For housing affordability 

Hack-a-House is a 24-hour "hackathon"-style competition created to tackle the afforable housing crisis in Utah. Students and professionals alike are encouraged to engage with leading local and national voices in an exploration of housing affordability. Through innovation, participants can help solidify economic opportunity for vulnerable populations and win up to $3,000 in cash prizes.




After 24 hours of brainstorming, researching, innovating, and planning dozens of groundbreaking ideas emerged in the final presentations. To see the winning teams and their ideas, check out the links below.

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First Place - $2000

This years winners, Tyson Williamson, Eden Wairepo, and David Lewis IV, approached housing affordability from a designer’s standpoint with low costs in mind. Their combination of design and finance innovation lead them to the grand prize of $2000.

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Second Place - $1000

Two teams took home a $1000 second place prize. Team 9, Mitch Vance, Rebecca Rasmussen, Kevin Huang and Nick Wittaker developed a three-pronged approach consisting of various incentives to solve the issues of housing affordability.

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Third Place - $500

The third place team, Nathan Le Duc, Brayden Stevens, and Anson Call combined the German design of passive house with tiny house into one solution to housing affordability.

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Fourth Place - $250

Nick Liddell, Jay Gibson, and XiaoXuan Xu created a solution by utilizing shipping containers with a permanent dock structure to reduce housing costs.

Team 12.jpg

Second Place - $1000

Team 12 winners, McKenna Pitts, Tanner Burton, Benjamin Roberts and Sharisse Bevan, also took home a second place prize of $1000 for their combination of policy, finance, and design solutions.

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Fourth Place - $250

Two teams also tied for fourth place with a prize of $250. Ryann Gill, Sam Bemis, Natasha Fisher, and Taylor Winsness developed a modular solution with communal living spaces to help reduce costs.

Competition Format


Participants will receive information on a hypothetical plat the day of the competition.  The parameters given on the lot are chosen to reflect the circumstances commonly found in a larger area of the Salt Lake Metropolitan Zone.  The zoning, size, and building codes will require teams to overcome real-world limitations faced by real estate developers, builders, architects, policy makers, and financial institutions in the Salt Lake Valley.

Proposals are required to be submitted within the 24-hour timeframe of the competition.  Winners will be announced at 7:00 PM on September 8th so no late proposals will be considered by the judges. Teams are cautioned against coming to the competition with pre-prepared work, this is not in the spirit of a hackathon and is evident when the judges review proposals. 


All Proposals must Decrease the net annual cost of housing for residents living in the dwellings by $6,819.60.  This can be accomplished by both improving upon costs and/or additional revenue generation. 

All participants with housing focused proposals who meet this requirement will be eligible to win. Ideas will be judged first based on the feasibility of the solution and second on the uniqueness of the proposal.  Teams are encouraged to pursue innovative and scalable solutions which cross sectors and can be applied broadly to a segment of the housing market in addition to fitting the particular parameters provided the day of the competuition. 


An overall prize of $3,000 cash will be awarded to the winning team whose idea combines innovation in housing finance, policy, and design into a realistic and unique proposal.

Three additional teams will be recognized with cash awards totalling $2,000. 



Friday September 7, 2018 - Saturday September 8, 2018

5:30 pm        Orientation and Packet Pick-up       CRCC East Foyer

6:00 pm        Hack-a-House Kick-off                       Lund Commons

                       Natalie Gochnour, Clark Ivory, Courtney McBeth

7:15 pm         Dinner                                                 Lund Commons

8:00 pm        Workshop #1                                      Room 210

                      Strategy and Framework for Problem-Solving with Lyda Bigelow

8:30 pm        Start Hacking

10:00 pm      Super Smash Tournament                 Room 210

12:00 am      Late Night Snack                                Lund Commons

1:00 am        TBD

3:00 am       Ping-pong Tournament                       Lund Commons

8:00 am       Breakfast                                             Lund Commons

8:30 am       Workshop #2                                      Lund Commons

                     Mark Jensen

11:00 am      Workshop #3                                      Room 210

                     Construction and Design with Erin Carraher

12:00 pm     Lunch                                                   Lund Commons

                     Spikeball and Cornhole Tournament

3:00 pm      End Hacking - Deliverables Due        Room 210

4:00 pm      Presentations of Finalists                   Room 210

5:00 pm      Final Judging and Presentation of Awards

6:00 pm      End


Judging Panel



Jeramy Lund

Jeramy is Managing Director of Impact Investing at the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah. He is also Principal Partner for XIII, LLC;  a Principal Partner at Pentagon Holdings; and a co-owner of Valters Osteria, an Italian restaurant in Salt Lake City. Prior to his current employment, Mr. Lund worked for JP Morgan (New York), DLJ International (London) and American Stores Company (Salt Lake City, UT).


Dejan Eskic

Dejan Eskic is a senior research analyst at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. Eskic is involved in housing, construction and real estate research, fiscal impact studies and economic and demographic analysis. Prior to joining the Gardner Policy Institute, Eskic worked in the retail research industry where he evaluated current and future sales performance for retail sites through statistical gravity modeling reflecting market demographics throughout the Country.


Jörg Rügemer

Jörg Rügemer has taught at the School of Architecture at the University of Utah since 2006. He is the Director of the Design+Build Salt Lake Program at the School of Architecture and teaches courses on sustainable architecture. Rügemer is a licensed architect in Germany and is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. Rügemer focuses and performs research in highly energy-efficient and cost-effective buildings, design strategies, systems, and Post-Occupancy building monitoring.



Lily Gray is a Director at National Development Council (NDC) based in Salt Lake City. In this role, she assists local organizations in achieving a wide variety of community development goals. In addition, Lily manages the Greater Salt Lake Development Corporation (GSLDC) loan fund. Lily’s background is in real estate and community development work, with a strong focus in affordable housing development, finance and policy.


Abby Osborne

Abby Osborne is the Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations at the Salt Lake Chamber. Since her start at the Chamber in 2015, Osborne has been instrumental in building the Chamber’s influence throughout the state by championing smart transportation investments, education and workforce development, regulation reform, tax modernization and collaborative land use and economic development decisions.

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Courtney McBeth

Dr. Courtney H. McBeth, Ed.D. is special assistant to University of Utah President Ruth Watkins and project director for the American Dream Ideas Challenge. Courtney also leads campus initiatives in innovative financing and students success.


Clark Ivory

Clark Ivory has been the Chief Executive Officer of Ivory Homes in Salt Lake City, Utah since 2000. In 2006, Clark formed Ivory Commercial, one of Utah’s largest apartment builders and property management companies. Clark currently serves on the Real Estate Advisory Board to the David Eccles School of Business.


Natalie Gochnour

Natalie Gochnour serves as an associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. She also serves as the chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber and has advised three Utah governors.

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Mark Jensen

Mark Jensen is the Executive Vice President of Investments at Colliers International in Salt Lake City, Utah and has over 13 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. Mark has closed over $1 billion in commercial real estate transactions and is passionate about the industry.


Lyda Bigelow

Lyda Bigelow is Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy and a David Eccles Faculty Fellow at the Eccles School of Business, University of Utah. Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, Lyda
worked in investment banking in the corporate finance area. 


Erin Carraher

Erin Carraher is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah School of Architecture and the Director of Strategy and Partnerships for the Equitable Housing & Livability Institute (EHLI). Erin's work has been recognized with top honors for collaborative practice and education at the university, state, and national levels.

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Code of Conduct

All delegates, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at any Hack-a-house event are required to agree with the following code of conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event.

The Quick Version

Hack-a-house is dedicated to providing a harassment-free event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment of event participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any event venue, including talks, workshops, parties, Twitter and other online media. Event participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event without a refund at the discretion of the event organizers.

The Less Quick Version