Real estate prices in Massachusetts may be termed out-of-control by many, but at least one lucky prospective homebuyer will soon be able to move into a newly constructed, furnished 3,500-square-foot dwelling in a high-end subdivision in Dartmouth for the bargain price of $15.

Of course, the prospective homebuyer will have to beat out as many as 75,000 other hopeful people in a raffle before he or she gets the keys.

The new home, the winning entry in the American Dream Home competition, is being raffled off to benefit Project Imagine of Halifax. Project Imagine, a nonprofit collaboration of local business, educational and social service organizations, provides life skills training to disadvantaged individuals and families through courses taught at Massasoit Community College.

Brian Sinclair, managing director and cofounder of Project Imagine, came up with the idea to hold a dream home competition in Massachusetts after seeing similar successful events in Florida.

We have friends in Florida that have been doing this for 13 years, and I’ve been buying tickets for 13 years, Sinclair said. I haven’t won yet, but I always thought it was a good idea.

In May 1999, Sinclair invited three architecture teams to compete in the competition to design. The winning design, submitted by CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares of Boston, was announced in July 1999. Construction crews broke ground on the project in December, and the home is expected to be completed by the end of May.

They said it’ll be done in 12 weeks, and right now the frame is up and they’re moving right along, said Richard J. Bertman, founding partner of CBT and head of the design team. They’ll do it in 12 weeks.

Bertman said his team worked on a design for a dream home that would adapt to a family’s changing needs through the years.

Other members of the design team included Ellen Perko, Stan Kubinski, Stephanie Calvet, Jessie Yan, Andrew Claar and Greg Lorusso.

We’ve been doing houses for a while, and I’ve got a good sense of what people want, Bertman said. About 10 years ago we won a major international competition to redesign a 20-block section of [Los Angeles]. That was exciting, but winning this was also really exciting. This was more local. It was a lot of fun.

We tried to design something that was comfortable for a young family with children just starting out, he said. The house is designed to change with the family over time.

Bertman described the house as a shingle-style contemporary, with features including a wrap-around porch, two-car garage and a patio.

There’s space available for grown-ups and children, he continued. We incorporated zoned privacy, and also allowed for outdoor living with the large porch and patio.

The home is positioned on a hilltop, and the architects designed the house to maximize the views, while the interior was planned to make use of the abundant daylight that shines on the property, Bertman said.

He pointed out the family room area as one example of where the home was designed to change with the family.

We wanted it to change as their lifestyles changed, he said. There is a family room right off the kitchen, because when you have young kids you want to be able to keep an eye on them all the time, and this design allows you to do that.

But as the kids get older, you don’t need to keep a constant eye on them, and maybe they want their own privacy, so we left an unfinished area above the garage that can be converted into a room for them, he continued. Or, it can be converted into another bedroom if the family grows. It provides flexibility for change.

Bertman said the home also features a number of other amenities designed with the family in mind.

We put the laundry room on the second floor near the bedrooms because that’s where most of the laundry will be coming from anyway, so you won’t have to bring your dirty clothes downstairs, Bertman said. There’s also a porch off of the master bedroom so you can have your cup of coffee out there in the morning. The hallway has little niches where you can put a window seat, and there’s extra storage under the eves. This is definitely not a cookie cutter house.

Additionally, he said the bathtub and toilet are separated from the sinks in the upstairs bathroom to allow more than one family member use the space at the same time.

The home will come furnished with pieces provided by Jordan’s Furniture.

Worth $600,000
The four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home, located in the Highbridge Estates development off of Bakerville Road in Dartmouth, is worth about $600,000, Bertman estimated.

We’re going to have to sell a lot of tickets, Sinclair said, adding that his organization will begin publicizing the raffle more now that the house is beginning to take shape.

Sinclair said companies involved with the project provided materials needed to build the home at cost.

Nothing is donated, he said. We don’t go around begging for people to give us stuff. We get it at cost. If we can’t make it fly, that’s our problem. We also don’t take any public funds.

Project Imagine is working with Dartmouth Building Supply to secure building materials, while the home itself is being built by RSG Construction of New Bedford. The contractors are giving us a good rate, Sinclair added.

Project Imagine also had to purchase the lot in the subdivision on which to build the home. Though that, too, was not donated, he said the property owner gave the organization a pretty good deal on it. Financing for the purchase of the one-acre lot was arranged through Compass Bank.

Between everyone’s support, this is really turning out to be a great thing, Sinclair said. If the project continues to be successful, Sinclair intends on repeating the American Dream Home competition, possibly making it an annual event.

The drawing for the home will take place May 30 at the Massasoit Community College Conference Center in Brockton.

In Dartmouth, Furnished ‘Dream Home’ Costs $15

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 4 min