the house via the front door and exit the garage.
Those who wake up on the day of the Parade and feel unwell, or who don’t want to be around dozens of strangers, are welcome to participate in the Virtual Houses Parade, available to anyone who buys a ticket. When ticket holders go to the virtual parade, they not only see many great photos of the house and an interview with the builder, but they can also take a three-dimensional tour of the house, thanks to Matterport technology and A Step Beyond the media.
The professionals at A Step Beyond Media spent hours in each Parade house filming with their three-dimensional gear that gives viewers the feeling of walking around the house. Unlike a video tour of a house, which is controlled by whoever holds the camera, an interactive three-dimensional tour is controlled by the viewers. The cameras have three lenses, and viewers can look up, down and all around, zooming in on the details they want to take a closer look at.
Spectators check the rooms to enter and can often open closet doors to check the pantry or main closet, focus on the bathroom tile details, or go back to the kitchen for a second look to see if that hob was a gas or electric. Viewers direct their own tour online, so they can see and inspect whatever part of the house is most important to them.
Unlike this year’s Parade live house tours, they can walk out the front door, linger in the kitchen, take as much time as they want and can do it all from their home computer.
The virtual tour is a nice addition even for those going to the live event. It’s hard to keep track of the details after you’ve visited three or four homes, and the ability to go back and take the virtual tour will help those who know they enjoyed the kitchen in one home and the bathroom in the master suite of another home, and the plan of a different house, but I don’t remember which house had which characteristics. They can go back on the online tour as many times as they want.
In addition to the three-dimensional tour, Matterport also allows viewers to zoom out and get a bird’s-eye view of the house, as if looking from the roof or walls to see the layout of the house. There’s also a measuring tool they can use to check how tall those cabinets are or how wide that door is.
If the viewer is a video game player, going on a three-dimensional tour will feel familiar and comfortable. If the viewer hasn’t played a video game since Pac-Man was eating dots, they could end up spinning around in circles, walking into walls, or going through doors they didn’t intend to go through the first time they tried it. It’s not complicated, however, and it doesn’t take a lot of practice to be able to navigate around the house. Plus, those walls are virtual, so they don’t leave a bruise on your forehead no matter how many times you walk straight into them.
This year, homeowners were given the option to choose to have their home on the virtual tour only due to concerns about COVID-19. The Alegria house is the only exclusive house online, and it is a fantastic house worth checking out the HBA’s website to see. All the photos used in this story were taken at the Alegria home.
For more information or to purchase your ticket (which also includes the online component), visit the events tab on the Western Colorado HBA website at hbaevents.com.