-- When billionaire couple David and Jackie Siegel started building their Orlando-area super-mansion, a home they dubbed “Versailles” after the famous French palace, they were gunning for it to be the largest and most expensive single-family home in the United States.
But when the recession hit, the couple felt financial pressures and construction on the home came to a halt. Now, after putting their dream palace on hold for three years, the couple says their Versailles is back on track and will be finished by 2017.
“Within two years it will be finished,” David Siegel said.
“I can’t wait,” his wife added.
David Siegel is the founder and CEO of Westgate Properties, the biggest time share company in the world. He said he stopped construction on the home, which they started building in 2006, to prevent it from impacting his business.
“I stopped construction so I wouldn't take money out of the company, so I wouldn't have to lay off any people,” he told “Nightline.” “I didn't want to take any money out of the company for a house when we needed the money in the business.”
During that time, the Siegels said they cut back on expenses, including staff and shopping. They even put the home on the market for a time. The Siegels appeared in the 2012 documentary, “The Queen of Versailles,” which followed the ups and downs of the home’s construction.
“Obviously, when money was in demand, we had to cut back on our personal expenses,” David Siegel said.
The home became a sort of punchline, a symbol of the excess of the times before the housing bubble burst, with its plans for nine kitchens, spas, numerous swimming pools and more than a dozen bedrooms.
But now, the economy has recovered and the couple says construction has started up again. Jackie Siegel said they will be able to entertain 500 to 1,000 people inside their home, which will have a “commercial kitchen” and a “family kitchen,” a wine cellar, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spas, a roller skating rink and 14 bedrooms. Jackie Siegel said her bedroom closet alone exceeds 4,000 square feet.
“I have to figure out if I need to ... start knocking down walls this way, and expanding the closet,” she said. “And then as a joke, I was saying as each of the kids move out, maybe I’ll just start knocking down their bedroom walls and let the closet keep growing.”
As their Versailles mansion is being built, the Siegels and their eight children have been living in a 26,000-square-foot home with a multi-room, two-story closet. The couple also recently starred on an episode of “Celebrity Wife Swap,” where Jackie Siegel swapped with actor Jeremy London’s wife and ended up on their farm in Oklahoma.
“I was totally not prepared,” she told “Nightline.” “I mean, I packed fur coats and, like, one of my best minks, a white fur mink.”
The episode will air Wednesday on ABC.
Although other builders are in a race to build something bigger, Jackie Siegel isn’t worried about their home losing its title.
"We’re only counting the main house under one roof, which is 90,000," She said. "We are going to have other structures on the property, too, like our guardhouse and things like that.”
“Three-fourths of it is her closet, though,” David Siegel added.