Profile picture for 2much4u2

what seperates a house from a mansion is it sq ft or number of rooms or floors or lot size

  • September 22 2011 - Little Haiti
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Answers (10)

Profile picture for propertyfinder3

As for some of our fellow commentators' round-about manner of addressing ..... a mansion's presumed specific qualifying features: TASTEs, or the lack thereof,  remain operative; an open and moving target of sorts.

Consider, many colonial era mansions (over 11,000 sq. ft.; few built, and fewer have survived), and for that matter many of the era's large houses (ie, over 3,000 sq. ft.) .... many were built and many survive (as "chopped-up, multiple dwellings, Soviet Russia style .... packed": see Dr Zhivago, for a RACE-to-the-BOTTOM, commi-pinko 'esque wake-up call .....), especially in places such as upstate, central and western New York State, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas, et al) whose ceiling heights barely reach above 7 ft. During the Federal era, many otherwise wonderful extant Greek Revivals ..... that, street-side, from the "curb", so to speak, project grand proportions, but suffer, inside, from dauntingly low ceiling heights.

During the Second Industrial Revolution era, the emergence of high-order, grand and ornate Italianates [ie, "round-two Italianates", upped their namesake's predecessors 1830's - 1850's .... in build scope and refinement scale, while still popular and build from the 1860's through the, surprisingly, the early 1920's] and only bested {or literally "up-graded to ....} Second Empire form [think: "the Addams Family" and "The Munster's"  aka Halloween haunted houses]: c. 1870's reach their apex, though some were built in that style, evidenced in regional clusters, as late as the Edwardian era. The latter two types of houses often boasted 12'  to 14' ceilings heights or higher .....

Today's "open white space aesthetic", too,  reflects current matters of taste ...... only bested in enriched details by the Victorian era's fascination with production economies, garnered by machining, automation gains ie,  mass production of machine-carved woodwork, architectural elements and components, and comparatively speaking, enormous budgets, allocated and specialized spaces, embellished, often elaborately, by a driving "more is more" bent, yet that itself proved a highly discerning and cultivated design sensibility that attracts many adherents and fans even today; whereas, today, most residential design emphasizes a more Spartan or minimalist and "open" spaces  trend .... tradeoffs for consideration by any true mansion or "mansion-like" builder/owner.

  • December 12 2014
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Profile picture for propertyfinder3
Qualitatively, use of the term "mansion", used casually, often refers to real estate, a residential structure -- when used as an adjective -- to describe a "grand", "elegant", or otherwise building of "awesome" structural appearance. However, when properly used, as a noun, mansion carries a very specific meaning and often packs immense legal and taxation implications in many USA tax jurisdictions. As noun, too, mansion indicates that a large-sized* property, as qualified below, boasts refined design, construction, materials, features and/or setting execution.

As for a quantitative standard, in late 1967, [[Sotheby's Parke-Bernet]] real estate property evaluators designated, in accord with longstanding precedent and practice, that, indeed, a house larger than 11,000 square feet (sq. ft.) in actual usable residential space -- exclusive of unfinished attic(s) or basement(s) space(s) -- as being qualified for mansion designation.

That specific 11,000 sq. ft. threshold was incorporated into Federal Estate Taxation code guidelines, too, respectful of Sotheby's expertise and leadership in the estate sales field.

Again, as part of its estate sales, taxation consultation practice group's  written reference guidelines -- culled from longstanding legal standards/practices that date back to early 1800's real estate documentation, designations, and definitions in the USA -- [[Sotheby's Parke-Bernet]] real estate property evaluators designated that a house larger than 11,000 sq. ft. in actual usable residential space -- exclusive of unfinished attic(s) or basement(s) space(s) -- as being qualified for mansion designation. While true that many an ornate, grand, or even "intimating" of the Victorian and latter eras' numerous house styles may initially, at first impression, appear as being "mansion-sized enormous", many had been and continue to be incorrectly referred to as a "mansion", due to their projecting dimensions, and curb appeal or lack thereof, yet most merely fit in to the large house category of eg, 3,000 to 10,999 sq. ft. and ought not be referred as a "mansion".   

Importantly, in some jurisdictions, application of the legal term mansion imputes or triggers certain additional property and/or consumption tax assessment consequences, obligations, and other ownership responsibilities, most of which prove costly to the owner, which, "mansion", errantly applied, proves a dire financial and can result in legal "bone of contention and litigation", a burden for the unwitting and often dumbfounded homeowner.

Therefore, application of the term mansion ought not to be used casually, but most often it is used incorrectly. That "size counts error" can readily be witnessed online, evidenced in the all too grandiloquent real estate marketing collateral eg, ADs posted by zealous sales agents on Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com and the like, where Victorian "mansions" abound, and super-long "modern mansion" (built in sub-divisions c. 1950's - 60's) ranches run rampant, followed by the more recent barrage of "Mac-Mansions"  .... that often measure a merely 3,000, 3,500, 4,500, or 6,500 ..... sq. ft., not above the requisite 11,000 sq. ft. threshold.

Some hold the view that "out buildings" eg, a converted barn, stables, pool-house or the like may contribute to the main house's actual square footage tally. That same sort of rationale may hold, too, that a "modern mansion" today may not necessarily be limited to a single house standing alone but like [[Roman Emperor]] [[Nero]]'s [[Domus Aurea]], mansions may be compounds or a grouping of larger houses. The [[Kennedy Compound]] is an example of one such family's "mansion" property, populated by several residential structures built on a single plot.
  • December 12 2014
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Profile picture for Reallyfedup
In the US, it used to be a dwelling with over 8000 square feet to be considered a Mansion.

Now, any large and well appointed house fits the description.
  • September 22 2011
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
The "problem" is that at $50 Million, the property tax goes up from the present $68k per year, to well over $500k per year.

It is a bit out of my budget, and even if it wasn't, I wouldn't what to pay the government that much each year.
  • September 22 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Pretty to look at, but would we have to TM the dawgs to find them when we're all in the same house?

  • September 22 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Wow that house on Oakland is stunning! The nice thing is that for 50 million, you wouldn't even have to clean it yourself. Can you image just doing windows in a place like that?
  • September 22 2011
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
There is no specific dividing line, and people of different economic classes will draw the line in different places.

8k sqft and larger for a "mansion" is probably a good rule of thumb.  But some will draw the line at 6k sqft.

You can easily have 8 bedrooms in a 3500 sqft house, so # bedrooms by itself is not sufficient.  But probably 10 or more bedrooms would start to approach mansion criterion.  Similarly, 6 or more baths may be approaching a mansion.

But how do you know it is not just a multi-family apartment complex used as a "house"?  If it has 8 ft high ceilings or less, it is definitely NOT a "mansion".


It is not lot size.  You can easily have a 800 sqft shack or cottage on a 640 acre parcel.

Still, if you have a 6000 sqft house on less than 1/2 an acre, the house is probably a bit overbuilt for the area.

And then, what is the difference between a "mansion" and a "castle"?  Do you need a moat?  Do you need a drawbridge?  Do you need towers?  Does it need to look medieval?   How about the "Hearst Castle"?   At over 90k sqft of living space, I would think that definitely qualifies as a "mansion", in spite of no moat and no drawbridge.  It does have a tower.

I think this qualifies as a mansion:  1288 S Oakland, 91106
  • September 22 2011
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When you have more bathrooms than bedrooms?

That's a mansion!

Then there was that whole 'McMansion' phase of building. Essentially shrunken down mansions. Truly hideous.

When I think of a mansion, I think larger than life front entrances, sweeping double staircases, room after room after room. It was reported that Candy Spelling's former mansion in LA LA had a room just for wrapping presents AND a bowling alley.
  • September 22 2011
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Profile picture for the_country_hick
Purchase price. No one wants to say I just bought a $23,000,000 house do they?
  • September 22 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
I think that it's square footage. When I think mansion, I think 8-10,000 square feet, but maybe I've been watch too many Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous reruns.
  • September 22 2011
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