Excavation work has begun on what apparently will be the biggest house in Billings. One informed observer said it will be the biggest in Yellowstone County.
The 26,000-square-foot house — more than half an acre of living space under one roof — is going to be built just downslope of the city water tank a little northeast of the developed portion of the Ironwood Subdivision.
Plans submitted to the city show a huge, castle-like stone house with an eight-stall garage, a two-lane bowling alley, a gun room, a home theater, a sauna and an elevator.
Jim Kisling, of Kisling Quality Builders, the general contractor on the house, said the owners don’t want to be identified.
The house is so large that plans for just the foundation were recently submitted to the Building Division of the city’s Planning and Community Services Department.
Kim Palmieri, manager of the division, said normally only large commercial projects submit foundation plans separately.
“But this one’s so huge” that the city accepted the foundation plan by itself. The price tag on just the foundation is $1.5 million. Palmieri said there might be a bigger house somewhere in the county outside city limits, but nothing larger has come through his office.
“I think we could safely say it’s the biggest one we’ve seen,” he said.
Howard Sumner, a real estate agent who keeps close tabs on the Billings-area housing market, didn’t hesitate to say that this would be the biggest house in the county.
He said he had heard rumors that someone was planning to build an $11 million house in Billings. At 26,000 square feet, the house in question “would definitely match that type of price point,” he said.
And the $11 million price would be a minimum. Sumner said the final price could be considerably higher depending on building materials and special features.
The plans submitted to the city do include floor plans, but Palmieri said those could change substantially, since only the foundation is under review. The plans show 10,900 feet on the basement level, 6,240 feet of living space on the ground floor and 9,186 feet on the second floor, for a total of 26,326 square feet.
The ground floor is comparatively small because the basement stretches under, and the second floor over, the garage space, which is not counted as part of the residential floor plan.
The architect on the project, Frank Nienaber of Studio 4 Architects, did not respond to a request for comment.
The address on the house is 5650 Canyonwoods Drive. That street runs through the Ironwood Subdivision, which is off Molt Road just east of Phipps Diamond X Park. An extension of Canyonwoods Drive goes up to the city water tank and the site of the new house, but there is a locked gate just past the last house in the subdivision.
Denise Smith, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Billings, said she knew of the project but couldn’t say anything specific because “the homeowners are very private.”
In general terms, she said that while builders are upbeat these days in the midst of a recovering housing industry in Billings, houses being built today are generally smaller than in the recent past.
“The McMansions we used to have in the Parade of Homes 15 or 20 years ago are not continuing,” she said. Though some builders are putting up houses priced at $600,000 or $700,000, she said, most of the houses being built are in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range.
Sumner said the house going up near Ironwood is not just big by Billings standards.“Nationally, that’s a real monster,” he said. “That’s somebody who has substantial, substantial funding.”