Budget busters grab attention and are worth their weight in marketing for Street of Dreams builders.

PHOTO: STEPHEN TAMIESIE - Quintessence, by Root and Stafford Homes & Land, was a hit at the 2016 NW Natural Street of Dreams in West Linn. Builders use their awards to market themselves to pople looking for home design ideas, especially those with the money to build a custom home. This mega home actually won an Earth Advantage Platinum certification for energy efficiency.

As spectators view the five homes on display in this year's NW Natural Street of Dreams, sited in the Mitchell Park private community in Happy Valley, builders from previous years say they continue to reap the benefits of participating in the signature showcase of luxury home construction.

Gordon Root, principal and founder of Stafford Homes & Land, first got involved in the Street of Dreams in 1992 and built his first home for it the following year. He helped organize the event until 2010 and in 2012 served as president of the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland, which has produced the Street of Dreams since 1975.

Root and Stafford Homes & Land developed two homes — Quintessence and Mon Coeur — for the 2016 Street of Dreams at Tumwater Reserve in West Linn. Quintessence received 13 awards and Mon Coeur was lauded for its unique style and character.

Root described the Street of Dreams as a friendly competition among builders, who typically exceed their budgets because they go above and beyond to achieve ambitious design, construction and energy-efficiency goals. The short time frame for construction requires extensive overtime from subcontractors, which adds to the expense.

"The direct financial benefit from building a home really isn't there because you put so much more into building the home than a traditional home," he said. "It's a badge of honor within the industry and a tremendous way to expose your company to a broad consumer base."

PHOTO: STEPHEN TAMIESIE - 2016s West Linn Street of Dreams site (pictured) had freeway access and plenty of staging space for builders to lay out their construction materials. In Happy Valley in 2017 things were a lot tighter, with both a smaller plot and more windy access roads.

An average of 60,000 people tour the Street of Dreams each year, and many of those visitors are there to get ideas about how they can remodel or enhance their own homes. For those who want to build a custom home, the Street of Dreams sometimes leads to participating builders being selected for the job. Companies like Stafford Homes & Land and other prominent participants also capitalize on being able to promote themselves as Street of Dreams builders and award winners on their websites, advertisements and other marketing materials.

"The real reason we participate in the Street of Dreams is that this is an opportunity to try out all of the latest and greatest energy saving and home performance ideas because we have the budget to do it, and then we can choose which ones to use in the homes we build on a regular basis," Root said.

Root and his partner, Rick Waible, who will chair next year's Street of Dreams, have yet to decide if they will participate in the event again anytime soon, but Root was quick to give kudos to the concept and its organizers.

"My hat is off to the entire process. I've been involved intimately since 1992 and I'm always in awe," he said, adding the Street of Dreams is the country's longest running showcase of luxury homes. "They start every year with a bare piece of ground to showcase something new and different. It's never the same and the only continuity is how spectacular it is every year."

Northwest Dream Homes built Quintessence in partnership with Stafford Homes & Land, and highlights the home as the largest in Oregon to receive Earth Advantage Platinum certification. Geoff Bourgeois, owner of Northwest Dream Homes, called his participation in the Street of Dreams a "once-in-a-lifetime experience."

He said he feels especially fortunate because last year's event was in a much more spacious area than the 2017 site. The property acreage, the size and cost of the houses, and the proximity to the freeway made it easier to stage the homes for the 2016 Street of Dreams. Among other logistical pluses, the West Linn property provided space for large trucks loaded with materials and supplies to more easily enter and leave the site during construction.

"We were really lucky that we had plenty of space to sprawl out, and all of the builders did, so even though we didn't start any earlier than they did this year, it made it easier to get to the finish line," Bourgeois said.

With some marketing support that has included a revamped and updated website, Bourgeois has made the most of the exposure he received from his participation in the Street of Dreams. He received a couple of requests to build large houses immediately after the event, as well as some remodeling projects. He also has received recognition in national magazines, websites and social media, which has been invaluable in terms of pursuing leads for new projects.

"It was just one of those things you have to experience. It's not like building a regular house, where maybe you have a timeline but you don't have a drop-dead date where you have to finish," Bourgeois said.

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