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Since I began playing D&D I have had the idea to hire dwarven miners to build a home into a cliff face. I am not expecting it to be huge and extravagant, but it needs to be big enough for 4 people, one of whom has a large beast companion.

Looking at How long does it take to mine rock?, I think this would only take 100 to 150 hours of manpower (dwarfpower?), but I don’t know how to get a cost for that.

This is just something I would be looking to do in the future, but if the cost is less than I expected I’m going to build it now.

This is different from How much does a house cost?, as this is not a normal house. I figure that almost the entire cost of building is in labour and a small amount in furnishings, rather than materials. I also believe a cliff mined house would allow me to avoid many of the extra costs which would affect a normal house.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: How long does it take to mine rock? \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 14 at 9:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Even on this I’m unsure. I’m quite new to dnd so I was thinking that maybe there would be something that would have a large impact on time needed. I immediately would imagine dwarves as I’ve always been a fan of fictions and dwarves are always very skilled in this area \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Apr 14 at 9:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ no worries, linking related questions in comments is as much for the benefit of answerers and future readers who are looking for information. If that link answers the question for you, then this can be closed as a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 14 at 9:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of How much does a house cost? \$\endgroup\$ – Quentin Apr 14 at 10:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ive looked at the question you pointed to and whilst it explains cost in a more normal house the idea i have in mind is quite different as it would possibly be able to avoid many cost in being hidden away in a mountainside. This would also reduce material costs and could even reduce costs of furtnishings. Therefore I believe that this question is not a duplicate and that if an answer is given i should leave it open. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Apr 14 at 10:30
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First we need to figure out how much we need to dig. To cut costs a little, let's say each person needs the same amount of space as an average person in Hong Kong; 161 square feet. Let's also say (to make the math easier) you have 10 feet heights and that the beast companion just takes up the same amount of space as another person. This means our (fairly small house) needs \$ 161 \times 10 \times 5 = 8050\$ cubic feet carved out.

From the answer to this question we get that properly equipped dwarves can each mine 70 to 35 cubic feet per hour, depending on the hardness of the stone. If we assume hard stone (better structural stability and accounting for structures (like rooms, stairs etc.) they need to make) our small house needs \$8050 / 35 = 230\$ dwarven work hours to excavate.

The services table of page 159 of the Player's Handbook lists the wage of a skilled hireling at 2 gold per day, and assuming 8 work hours per day the cost of excavating the house becomes \$2\times230/8 = 57.5 \approx 58\$ gold.

Now you may wish to have more space than this, and perhaps dwarves in your world take higher rates or are unionized and only work 6 hour days. The general equation takes the form: $$ \mathrm{cost = \frac{wage}{work day}\times\frac{\text{space per person}\times\text{height}\times\text{number of people}}{\text{excavation rate}}} $$

You (or your DM) may wish to also account for smoothing the walls and so on, which might reasonably be accounted for as a doubling to the work amount (or halving the excavation rate).

You will also need to pay for furnishings and so on, which will be difficult to account for, and will likely depend of your standard. See the tables in chapter 5 of the Player's Handbook particularly adventuring gear and trade goods.

This should go without saying, but your DM has every right to set the cost higher than this. There are concerns not addressed here and the final say fall to your DM.


The closest I can find in the books to doing something like this is from Building a Stronghold in the DMG (p. 128) which puts a Town Hall or Trading post at 5,000 gp and 60 days. How exactly this translates into carving a house out of a cliff is difficult to say, but 2,000 gp and 30 days might be a good estimate for a decently sized home. (Cost and time does not scale linearly in the table.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks so much for this. Originally I assumed the size would be smaller as we would spend a lot of time away from the home however the formula still applies so thanks again. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Apr 14 at 10:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a relevant side-quest+reward in *Storm King's Thunder" that could serve as another touchstone, if you have it and are interested in comparing. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 14 at 13:39

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