Calling 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 15th 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 17, 2018 at Church Farm School in Exton for display and judging. There will be three rounds of judging with contestants being dismissed after each round. Contestants will begin to arrive at 8:30 AM and the first round will start at 9:15 AM. All three rounds and awards will last until approximately 12 PM. Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries, but raffles, food, and fun are guaranteed for all who attend!


The contest will take place in the Pavilion located on Church Farm School’s campus. Church Farm School (CFS) is located at 1001 Lincoln Highway, Exton.CFS Campus Map


Parking lots are available on the Church Farm School campus near the Pavilion, but carpooling is encouraged! Volunteers will be stationed at the entrance and throughout lots directing parking. If it is raining, or your house is excessively large, there is an option to drop off your child and house at the front door of the Pavilion. Volunteers will also be available in the parking lot to help you carry your house to the contest area.

Estimated Event Timeline

This timeline is subject to change slightly the day of the event. Please arrive at 8:30 and make sure your child is standing next to their house by 9:10. Each round will take approximately 30-40 minutes.

8:30 am- Check in opens
9:15 am- First round of judging begins
9:55 am- First round of judging ends
10:10 am- Second round of judging begins
10:45 am- Second round of judging ends
11:00 am- Final round of judging begins
11:30 am- Final round of judging ends
11:50 am- Awards Ceremony

Check In

When entering the Pavilion, please be sure to stop at the check in table. This is also where you will receive an apron, raffle ticket, and coupons for snacks. Snack coupons can be redeemed throughout the contest.

If you are part of a team, you do not have to wait for your partner to arrive in order to check in. You can either meet your partner at your assigned table or go to check in to see if they have arrived.

Upon checking in, your child will be assigned a table number and escorted to the appropriate table in the contest area.

For Spectators

Parents and other spectators are allowed to walk around and view the homes before the start of the contest and in between rounds, but are asked to remain clear of the contest floor while judging is taking place. In between rounds spectators are encouraged to view the houses and vote for the Fan Favorite award! Ballots can be cast at the Habitat info table.

There will also be a raffle for spectators. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $5 each, 3 for $10, or an arm’s length for $20 and will be placed in the bucket that corresponds to the item you would like to win. Prizes include gift cards to local eateries such as The Gables at Chadds Ford, passes to local attractions like Sahara Sam’s Desert Oasis and Hershey Park, and even two park-hopper passes to Walt Disney World! Cash and credit cards will be accepted!

There will be additional food available for purchase for spectators. All food and drinks will be priced at $1 and only cash will be accepted.

For Contestants

Even if your child’s house is not selected to move on to the next round of competition, we encourage contestants to stay for the remainder of the event.

Representatives from the YMCA will be on hand to offer crafts and activities to contestants and all children in attendance.

Contestants’ raffles will be pulled at the end of the first and second rounds of judging, but they must be present to win. The Fan Favorite title and prize will be awarded at the end of the final round before the Awards Ceremony.

When you choose to leave the event, you must take your house with you.


There will be a photographer on the premise who will be taking event photos. By entering this contest, parents and guardians are allowing photographs of their children to be taken and used for publicity and/or news purposes.

Inclement Weather

This is a rain or shine event, but in case of inclement weather, check the homepage of this website where the sliding screen will be updated if there are any updates or cancellations.

Can’t Attend?

If you can no longer participate in this event, please email Kate or call 610-384-7993, ext. 19 as soon as possible.


Though there are few rules to the contest, please be sure to keep the following rules in mind when building your model dream home:

  • 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.
  • Electrical outlets will not be available.
  • The use of liquids (water, slime, etc.) is not permitted, as we want to preserve the cleanliness of our contest venue!
  • 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, charter, and home 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.

There will be a photographer on the premise who will be taking event photos. By entering this contest, parents and guardians are allowing photographs of their children to be taken and used for publicity and/or news purposes.

Entries will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, as space constraints may limit the amount of entries accepted. The registration deadline has been extended. If you have any questions or trouble registering, contact Kate at or call 610-384-7993, ext. 19. Your house is not due until the day of the contest – registration is the only thing you must do ahead of March 17.

Register now!

The contest will take place in the Pavilion located on Church Farm School’s campus. Church Farm School (CFS) is located at 1001 Lincoln Highway, Exton.

Church Farm School is a day and boarding college preparatory school for boys in grades 9-12 offering a competitive, affordable and personalized education in Chester County, PA. Learn more about Church Farm School at



  • 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 video 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 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?
    • Your house must be three-dimensional and fit on a base no larger than 2ft x 3ft and are not permitted to use liquids during the presentation of your house (we want to keep the venue floors clean!). Please also know that electrical outlets will not be made available.
  • Do I need to be present for the contest?
    • Yes, the contestant that builds the house must be there to present their model to the judges. If working in a pair and one contestant is unable to make it, you may present the home with only one contestant present.
  • Can I drop my child off at the contest and pick them up later?
    • All children must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the contest.
  • 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!



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