build-a-houseCalling all fifth-grade builders, artists, architects, and engineers! Along with presenting sponsor Fox & Roach Charities, Habitat for Humanity of Chester County is excited to announce the 14th annual Build a House…Build a Dream! contest for kids.

In this competition, fifth-grade students in the Delaware Valley work individually or in pairs to build their own three-dimensional, model dream homes. Students bring these models to our contest on the morning of Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Church Farm School in Exton for display and judging by professional architects, engineers, builders, and designers. There will be three rounds of judging with contestants being dismissed after each round. Contestants will begin to arrive at 8:30AM and the first round will start at 9:15AM. All three rounds and awards will last until approximately 12PM. Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries, but raffles, food, and fun are guaranteed for all who attend!


These three dimensional models are only limited by students’ imaginations! In previous years, students have created model houses designed to withstand tsunamis, houses based on spaceships and bongo drums, houses made entirely of pencils and pasta, energy efficient houses, and environmentally friendly homes.  All children receive recognition for their efforts and the top winners earn prizes.

  • Models must be three-dimensional and fit on a base no larger than 2ft x 3ft.
  • Students must prepare one written description of about 100 words or less explaining why this is their idea of a dream house and highlighting any interesting features. This paragraph will be displayed with their homes.
  • Students must be prepared to discuss their entry with contest judges.
  • Model homes will be judged on the following criteria:
    • Originality and creativity
    • Use of materials
    • Appearance and design
    • Independent effort (This is a contest for kids, not their parents!)

This free contest is open to fifth grade students in public, private, and parochial schools throughout the Philadelphia area. Students may participate in this event individually or with a partner. If you are registering with a building partner, you only need to submit one form, but must provide an email address and parent/guardian contact of the building partner.

Participants will receive a confirmation email within 2 business days of registering. As we get closer to the event, you will receive an email with final details. It is important that you add to your email contacts, as our .org email addresses oftentimes get sent directly to your email’s spam folder.

Entries will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, as space constraints may limit the amount of entries accepted. We still have a few more spots left and have extended the registration deadline! If you have any questions or trouble registering, contact Kate at or call 610-384-7993, ext. 10.

Register Today!



  • Curriculum Guide for Teachers
    • There are many ways for teachers to incorporate Build a House into their curriculum. This helpful sheet offers some tips for integrating the contest into your lesson plans for a variety of different subjects.
  • Event Description
    • See this document for complete contest details and guidelines.
  • Contest Flyer
    • Help us spread the word! Bring this flyer into your school or show it to your favorite fifth grader!
  • Habitat Videos
    • Can’t quite find the words to explain Habitat’s mission to children? You’ll find plenty of videos on Habitat International’s YouTube channel, but this short commercial featuring a Habitat homeowner’s charismatic child is our favorite!
  • What exactly is this contest?
    • It may be easiest to think of the contest like a science fair, except instead of making a science project, students build a model home. Contestants spend time before the contest building their three-dimensional model dream home and then present it on the day of the contest along with a written paragraph as to why this is their dream home. Judges from across the architecture, construction, engineering, realty, and planning professions will evaluate each entry  based upon originality and creativity, use of materials, appearance and design, and independent effort.
  • Who can participate in this contest?
    • Any fifth-grader in public, private, charter, parochial, or homeschool (or any other type of schooling we missed) can participate!
  • Can I work in a group of three or more?
    • Sorry, but you may only work individually or with one partner. We want to ensure that each team member has contributed and been fully engaged in the project, which becomes difficult with a larger group. We can also only fit so many people behind a table the day of the contest!
  • Are there any restrictions or requirements on what I can use to build my house?
    • Absolutely not! The only requirements are that your house must be three-dimensional and fit on a base no larger than 2ft x 3ft.
  • Can I bring my other children to this event?
    • Absolutely! Even though the contest itself is only open to fifth graders, the whole family can attend. While contestants receive raffle tickets, a light snack, and are eligible for prizes, there will be food for purchase and activities for the rest of the family!


                                           Have any questions or concerns? Interested in volunteering or becoming a sponsor?                                         Contact Kate at or call 610-384-7993, ext. 10.

Founding Partner:    

 Fox Roach Charities Logo         bhfr-logo-vert-3line-cab         tridentgrplogo-vert-rgb

Event Sponsor:                                                              In partnership with:


                                                               Church Farm School logoymca-blue-logo-stacked