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Housing artistry on display

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The Great Recession a dozen years ago wiped out an estimated 75% of builders and skilled workers in the Rogue Valley. They’re slowly coming back, and the fifth annual Southern Oregon Tour of Homes will showcase their artistry in 14 newly completed homes.

The popular tour drew 20,000 visits last year. It’s free this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with homes — scattered about Medford, Ashland, Jacksonville and Central Point — ranging from $284,000 to almost $1 million, most of them already sold or pending.

“The main purpose of the tour is to promote builders and give people an opportunity to see their artistry and get an idea of the latest trends and materials,” said Brad Bennington, executive officer of the Builders Association of Southern Oregon, which organizes the tours.

Giving a peek at a $950,000 home in Bella Vista subdivision just below Roxy Ann Peak, Bennington said the 3,576-square-foot home by builder Ron E. Meadows has many new and creative features, but because the contractor does mainly custom homes, the public rarely gets to see them.

“Buying a home is a deeply personal process,” says Bennington. “It’s where you’re going live, maybe for decades, raise children or retire, so on the tour you can meet and talk with the builders and get a feel for their heart and personality, their work and philosophy.”

Admittedly “passionate” about his artistry, Meadows, a Rogue Valley native, graduate of Crater High School and builder for 36 years, walked through the home’s spacious view kitchen, pointing out silent-closing, solid-wood cabinetry, and a rare island countertop of quartzite from Italy.

“It’s 100% custom built and has killer views of the whole valley,” says Adam Rutledge of Keller Williams Realty. The home sits on Veneto Circle, just off McAndrews where it climbs into the foothills.

Bennington notes changes in the market, such as buyers wanting “more compact” homes and yards, with less maintenance for both. An example is a new duplex on Second Street in Central Point by Bob Fellows Construction. Each has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, and they sell for $279,900 and $289,900.

The tour helps the public understand that none of these new homes are in the “blow and go” subdivisions — virtually identical except for different-colored doors — that reigned in California in bygone decades, says Bennington. Rather, builders here must obtain big loans and take sizable risks on a good economy to make it happen, and in the end, “they hope they can make money. Builders are not raking it in,” he emphasizes.

Bennington points out the crown moulding, triple arch in the entry to dining and living rooms, each with central keystone and notes, “when the public gets to see this, they realize it’s in the details where you see the heart and art of the builders and get that it’s a passion, not a job.”

No tickets are necessary for the tour. For details about homes and locations, see Tour Guides at www.buildso.com or pick up a free copy at the Builders Association of Southern Oregon, 1006 E. Jackson St., Medford.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Jamie LuschRon meadows admires the view from a home that will be on the Southern Oregon Tour of Homes at the Bella Vista subdivision in Medford on Thursday.
Jamie Lusch This home from the Bella Vista subdivision will be on the Southern Oregon Tour of Homes.