Just in case there was any doubt, it's now official: home detention favours the wealthy.
While presumably most convicts on "Home D" are confined to a humble residence, it looks like one director of a failed finance company might be doing her time in a most luxurious dwelling which is said to boast a theatre, wine cellar, library and 15-metre pool. Nice.
As revealed in Mansion's size hurdle for home jail, the "$6.8 million Remuera mansion ... is so big that probation staff were unsure if the whole house could be electronically monitored". The story descended into farce when it was reported that "[f]ailed finance company's director tells court she can stick to just half her house if it's too big for home detention". I bet she could. Surely anyone would agree to stay in half their home if the alternative was getting roughed up by brutal guards and fending off the attention of lascivious cellmates (unless, of course, actual prison life differs from that portrayed in the movies).
But what (apart from the prospect of a comfortable home detention sentence) exactly is the motivation for including multiple features such as gymnasiums, theatres, tennis courts and putting greens in high-end residences?
Perhaps agoraphobia sometimes influences the design; maybe the inhabitants are fearful of venturing out and must enjoy recreational activities in the privacy of their own home.
Or perhaps the occupants have been relocated as part of a witness protection programme and need to stay home for their personal safety. Or perhaps they include such features just because they can; it might be a branding statement intended to set themselves apart from the riffraff.
Regardless, many people sense that once a house crosses an invisible line - related to its size, lavishness and the number of single-purpose rooms it boasts - it morphs from a home to an inhospitable showpiece. If a room is so specialised that it is seldom used then it is surely more a status symbol than a functional part of the house.
So what fancy features might be included in order to keep up with the Joneses, and would they make it into my dream home?
Gym: The closest I get to any gym is when I walk past Les Mills' Britomart branch on a Friday night. There's a particular point where all the pent-up fumes escape outside. The smell is a peculiar and off-putting blend of rubber, sweat, body odour, desperation and loneliness. I have no idea why you'd want to recreate this stench in your own home.
Do I want one? No. A gym would never be in my dream home.
Media room: Also known as a home theatre, these rooms are often in the basement of a house - possibly adjacent to the four-car garage. With a large screen, projector and surround sound, a media room would be a boon if you were having a lot of friends over for a movie marathon or to watch a big sporting event. But for day-to-day viewing nothing beats a cosy TV room with a comfortable sofa and close proximity to the kitchen for fast cups of tea in the advertisement breaks.
Conclusion: No. I'll stick with my little TV room.
Mud room: Mainly found in country residences, this often serves as the primary entrance for family members. Here coats and gumboots are shed, school bags stowed and dogs fed. A well-appointed mud room has a flagstone floor and contains a notice-board, an antique wooden bench, custom-built lockers - and a hook for hanging the keys to the Range Rover.
Conclusion: Yes. I secretly hanker after a mud room.
Panic room: Designed to protect the home's inhabitants from harm, such supposedly impenetrable little bunkers were made famous in the Jodie Foster movie. Kim Dotcom is also said to have taken refuge in one during the raid at his Coatesville mansion.
Conclusion: Possibly, but just for novelty value.
Present wrapping room: A. Room. Just. For. Wrapping. Presents. Yes, really.
Scullery: Today's scullery is effectively a second kitchen (located behind the main one) where all the actual food preparation and cooking is done. This means your main kitchen is free from mess when guests arrive. Installing one gorgeous kitchen just for show while doing all the work in the smaller one out the back may defy logic nonetheless there are homeowners who subscribe to this trend.
Conclusion: Possibly but only if a chef came with it.
Wine cellar: You commonly see these wedged between the media room and the garage. Judging by the photographs on real estate websites, I suspect they're usually included just to keep ahead of the neighbours; all too often there are only three sad bottles stored in a cellar that can accommodate hundreds.
Conclusion: Possibly, as long as I was into wine and over half the spaces were filled.
Now your turn: What luxurious room do you secretly covet and which one is a step too far?