Connecting Geometry©

Chapter 11

Perimeter and Area

MAR-A-LAGO, Palm Beach, Florida. Designed by Marion Sims Wyeth and Joseph Urban in 1923.

"Spanish for "From lake to sea", Mar-a-Lago is embraced by a lake and the Atlantic Ocean. It was a perfect "winter palace" for Marjorie Merriwether Post, the woman that defined the term "jet-setting". The daughter and heiress of the Post cereal enterprise traveled often between this estate, "Hillwood" in Washington D.C., Camp Topridge in New York state, and the largest apartment in Manhattan.

Post moved into the 118 room Mar-a-Lago with her second husband, the already well-established E.F. Hutton. Together they lived in exuberant style, throwing gala events and lavish dinner parties. The dining room, with 27 different china patterns and at least 4,000 pieces of silver, was modeled after the Chigi Palace in Rome. Interesting, considering that the palace was not open to the public at that time. Other rooms captured various styles, from the Venetian to the Norwegian. The exterior, done in a Hispano-Mooresque style, featured the largest collection of Spanish tile for the rooftops and a 75 foot tower that, although slightly difficult to climb, was well worth the panoramic vista.

When Post died in 1973 she bequeathed Mar-a-Lago to the U.S. government for use in housing presidents and traveling dignitaries. But the government soon returned the estate to the Post Foundation because maintenance was in excess of $1 million a year.

Then, in 1985, another jet-setter made his home at Mar-a-Lago. Donald Trump paid only $10 million for the completely furnished estate including one acre of beach front property. Unlike many Palm Beach resident's expectations, Trump did not turn Mar-a-Lago into a casino, nor did he subdivide the property and "cash in". He simply restored the splendor as Marjorie Merriwether Post intended it. Trump has said, "Some people collect art works...I collect great homes."

Although over ten years ago the price was $10 million, today the estate is priceless."

This information and picture came from a fascinating website about this and other great estates. If you are interested in finding out more, click on the link below.

Unlike heiresses and other jet-setters, most of us have to choose carefully where we live and what we pay to live there. What is it that determines the value of a house? Real Estate business people have a favorite saying: the 3 most important factors in determining the value of Real Estate are: Location , Location, and Location! Well, of course location is important, and most of us would expect to pay more for a beach-front home than one in a dreary part of town, but there are other factors as well. Some of the factors, besides location, are the size of the house, the architectural design, and the quality of the construction.

When an architect designs a house, the size is determined by the client's needs and by what they can afford. The architect must request bids from contractors: in the bids, the contractors submit their best estimates for the cost of the construction. Of course, the cost of construction depends on many factors, some of which are the types of materials the client wants (marble vs. vinyl tile, for example). But one of the main factors in the cost of building is the size of the house. Many contractors can estimate the construction costs using just the square footage of the interior of the house, assuming a flat, accessible site. This also depends on which part of the country you are in; the costs in Hawaii are considerably higher than in the Midwest for example.


Do some research into the costs of real estate in your neighborhood. Read the real estate ads in the newspaper, visit some Open Houses on Sunday afternoons. The prices of houses depend on their location, the size of of the lot, the "attractiveness" of the house, and the size of the house. Sometimes building a new house can be less expensive than buying one that has already been built and landscaped. This of course depends on the selling price of a vacant lot, and the cost of constructing the new house. Currently, for "average" quality construction in Hawaii, one can expect to pay about $100 per square foot of interior space, and $75 per square foot for lanai or deck space. This floor plan is drawn to the scale 1/8" = 1'

The project is to design your own home! Pretend you have a budget of $215,000 for the construction, and don't spend any more than that! Use the approximate construction costs of about $100 per square foot of interior space, and $75 per square foot for lanai or deck space. Draw your home on a blank piece of tracing paper placed on top of some graph paper, or on a blank piece of paper using a ruler. Make the rooms proportionally the sizes you want them, label the rooms by name, label the dimensions of each room (example: Living Room, 12' by 18') and show your calculations of room sizes, total size of house, and total cost based on the price information above.

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