House Amenities: The Exponential Costs of a Hamptons Home

A painting by Raphaella Spence of the Southampton waterfront from a Cessna plane. Louis Meisel points out that you can see their reflection in the window, upper left, and can even identify the mansions below.
A painting by Raphaella Spence of the Southampton waterfront from a Cessna plane. Louis Meisel points out that you can see their reflection in the window, upper left, and can even identify the mansions below.

Back before the Hamptons became “The Hamptons,” I bought a house that had two bathrooms, three bedrooms, an attached garage, a driveway, a sidewalk, a lawn and a few shrubs. Also, for a while, we had a trampoline. Also a bird feeder. I paid $42,000 for this house. The lot was a half acre. And it was on a hillside. This was around 1980. Taxes? $550.

Around me, I soon saw houses being built with three bathrooms, four bedrooms and an attached garage that got sold for $100,000. Meanwhile, my wife and I made good use of the hillside. In the winters, we’d take the kids sleigh riding down the hillside to the street. It was only 500 feet. One year, when there was no snow, my kids said they wanted a swimming pool. So I put one in. A lovely one. And that made the house look kind of shabby. So I reshingled the house and put in sliders, decks, brickwork, a grill, poolside furniture, a sprinkler system and elaborate gardens and landscaping. Now, it could be sold for about $200,000. Taxes? $1,000.

I live in that house today. And if I wanted to sell it, which I don’t, it might fetch $1,000,000 — actually more like $1,500,000 with what’s been going on with the real estate market these days.

Recently, I learned there is a publicly known price for what my house might sell for. Without my knowledge, professional appraisers hired by others have looked over my house from across the street and, online, have published what it should sell for. I am not kidding about this. They’ve done this for every house on the East End, for sale or not. It changes monthly. For August 2022, my house was listed as worth $1,650,000 if I were to choose to put it up for sale, which, as I mentioned, I have not.

Around me, the amenities keep getting more numerous and the houses keep getting bigger. At $2,000,000, they have four baths and five bedrooms, three fireplaces, a brick terrace surrounding a swimming pool, a firepit, a pickleball court, an outdoor hot tub and a fence on the street. Taxes are $8,000.

At $3,000,000 you get five bathrooms and six bedrooms, a larger pool and an enclosed outdoor shower. Also added now, in addition to the above amenities, are a wet bar, a tennis court, a sunroom, an outdoor dining area, and instead of a wood stockade fence, a 6-foot hedgerow with a gate that will swing open if you get out of your car and do it. Also, a Belgian block interface between the driveway and the street. Taxes? $30,000.

At the $4,000,000 level, houses now get built on 3 acres with six baths and seven bedrooms, all of the above amenities and, in addition, a private office, a nursery, a billiard room, a man cave, a croquet court, an emergency generator, an indoor exercise room, and a 1-hole putting green. Taxes? $80,000.

For $7,000,000, in addition to the above amenities, you get seven baths and eight bedrooms, a hot tub both indoor and out, a basement basketball court, a weight room, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a guest cottage, a media room, 8-foot hedgerows and a gate that swings open but only after you’ve managed to punch in a code. Taxes? $105,000.

A house at $10,000,000, will come with eight baths and nine bedrooms, all of the above amenities plus an artificial pond with koi, an artist’s studio, a poolhouse, a playhouse, a library, a walk-in wine closet, a private movie theater with two screening rooms, a circular driveway, an artificial waterfall, a barn for tutoring classes, a day camp for the kids and a water view. Taxes? $165,000.

$20,000,000 will get you all the amenities mentioned before plus 12 bathrooms and 10 bedrooms on 10 acres, 200 feet on a bay, a porte cochere, a horse stable, a pasture, a game room and a movie theater that seats 12, a disco, two private balconies (one for sunrise, the other for sunset), a three-hole golf course and a dock. Also the barn now is an antique, a historic affair built in 1586 and imported stick by stick from England. Taxes? $550,000.

At the $50,000,000 level, expect all the amenities mentioned before plus 350 feet of oceanfront, 12 bedrooms and 14 baths, an Olympic-sized heated infinity pool with a pool cover that slides into place automatically during stormy weather, a roof deck and widow’s walk, an elevator, an indoor basketball court, an indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool with a high diving board, a walk-in wine cellar, a private power plant, a 10-car garage, a regulation baseball field, a five-hole putting green, an English garden, a chauffeur’s cottage, an outdoor swimming pool with a live 10-piece orchestra and 10 working fireplaces. Taxes are $800,000.

For $100,000,000, you get 18 baths and 14 bedrooms on 40 acres, all that was mentioned before, plus two polo fields, a prayer house, an art and sculpture gallery, a waterfall, a 20-car garage with a 24-hour surveillance video of the cars, 500 feet of oceanfront with a beach house, a boathouse out by your dock with your 250-foot yacht tied up and an 18-hole golf course, with both a helicopter pad and an airport runway out of bounds along a par 5. Also, the house has a name, such as Hamptons High Paradise, and has a history of notoriety or legend about a commune that was in residence there or a celebrity who had lived there, a scandal, murder or long-ago orgy. Also, separate quarters for a 25-person staff. Taxes? If you have to ask, this isn’t for you.

The latest thing is a hammam. It gets installed above the $50,000,000 level. This is a Turkish indoor marble structure with Greek columns, a water fountain splashing out into an indoor Roman pool, a hose and sprayer and a Turkish steam bath massage area with a hot coal heater that warms up birch branches to be used by servants to beat you and stimulate your circulation.

Of course, everything above $50,000,000 has a sunset view over water, a wooden boardwalk to your private beach, a lecture hall, a short bike ride to downtown and — did I miss anything? Oh yes, a zoo.

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