They're new, improved and more energy-efficient than ever.
On Saturday, the Hernando Builders Association kicks off its 2009 Fall Parade of Homes, an event designed to highlight local builders' shiniest new offerings.
Twenty models representing work by seven builders will be showcased in this year's event, which includes homes in Hernando and Citrus counties.
And with competition from existing homes on the market, the association says building your own home has become more affordable than ever.
"The market drives the price," said Brenda McDaniel, executive officer for the association. "Anyone who is seriously looking to have a home built or looking to buy a home can get a much more energy-efficient home built for about as much as you can get a comparable resale home."
With home sales up over 2008, it's a brighter picture than last winter, when officials decided to postpone the spring event because of the lagging economy.
There's still a large backlog of unsold homes this year, but builders say the improving economy will breathe new life into one of the county's most important industries.
"We want to put people back to work," said Joe Mazzuco of Royal Coachman Homes in Spring Hill.
Homes are discounted, and buyers can get exactly what they want, he said.
Builders are ready with new features to compete with older homes, particularly in the area of energy efficiency. New state requirements went into effect last spring.
Hundreds of details add up to make homes greener. Double-paned windows; spray-foam insulation; efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems; and the placement of a home on its lot make a difference.
For the event, Palmwood Builders updated its popular cabana courtyard design with a new kitchen layout that includes a wall oven, a walk-in pantry, granite countertops, and lighted accent tiles designed by Cobb Home Innovations of Nashville, Tenn.
"We've redesigned the model to be more current with today's lifestyles," said Chris Glover, Palmwood's chief executive officer.
The patent-pending lighted accent tiles are designed to bring ambient light to a kitchen or bathroom. They are programmable and can be locked on certain colors with the touch of a button.
"Low voltage is a key for green technology, and it costs pennies to run," said Hugh Cobb, who worked as a technical designer for Sony Electronics prior to starting his own company.
It's true that custom home builders must compete with foreclosed properties, which often sell at rock-bottom prices, said Joe Pastore of Pastore Custom Builders in Spring Hill.
But sometimes, Pastore said, it's nice to get exactly what you want.
By building new, you can choose a home's location, design and amenities, he said. But that's not the only advantage.
"You don't have to clean up someone else's mess," Pastore said.
Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.