What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (2023)

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (1)

How big is a mansion is like asking how loud is thunder.

We know thunder is loud. Thunder is defined by loudness.

Likewise, a mansion is bigness; big is an inherent attribute of mansion

But, the question remains.

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What is a mansion?

We know a mansion is big. It’s synonymous with “big house”.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines mansion as “a large imposing residence.

It’s a good, but broad definition because it includes both “large and “imposing”. In other words, a mansion is not merely a big house. It’s also imposing.

Imposing is defined as “impressive in size, bearing, dignity or grandeur.

There you have it. A mansion is a grand house.

Next, how big is a mansion?

What does Merriam Webster mean when it uses the term “large” in its definition?

Unfortunately, the dictionary doesn’t provide a footnote setting out the square footage when it uses the word “large”.

That leaves it to us to interpret, which I will gladly do.

What I set out below is my opinion as to how big a mansion is.

Mansion Defined – the Short Answer

Mansion: My opinion is that a mansion is a nicely designed home with 7,000 sq. ft. A ramshackle unimpressive house with 12,000 sq. ft. would not be a mansion in my view. Likewise, I’ve seen many grand houses that are 6,000 sq. ft. that certainly gives the impression of a mansion.

However, if forced to give a square footage number, I’ll say 7,000 sq. ft. I base this on being 3 times the size of the average newly-built house which is 2,320 sq. ft.

Mega Mansion: 20,000+ sq. ft. house (read my analysis below).

At the end of the day, it really is a personal opinion. What one person considers a mansion another might not.

(Video) Ex: Find the Square Footage of a House

For example, Cher, who is accustomed to living in spectacularly huge mansions such as this Beverly Hills mansion would likely have a different opinion as to what a large, imposing house is compared to me. After all, I currently live in a regular suburban house with 3,500 sq. ft. which isn’t small but certainly not a house Cher has lived in for many decades (if ever).

In other words, what one considers a mansion is relative.

“Mansion” in a historical context

Another way to approach this question is to examine mansions in a historical context. It’s interesting because, for centuries, mansions were outrageously huge. Think Chateau, palace and manor homes that stretch back hundreds of years. Not to mention castles.

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (2)

Chateau de Chenonceau is near the small village of Chenonceaux on the River Cher. It was built between 1515 and 1521 by Thomas Bohier, Chamberlain for King Charles VIII of France. Today, the Chateau of Chenonceau is second only to Versailles as the most visited chateau in France. It has an incredible 200,000 sq. ft. of living space.

The wealthy pre-industrial revolution had most of their wealth held in land. They collected rents and produced food and in some cases, goods that were sold. Because few were of this class, they owned vast estates that made them incredibly wealthy in relation to the rest of the population.

Then came the industrial revolution in the 19th century that created fortunes surpassing those of the aristocratic landowners many times over. Think coal, oil, steel, railroads, the rapid growth of corporations, etc. These “robber barons” became wealthier than anyone in history.

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (3)

Newport, RI: Exterior view of the historic Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island. This former Vanderbilt Mansion is now a tourist attraction. This house has 50 rooms.

The industrial revolution also changed where folks lived. Many left the rural estates for better-paying jobs in cities and mines. This in turn, increased wages that had to be paid to workers on the estates ultimately chipping away at the landowners’ wealth.

By World War I the aristocracy’s power and wealth dwindled and continued losing grip on the economy and positions of power through WWII.

Moreover, at the same time, labor reforms came into place that not only slowed the widening wealth gap but reversed it. As wages and worker protections came into play, it became impossible for many landowners to pay for the dozens of employees it took to maintain such large houses.

From the end of WWII to the 1990’s the wealth gap was not nearly as pronounced as it’s become since 2000.

That is until the tech revolution in the late 1990’s, which once again changed and is changing the economic landscape. At the same time, many good jobs left the UK, the US, Canada, etc. to China and other lower-cost countries.

The result is the wealth gap starting to widen. It continues to widen to this day.

As the wealth gap widens, fortunes of the few grow to massive amounts relative to the rest of the population. The result is a resurgence in massive houses. Once again rich folk can afford to maintain ludicrously expensive-to-maintain estates.

As wealth grew in the late 1990s, display of ostentatious wealth grew and so folks who want part of that display but can’t really afford it, build “cheap mansions” which took on the demeaning term “McMansion“.

The McMansion is a large house built with cheaper materials. Their lasting impact is the rapid growth in the average size of houses.


In the 1950s, the size of the typical new home increased to 950 square feet, and “by the 60’s 1,100 square feet was typical, and by the 70’s, 1,350. Beginning with the recession in 2000, the average new house size stabilized to 2,320 (square feet),” according to the authors [Patch.com].

(Video) How to Calculate Square Footage | The Home Depot

From the 1950s to the 2,000’s the average house size increased 2.4 times.

1950s house

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (4)

1950s house

2000s houses

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (5)

Houses built since 2000

What does average house size have to do with defining a mansion?

It has everything to do with defining a mansion.

A mansion is defined in relation to average house size. Of course, people will disagree as to any precise size, but it’s safe to say that what folks considered a mansion in 1955 is different in 2020.

I have no evidence to base this on, but I suspect in the 1950’s a nice or imposing house that measured 5,000 sq. ft. was a mansion.

In 1955, a 5,000 sq. ft. house was more than 5 times the size of a newly built average house.

In 2020, a 5,000 sq. ft. house measures a tad more than 2 times the size of an average house. Hardly a mansion.

A house 5 times the size of the average house now would be 11,600 sq. ft. Three times measures 6,960 sq. ft. Hence I peg a mansion at 7,000 sq. ft.

Mansion by location

Another consideration when defining mansion is location.

A 5,000 square foot townhouse in Manhattan is arguably a mansion because it’s unusually large relative to the average dwelling in NYC. The average size of newly built apartments in NYC since the year 2000 is 866 sq. ft. That means a 5,000 sq. ft. townhome is more than 5 times the size of the average dwelling.

Sounds familiar, right? That’s about the same ratio of the average house size in the 1950’s to a 5,000 sq. ft. house.

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (6)

Gloria Vanderbilt’s NYC townhouse (see the interior of this 8,504 sq. ft. NYC townhouse here). Image courtesy of Toptenrealestatedeals.com.

What about the “Imposing” part of the definition?

Again, the term “imposing” is subjective. What I consider imposing others may not.

For example, there are some architectural styles that aren’t imposing at all.

Consider mid-century modern. It’s not imposing. However, there are some huge mid-century modern houses. Are they mansions?

(Video) How To Calculate Square Footage

Here’s an example of a 9,156 sq. ft. house that isn’t imposing yet is very large:

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (7)

Source: Redfin

I’m not saying the above isn’t nice. It is. However, the design of the house is more unassuming than other styles.

Contrast the above 9,156 sq. ft. with the following which is considerably smaller, but looks more like a mansion:

However, when you look at an aerial view of the above home, you’ll see it is indeed large because it has a deep design. Check it out:

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (8)

Now, compare the above unassuming mansion with the following house which has considerably fewer square feet:

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (9)

7,351 sq. ft. house that looks more imposing than other larger homes. Source: Redfin

In my view, the white 7,351 sq, ft. house looks more like a mansion than the 9,156 sq. ft. house above it.

What about a large converted barn coming in at 11,000 sq. ft. Is that a mansion? A barn is hardly imposing. Is it a mansion?

Again, a nicely designed converted barn, IMO is a mansion.

Where I draw the line would be some ramshackle, slapped up, cheap meandering house that may measure 13,000 sq. ft. but is ugly and cheap. This would not be a mansion in my opinion.

Rise of the Mega-Mansion

Mega-mansion is a relatively new term, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t always been mega-mansions.

50,000+ sq. ft. French chateaus are mega-mansions. Same with 30,000+ sq. ft. English manor homes. Some of these dwellings are hundreds of years old.

Think Downton Abbey, built in 1842, which comes in at a whopping 100,000 sq. ft. Here it is:

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (10)

Surely that’s a mega-mansion.

Like mansion, the size of a mega-mansion is up for debate.

(Video) Inside a 2 story MANSION that's just been completed! This house is CRAZY! Home Tour

I define a mega-mansion as a grand house with 20,000+ sq. ft. You might even consider a house with 15,000+ sq. ft. as a mega-mansion. There is no shortage of large celebrity houses that are this big or larger.

Here’s an example of a 25,878 sq. ft. house.

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (11)

25,878 sq. ft. mansion in Florida.
Source: Redfin

Again, a mega mansion’s definition is relative to other houses. Is it 5X, 7X, 10X the average house?

I peg it at 8.5X the average house. 20,000 sq. ft. divided by 2,320 sq. ft. is 8.62.

Arguably 10X is not unreasonable.

After all, we have to give considerable meaning to the word mega? It must be rare; as in very few mansions are mega-mansions otherwise the definition has no teeth.

Here’s a chart setting out the size of celebrity houses in square feet by percentage (sample size: 248 celebrity houses).

What is a Mansion? How Much Square Footage to be a Mansion? (12)

Based on the analysis of 248 celebrity houses.

We analyzed 248 celebrity houses. 4.4% were 20K to 30K sq. ft. 5.6% were 30K+ sq. ft.

That means 10% of celebrity houses in this sample came in above 20,000 sq. ft. in size.

Given most celebrities live in fairly large houses, the fact only 10% is bigger than 20,000 sq. ft. makes 20,000 sq. ft. an unusually large size.

It’s all relative

At the end of the day, a mansion is defined in relation to average houses.

What was considered a mansion in the 1950s is no longer a mansion.

What was imposing 60 years ago may not necessarily be the requisite for what is imposing today given evolving architectural styles.

We know this. A mansion is a house that inspires awe. A mega-mansion makes us exclaim “unbelievable.”


Is 10000 sq ft a mansion? ›

Even in homes of 10,000 square feet or more, people would rather spend money on larger bedrooms and amenities rather than on more than 10 bedrooms. What size is a mansion? A mansion is usually at least 5,000 square feet, with some only qualifying homes above 8,000 square feet as mansions.

What is defined as mansion? ›

: a large imposing residence. (2) : manor house. : a separate apartment or lodging in a large structure.

Is 4500 square feet a big house? ›

A 4500 to 5000 square foot house is a great choice for homeowners with large families or who frequently entertain overnight guests, ensuring that there are always enough rooms in the home for everyone to sleep comfortably. Many of these homes offer 5 bedrooms or more.

Is 4000 square feet a big house? ›

So it's fair to say that a five-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot house could be considered very, very big by most standards.

What is a McMansion vs mansion? ›

Most actual mansions are designed by well-known architects who pay close attention to exterior and interior details. Mansions are usually situated on estates with abundant property, and they are costly. A McMansion is usually one of many large homes in a specific location built by developers.

Is a 6000 sq ft house a mansion? ›

The typical real estate definition of a mansion is a home that offers at least 5,000 square feet of space and at least five to six bedrooms. Mansions typically sit on small acreage (homes set on vast amounts of land are considered estates).

What does a house need to be called a mansion? ›

Mansion is the term used to describe a very large house, usually at least 8,000 sq. ft (740 sq. m) in size.

What is a mini mansion called? ›

Characteristics of a McMansion

It's important to distinguish McMansions from real mansions or other opulent homes, though large, have actually been made well and with architectural insight, not just for the purpose of showing off.

Is 5000 square feet a mansion? ›

Historically, a mansion would be at least 5,000 square feet, but with the size of the average house continually increasing, mansions are getting bigger as well. Nowadays, most real estate agents consider homes larger than 7,000 sq ft to be mansions.

What size is a mini mansion? ›

It's subjective, but a real mansion should be at least 5,500 square feet, have a maid's room, breakfast room, library, formal dining room, and at least 3 family bedrooms with en-suites. Smaller houses down to 3,500 square feet can qualify as small mansions, below that it's just a house.

What is a good size for a house lot? ›

“Typically, custom homeowners are looking for at least one-half acre or larger for their lot. The trend among custom home buyers is for larger (greater than one acre) lots.

What makes a house a villa? ›

A villa style house is traditionally a more secluded house, often single-level, designed to be a home for a single family, usually on spacious property that puts it at a distance from other houses – or at least come with a private courtyard or other areas that solely belongs to the property owners.

Is 1 acre enough for a mansion? ›

Generally speaking, if you are looking to build a single-family home, an acre should be enough. That is unless you want herds of cattle roaming around and no neighbors in sight. However, if you are looking for recreational land, you will likely need more than an acre depending on what you want to do.

What size house is considered large? ›

The average house in the United States in 2021 is about 2,200. (Reported differently by different services.) It reached its peak of 2,467 square feet in 2015 before falling to 2,301 square feet by 2019 and is now down further. So your 4,400 square foot house would be considered larger than the national average.

What is a good size house for 4? ›

The average house size for a family of four to live comfortably is around 2400 square feet. It is widely believed that each person in a home requires 200-400 square feet of living space. The average cost to build a home of that size will range between $147,000 to $436,000.

Why do Americans have such big houses? ›

But over the course of the 20th century, government policy, the invention of cheaper, mass-produced building materials, marketing by home builders, and a shift in how people regarded their houses—not just as homes, but as financial assets—encouraged ever larger houses.

How is Villa different from mansion? ›

Detached mansions in Europe are often known as villas, sometimes divided into subcategories, such as the spa villas and seaside villas that became popular in Germany at the end of the 19th century and are still in demand today. In Scandinavia, the term “villa” is used to describe most detached family homes.

Why is it called a mansion? ›

A mansion is a large dwelling house. The word itself derives through Old French from the Latin word mansio "dwelling", an abstract noun derived from the verb manere "to dwell".

Is a 2700 square foot house big? ›

The Perfect Space for Every Member of the Family

Even if you are a family of five, this size home can more than accommodate. To put it in perspective, even a four-bedroom home between 2700 and 2800 square feet can also include a formal dining room, a breakfast nook, a laundry room, and a home office.

Is 2000 square feet a big house? ›

How big is 2000 square feet house? It is a very large house. Such a house is perfect for a large family, as it usually includes 5 or more bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room, and den area.

Is 1600 square feet a big house? ›

Fifty years ago, 1600 square feet would be “large”, but not a mansion. Today, that same size house would be considered average to smaller. Such a house is likely to have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, living or family room and MAYBE a separate dining room or a den (casual room for TV or an office).

What is a Cinderella house? ›

Found in the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Santa Barbara, and beyond, these “Cinderella homes” were designed in the 1950s by homebuilder Jean Vandruff, who studied architecture at USC in the 1940s. The houses have shake shingle roofs, swooping gables, and friendly brick chimneys.

What is a living room called in a mansion? ›

A drawing room is a room in a house where visitors may be entertained, and an alternative name for a living room. The name is derived from the 16th-century terms withdrawing room and withdrawing chamber, which remained in use through the 17th century, and made their first written appearance in 1642.

What is a 1.5 story house called? ›

Bungalow is a common term applied to a low one-story house with a shallow-pitched roof (in some locations, dormered varieties are referred to as 1.5-story, such as the chalet bungalow in the United Kingdom).

How big is Jay Z and Beyonce mansion? ›

Inside Beyoncé and Jay-Z's US$88 million Bel Air family home: the billionaire power couple splashed out on the 30,000 sq ft mansion complete with 4 pools, a cinema – and bulletproof windows.

How many bedrooms can a 4000 square-foot house have? ›

How many bedrooms can a 4,000 square-foot house have? Most 4,000 square foot homes include three to five bedrooms depending on the size you'd like each. If you want each bedroom to be its escape, then you can choose a design with three unique, spacious bedrooms.

Is a manor smaller than a mansion? ›

The word manor once commonly referred to an estate (the tract of land itself), but it eventually came to refer to the large house on the estate. Still, a house that you'd call a manor is usually a big mansion surrounded by a lot of land. For example, the mansion where Bruce Wayne lives is called Wayne Manor.

What is the average size home in America? ›

The average number of occupants in each home fell, while the average size of a new single-family home ballooned - from just 909 square feet in 1949 to 2,480 square feet in 2021.

Is 800 sq ft a small house? ›

How Small Is 800 Square Feet? An 800-square-foot house is more significant than it sounds. A home of this size can pack in two bedrooms, one bath, a kitchen, and a living space. Plus, remember the creative use of outdoor spaces like the porch and patio for enjoying the great outdoors in the South.

Is 2500 sq ft a small house? ›

For a house in the United States, 2500 square feet is considered average. However, that doesn't mean it will feel right for your family. Consider how many people you'll be living with and the size of the space you'll be moving out of when determining whether a 2000–2500 square foot home is right for you.

Does lot size increase home value? ›

Lot Size As a Factor in the Value of Your Home

As a general rule, homes on larger lots have a higher property value than similar houses on smaller lots in the same area. How much higher may depend on other neighborhood factors. The location makes a difference in how valuable a larger plot of land is to home buyers.

What is a good size for a ranch style house? ›

What's the Average Size of Ranch-Style Home? Our most popular ranch-style homes range from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet.

What is a normal house size? ›

The average single family house in the United States has overall increased in size since 2000. It reached its peak of 2,467 square feet in 2015 before falling to 2,273 square feet by 2021. A single family home is defined as a dwelling designed to house a single family only.

What do you call someone who owns a villa? ›

homeowner. noun. someone who owns their house or flat.

Is villa bigger than mansion? ›

Mansions are more formal than villas.

How many floors does a villa have? ›

A villa usually comprises one or two floors. Ideally, the ground floor accommodates a bedroom, living room, drawing/dining room, bathroom and a kitchen. This is the basic requirement.

How many square feet is a typical mansion? ›

Historically, a mansion would be at least 5,000 square feet, but with the size of the average house continually increasing, mansions are getting bigger as well. Nowadays, most real estate agents consider homes larger than 7,000 sq ft to be mansions.

How many square feet is the one mansion? ›

The Los Angeles home is one of the largest ever built, and is twice the size of the White House. It spans 105,000 square feet and the property sprawls over 3.8 acres. Outdoor features include a moat of water on three sides of the home, five pools, a 10,000-square-foot deck and a 400-foot outdoor running track.

How many floors is 10000 square feet? ›

On a 10000 sqft plot, one can probably build 5000 sq ft on each floor. On each floor, you can build a 5000 sqft flat or two 2500 sqft or one of 2000 and the other of 3000 sqft. You can also build 5 flats each of 1000 sqft.

How many sq feet is considered a big house? ›

The average house in the United States in 2021 is about 2,200. (Reported differently by different services.) It reached its peak of 2,467 square feet in 2015 before falling to 2,301 square feet by 2019 and is now down further. So your 4,400 square foot house would be considered larger than the national average.


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