Categories and Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements for All Categories

The project or home(s) must have been completed or first model opened between January 1, 2018 and August 31, 2020. Communities or project phases for larger communities must have at least 50% of the building units and 50% of the infrastructure completed by August 31, 2020. The same project may be entered for awards in multiple categories. Gold winning projects previously entered are not eligible to submit again for the same category. Silver winning projects may enter again if they meet the criteria for the current year's program. Any home owned or occupied by a staff member of NAHB shall be disqualified.

Should the need arise, the judges reserve the right to subdivide or reassign any category or create a new 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 encouraged. Submissions should not be longer than six pages if submitting a pdf. If this is a repurposed, repositioned or remodeling submission, please include “before” plan(s), if possible.

Photography Requirements for All Categories

It is highly recommended that for all categories that are not strictly interior architecture or design, marketing or individual that sufficient exterior photography 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.

Repositioning, Repurposing or Remodeling applicants should include sufficient “before” and “after” photography that showcases the transformation and final product.

Additional eligibility requirements by category are below.

55+ Architectural Design Awards

The building design categories are reserved for age-qualified or age-preferred projects and communities catering to the 55+ lifestyle completed after January. 1, 2019.

Community Design (Categories 1 through 7)

Category 1: Independent Living Community
Independent living communities are commonly apartments, which may be rental, for-sale, cooperatives or mix of types. Some communities may also offer cottages, condominiums, and single-family homes. Residents do not require assistance with daily activities or 24/7 skilled nursing but may benefit from convenient services, senior-friendly surroundings, and increased social opportunities.

Category 2: Life Plan Community
A life plan community, formerly known as a CCRC, generally offers multiple living choices and continuum-of-care services, including independent living homes or apartments, assisted living residences, special needs or memory care residences and/or nursing care. Provision for onsite care for residents with services such as meals, housekeeping, wellness amenities, health care or supportive services and/or 24-hour staffing are available in the community.

Category 3: Assisted Living or Special Needs Community
Communities may be rental, for-sale, cooperatives or a mix of types in a standalone building or part of a larger community with continuum-of-care services. Assisted living communities may include adult daycare, may be part of a larger life plan community, or be a fee-for-service, non-licensed or licensed community. These communities provide services such as meals, housekeeping, wellness amenities, health care or supportive services and/or 24-hour staffing.

Assisted Living Communities provide assistance with daily living and health care services for residents and/or residents with special needs.
Special Needs refers to provisions of special care to address Alzheimer's or other dementia, sight or hearing impairment and/or HIV or AIDS.

Category 4: Market-Rate Rental Community
A market-rate rental community typically includes apartments, which are privately financed and where residents pay market-rate or above market-rate rents. Some communities may also offer cottages, duplexes, condominiums, and single-family homes.

Category 5: Affordable Rental Community
Affordable rental communities are generally made up of apartments that primarily accommodate persons 55+ of low- to moderate-income. Construction or rental costs are typically subsidized by the local, state, or federal government.

Category 6: For-Sale Community up to 200 homes
Category 7: For-Sale Community over 200 homes
A for-sale community may be 55+ age-qualified, designed with features that appeal to 55+ buyers or multi-generational. It may offer common amenities and facilities that are designed as integral components to promote a healthy and active 55+ lifestyle. While typically single-family homes, some communities also offer cottages, duplexes, condominiums and villas.

55+ Single-Family Design (Categories 8 through 13)

Category 8: Detached Home up to 2,000 sq. ft.
Category 9: Detached 2,001-2,500 sq. ft.
Category 10: Detached Home 2,501-3,000 sq. ft.
Category 11: Detached Home over 3,000 sq. ft.
Category 12: Attached Home up to 1,700 sq. ft.
Category 13: Attached Home over 1,700 sq. ft.
Home types include single-family detached and attached homes, as well as manufactured homes on fee simple or leased lots.

Detached refers to a home that is free of any shared walls and stands alone.
Attached means that a home shares a common party wall often on both sides of the property.
Square footage is defined as all living spaces as measured to the interior face of the exterior walls and does not include garages, unfinished basements, attics, covered patios and porches.

55+ Specialty Design (Categories 14 through 23)

Category 14: Repositioned or Repurposed Project
This category includes existing planned communities or single projects that have been transformed or reinvented to address new opportunities not planned in the original design. This includes adaptive reuse projects, which serve a new function in an existing structure. Examples may include changing or repurposing building types, altering the design or updating amenities to an existing property.

Repositioning refers to looking for assets where the owner or property manager has successfully changed the position of the property in the marketplace; this is also often linked to adding value to the project.
Repurposing refers to the process by which a project with one use value is transformed with an alternative use value.

Category 15: Universal Design Home for 55+ New Construction
This category is for new construction designed and built and specifically to enhance the lifestyle or ease of daily living. The home's features may be permanent or adaptable as constructed, including adjustable and convertible design, and should accommodate persons of differing ages, sizes, needs, strengths and abilities.

Universal Design refers to designs and features that make housing usable by persons with a broad range of needs. It is inclusionary design that applies to spaces, features, and products to maximize the number of people who can function independently in a particular environment.

Category 16: Green Home for 55+ New Construction
This category is for new construction designed and built and specifically incorporates green building concepts. Green building concepts refers to both the structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's or home life cycle: from siting to design, 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).

Category 17: Clubhouse under 200 homes
Category 18: Clubhouse over 200 homes
Includes community centers, recreation centers, clubhouses, wellness/fitness centers, educational centers, and amenity or activity centers for any type of 55+ lifestyle community. --- DESCRIPTION NEEDS UPDATING!!!

Category 19: Community Amenity (New 2021)
The community amenity category applies to a single amenity built for the use of residents, or events organized to engage the residents. Indoor or outdoor amenity would qualify. Suggestions could be café, theatre, package lockers, garden area, library nook, barbeque and grill areas, terraces, fire pit and outdoor lounge areas, water features, community or neighborhood parks, dog parks, court games, miniature putting courses and children’s play areas.

Category 20: Welcome Center

Any building or space specifically designed as the main sales area. This is to encompass, where applicable, architecture, interior design, landscape design, and sales displays.

Category 21: Design Center
Any building or space specifically designed with the buyer in mind as the main "design" area in the home buying process. Emphasis on the theme, function, display concept, creativity, and design used in the space, as well as quality of product presentation, continuity within the space and continuity with the builders branding.

Category 22: Landscape Design
This category is reserved for the exterior landscaped community and amenity areas harmoniously designed to accentuate the natural elements and features of the community. They may include integration of natural landscape features, walking paths and nature trails, community gardens, outdoor recreation spaces, water features, fishing piers, entry features and/or community parks.

Category 23: Community Health and Wellness Feature
This category is reserved for a single feature that contributes to the resident's overall health and wellness. Examples could include air and water purification, biophilic design farm to table feature or unique exercise and fitness amenity. (General fitness equipment or amenity should go into the clubhouse or amenity category)

55+ Interior Design (Categories 24 through 29)

Interior Merchandising is the interior design of a model home and/or common area using color, textures, furnishing and accessories as it relates to their target market and how it complements the interior unit’s space.

Category 24 Interior Merchandising of a Model up to 2,000 sq. ft.
Category 25: Interior Merchandising of a Model 2,001-2,500 sq. ft.
Category 26: Interior Merchandising of a Model 2,501-3,000 sq. ft.
Category 27: Interior Merchandising of a Model over 3,000 sq. ft.
Category 28: Interior Merchandising of a Common Area in a For-Sale Community (New 2021)
Category 29: Interior Merchandising of a Common Area in a Rental Community(New 2021)

55+ On the Boards Design (Categories 30 through 35)

On the Boards category descriptions are the same as the Architectural Design category. Please refer to those for a description.

Category 30: Service Enriched Community (Independent, Life Plan, Assisted, Special Needs)
Category 31: Market-Rate Rental Community
Category 32: Affordable Rental Community
Category 33: For-Sale Community
Category 34: Clubhouse
Category 35: Amenity Space (New 2021)


The Marketing categories are reserved for marketing and sales activities that pertain to age-qualified or age-preferred communities catering to the 55+ Consumer or Lifestyle. Websites must be live at the time of application submission.

55+ Marketing Campaign (Categories 36 through 38)

Category 36: Integrated Marketing Strategy or Campaign
This category includes a specific marketing effort that integrates online and offline marketing elements to attract potential 55+ residents.

Category 37: Direct Mail Piece
Includes all elements of a single direct-mail piece or a direct-mail series. Examples might include letters, self-mailers or mailed sales promotions intended for 55+ consumers.

Category 38: Online Marketing Campaign
This category is for promoting a specific, web-driven marketing strategy using new marketing channels and methodologies to 55+ potential residents. Creative use of marketing elements may include online advertising, banners, landing pages, videos, e-newsletters, blogs and social networking campaigns.

55+ Marketing Specialty (Categories 39 through 42)

Category 39: Sales or Marketing Event
This category is reserved for a single sales or marketing event hosted to promote interest and/ or visitation among prospective residents ages 55+.

Category 40: Brochure
A printed brochure of any length or composition that is intended to attract potential 55+ residents.

Category 41: Print Ad
A single black-and-white or color advertisement created to promote 55+ lifestyle and housing of any type to potential residents. Includes flyers and inserts.

Category 42: Websites
A website for a 55+ individual project, 55+ residential community or 55+ company. (*Judges have been known to award multiple Gold winners based on type of website projects submitted.)


Lifestyle is a key component of the 55+ housing experience. The Lifestyle Awards categories are for any 55+ new or existing age-designed or age-qualified community catering to the 55+ consumer and lifestyle and delivers benefits primarily to benefit current residents. They can address any of the following lifestyle pillars: social, entertainment, spiritual, physical, occupational, cultural, educational, intellectual and environmental. Judges will consider how these elements come together to enhance resident satisfaction and quality of life.

55+ Lifestyle (Category 43)

Category 43: Community Lifestyle Program
This category is reserved for a lifestyle-oriented resident program that is scheduled on an ongoing basis or over multiple dates. Examples might include cultural programs, lifelong-learning programs, art and enrichment programs, a social or recreational event series, community partnerships, craft shows, or intergenerational programs. A single program should be entered not multiple programs.


Judging for Lifestyle Director will evaluate an individual’s performance and advances the lifestyle pillars for the current residents and community (refer to the Pillars under Lifestyle categories.) (*MUST be a NAHB 55+ Housing Industry Council Member). Builder of the Year identify the best firms in the 55+ industry, who build exceptional projects or support the building industry with exceptional service. ---UPDATE

55+ Of the Year (Categories 44 through 46)

Category 44: Lifestyle Director of the Year

Nominee must be an onsite lifestyle director employed by a builder, developer or associate. Director has achieved success through implementing programs and events advancing the lifestyle pillars for the current residents and community.

Category 45: Person of the Year
An active person in the 55+ Housing building industry who supports the industry with exceptional service and/or a quality product; has achieved success through innovation, financial success and integrity. This could be a consultant, associate NAHB member, such as interior designer, marketer, contractor, sales associate, regional leader, etc.

Best 55+ Builder of the Year
An active NAHB 55+ Housing Industry Council member company who is building exceptional projects, has achieved success through innovation, development practices, financial success and leadership.


This award recognizes a 55+ community that is well-rounded and demonstrates excellence in innovative design and construction and brings attention to details that signal a superior 55+ community that benefits its residents and inspires the entire 55+ housing industry as well.

The Gold winners in the 55+ Community Design Awards (categories 1-7) are automatically nominated for the 55+ Community of the Year Award—the NAHB Best of 55+ Housing Awards’ top honor—providing the 55+ community meets the criteria.

To qualify for this prestigious award, you must also enter your community design project into a 55+ Marketing and a 55+ Lifestyle category to demonstrate the communities well-rounded.