If your kitchen is mainly white with timber elements, you can count your home as on trend.

The regional section of the House of the Year competition is underway with 32 finalists from around the Bay of Plenty.

House of the Year judge Clive Barrington says design trends in the Bay of Plenty are similar to those currently in fashion around the globe.

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"We have noticed a lot more timber coming back into houses. White is a very 'in' colour, particularly in kitchens, mixed with a bit of timber, like the home we are seeing here in Tauranga today.

"Clean and sharp with a little bit of timber detailing to soften homes, seems to be where trends are being set at the moment."

These judges are on the hunt for New Zealand's best homes and not just in the big cities.

Barrington, who is one of the judges, said the competition was mainly about the builders' workmanship.

"Points are divided up with two-thirds for workmanship and one-third is based around design, functionality and style. So we are looking at both, but workmanship is the most important thing."

Builder Todd Grey has an entry in the competition. He builds one-off, bespoke homes for clients around the region and says demand for larger scale homes is not slowing down.

"Through Mt Maunganui, the land is scarce. Having a home dead-flat from the road to the golf course, and then the house stretching along the full site is quite unique," he said.

According to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, Tauranga house prices have increased by 6.7 per cent year-on-year, with the average cost of a home jumping to $640,000 in the last 12 months.

Barrington says he and his fellow judges are looking at homes built in the price bracket of $1m-2m.

"These bespoke builds are getting bigger now, I think, and more bathrooms. It is quite common for every bedroom to have its own bathroom now."

Grey says each build brings with it a new set of challenges.

"In the Mount, we have predominant weather coming in from the West and the North, so it's important having those areas on either side of a home with a living area in the middle, so that you can open up each side of the home, or close it off to suit the owner."

Regional winners will be announced next month.

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