19th Annual Build a House…Build a Dream Contest for 5th Graders

March 19th, 2022

Exton Square Mall (Sears Building)

Calling all 5th graders in the Delaware Valley area! We are pleased to announce the 19th Annual Build a House Build a Dream Contest will be held in person this year.

In this competition, students work individually or in teams to build their own three-dimensional, model dream home which they then bring on the day of the contest for judging by professional architects, engineers, and builders. Over the years, houses have been fashioned from recycled materials, tree trunks, pencils, and pasta. Students are only limited by their creativity! All participants receive recognition for their efforts and the top winners earn prizes. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the need for affordable housing and funds for local Habitat homebuilding programs for low-income families in the Delaware Valley.

Below are complete details of rules and restrictions for the event. If you have any questions after looking through the information, please contact Brooke Seeger, Community Programs Director, at brooke@hfhcc.org

Presented by

The goal of the Build a House Build a Dream contest is to introduce the students to what Habitat for Humanity does as an organization. Although they aren’t able to help at the constructions site yet, they can learn about the importance of affordable housing at a young age and what they can do in the future to help their neighbors in need. 

Helpful Links
  • Description of the Event
    This one-page document lays out the details of the Build a House Build a Dream Event. Easy for printing out or forwarding to parents, teachers, or anyone else interested.
  • 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.
  • Judging Rubric
    This helpful sheet gives participants an idea of what the judges will be looking for when grading their dream homes.
  • Video from Last Year’s Contest
    Check out the 2021 Build a House…Build a Dream presentation on YouTube for some inspiration from previous participants!
  • Habitat Videos
    Watch this heartwarming video with your family to learn more about what a Habitat home does for a child in his own words!
  • Importance of Affordable Housing
    Visit our website to learn more about how affordable housing impacts everyone in the community and how making in more available can strengthen our economy.
Contest Rules

There are a few rules to the contest in an effort to keep everyone in the same parameters for judging. Please be sure to keep the following 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 must be submitted with their photos/video.
    • Students must be prepared to discuss their entry with contest judges.
      • Originality and creativity
      • Use of materials
      • Appearance and design
      • Independent effort (This is a contest for kids, not their parents!)Model homes will be judged on the following criteria:

      Click here for the full criteria judges will be using

      Click here to see examples of past dream home submissions

      This free contest is open to fifth-grade students in public, private, and parochial, charter, and home schools throughout the Delaware Valley 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.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What exactly is this contest?
    It may be easiest to think of the contest as a science fair. Instead of making a science project, students build a model home. Our judging panel will assess each dream home based on originality and creativity, use of materials, appearance and design, and independent effort. Once all the submissions have been judged, we will announce the top three model homes during the online presentation.
  • 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! Since our raffle prizes are normally to local businesses, we ask that participants be from the Delaware Valley. 
  • 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 in an effort to keep the contestants within similar constraints. Participants can use any medium they’d like including LEGOs, cardboard, and wood. 
  • Can my business be part of the sponsorship for Build a House?
    Absolutely! Click here to view our sponsorship opportunities.