Build a House...Build a Dream

Congratulations to all of

this year’s participants!

The 18th annual Build a House…Build a Dream contest for 5th graders in the Delaware Valley was a huge success this year with over 100 dream homes submitted for this virtual event! 

In this competition, students from over 200 area schools were invited to work individually or in pairs to build their own three-dimensional, model dream home. Contestants then submitted photos or videos of their projects along with a description explaining their inspiration behind their design and aesthetic choices. An in-house judging process selected the top 16 dream home architects to be virtually interviewed by a panel of judges. Each student had 10 minutes to share more detail, which is typically the amount of time judges would have with participants in person. All of the participant’s submissions are displayed in an online presentation available on YouTube.

We’d like to thank the sponsors of this year’s event who help to make the dream of homeownership a reality for families in need!

Presenting Sponsor: 

Fox Roach Trident Charities

Signature Sponsors:


Event Sponsors:

Contest Sponsors:

Friends of Habitat:

First Place goes to Remy and Naish from

Barkley Elementary

Second Place goes to Camden from Garnet Valley Elementary and Dylan and Bennett from Media Elementary

Third Place goes to Chandler from Charlestown Elementary and Faridah from K D Markely Elementary

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.
  • 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 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.

Become an Event Sponsor

We thank the local businesses in the area for making this event not only possible but also free to all our participants. Sponsorship offers exposure to our over 400 attendees in addition to their families sharing the link. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What exactly is this contest?
    When the contest takes place in person, it may be easiest to think of it as a science fair. Instead of making a science project, students build a model home. With the contest being held virtually, the students still build their models but submit a photo or short video explaining the thought behind their design along with a 100-word description. 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.
Helpful Links
  • 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.
  • Video from Last Year’s Contest
    The 2020 Build a House…Build a Dream contest was set to take place in person on March 21st but due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we switched the platform to virtual. This year’s event will be a little different as we have more time to plan, but you can see last year’s dream homes for some inspiration!
  • 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!