Categories and Eligibility

The 2021 Best in American Living Awards Call for Entries is now closed! Thank you for entering; see you next year!


Eligibility Requirements for All Categories

  • The home(s) or project must have been completed or first model opened between January 1, 2019, and August 27, 2021. To be considered complete (vs. on-the-boards), community categories must have at least 50% of the building units and 50% of the infrastructure completed by August 27, 2021.
  • The same project may be entered for awards in multiple categories, for example, a single-family custom home and a custom kitchen submission.
  • Winning projects previously entered are not eligible to submit again for the same category.
  • Any home owned or occupied by a staff member of NAHB shall be disqualified. NAHB Show Homes, including TNAH and TNAR, are not eligible due to anonymity concerns and will be disqualified if submitted.
  • Should the need arise, the judges reserve the right to subdivide any category as appropriate in an effort to provide fairer competition.

Site and Floor Plan Requirements for Eligible Categories

  • File should contain all floor plans and relevant elevations that are representative of what you are submitting.
  • Furnished, marketing-style floor plans and elevations are strongly encouraged. Floor plans should be clear and free of excess notations (for example, lighting plans, construction notations, etc.).
  • Floor plan and site plan uploads should not be longer than six pages if submitting a pdf.
  • If entering a remodeling category, please include “before” plan(s), if possible.
  • All attachments must be anonymous. If you need guidance on how to remove identifying information, please contact Alexandra at aisham@nahb.org or 202-266-8469.

Photography Requirements for All Categories

  • For all categories that are not strictly interior architecture or design, sufficient exterior photography should be submitted to demonstrate the design characteristics of the home, residential building or community. Entries without sufficient exterior photography, if applicable, may be removed from consideration.
  • On the Board applicants should submit sufficient renderings and other architectural drawings in lieu of photographs.
  • Green applicants should use the green image/photograph upload area for green-specific features. Professional photography is not required. Images could include, but are not limited to, xeriscaping, wall assemblies, solar installations, other innovative green details, etc.
  • Remodeling applicants should include sufficient “before” and “after” photography, if available, that showcases the transformation and final product.

Single-Family Production or Builder Spec

Categories 1 through 8 | Submissions should be single-family detached homes built for sale or builder spec homes built without a specific client’s input. Homes built for specific clients who have input from design through construction should be entered in the appropriate Custom Home category. Square footage refers to conditioned living space. 

Categories 9 through 11 | Refer to specific criteria under each category below.

  • 1 | Detached Home up to 2,000 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 2 | Detached Home 2,001 – 2,500 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 3 | Detached Home 2,501 – 3,000 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 4 | Detached Home 3,001 – 3,500 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 5 | Detached Home 3,501 – 4,000 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 6 | Detached Home 4,001 – 4,500 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 7 | Detached Home 4,501 – 5,000 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 8 | Detached Home Over 5,000 sq. ft., Built for Sale
  • 9 | Attached Homes/Townhouses, Built for Sale
    Submissions should be single-family attached townhouse style structures built for sale. Submissions can include micro-housing dwelling units attached as a part of a townhouse style structure as long as they are built for sale and are not sold as a part of another unit. Condominium or garden-style apartments should be entered in the appropriate multifamily category.
  • 10 | Single-Family, For Rent
    Submissions should be single-family homes (detached or attached, and including townhomes) that are built specifically for rent and built without a specific client’s input. Apartments or condominium style structures should be submitted in the appropriate multifamily category.
  • 11 | Green Detached Home, Built for Sale
    Green building concepts refers to both the structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle: siting, design, material selection, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Green building concepts often earn certifications such as National Green Building Standard (NGBS) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
  • 12 | On-the-Boards Single-Family Production Home
    Submissions should be production homes that are being developed for or in response to a specific project or need. Submissions must include necessary material (site plans, floor plans, elevations and renderings) to describe the proposed home design and any unique features of that design.

Single-Family Custom

Categories 13 through 19 | Homes built for specific clients who have input from design through construction should be entered in the appropriate custom home category by square footage. Square footage refers to conditioned living space.

Categories 20 through 22 | Refer to specific criteria under each category below.

  • 13 | One-of-a-Kind Custom Home up to 2,000 sq. ft.
    Submissions can include micro-housing (tiny homes). Micro-housing is defined as a stand-alone structure on an individual site with no other residential unit present.
  • 14 | One-of-a-Kind Custom Home 2,001 – 3,000 sq. ft.
  • 15 | One-of-a-Kind Custom Home 3,001 – 4,000 sq. ft.
  • 16 | One-of-a-Kind Custom Home 4,001 – 5,000 sq. ft.
  • 17 | One-of-a-Kind Custom Home 5,001 – 6,000 sq. ft.
  • 18 | One-of-a-Kind Custom Home 6,001 – 8,000 sq. ft.
  • 19 | One-of-a-Kind Custom Home Over 8,000 sq. ft.
  • 20 | Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)
    ADUs are defined as secondary living units in conjunction with another residence.
  • 21 | Green One-of-a-Kind Custom Home
    Green building concepts refers to both the structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle: siting, design, material selection, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Green building concepts often earn certifications such as National Green Building Standard (NGBS) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
  • 22 | On-the-Boards Single-Family Custom Home
    Submissions should be fully developed designs that have not yet begun or completed construction. The home should have a specific client who is giving input on the design that is being developed. Submissions must include necessary material (site plans, floor plans, elevations and renderings) to describe the proposed home design and any unique features or solutions of that design.

Multifamily

Categories 23 through 28 | For developments up to 3 stories, this refers to the maximum above grade. For 4 stories and over, calculate the number of stories including the podium. Projects may include a second use; examples include ground-floor retail, top-floor restaurants, etc. Refer to specific criteria under each category below.

  • 23 | Development up to 3 Stories, Built for Sale
  • 24 | Development 4 – 7 Stories, Built for Sale
  • 25 | Development 8 Stories & Over, Built for Sale
  • 26 | Development up to 3 Stories, For Rent
  • 27 | Development 4 – 7 Stories, For Rent
  • 28 | Development 8 Stories & Over, For Rent
  • 29 | Adaptive Reuse, Multifamily
    Submissions should be multifamily projects for sale or rent that are the result of an adaptive reuse. View an example here (opens in new tab).
  • 30 | Student Housing
  • 31 | On-the-Boards Multifamily Project
    Submissions should be multifamily projects that are being developed for or in response to a specific project or need. Submissions must include necessary material (site plans, floor plans, elevations and renderings) to describe the proposed design and any unique features of that design.

Affordable

Income limits, as defined by HUD | Low-income families are defined as families whose incomes do not exceed 80 percent of the median family income for the area. Very low-income families are defined as families whose incomes do not exceed 50 percent of the median family income for the area. Extremely Low-Income Families are defined as very low-income families whose incomes do not exceed the greater of 30 percent of the median family income for the area or the federal poverty guidelines as published by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Refer to specific criteria under each category below.

Remodeling

Categories 34 through 47 | If the project is entirely new construction, it should be entered into another category for newly built homes or rooms. Dollar amounts refer to the cost of the remodel. Refer to specific criteria under each category below.

  • 34 | Entire Home, up to $250,000
  • 35 | Entire Home, $250,001 – $750,000
  • 36 | Entire Home, Over $750,000
  • 37 | Green Entire Home Remodel
    Green building concepts refers to both the structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle: siting, design, material selection, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Green building concepts often earn certifications such as National Green Building Standard (NGBS) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
  • 38 | Addition, Indoor or Outdoor, up to $100,000
  • 39 | Addition, Indoor or Outdoor, Over $100,000
  • 40 | Kitchen, up to $75,000
  • 41 | Kitchen, $75,000 – $125,000
  • 42 | Kitchen, Over $125,000
  • 43 | Bath, up to $50,000
  • 44 | Bath, Over $50,000
  • 45 | Historic Preservation/Restoration
    Submission must preserve the character of the original structure and meet the local qualifications for a historic building. The project does not need to be registered as a historic building to be considered.
  • 46 | Specialty Project
    Submissions must focus on any one single space that serves a dedicated function within a home. Examples include, but are not limited to, entries, foyers, living rooms, entertainment rooms, home offices, libraries, garages, wine cellars, dining areas and accessory buildings.
  • 47 | Aging in Place

Community

Categories 48 through 53 | For larger, phased communities, amenities in future phases cannot be claimed on this application.

Categories 48 and 49 | Submissions may be a master planned community, or a phase or neighborhood within a master planned community, that either has its own amenities or shares amenities with surrounding neighborhoods. Examples of amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, schools, community centers, bike trails, golf courses, clubhouses, equestrian center, etc.

Categories 50 and 51 | Submissions must incorporate a mix of at least two housing types which can be single-family detached, single-family attached, duplexes, multifamily for-rent and for-sale, live-work units, bungalow courts, etc. Submissions should also incorporate two or more uses – Residential, Commercial, Office, or Institutional – within a single site plan and may be in an urban, suburban or rural area.

Categories 52 through 55 | Refer to specific criteria under each category below.

  • 48 | Single-Family Community, Under 100 Units
  • 49 | Single-Family Community, 100 Units & Over
  • 50 | Mixed-Use Community, Single-Family
  • 51 | Mixed-Use Community, Multifamily
  • 52 | Infill Community
    Submissions may be either new development or adaptive reuse of an existing structure that is sited on vacant or underused land within an existing community and is surrounded by other types of development. Submissions can be single-family detached, single-family attached, multifamily, or a mix thereof.
  • 53 | Green Community
    Green communities can include single- and multifamily communities. Green building concepts refers to both the structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle: siting, design, material selection, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Green building concepts often earn certifications such as National Green Building Standard (NGBS) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
  • 54 | Community Facility
    Submissions can be either standalone buildings or part of a larger building with other uses and must be built.
  • 55 | On-the-Boards Community
    Submissions should include an innovative solution to a site, social, environmental, business, community or other need. Communities may be single- or multifamily or a mix thereof.

Interior Architecture & Design

All categories | Submissions to interior design categories should be new construction. Remodeling projects should be entered in their respective remodel category. Submissions to the production or builder spec categories should be designed and built without a specific client’s input. Submissions to the custom categories should be designed and built for specific clients who have input from design through construction. Refer to specific criteria under each category below.

  • 56 | Kitchen, Custom
  • 57 | Kitchen, Production or Builder Spec
  • 58 | Owner Suite, Custom
  • 59 | Owner Suite, Production or Builder Spec
  • 60 | Specialty Room/Project, Custom
    Submissions must focus on any one single space that serves a dedicated function within a private residence. Examples include, but are not limited to, entries, foyers, living rooms, entertainment rooms, home offices, libraries, garages, wine cellars and dining areas.
  • 61 | Specialty Room/Project, Production or Builder Spec
    Submissions must focus on any one single space that serves a dedicated function within a production or spec home. Examples include, but are not limited to, entries, foyers, living rooms, entertainment rooms, home offices, libraries, garages, wine cellars and dining areas.
  • 62 | On-the-Boards Interior Design
    Submissions must focus on interior architecture, design appeal, programming, and creative use of interior space in a private residence or production or spec home.

Specialty

  • 63 | Outdoor Room
  • 64 | Design Detail
    Entries should highlight one particular detail per entry. Submissions can include, but are not limited to staircases, window casing details, bars, water features, etc. Entire spaces or rooms should be entered into Categories 60 and 61: Specialty Room/Project. View an example here (opens in new window).
  • 65 | The Game Changer
    Submissions should showcase innovation and have the ability to significantly influence the residential design and housing industry over the next five years. Both individual projects and products are eligible to receive this award, including but not limited to new home design concepts, new types of site development, innovations in products and interior design, and design responses to COVID-19. Submissions must enhance the experience of residents. View an example here (opens in new window).
  • 66 | Healthy Home
    Healthy home building concepts refers to both the structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and considered above code health and wellness practices. Throughout a buildings commissioning and occupant lifecycle from siting, design, material selection, construction, operation and maintenance. Healthy home building concepts often earn certifications such as Wellness Within Your Walls (WWYW), FIT Well and WELL Build. View an example here (opens in new window).