The significant financial outlays required for building a villa or fitting out an estate were justified by a large-scale project, but also by the bringing together of high-level technical talents. Building the residence required multiple skills, from the masonry shell to the plastering and beams, not forgetting the plumbing, heating and the decorating finishing work.
Hydraulic skills were required to supply the house with pressurised water, carried by an aqueduct from a distant river or spring. In addition to supplying the daily needs of both men and animals, and adding charm to the owner's residence, water was also used to power mills. Increasingly frequent discoveries reveal that water-driven mills for grinding grain may have competed with animal-powered mills. Water was raised using piston pumps and water wheels.
Pumps were used to extract the huge volumes of wine from dolia. Specialised woodworking skills were needed to ensure that lever- or screw-operated wine presses could withstand the pressure. The vallus, or reaping machine, that was used on the great estates in northern Gaul meant the harvest could be brought in faster with less manpower.