House Awards - Call for Enter

Would you like to see your project in HOUSES 2013?

The winners of the 2012 Houses Awards have been chosen and will be announced soon. But we’re already looking for homes that showcase craftsmanship, energy efficiency, and smart design for HOUSES 2013. From cozy cottages to urban lofts, from seaside getaways to starter homes on a budget, we want to hear about your house. And we’re not talking just about new homes. We’re eager to see remodels that breathe new life into tired old houses as well.

Submit a project for the HOUSES 2013 issue and be eligible for a chance to win one of our annual HOUSES awards. You’ll need to login if you are a member of or register if you are not, which is quick and free. Your project description and photos will be sent to our online gallery for users to see and discuss. The rest of your submission information will remain confidential until you are contacted by our editorial staff.

Submit Your Project

Submissions may also be mailed to our offices at:
Fine Homebuilding Magazine
63 South Main Street, PO Box 5506
Newtown, CT 06470–5506

Entries deadline Monday, July 30, 2012

Award Descriptions

Best New Home

Best New Home: When it comes to designing and building new homes, there is no such thing as a blank canvas. Each project comes with a set of challenges that include the topography and orientation of the building site, and the needs, wants, and budget of the eventual homeowners. These challenges, what architects call “the program,” are the criteria for our Best New Home award. The winning home will successfully meet its design challenges with a superior level of detail and craftsmanship appropriate for the given architectural style.

Best Remodel

Best Remodel: From fixing a clunky floor plan, to fixing up a dated or weathered exterior, to fixing a bottomless energy appetite, remodeling is the remedy for many aging homes. Sometimes an addition allows a growing family to stay in a location they love and in a house they call home. Our Best Remodel will be a project that successfully identified the problems with an existing home and fixed them with practical design solutions and construction techniques. Of course, cost consciousness, preservation, quality of craftsmanship, and appropriate detailing will also be considered.

Best Small Home

Best Small Home: When it comes to houses, “small” is a relative term. A single person can get lost in a 2000-square-foot home, while that may seem cramped for a family of five. Great design is paramount to making the most of a limited amount of space. This award will go to a home not bigger than 2400 square feet that packs in the most function for its owners. We’ll consider everything from the usefulness of the entryway to the connection of public and private spaces. However, even the smartest floor plans fall short without great details, well-used materials, and a budget-wise approach to design and construction. So we’ll look at these criteria also while choosing the Best Small Home.

Best Energy-Smart Home

Best Energy-Smart Home: Today’s architects, engineers, and builders are pushing the boundaries of efficiency with unique approaches to airtight construction and super insulation, cold- and warm-climate Passive House programs, and integrated renewable energy that yields net-zero-energy designs. As with all homes, however, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to an energy-smart home. The winning entry will be the project that incorporates the most appropriate climate- and site-specific approach to energy-efficiency while working within the lifestyle needs and budget constraints of the homeowners. Everything from the building envelope to the mechanical systems to fixtures and appliances will be evaluated.

Best Retirement Home

Best Retirement Home: Aging-in-place is a growing trend, thanks to the active lifestyles of retiring baby-boomers. The idea of being able to stay in your home longer into your golden years makes great sense, but it hinges on great design. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines are a great start for designers working on retirement homes, but the winning project will be more than wheelchair accessible. A great retirement home should also reflect the lifestyle and interests of the homeowners, have functional guest or live-in space, and be low-maintenance, among other things.

Editor’s Choice

Editor’s Choice: Whether it’s a home that does one thing particularly well—an extremely affordable project, for example, or a design that is more sculpture than house—some projects defy categorization. And each of Fine Homebuilding’s editors comes to his or her job with a unique perspective. We have trim carpenters, designers, and preservationists on staff. Therefore, the Editor’s Choice award is sure to stir some great debate in our office. The winning project is also likely to be the most surprising project in the issue.

2013 Guest Judges
Coming Soon

2012 Guest Judges

Jonathan Orpin

Best New House: Jonathan Orpin,
Builder and 2011 Best New Home winner

After 25 years building two companies, New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks, in western New York, Jonathan Orpin and his wife, Maxine Bromfield, packed up their boy, their dog, and their cat and moved west to, as he put it, “get a view from a different mountain. Not necessarily better, just different.” The design and construction of their home, which they call the Vermont Street Project, is a result of many years of experience building environmentally sensitive homes for challenging clients, all the while digging into alternative materials, technologies, and craft. Maxine handles interior design for the company on selected projects. Rounding out their team is co-worker Ty Allen, RA and head of the design department back in New York.

Angie Lipski.jpg

Best Remodel: Angie Lipski,
Architect and 2011 Best Remodel Winner

Angie Lipski, AIA, LEED AP, has been practicing architecture for 17 years. She joined MacArthur, Means and Wells, Architects, in Missoula, Mont., on a whim 12 years ago, planning to take a year off from “city life” and enjoy Montana. Despite a brief sabbatical to complete a post-professional master of architecture program at the University of Washington (and live in a small Italian hilltown while writing her thesis), she returned to Montana and became a partner in the firm in 2005. She does both commercial and residential work. She's inspired by the small details of life, yoga, orchids, and Jack Russell terriers. Angie and her husband live in Missoula.

Sarah Susanka

Best Small Home: Sarah Susanka,
Architect and author of “The Not So Big House”

Author, architect, and cultural visionary Sarah Susanka is leading a movement to redefine the American home and lifestyle. Her “build better, not bigger” approach to residential architecture has been embraced across the country, and her “Not So Big” philosophy is evolving beyond our physical habitations and into how we inhabit our lives. In both realms, she believes that Not So Big should be the first step in sustainability, both for our own well-being and for the well-being of the planet. Sarah is the acclaimed author of nine best-selling books, including The Not So Big House (Taunton, 1998), The Not So Big Life (Random House, 2007), Not So Big Remodeling (Taunton, 2009), and most recently, More Not So Big Solutions for Your Home (Taunton, 2010). Sarah is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council. She was born in Kent, England, and today lives in North Carolina.

Michael Chandler

Best Energy-Smart Home: Michael Chandler,
High-performance builder and GBA advisor

Michael Chandler has been building energy-smart homes in North Carolina for over thirty years. He is a long-time Energy Star builder and a charter member of USDOE Builder’s Challenge. He helped to launch the Green Building Council for the Home Builder’s Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham, N.C. Michael speaks frequently to builders, realtors, and the public on green building, green homeowner’s manuals, green building appraisals, and green business practices. He teaches the National Association of Homebuilders’ Certified Green Practitioner and Advanced CGP classes. Michael is an advisor for and a frequent contributor to Fine Homebuilding magazine. Michael is an eleven-year member of NAHB’s Builder Twenty Program. He holds certified Graduate Builder, Certified Green Professional, and Spike designations.

Tina Govan

Best Retirement Home: Tina Govan,
Architect and frequent FHB contributor

Tina Govan began her architectural career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, where she taught architecture at the high school and university levels. She went on to earn her masters of architecture from MIT. After graduation, she traveled to Japan and worked for two years with the architectural office of Atelier Zo. Upon returning to the United States 18 years ago, she established her own firm in Raleigh, N.C., where she continues to practice today. From downtown infills to rural retirement homes, her work focuses on the integral, mutually sustaining relationship between a building and its site.

How we evaluate submissions

Fine Homebuilding’s basic criteria used for evaluating all homes:

  • Appropriate siting and orientation
  • Success of floor plans at meeting homeowner’s needs
  • The building envelope design and construction techniques
  • Balance of budget, cost and value
  • Practical and innovative use of materials and finishes
  • Energy-efficiency, durability and maintenance
  • Style-appropriate details and quality of craftsmanship
  • Relationship of home, landscape and outdoor spaces