There’s no denying that Downton Abbey is huge. The home of the fictional Crawley family contains about 300 rooms and 30 bathrooms. Among those rooms is a double library, a state dining room and a grand saloon with leather walls. Movoto Real Estate values the home at $400 million.
“While the sheer size of the house drives up the value, what really increases it is the quality of the materials in it,” says Terry McConnell, vice president, Personal Lines Underwriting at Erie Insurance. “Older homes typically have lots of marble, granite and exotic woods. They also require specialized craftsmanship that most contemporary contractors are not able to do.”
As one example of how materials drive up the cost, consider the flooring. “Today’s 2” x 6” floorboards are actually slightly smaller than they were 100 years ago,” says McConnell. “So you can’t just run up to your local hardware store and get what you need. Most of these homes also have plaster walls, which is much more labor intensive to create than drywall.”
Homeowners insurance is there to restore homes to their pre-loss condition. This can be a very difficult task in older homes. “The goal of the insurance company is to replace your loss with something of like kind and quality,” says McConnell. “When you think of everything from the ironwork to the stonework to the woodwork in Downton Abbey, you are looking at the services of a small army of very specialized artisan contractors. It’s hard to find people with those unique skill sets—and when you do, you need to transport and lodge for them for an extended period of time.”