App review by Erin Bell, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2012
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Financial management made fun via real estate-themed building sim

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Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 3 reviews
Privacy rating
53%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Subjects & Skills
Math, Social Studies, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: A casual, relaxed presentation makes intimidating subject matter accessible to wider audiences. Perfectly balanced levels continue to challenge players without frustrating them.

Cons: Nothing significant enough to mention.

Bottom Line: Fiscal responsibility, city planning, and budget management are taught in a casual and engaging way.

Build-a-lot is suitable for individual play by students interested in learning more about real estate, city planning, and budget management. Teachers could run a friendly class-wide competition to see which students can earn the highest scores or raise the most money. Teachers could organize role-playing scenarios around the themes of real estate (buying and selling properties) and construction, assigning roles such as mayor, city planner, blueprint architect, construction worker, and real estate agent.

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Build-a-lot is a casual, easy-to-learn building sim that introduces kids to the world of real estate. Kids will build and upgrade a variety of buildings on vacant lots, including residential houses, banks, sawmills, museums, and skating rinks. To do so, they'll need the required blueprints, enough workers to do the job, and building materials, all of which cost money. The mayors of each of the eight towns give players specific goals to complete in each level, such as building four Tudor-style homes, earning a rental income of $60,000 per month, or earning $250,000 in total cash. There's also a Casual mode, where the goal is to raise a certain amount of money in as short a time as possible. 

The nice thing about Build-a-lot is that kids don't have to know a lot about real estate, or be skilled number-crunchers, before playing this game. There's a thorough and dynamic tutorial, and the pace is just right in terms of introducing new concepts in a manageable way. Kids can learn about fiscal responsibility as they manage a budget, control spending, and generate rental income. They'll learn time management as they're challenged to complete goals in a certain amount of time, and they can replay a level as often as they like to test out new strategies. Each town presents unique goals that keep things fresh to the end. For such a potentially dry subject, Build-a-lot is extremely accessible, as well as challenging.

Overall Rating


Build-a-lot draws kids in with fun gameplay and supportive tutorials, making the niche subject of property management accessible to a wide variety of players.


Players are encouraged to replay rounds as often as they wish, or can opt for a more relaxing casual mode. Levels become progressively harder, so players always feel challenged.


The game has a great tutorial and provides help throughout. Players can choose their difficulty.

Common Sense reviewer
Erin Bell Educator

Community Rating

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Laura F. , Other
Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School
Oak Lawn, United States
Build Little Knowledge with Build-A-Lot
In an Internet filled with sims, the price tag for Build-A-Lot is a big turn-off. Granted for the price tag, you do get a product that can save progress, is stable and provides technical support. From an educator's perspective, a paid simulation will allow for some sort of report to be provided to the teacher, to help analyze gameplayer decisions. This is not a feature that is currently available in this game and a key element in progress monitoring and assessment. Another key element of the game i ...
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Data Safety
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Users can interact with trusted users.
Personal information can be displayed publicly.
Unclear whether user-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
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Users can create or upload content.
Processes to access or review user data are available.
Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.
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Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
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Personalised advertising is displayed.

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