Show home switch made; Hagan & Hamilton will now build project for Parade of Homes; 'A business decision'; Ilex feared missing deadline, building a house without a buyer


Two months after breaking ground on the "Home of the Year," Delbert Adams decided that he didn't want to dig himself into a hole that might be too tough to get out of.

Citing time and business considerations, Adams, principal of Ilex Construction and Development Inc., bowed out of designing and building the "Masco Home of the Year." The project -- the focal point of the Home Builders Association of Maryland's Parade of Homes -- instead will be in the hands of Hagan & Hamilton Custom Homes.

John Kortecamp, executive vice president of HBAM, said a Hagan & Hamilton home will serve as the centerpiece. The home is already sold and under construction in Cloverland Farms, the northern Baltimore County development where the Ilex home was planned.

"The [Ilex] design changes took time, and both they and we realized that the clock had moved on, and we were in danger of not having a completed house in the time frame that we were looking at, which is the end of May," Kortecamp said.

"I think the program itself, the whole event, was bigger than just the home of the year, and that schedule had to be maintained," said Adams, known for his rebuilding of The Maryland Club, among other upscale design and restoration projects. "It was more prudent at this point of time to say, 'Look, I don't want to be in a situation where at the 11th hour it might not happen. I don't want to do that.' "

Adams' initial design was for a 5,000-square-foot home set on a sloping 6-acre lot that, when finished, would command a price tag of more than $1 million. But not having a ready, willing and able buyer gave him pause.

"It was clearly a business decision on our part to pull back. You have a certain set of financial parameters that you need to work within, given the geographical location of the property," Adams said. "You have to work within those, and if those parameters adjust or change because of market conditions, then you have to adjust and change accordingly."

In 1994 and 1995, the association enlisted a number of builders to design and construct a showcase of luxury, high-priced residences for their "Dream Homes" spectaculars. The event drew thousands of curious house hunters, but few buyers. And with a sluggish Baltimore economy, the houses lingered on the market for months after the event concluded. A downturn in the market forced the cancellation of a planned 1996 event.

"I don't want to say that nobody would want the house, because people would love the opportunity for the house, but whether they would pay the price necessary to make it a viable possibility would be a pretty big risk," Adams said.

The Hagan & Hamilton home, with its synthetic stucco and stone front nearly complete, should serve as a suitable replacement. The house is scheduled to open to the public on June 9 -- two weeks after the HBAM's Showcase of Homes kicks off on May 26. The home will be open through the end of June.

The Michigan-based Masco Corp. -- maker of such products as Delta Faucets, Baldwin Brass, Progress Lighting, Merillat and Kraftmaid cabinets -- will be supplying the latest innovations to the Hagan & Hamilton home.

"For all intents and purposes, it's the same size, the same level of interest from a design standpoint, same level of technical features and amenities," Kortecamp said. "So there really isn't any drop-off in any sense."

The major difference is that the owner will maintain veto power of what ultimately is put in the home.

"I want to make sure that what we are doing does not compromise what I am doing for my client," said Pat Hagan, who since 1989 has built and designed more than 150 homes ranging from $300,000 to more than $3 million. "That was a big issue for us. The [HBAM] committee was very willing to say that we are building my client's home and that they were not expecting them to do things in there that they wouldn't want to do."

"We are going to take the next four to six weeks re-evaluating several of the key components in the house, enhancing them to make them a little bit more exciting," Hagan said, adding that highlights of the 6,100-square-foot French Provincial include five bedrooms, two masonry fireplaces, a library, grand foyer and a deck off the back of the home that leads to an in-ground pool.

Although the residence will also cost more than $1 million, it is a "very real home designed for a family for children with all those things in mind.

"The average consumer may be able to relate to it a little bit better, whereas in Dream Homes past it was just some stuff that was just so outlandish the average person couldn't touch it. It was more ego-building than anything else," Hagan said. "I think this will certainly be upscale, very nice stuff, but being built with a family in mind."

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