If you’re planning on going to a Parade of Homes show, you might be a little overwhelmed! These shows allow you walk through finished home models and check out the latest and greatest trends in finishes, fixtures, and home décor. You can spend entire days checking out different floor plans, layouts, and home designs, and you get to explore neighborhoods and communities that you may never before have had an opportunity to visit. 

While these shows are great ways to collect ideas and inspiration to start designing and building your own custom home, there are so many beautiful houses and designs that it can be difficult to keep track of what you love. Here are some tips for helping you efficiently navigate your next home show and leave with organized ideas for designing your own custom home in Omaha. 


1. Plan your route.

Download or pick up the show’s brochure and map so you can plan out where you want to go each day. For a home show that involves dozens of homes, expecting to visit all of them in one day is unrealistic. (The 2016 Omaha Parade of Homes, for example, had 47 homes in 26 different subdivisions – much more than a day of touring!) Plan your route so you don’t waste more time than necessary getting from one area of town to another.


2. Plan your day.

Especially if you have small children in tow (but even if you don’t), figure out when and where you’re going to take breaks for snacks and rest time. Although you must keep food and drink out of the model homes, brining a picnic lunch is a great excuse to explore nearby parks and green spaces in new neighborhoods.


3. Dress the part.

Wear comfortable walking shoes – you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet! Also, bring along a bag in which you can keep any product, builder, and home information materials, as well as stash your phone and other items to keep your hands free. 


4. Take your time.

Plan a few hours for your visit so you can take your time and explore each home’s features, amenities, and design elements. If you attend the show on one of its earlier days, you’ll be able to return to revisit any homes you particularly liked or were interested in.


5. Use technology. 

Bring a camera or smartphone and be prepared to take lots of pictures! Instead of taking notes, you can snap photos of product manufacturers’ information, builder contact info, product names, or other things you find inspiring. Don’t forget about video, too! Take videos of areas where you see an especially intriguing layout or design, or record short clips of yourself talking about things you particularly like.


6. Caption your memories.

To make sure you remember which photos or videos corresponded with which house (e.g., that spa bathtub you loved in the first house or which subdivision had the great park), bring along a few index cards or sticky notes. Write down the number or address of the house and make sure the note is visible in the photo you take of the item. That way, finding the builder to follow up later is easy.


7. Take notes. 

Even if you’re using a camera to take photos and videos, it can still be valuable to bring a notebook or sketchbook. You can make notes about what you like or don’t like about a home or subdivision; quickly jot down addresses, names, or phone numbers; or make to-do or wish lists. Taking notes in the moment makes it easier to remember what you enjoyed, rather than trying to recall details about each home at the end of the day or weekend. 


8. Talk to the experts!

Representatives from the homebuilders and some suppliers will likely be on-site at the home show, and can help you answer questions about the model homes, the subdivisions, and the construction process. They will also have informational material and contact information for you to take home. If you love the cabinets but wonder if they come in a different finish, don’t hesitate to ask at the event or reach out after the show.


9. See something you like? Find out if it’s for sale!

The model homes that are on display in a home show are often for sale! If you walk through one you like, talk to the builder about making an offer. Home show models often allow you to score good deals on high-end materials, finishes, and even furniture and décor. 


Click the link below or contact us today to find out how easy it is to get started on your own custom Omaha home! 

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published on April 29th, 2016.