How to Build a Mansion for Less Money

Use native plants in your landscaping to cut the expense of transporting and maintaining non-native species.

Use native plants in your landscaping to cut the expense of transporting and maintaining non-native species.

If you have made enough money to be able to build a mansion for your dream home, then congratulations! Of course, that doesn’t mean you can afford to be wasteful in your spending. Consider this simple adage: A mansion costs money in materials, manpower and size. To save money, you have to skimp on at least one of these, and more likely a combination of all three.

Contractor Bidding

A large project like a mansion promises a lot of steady work, which attracts contractors at every stage of development — architecture, engineering, construction, utilities and interior work — who will bid for the right to do it. Your reputation as a millionaire looks attractive too, because with your wealth a prospective contractor has a greater expectation of getting a prompt paycheck. By attracting more contractors, their own competition with each other will keep the bids lower and more reasonable. You can do your part to extend this by heavily shopping around the work contracts to attract more bidders, and then negotiating hard with the finalists to make sure you’ll get the best value for your dollar. This is significant, because labor costs constitute one of the primary expenses of construction.

Bargains on Materials

Fine homes require top-quality building materials, but they carry a hefty price tag and the total costs add up tremendously over the generous dimensions of an entire mansion. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy at retail prices. You can negotiate steep discounts on materials for ordering in bulk quantities, which works out nicely because your mansion will require large volumes of many of these materials. Shop around, too. You might find it cost-effective to order supplies from elsewhere in the country or internationally.

Cutting with Class

“Less expensive” and “cheap” are two different concepts. You can downsize your construction costs with only minimal sacrifice to your ambitions by tackling the project creatively. First, weed out the expenses you don’t really need. Go with one swimming pool instead of three. Reduce the number of bedrooms and bathrooms if you don’t plan on routinely filling them up. Second, defer the construction of supplementary areas, like horse stables and spare garages. You can build these later if you desire. Finally, choose the building materials that give you the most satisfaction for your dollar. Look at your second and third choices for flooring, roofing and finishing surfaces, and decide where you can realize savings without giving up taste and aesthetics.

Operations and Maintenance Savings

The costs of a mansion don’t end when the last coat of paint dries. Mansions have disproportionately high operating and maintenance costs by virtue of their sheer size. You can save a great deal of money in the long run by spending wisely on an efficient design and construction. Install wind and solar power on-site to help defray climate control costs. Use instant water heaters on low-use sinks. Surround the building with vegetation to reduce summertime heating, and use high-insulation windows and thermal insulation in walls. These investments and others like them often come with tax credits or deductions for home energy efficiency, which can put you in the enviable position of having the government help you to pay for your mansion.

 

About the Author

Josh Fredman is a freelance pen-for-hire and Web developer living in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, studying engineering, and worked in logistics, health care and newspapers before deciding to go to work for himself.

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