'Wrong' to start a 'post hideous McMansions pics' thread? ;')

fixizinAugust 29, 2010

Is this the right forum for a McMansion Hall of Shame?

You know, post links to pic hosting sites, with headings such as "Don't Let This Happen to YOU"... lol.

Out of boredom, I've extended my nocturnal inline skating into new neighborhoods, only to be shocked--shocked I tell you--by the phenomenally ugly and out of scale monstrosities that were erected during the recent bubble. I make a note to return during daylight hours for photo-archival purposes... there really is something historic about all this... excess, eh?

"I'd a thunk" that our strict hurricane codes would somewhat limit how outlandish a structure could get, but alas, with enough concrete, rebar, bribes, and BAD TASTE, it appears the supposed "limit" is WAY out there!

Some of the worst are where 2 or even 3 normal house lots are scraped off to build one mega-death-star look-at-me "dwelling". The dark humor is often compounded by the inclusion of a tennis court WITH INADEQUATE LENGTH BEYOND THE BASELINE! i.e. you can scrape off 2 or 3 lots, but if each lot is only (buildable) 100' deep, that leaves you 10' short on each end of the court! No problem if playing with toddlers. I think the courts are just status props anyway, totally unused, otherwise I'd be seeing pompous peeps with chain-link-pattern bruising from smacking into the fence all the time, LOL.

SO... would such a thread be a valuable cautionary tale, and possible spur to become politically active, or... something less noble... a guilty pleasure, if you will? What say ye?


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Sounds like a good plan to me :) I wish my camera wasn't broken...

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 1:21AM
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My former boss had one built in CO during the peak of the housing boom. I don't have a picture of it (and wouldn't it post it, since I know him) so a description will have to do. The neighborhood consists of big boxes stuck on tiny lots. No trees- there wouldn't be room for them anyhow. Picture a 2 story box with no overhangs, few windows, and the windows are very small. Stuck on the front is a tiny porch- really just a cover for the entry door- with two fat columns holding it up. The subdivision is described as 'custom Craftsman-style homes from the $500's'. I guess the two fat columns make it 'Craftsman style'. Whoever designed these homes could NOT have ever seen a Craftsman home!

I guess building to a zero lot line is 'green', since it uses less land, but why build so big in the first place? His house is 3000 sq ft, plus a finished basement, so it's 4500 sq ft- for 3 people. That's 3 times the size of our more-than-adequate home. He showed me pictures during construction, and everything is code minimum. Stick construction with fiberglass batts for insulation- nothing else added. With the technology available today, there's no excuse for building such an energy-inefficient home- especially at that price point.

The interior is generic and sterile. It's got the obligatory granite-and-stainless kitchen. The 10' ceilings look odd with windows scaled for 8' ceilings. And popcorn ceilings! In a $600K house??

The sad thing to me is that this is what's passing for a custom home these days. Like many other facets of our society, housing is getting increasingly generic and uninteresting.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:32AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Used to be, if you needed company, exercise, or fresh air, you went outside--talked to neighbors, took a walk (went inline skating :o), sat on the porch.

It seems that many of us have traded those 'old-fashioned' activities for the latest media equipment, memberships in air-conditioned gyms, and longer work hours to pay for it all. I'm including myself when I say 'we' can interact with any number of people, find any info we need, see pictures of (insert whatever you look at on line), all within the walls of our own air-conditioned homes.

Kids these days (LOL, I sound like my grandpa) would rather spend time playing electronic games on THEIR OWN computers and watching THEIR OWN TVs, than playing basketball in the driveway. They surely do not want to mow grass and rake leaves.

If no one plans to use a yard, why not incorporate that space into your home?

That's not my life-style or mind-set, but I can see it becoming more common. It must be--what else can you do when you live in a house with no yard?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:28AM
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This is the same thing Sarah Susanka was talking about in the Not So Big House. Almost everyone who builds a house, has a limited budget. Therefore, you have a trade off between square footage and detail in your home. You can max your budget out on boxy square footage, or you can put in custom details and built-ins, trim work etc. with less square footage.

Most people in the small house forum would probably rather have a smaller home with better quality craftsmanship and detail work than a large box...or spend the extra money on a larger lot.

As for kids not playing outside...that's easy. Don't buy them their own computer, don't buy them their own TV and don't let them be on the Internet unsupervised. Take the video games away (if they have any) and toss them out in the backyard, when the weather is nice. Tell them is they want anything special, they'll have to earn some money and show them where the rake and the snow shovel are kept :)

My friend has two boys and that's been the way he and his wife have dealt with things, from the time the boys were very young.

They live in a fairly safe, blue collar neighborhood and know most of their neighbors, so when the boys were old enough, they started shoveling snow for a little extra money....but they had to do the three or four houses with elderly people FIRST and for FREE, then they could charge a few dollars for shoveling other peoples' walks. Their dad said "these people were there keeping on eye on you and watching out for you when you were little...it's time you returned the favor...and it's the right thing to do."

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 10:49AM
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lavender lass, I like your friend's parenting! I "hired" a neighborhood boy to move some bricks and fill in some holes for me. It was going to take about 2 hours. I told him I'd pay him $20. He came over this weekend about 11:45 and worked about 30 minutes and said it was getting too hot to do anymore, and went home.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 11:50AM
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lavendar_lass, here here! I wish EVERYONE would raise their children that way...I was raised completely computer and TV free, movie nights were a huge deal, I made $1/week until high school as my allowance (which I wouldn't get unless I'd done my chores) and I had to use my imagination for everything (which plays a huge role in my creative process today). I have to admit, I would find it hard now to live without the internet (there is just a WEALTH of knowledge on here) but sometimes I wish I didn't have a TV anymore...

I think kids today that are spoiled and bratty often don't have any sense of accomplishment or joy because they don't create anything, they never have to problem solve or think for themselves without direct input from outside sources (video games, TV, internet etc.).

Sorry, just realized that was a bit of a tangent :) but McMansions certainly haven't helped with kids re-discovering the outside. ;) I could go on and on about children being CHILDREN, having an imagination and playing OUTSIDE!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:41PM
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I think the record holder for the most interest in the McMansion thingy is the Home Decorating forum. They have a whole lot more replies to that thread than we do.

We keep it pretty simple over here. IMHO anyway.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 3:57PM
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"Whoever designed these homes could NOT have ever seen a Craftsman home! "

doesn't Sandy know that person?

I agree on the kid raising. I wouldn't let my kids charge elderly people either. OUr neighbor used to plow our drive out for free when the kids were younger (a very, very long winding drive). since dd has lived back in that area she makes her dh plow out that guy's driveway now (he's elderly and in bad health).

flgargoyle - I could take some pics that'd probably pass for his house... we have lots like that out here.

I know lots of people don't want yard work anymore - they're too busy working or running kids in all directions.

I limited my kids on those activities. They could each do 1 thing at a time. that still kept me on the road most of the time! it's just too much to do. with all the conveniences we have you'd think we'd have more time these days. I guess we just cram to much into it tho.

my sister is always telling me to get stronger pain pills so I can do more. I don't want stronger pills - and I'm fairly content just puttering around on my land. that's why i bought it.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 7:19PM
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By Jay,"The interior is generic and sterile. It's got the obligatory granite-and-stainless kitchen. The 10' ceilings look odd with windows scaled for 8' ceilings. "

OH Never thought about how such a high ceiling would look odd with the standard windows. Of course. And now a days there it a height limit up from the floor a window sill can be. Interesting to think about Jay.

Now I will say my husband and I have discussed a silly dream about having a HUGE covered area with house and garage on either side. An area we did not have to really worry about weather. Where we could garden year round. Not really enclosed . Well the whole thing does not work in our area. I know to you all it probably sounds so weird. I do think these conversations come up in the middle of winter when there is three or four foot of snow on the ground on the flat and we are feeling the need to get out and move around. OK So maybe call it cabin fever.

AND when we had the hot spring there were green houses down by the main hot spring that were 60 foot wide by 90 foot long. So I guess this is what got us talking about the impossible enclosure. The hot water heated the green houses and air kept them ??Standing and the heat melted the snow so they did not cave in.

Actually there is an old almost totally closed up mall in Ontario,Oregon we can go to and walk all we want in the foyer. Many people do so.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 7:42PM
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When I think about McMansions, I can't help but think about the grand daddy of all McMansions.....Biltmore Estate in Ashville, SC. Think about it. The largest private residence ever built. And how did that turn out? The original owner passed it down to his daughter and it almost immediately fell into dis-repair. It probably would have never survived if not for the efforts of the daughter's husband, a Brit at that! The only way it was saved was by turning it into a tourist attraction. Proving that big is nearly impossible to sustain, even for the wealthiest. Just a thought.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:51PM
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Shades, I understand where you are coming from about wanting to be outside during your long cold winters.

One thing I really liked about my visit (about 10 weeks years ago) was the underground buildings. They had a student union building at U of Mn that was underground. Then they were featuring such architecture and city planning in the school of architecture too. Boy it was interesting.

And there is a great advantage to geothermal energy, because it is the best chance of allowing you to do the things you describe. It is still fascinating to me. And why could you not do it....not an impossible thing to do.
Like my living roof and living walls. They will help keep the HEAT down here. Keep on thinking about it.

Thinking is a creative act. Love it!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:55PM
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@flgargoyle... a description will have to do. The neighborhood consists of big boxes stuck on tiny lots. No trees- there wouldn't be room for them anyhow. Picture a 2 story box with no overhangs, few windows, and the windows are very small. Stuck on the front is a tiny porch- really just a cover for the entry door- with two fat columns holding it up.
The interior is generic and sterile. It's got the obligatory granite-and-stainless kitchen. The 10' ceilings look odd with windows scaled for 8' ceilings.

NO need to post pics! You describe very well a CONTAGION I've seen in many metro areas west of the Mississippi... only the roofing color varies.

Having lived in Boulder, CO, and surrounds, I know that kind of schlock would NOT be permitted in City of Boulder proper, and there's no room in smaller-than-you'd-think Denver proper, but I'd be curious as to what outlying 'burb or unincorporated area it's in.

Truly it reflects a complete lack of sensible ordnances and codes, not to mention a complete lack of neighborhood pride and identity. Hopefully the alarming rate at which a lot of these developments turn to BLIGHT will give some local PTBs the spine to say "NO" in the future. I find it useful to show up at commission meetings and urge them in the right direction... and I find it SUPER-useful to invite at least one newspaper or TV reporter to the affair. ;')

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 11:56AM
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Fix, if you have been in the CO area during the 70s, remember the amount of homes built that ended up the "blight" as you mentioned? Aurora became a less than favorable place to live and at the time had the best mall around. It will be interesting what happens to all the large homes in so many housing areas built the last 10 years. Those are the ones which see a higher foreclosure. This is also a repeat of ovnput type=text name="realname" size=30>

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