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Annual home show draws large crowd

March 10, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Roxy Grossnickle had a twinkle in his eye Saturday afternoon. He had just arrived at the Washington County Homebuilders Association's 18th annual Home Show, and he was ready to look at jacuzzis.

"It'd be nice if they were cheaper," he said, looking at one whirlpool that was outfitted with lights, controls, switches and a bar. But the smaller one with fewer frills, going for $4,200, might be closer to the family's budget.

Grossnickle, his wife Joelle and their two children were among 3,000 visitors Saturday to the homebuilders association's annual event at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

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Favorable mortgage rates across the nation as well as tight housing markets in the Washington D.C., metropolitan area have helped spur the local home building and remodeling industry over the past year or so, said Debi Turpin, the association's executive director. That likely helped bring more people out Saturday.

"Serious individuals are attending the show," Turpin said. Like the Grossnickles, "people are ready to do what they need to do" to get moving on home-improvement projects, she said.

Unlike previous years, "the money is available. People are realizing that, number one, they can afford to buy a home, or number two, they can afford to renovate," Turpin said.

The 139 presenters catered to all aspects of home building, refurbishing, decorating and remodeling - giving people like the Grossnickles food for thought about their next adventures as homeowners.

"I'm always working on the house, adding stuff to it," Roxy Grossnickle, 29, of Jefferson, Md., said. Joelle, 28, played the role of consultant. She said while Roxy is generally in charge of the home-improvement ideas, "I have to have the price, always."

The Grossnickles have owned their two-story Victorian in Frederick County for six years and are finally satisfied with the interior improvements they have done. Now it's time to work on the exterior, and they saw the home show as an opportunity to check prices, and see what's next.

"We're not quite to that seriousness, looking-point yet. I guess when we are, we probably won't bring the kids," Joelle said.

Even so, the two roamed the aisles, which were crammed into the HCC athletic center. Just about all items worthy of a being inside or outside a house could be found, from lawn ornaments to fireplaces, window panes to concrete pavers, and water purification systems to carpentry tools.

Joelle Grossnickle said she was hoping to find landscaping ideas, but hadn't seen what she was looking for. But Roxy found a few types of concrete covering he could use to replace some old tiles.

After roaming for about half an hour, taking mental notes and conferring on plans, the couple said they felt they had done their homework for the time being. A good thing, Joelle said, because her husband is sometimes hard to contain in that type of environment.

"He runs away, and I just let him run," she said.

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