Property & Construction
There are many factors inherent in the construction of any structure which can affect the cost of the structure and the time it takes to build. As a basis, we use historical figures and the rule of thumb that one medieval english pound is equal to 100 gold pieces. The time expenditure required to build a house is expressed in working days - this is the amount of time it would take 1 man to do the job. If a house has a construction time of 5,000 working days, then 10 men working on it would finish it in 500 days.
Along with materials, labor is the greatest expense in construction. The time taken to produce a construction can be expressed as a total number of working days, which the wages of the laborers can be applied to. Firstly, you must determine the number of unskilled laborers working. This will determine how long the construction takes. A construction that takes 500 working days will take 50 days with 10 laborers. For every 10 laborers working, there should be one mason or carpenter to oversee their work - the ratio of masons to carpenters should be equal to the ratio of masonry to carpentry in the structure. The number of smiths depends on the proportion of metalwork in the house - if they are only needed to provide nails and create simple metalware for the construction, as few as 1 smith per 50 men is required. The more extensive the metalwork, the more smiths that will be required. When dealing with skilled laborers hired from a guild within a city, double all prices.
|Laborer||Daily Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Wage|
|Unskilled Laborer||5 cp||1 sp||1 gp|
|Mason||5 sp||1 gp||4 gp|
|Carpenter||6 sp||1 gp||5 gp|
|Smith||6 sp||1 gp||5 gp|
The procurement of materials is one of the most difficult parts of construction; locating large quantities of stone, lumber, iron, tools and miscellaneous building materials is an expensive prospect. The costs involved here are very variable; in general, larger settlements make it easier to find materials (and reduce transport times), but will result in paying a premium for them. If you source your materials directly from quarries or far away from large settlements, the materials themselves will come cheaper, but transport costs (and the risks associated with transporting goods) will be higher, and the time taken to procure the materials will be much higher.
Stone can be procured from a quarry, or bought from a broker's warehouse. Taking it directly from the quarry will be cheaper, but you will need to handle the logistics of transporting it yourself, usually with oxcarts. Typically, limestone from a quarry costs between 15 to 25 gp per ton; buying it from a warehouse will cause it to be more expensive, perhaps as much as 40 gp per ton in a large city.
Lumber will also need to be procured; even a solid stone structure will require some lumber, but you may also reduce the amount of stone used and replace it with timber, though this results in a less durable and more flammable construction. For every 4 tons of stone it would normally require, you need only a single ton of wood. Wood can be procured in several ways. The easiest is to secure permission to log in a nearby forest (usually around 1 gp a month) - some forests, especially in wilder lands, will belong to no one and are free to deforest, though they may pose dangers of their own. You may then hire unskilled laborers (see the table above) to go logging for you - generally speaking, a single team of 4 loggers can fell 500 pounds (one-quarter ton) of lumber per day. Another day will be required to split this into timber, which can then be transported by wagon or oxcart. The other option is to buy timber from a warehouse, though warehouses that hold timber in the tons are rare. Shipyards carry large quantities of timber, however, for repairs. Either way, you will pay a premium for timber if you choose this route; usually between 10 and 15 gp per ton, depending on how close the nearest forest is.
Instead of stone, it is also possible to use wattle and daub. Wattle and daub is a framework of wood with clay, straw, mud or even dung in some cases attached to it. It is prone to leakage and requires frequent repair, especially after rains, but it is effectively free. A house built wholly or partially of wattle and daub instead of stone works as follows: it requires no stone, and instead requires 1 ton of lumber for every 10 tons of stone it would usually require. This is used to build the frame over which straw, dung or clay will be placed. If it is made with clay, it also requires as much clay as it would usually require lumber. Wattle and daub housing of mud or dung is used widely by serfs and the peasantry who can afford no better, and the slums are awash with wattle and daub houses of clay or straw. Wattle and daub houses tend to be extremely brittle and - if made of something other than clay - flammable. They have been the cause of many tragic urban fires.
Finally, in some places it is possible to build with brick instead of stone. These are made of fired clay, but are not yet ubiquitous; they are common in the western countries of Leng, and imported bricks are sporadically used in Lorknir. Dwarven stonemasons are notoriously salty about the idea of brick, stating that it is a mockery of good, solid stone, and that "a house made of clay pebbles will never withstand the test of time". They regard brickwork as a very human solution, as a brick building may not even last the entirety of a dwarf's lifetime! Where brick is available, it requires one-half as much brick as it would require stone to build with. A ton of brick is equivalent to 400 bricks on average - as long as there is a brickmaking industry in the area, bricks usually cost around 5 gold pieces per ton. If they are imported, they may cost anywhere from 10 to 30 gold pieces per ton, depending on how exotic they are!
The table below gives the requirements for constructing various types of property. As noted above, working days are "man-days" - which is to say, 1 working day is equivalent to 1 man working for 1 day. It would take a single man 900 days to build a rowhouse, but 10 men could finish it in 90, for example. The "maximum workers" column gives how many people can work on a building before any extras are simply idle hands.
|Construction Type||Construction Time||Stone Required||Timber Required||Iron Required||Maximum Workers|
|Rowhouse||900 working days||100 tons||10 tons||600 nails / 2.5 pounds||30|
|Decent Townhouse||2,000 working days||200-400 tons||10-40 tons||1,000 nails / 4.5 pounds||100|
|Merchant House||5,000 working days||500-700 tons||10-40 tons||1,500 nails / 7 pounds||150|
|Courtyard House||10,000 working days||800-1,000 tons||10-100 tons||2,000 nails / 9 pounds||200|
|Great Manse||25,000 working days||1,200-1,400 tons||10-150 tons||3,000 nails / 13 pounds||350|
|Tower, Lesser||10,000 working days||800-1,000 tons||5-50 tons||2,800 nails / 12 pounds||80|
|Tower, Greater||30,000 working days||1,000-2,000 tons||10-100 tons||3,000 nails / 13 pounds||150|
|Tower, Monumental||65,000 working days||2,000-4,000 tons||25-250 tons||3,400 nails / 15 pounds||200|
|Cellar||500 working days||20 tons||1 ton||200 nails / 1 pound||30|
|Large Basement||2,000 working days||50-100 tons||5 tons||350 nails / 1.5 pounds||50|
|Dungeon||5,000-15,000 working days||100-500 tons||10 tons||800 nails / 3.5 pounds||100-200|
|Keep||40,000 working days||2,000-3,000 tons||50-500 tons||5,000 nails / 22 pounds||200|
|Castle or Palace||100,000 to 250,000 working days||30,000-200,000 tons||1,000-20,000 tons||10,000-200,000 nails / 44-882 pounds||300-500|
|Cathedral||150,000 working days||50,000-100,000 tons||2,000-10,000 tons||20,000-100,000 nails / 88-440 pounds||500|
When working on large projects, the process of procurement and construction can take unreasonably long. A large palace, for example, even with 100 men working on it, could take as long as 7 years to construct! You can always throw more labor into the process to speed it up, of course, but there is a limit to how much you can achieve simply by adding more labor - as noted in the table above. If you wish to expedite construction still further, or if more laborers are not in ready supply, you must seek other avenues.
Skilled laborers can be used to improve the speed at which construction continues. For example, when digging a basement or dungeon, dwarven or goblin miners can be used to tunnel your subterranean passages. Miners of this kind are worth double the value of normal laborers - each of them is worth 2 working days each, rather than 1. Likewise, employing exceptionally strong creatures such as bugbears to work on structures aboveground can have a similar effect, as long as they are kept in line. A massive creature like a hill giant may be worth 5 or even 10 ordinary men!
Money can be poured not just into the laborers themselves, but also the skilled craftsmen who supervise them. Normally, one mason or carpenter is needed for every 10 laborers working. An exceptionally skilled mason or carpenter can do more than simply allow laborers to work effectively, however. Highly-qualified masons and carpenters - such as those hired from large guilds at higher prices, dwarven stonemasons, or elvish woodworkers - may be able to add 1 or even 2 working days' worth of efficiency to each of the laborers they supervise.
Finally, when working on large constructions - anything bigger than a merchant house - the services of a skilled engineer can be extremely valuable. These cunning sorts can construct cranes, use levers and fulcrums to great effect, and distribute architectural work efficiently so that construction proceeds as smoothly as possible. Depending on the skill and ingenuity of the engineer hired, the DM can choose to knock off an arbitrary number of working days from the total construction time. Skilled engineers rarely come cheap, however - they are usually paid by contract, not by the day. They may demand anywhere from 300 to 3,000 gold pieces for their services, depending on the scale of the project, the level of their involvement and the fame of the engineer.