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Good riddance McMansions!

Posted by natal (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 20, 10 at 12:18

Now if the neighbor on the corner would just finish his ... a 5,000 sf beast for a single man.

Death of the 'McMansion': Era of Huge Homes Is Over


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I read something a few years ago, prior to the bust, that families were shocked at the extremely high cost to maintain and heat these places. Many years ago my aunt & uncle built a 4400SF home when their kids were home. They've been empty nesters for over a decade and live in just 3 rooms of their huge place. Once they thought they'd leave it to the kids, but their kids have all moved on, have their own homes in other states and don't want the place! My aunt said it's only good for when the kids & grandkids come over, maybe once a year.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Personally I don't think that size was the issue as much as style. 1400 homes crammed into a small area with no land to break the places up, bad design, etc, was the problem more than anything. Add to that cheap construction and you have a home that isn't all it's cracked up to be.

But I don't pick on anyone's home, given mine was the mcmansion of it's time. Sure construction techniques were far superior, and it does have style, but it also has mcmansion issues...eats up literally every inch of it's lot, is taller than currently allowed, boasts the ultimate boasting room of it's time (phone nook) and blocks the view of the older homes behind it. I wonder what the simple victorians behind me thought when this box went in, complete with a five story water tower behind it? Probably much of what was said in that article about big homes :)

There are three of us here and we use every square inch of our home. Perhaps not all of the bathrooms to be fair...but pretty much every other room is entered and used daily.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Igloo, I think the negative factors include both size and style. Hard to believe the three of you actually "live" in all that space. We (two of us) went from 1150 sf to 1700 sf and I'm amazed at how we actually "live" in less space now than before adding on. With the right configuration less is definitely more.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

We live in a 1750 sq ft home built in 1910, and it's just the right size for us. It has three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, family room, kitchen, and dining. In the front of the home is a formal living room/Parlor. We are decorating it to be very old-fashioned and true to its time. We are looking for old Victorian/turn of the century furniture, etc.

I'd really be happy with just this same amount of space on any new build we'd ever consider. 2000 sq ft. max. We regularly use all of our rooms except the formal living room. It's just for "show" and looking at, although I do sit in it sometimes to read or go on my laptop. It makes me happy that I can have one room that is true to the house's history, though. It's a room we could live without, but wouldn't *want* to live without. I think there is something to be said about formal living rooms/parlors.

And that is true, big queen anne victorians from the turn of the century were the mcmansions of the day. When you look at a Queen Anne, it has a lot of the same "criticisms" of today's mcmansions...an eclectic, disjointed style, large and overpowering, etc.

I get upset enough when I look at my gas bill in the winter in this house. I can't imagine heating a 4400 sq ft house!!! I think i'd have a heart attack every month!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I always wondered if people liked their home being called a McMansion or found the term derogatory.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I'm in a Boston suburb where we have one acre minimum zoning laws. Many of the cute capes/ranches that were built in the 50's are being torn down and replaced by homes that are huge. Part of the problem here, and I'm sure it's true in many parts of the country, is simply that the land alone is worth $500,000 or more. There are no areas of available land (much of it is targeted as conservation land, thankfully, so is unbuildable) which means a contractor's only choice is to tear down to build a new home.

I have seen a slowdown in teardowns as well as a trend where the large houses are staying on the market longer(and selling for less than they were a few years ago).

My father grew up in a very large colonial home. Many of the homes in this area built in the 1800's are quite large. The difference is that they have a classic style and are not full of gables, dormers and extreme rooflines. Their windows are rather uniform (12/12 panes is typical in New England) and there is a great deal of symmetry....think center entrance colonial.

Personally, I find our 2500 square foot house to be just right. It was great for raising our family and it's great for just the two of us. My guess is we'll live here well into retirement. We're very green and have done everythig possible to cut energy consumption. Luckily the house was built with zone heating back in the 60's, otherwise we'd be doing that.

The recent recession was a reality check for many people who were living beyond their means and/or thinking the gravy train would last forever.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I always wondered if people liked their home being called a McMansion or found the term derogatory.

I'm sure they do find it derogatory, but counter with it being a term applied by those who are simply jealous. They needed the space, can afford it, love the style...

We love style, too - Romanesque, Tudor, Jacobean, French chateau, Colonial, Victorian Gothic. Just not on one house!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

My ex known by Mr. Duvall built a 6,000 square foot home in an upscale suburb of Atlanta and is dying to unload it, good luck Mother Forker. No telling what is cost to heat and cool that monster.

While "My favorite Martian" (my date tonight) built a 2,000 sq. foot hybrid home on the highest point mountain range in Alabama including windmill and original Otis elevator plan (which he built himself) has virtually no heating and cooling bills. It's not my style, all glass practically and very tradional inside, but done beautifully.

At any rate, what happened to our neighborhoods when we were kids in the fifty's? Every house was different and not so weird or big? Do people not live there anymore or do you have to take a helicoper in because of crime?

....Jane


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RE: Good riddance McMansions! 2

Meanwhile, I live in a 1895 Victorian that cost the price of a Harvard education to heat. (lol)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Jane(newdawn1895), i'm in tears from cracking up at your post!!! That is too funny!!
Igloo, I'll live in your mcmansion at any price!! When I grow up, I want to have a home like yours!!(currently in my mid 30s...)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

The difference between the Victorian house and the McMansion was that the former was generally full of people. My grandmother lived in a huge house, but there were ten in her immediate family and various grandmothers and maiden aunts were in residence as well as a housekeeper at any given point. My mother lived in a 14 room house that held her 8 siblings the same elderly relatives, two cousins and my grandfathers offices.

Contrast this to a friend of mine who was told by a "helpful" homeowner in the development where she was looking at a five bedroom house 4000 sq house "You have three kids, this house is way too small for you" Apparently a family of five needs 8-10 bedrooms 8-[


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Here in Southern California, a good number of the newly built McMansions were snapped up by people who had many generations living in the house. I know up near San Jose, tech types who'd immigrated from India often had lots of family members in one house. Contrary to popular opinion, a larger house isn't more expensive to build than a smaller one, but of course, that depends on the finishes, materials, etc.

What I don't understand is having a huge house jammed next to another one and so on. If I'm going to have a big house, I don't want to see into my neighbor's bathroom.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

When we had all the kids at home, plus one extra (5 teens!!), we lived in a 4 bedroom, ONE bath 1100 SF house. It was cramped, hot as all get out in the summer, and I had no place I could go hide. But we managed to raise the kids, and all their friends it seemed.

Sure, there were times I'd longer for a bigger place, and later, when we were down to 2 kids at home we sold that place and got the one we're in now...ironically it's 1.5 times the size, but I still think of the tiny house as home.

I grew up in a So Cal in a very large house, and my grandparents place, across the street, was even bigger...I guess the McMansions of their time, HUGE California ranch style, and everyone had a swimming pool & central air. They were real showplaces of their era. And it's funny, my aunt & uncles all bought tiny homes of their own later. (The Aunt with the huge place lives in Iowa).

I certainly don't begrudge someone living in a home they love, regardless of the size. Just those places aren't my cuppa. Sadly I've had to deal with more homeowners who were sold a dream by the developers and find that the gorgeous views they purchased were shot down as soon as the other homes were built blocking their views. The erosion issues; the traffic issues; the shoddy materials; no soundproofing...yada yada. I feel so sorry for them. And those were the lucky ones. There are so many that bought a spec home in newly developed McMansion subdivisions only to find they're the only ones in the subdivision and the developer has long gone bankrupt, leaving them with weedy lots and vandalized places (and worthless property) that are now being used as drug houses. The amenities they bought will never show up and they're stuck fighting the bills that the HOA is now responsible for because the developer left them holding the bag. (Sorry, work related soap box rant).


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Idee: " If I'm going to have a big house, I don't want to see into my neighbor's bathroom." You live in So Ca.? If one is particular about the neighborhood, work commute time and schools, and has less than huge bucks...well then, be prepared to, potentially, see into your neighbor's home. A friend moved from her sweet little 60's ranch with, 1/2 acre lot, to a larger home with a very small yard. Why? the old home's neighborhood was beginning to look seedy, and the local school not so hot.With another child coming, they needed to move from 1400 to 2600 sq ft.
Distances between homes, in even older expensive neighborhoods, are typically under 30 feet. Here, I can understand it. What throws me is seeing this in new developments in other, less populated, parts of the country where land values cannot be great enough to demand such tight clustering of homes.
It seems to me that the super-sizing trend in everything is fading away: cars, furniture( thank heavens...RH, get a clue!), and homes. Hopefully, food will be next! I do not think new home lots will become larger, though the homes may be smaller.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Interesting thread here. Pesky, great post and insights into the times.

I found this definition of a McMansion:
"McMansion" is a derogatory term for a large, showy Neoeclectic home, usually built without the guidance of an architect."

In some places, they're also referred to as "Hummer Houses", "Garage Mahals" and "Starter Castles". In general, these terms seem to refer to 4,000 - 10,000 square foot homes, especially on small lots, built near to one another.

Now, I don't want to live in a glass house and throw stones, as my house is not necessarily architecturally true in a pure sense to a particular style. We have just over 2,800 square feet on 3 acres of land, so I'm hoping my home doesn't fit into the "McMansion" category, because it is a derogatory classification. I have tried to make it unique and special with details inside.

I understand the concerns about the monstrous appearance and assembly-line construction methods with these homes. I agree that they embody society's relentless obsession with bigger, better, more, and status. I do think they look odd on such small lots.

However, as the mom of two special needs kids, I will say that for my family, space is really important. We are at home a lot of the time, as going out together or traveling are difficult with autism, behavior issues, and special needs. We have in-home therapists here every day, and we need a room just for our son's therapy time. So, while style and architectural appeal are certainly important, space is equally so for us. Each family is different. Some families are fine with small homes, and others may enjoy larger spaces.

Jan


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I don't think size is the main criterion for a McMansion. Its more about the idea that the houses are basically a large fairly featureless box with a facade tacked on the front. The facade is usually an architectural b@st@rd that is pumped up to look even more imposing and bigger than it is, and the interior tends to be a series of drywall boxes with no better detailing than a smaller tract house.

I work for someone who lives in a 10,000 sq ft house with about 8 bathrooms or powderrooms, and countless other rooms. Its ostentatious, its obnoxious, but the level of interior detail and the architectural consistency of all the facades keep it from being a McMansion.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Jan, we are in a similar situation. We have a son with autism and a dedicated therapy room. We also spend alot of time at home and anticipate that our son will live with us forever. We don't have a mc mansion but the home is large(3800 sq ft). We use every inch every day except the guest suite. All of our family is out of town so even the guest suite is used regularly.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

This is what I think of re McMansions: there is a house near me that all told has more than 25000 sq ft (including guest house, pool house, etc). It originally went on market for $15mil, sold a few years ago for $12mil, now it's for sale again for $9or 10mil. It is big enough for mansion status, obviously, but it's just ... big. The kitchen:

I mean, it's a fine enough kitchen, I guess, sorta dull. But in a new multimillion dollar house?? Really?? (And that is the main kitchen, there is also a guest house kitchen that actually looks about the same, just smaller.)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

"I work for someone who lives in a 10,000 sq ft house with about 8 bathrooms or powderrooms, and countless other rooms. Its ostentatious, its obnoxious, but the level of interior detail and the architectural consistency of all the facades keep it from being a McMansion."

Palimpsest, I may regret asking, but is the house you mentioned "obnoxious" because of its size and number of bathrooms, or is there some other reason since you say its finishes save it from the dreaded McMansion label?

Jan, this is new to me: "In some places, they're also referred to as "Hummer Houses", "Garage Mahals" and "Starter Castles". In general, these terms seem to refer to 4,000 - 10,000 square foot homes, especially on small lots, built near to one another."

Are there "Move-up Castles" for the upwardly mobile, maybe 11,000 - 14,000 SF on 2+ acres? ; )

I get the feeling that I'm the only one who ever fantasized about living in Biltmore House. Didn't anyone else ever wonder what it would be like to have your own bowling lanes in the basement and an indoor pool? The library there is amazing, too. For me, the biggest downside would be needing live-in staff for a place that large. I had to hire a cleaning service a couple of years ago due to medical problems but dropped it as soon as I was mobile. Now I need help again, and it bugs me to have strangers in my home even just every other week. Guess I'd make a terrible Lady of the Manor.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

There are other reasons, much of which have to do with that it is a house to show people, full of all the touchstones that say "I can buy lots of amenities". Its not the kind of house that someone who could afford a beautifully detailed high quality 10,000 sq foot house would build. Its the kind of 10k sq ft house that someone who could afford to build a spectacular, tasteful 4000 sq foot house builds. Its not an overgrown tract house like a McM., but neither is it a great house. I have nothing against Subzeros, I have one myself, but 7 is pushing it.


The Vanderbilts could afford Biltmore when they built it. Thats a different species altogether. There is not a thing the matter with that. But you notice there isn't a Vanderbilt trying to live in it now.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Maybe this is what Pesky read a few years back; it's 5 years old and shows that the trend was slowing even before the recession.

Here is a link that might be useful: Are McMansions Going Out of Style?


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

This is an interesting read. We have TONS of these McMansions built all over our area, Most all of these developments have experienced a much higher default rate than the older mature neighborhoods surrounding them. The builders offered tricky financing programs and the buyers were spending more than they could afford. And yes, many of the developments are not fully developed leaving the buyers holding the bag. It's annoying because in the end we're all paying the price for it when a lot of us made better choices.

When we bought in 2006, we qualified for A LOT more house than we bought. Our home is also in the 1700 sf range and it's plenty for our lifestyle. If we ever find we need more space, we can finish out the basement. Built in the 80's, the room sizes are ample, the lot size a comfortable half acre size. We have privacy and nice views.

IMHO having a life style where choices are made out of need as opposed to want is long over due. Painful but true. :c)

Jan in Wisconsin I don't think you should have to feel the need to justify your choices. Yours is a perfect example of need vs want. I think there is a huge difference between having a home that you love and that meets your needs regardless of its size and having an over sized home just so you can say you have it. It sounds beautiful!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

If the trend for McMansions is slowing, I don't see it here in my Westchester, NY neighborhood. The new houses built here are all look beautiful and I am not sure what the big box style means. But, what I object to is that I bought into a neighborhood with similar split level homes. In the past ten years, as these are being sold, more often than not, they are being torn down and a house triple it's size goes up. The whole feel of the neighborhood has changed. The new owners are in a different economic status and to be honest have a different life style than the more middle class original owners. So, although I feel everyone is entitled to the size of house they need or want, it is sad when it effects someone else.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

lukkiirish - You were smart to buy a house that is well within your means. The McMansion problems probably arose because people were tempted to live beyond their means. Television, internet, and other media are filled with celebrity lifestyle content.

Yes, in the absence of any other concerns, I would have actually opted for a smaller home with more details and extras, but that wasn't the only concern for our family.

Thanks,

Jan


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

OK just to be devils advocate....look at this box. Yes it's a victorian (which were held in great disdain by their predicessors for their obnoxious style or lack there of, and the over use of details like collums, bay windows, turrets etc). They were tacky...large....ate up every inch of their land, and had no "reasonable" reason to be so big aside from to show off you were a rich guy :)

See how close the sidewalk is to my house? And the part near the yard is actually sitting on the lot line. We had to buy the lot next to it or there would be no land for play at all because it's such a big box (with two other boxes behind it as out buildings). And it was built for two people (husband and wife) to retire in, alone, not with their kids (who had other mcmansions nearby). 2 people, 8000 sq ft, and possibly 3 bathrooms as well as some 15 fireplaces.

Arcitecturally I think there are many prettier homes. It's a huge box. A very well planned huge box, but none the less, a box with few of the wonderful features people like in a victorian now a days. My box has taught me not to throw stones :) If you like a 3 story entry or porch facade...more power to you! And the new ones are probably a lot cheaper to heat than this one LOL

Photobucket

Someday someone might want to save a "mcmansion" from the turn of the century (the twentieth century that is) and someone else will be saying...oh how nice, they're saving that period building. I wish they built them that way now a days....you never know :)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Igloo, somehow I seriously doubt it.

Btw, how expensive is it to heat? Do you have a/c? That's the big expense down here.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

igloochick's argument makes sense to me. I still can't quite grasp what exactly a McMansion is and what they have to do with McDonalds, which is where, presumably this ridiculous term came from. If someone could put up more examples of exactly what they are talking about, it would help considerably.

What about the row houses in Great Britain? Is that what we should aspire to? At least less land space would be consumed by people. How much space do we really need?

I wonder with this term, if it can not be clearly defined. If someone can afford it and afford to heat it what's the problem?

In the end why should I be judging what's appropriate for my neighbor as long as they can afford it and its upkeep?


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Doonie, I think the name comes from the whole super-size mentality that's so prevalent with food these days.

"Big Houses Are Not Green: America's McMansion Problem

The recent mansion boom produced millions of energy-wasting homes with thousands of square feet that Americans don't need -- not the behavior of a society that's thinking about a sustainable future."

A generation of big, deluxe, under-occupied houses.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Igloochic - Your house is SO beautiful. I love it, and you've made great points about the relevance of time periods.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Doonie, here's more.

Living large (video)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Thanks Jan, it was an easy decision for us, in our case, less was more. Although 3 acres does sound awfully nice! I'm sure your views are beautiful. :c)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

So, it's not necessarily McMansion, it's all houses above a certain predetermined square footage. Or all houses above, what, 3500 sq. ft. are McMansions? Or is it 3000 sq. ft.? Who makes this determination? The government? Your neighbor who is actually secretly envious that you have a larger house? Is that what people want? To be told the maximum size their house can be, the maximum setting for your thermostat, what kind of car to drive? I am asking this seriously because, that is where this type of thought leads.

As far as green goes, I would argue, that we do not need airconditioning either. It's a huge energy waster. Maybe we should aspire to the Middle Ages. Their homes were made of renewable resources. There was no petroleum based asphalt. People didn't travel far distances, so jet fuel was saved. And they did not have the dreadful internal combustion engine.

Ultimately, it's the world's steadily increasing population on a limited land mass that ultimately will become a problem. Solutions?

Green Movement Fanatacism can be just as dangerous as any other kind of fanatacism.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Doonie, do we know you?


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Natal,

I am not sure what you mean?

I am a mostly a lurker. Last summer I did some bathroom remodeling and just completed a kitchen remodel. I have used this forum infrequently for advice too. Is that what you mean?

Anyway, I have a larger house and I just increased it's square footage, tastefully, I hope. So, I may be a little sensitive about the big house issue. I am thrilled to have more space finally. Do I live in a McMansion? I don't think so, but it is a big house.

Does that help some?

Doonie


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Sorry, your post reminded me of someone who used to post here.

Since you asked specifically why the terms and what they meant I thought I provided that. Not interested in a sparring match. A large house is one thing ... a McMansion is all about excess. I can't imagine envying anyone who lives in those behemoths. I live in a 40s/50s neighborhood of cottages. Off the top of my head I can think of 3 tear downs within a few blocks that became McMansions. I wouldn't live in any of them and would hate to be a neighbor.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Natal,

Sorry if my post came across as antagonistic. I didn't mean it to be. I think I know what a McMansion is by a gestault type feeling, but even with the posts you offered, I still have a hard time figuring out an exact dictionary type term. So, that is what bothers me. I would hate to be neighbors with those tear downs you described too, especially given the aesthetics of the neighborhood, but the owners did purchase those properties, and unless neighborhood covenants are in place that restrict them, they should be free to build what they will within city code.

Anyway, I think it's a very interesting discussion, I just like to logically pursue the philosophical strings to thier ends. I know it can be taxing, but it's also fascinating.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Igloo, thanks for posting the photo of your gorgeous Victorian! I've had it in my mind's eye and it's even better than I imagined! I hope you and your family make many good memories in this home.

I don't have a photo, but having retired after living in a large Texas city for many years, I am familiar with what is termed a McMansion. What comes to mind is street after street that looks the same, same two trees in the front yard, same landscaping, same houseplans, all large homes built too close to the street, with very little space inbetween the homes, sometimes with roofs almost touching.

Usually these homes have a few "impressive" features--like lots of crown moulding, hardwood floors and granite, but have very little individual character.

I agree that these homes and subdivisions aren't necessary inspiring. I guess you could say I lived in a smaller one in a subdivision--we lived there because the house was new, the price was right, and most important--it was in a fabulous school district. It was temporary. It was not the type of home I would have built and certainly not on a lot so close to someone else.

I have a larger home now that I've retired, it's larger than my last home, but on several acres and it fits the lot, in size and style.

I'd much rather spend time in a 900 square foot charming cottage with unique details than a 7000 square foot McMansion as far as environment, but what's important to me is the time I spend with the people in the home.

To that end, I couldn't care less if they live at Biltmore, a beach home, a cardboard box or a McMansion.

Life's too short to throw stones--to each his own home!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Yeah, what I think of with McMansion is not size necessarily, but boring and even cheap construction and decor. I think someone earlier up thread described it as having money for a really nice 4000 sq ft house, but building a 10000 sq ft house instead.

I have plenty of friends who live in them, and they are very nice people. They are generous, they give back to the community (even recycle!) and aren't living in them to make a statement or act highfalutin or anything. I know several who paid cash, and they aren't living beyond their means.

Most just aren't really into architecture or design or things like that. Four kids, plenty of money, other friends live there, it's got great schools, why not? They aren't thinking about such things as much as many of us do.

So I really don't use it as a term to denigrate the inhabitants, which is what I think this discussion has lurking about the edges. Reverse snobbery.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Seg, you actually have friends living in 10,000 sf homes? I think 5,000 is over the top ... unless you have a huge family ... but 10,000?

I think the Duggars have a 7,000 sf house, but then they have 19 or 20 kids.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Seg, I get what you're saying and you're right, there are also people who are in those homes with the situation you describe. However I don't think it's reverse snobbery at all because on the flip side there are many who are in them for the wrong reasons, and are loosing them as we speak because they can't afford them. I'm in them all the time getting pictures for the banks and I hear the stories. While some admit it they got in over their head, others are still in denial blaming everyone but themselves for their situation. Either way as a community we're paying for it. We have way too many of them sitting vacant in under developed subdivisions and no body wants them. The trend has changed and people are now downsizing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Times Aritcle about McMansions


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

demifloyd wrote:I don't have a photo, but having retired after living in a large Texas city for many years, I am familiar with what is termed a McMansion. What comes to mind is street after street that looks the same, same two trees in the front yard, same landscaping, same houseplans, all large homes built too close to the street, with very little space inbetween the homes, sometimes with roofs almost touching. Unquote

There's a couple of starter neighborhoods close to me...they meet this description except for the word large. Those houses are small (1000-1600 square feet) tiny lots and ZIP charm. Close together, minimal landscaping, and cookie cutter. They are not made well either...cheap construction exists at all price points. Why aren't we offended by them?

I, too, know quite a few folks living in homes over 4000 square feet (one of my friends called that size house her 'small' house. lol) and up. As another poster said they are hard working (often entrepreneurs who've created profitable small businesses), generous, and interesting. Not arrogant...well, a few might be...most just want a safe, happy place to raise their kids. In our area of Texas the larger neighborhoods are surviving the economy much, much better than some of the smaller ones. Working for the census took me into lots of areas and those were my observations. YMMV

A favorite quote of mine....'I won't tell you that you can't, if you won't tell me I have to..."

Live and let live.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Lukk, interesting article. This stood out...

"All this re-purposing is easier said than done. Statistically speaking, we may have too many too large houses, but try to split them up — as people did a century ago with those Victorian mansions — and you're sure to hear from the neighbors. In order to keep houses as single-family homes and ostensibly protect property values, zoning ordinances and neighborhood bylaws often limit the number of unrelated people allowed to live in one dwelling.

But an even larger problem is brewing, according to Christopher Leinberger, a real estate professor at the University of Michigan and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. If there are no longer enough people who want to own overgrown houses in far-flung suburbs, we could see a repeat of what happened in center cities in the 1950s and '60s, when abandoned homes helped set off blight."


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Yeah, I have friends in 22000sqft houses, too. This particular family moved from an 8000sqft house that was not quite a McMansion, but still not my favorite. They had only lived there a few years when I heard they were moving ... to a 22000sqft house. I thought, UGH (reverse snobbery), but then when I visited, WOW.

They didn't build it, but the people who did did a fabulous job. None of the rooms was obnoxiously huge, so it felt cozy -- I kid you not. Finishes were perfect -- walnut floors from France, windows from Germany, chandeliers from Italy ... it was like a little castle in the Alps. It walks out on the lower level in back, so from the front, it is beautiful, but the facade looks more like 6000sqft than 22000.

Now, they entertain. Big. One of the first things they did was a fundraiser for one of our US olympic teams. So there are useful reasons for having properties like this.

But when I got home, I WAS feeling dissatisfied with my little cheap house. Which is neither little nor "cheap," but the contrast was mighty. So I understood how, if you are in these circles all the time, your tastes can become a bit changed, lol.

By the next morning I was fine though. ha ha. I didn't want the size, at all, but the quality of the insides of that house, sigh.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Seg, sounds like an estate. McMansions are in a different class.


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mcmansions

Natal, I know it isn't a McMansion; I was differentiating it from a large "cheap" house. I posted a photo earlier of a kitchen from an even-bigger house, too big for McMansion status, but with all the qualities of one otherwise. It just has fountains and outbuildings, too, all ugly and bland.

You asked if I knew people in 10000sqft houses. I know people in all sizes of house. And the only reason to have a great big gigantic house is not just because you have 17 children.

Most people in giant houses that I know are pretty normal. There are also some very not-normal people in giant houses. Then again, there are not-normal people in apartments, and 2000sqft houses, and so on...


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Why is 5000 sq. feet over the top? What is excessive? Why isn't 4000 sq. feet over the top? I am just curious at how this number of sq feet is arrived at.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Doonie, I base that number on my original post. The single guy who lives on the corner tore down the 1,700 sf brick cottage he grew up in and has built a 5,000 sf McMansion. And that's not even counting the apartment he built above the 3-car garage. If that's not excessive in your book then we live in totally different worlds.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Its not about size, its about quality and some form of architectural or design integrity. A McMansion is like obscenity: it may be very hard to define but many people know what it is when they see it.

These are not large houses that are built of quality materials and finishes. They are overgrown builder grade houses. A big rectangle with some kind of eclectic architectural b@st@rd of a facade grafted on the front. I don't know why people are having such a hard time grasping the concept.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

ummm, 4,000 is over the top. Really anything over 3000 has been defined in most areas as excessive for the size of an average family (4) and when you compare our housing standards to those of other countries, it is. I think your statement regarding building because the covenants or bylaws don't prohibit it is a perfect example of how self absorbed a lot of people are when it comes their own wants vs the good of a neighborhood. Harsh to say but true. They have no regard of how their build will effect the values of the homes that surround them, in some circumstances they have no regard of the amount of land that has to be cleared and trees cut to build them and they certainly don't care about the volume of resources used to build them, it's all about me me me and what I want. Again many of these same properties are empty now because people can't afford them and have walked away from them leaving their neighborhood to deal with the mess of a distressed McMansion with an over grown yard that sits in the middle of nicely manicured homes.

Let's be realistic here, who in their right mind needs not wants, but NEEDS 4,000 5,000, 6,000 or even 10,000 sf to be happy and comfortable? I'm being blunt because you obviously don't understand the meaning of the word excess and it's frustrating. There is need and then there is want, maybe these people WANT it, but nobody needs it. Sorry, can't convince me and I'm sure many others as well that it's necessary to have that much house unless you have a HUGE family or specific needs that are not the norm when compared to the average homeowner. Even so, it's not fair to tear down a perfectly fine house and replace it with a house 2-4 times the size of other homes in a mature and established neighborhood. People bought homes there in part because of the character of that neighborhood which did not include a McMansion monstrosity right smack dab in the middle of it sticking out like a sore thumb. It's ridiculously wrong on so many levels.

If you want to know the truth, a lot of these areas don't have restrictions in the CCNR's because it wasn't an issue when they were written. The average home was 3-4 bedrooms and 2 baths up until the mid to late 1980's. Builders used this lack of restriction as a free pass to build and have damaged a lot of neighborhoods as a result. Now many areas have gotten smart and rewritten the CCNR's to prohibit these types of builds and rightfully so, too bad it wasn't sooner.

Now please know, this isn't about house envy, at least on my behalf. We have the resources and ability to be in a lot more house than we're in, we didn't NEED it and therefore made different choices and I LOVE my house, every inch of it's 1700 sf. And its not about buying large Victorian home that's a 100 years old and 8 billion sf either. It's about building a big house just to build it at any cost. Excess and the demand of it is the reason that so many people are in what I describe as "economy shock" right now. They don't know how to live within their means and not be excessive. McMansions and their fate are an indicator of that. If you don't believe me or others then maybe you should do a search on McMansions and educate yourself.


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rescuing McMansions!

I also wanted to say that its doubtful anyone would be able to rescue a McMansion that sat empty and neglected for decades sometime in the future. They won't last like an 18th or 19th century house

A quality built 21st c. mansion or big house may be a different story.

There are 9000 square foot houses that were neglected for half a century in my neighborhood, and they are now housing people (in 1200 square foot apartments mostly)--that won't happen with a modern builder's grade house, it will fall apart much sooner than that.


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correction to my earlier post

before someone corrects me, I was typing too quick and typed CCNRs instead of CC&R's.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

This is my definition of a McMansion

Here is a link that might be useful: McMansion


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Someday someone might want to save a "mcmansion" from the turn of the century (the twentieth century that is) and someone else will be saying...oh how nice, they're saving that period building. I wish they built them that way now a days....you never know :)

and

They won't last like an 18th or 19th century house.

I took a historic preservation class about 10 years ago (in far-out-suburban Northern VA, home to plenty of behemoths). There was a building tradesman in the class and we were talking about houses. He estimated that houses built today will last about 50 years. But then again, I hear tell that the houses one street over from me, which were built in the 40s, were laughed at and predicted not to stand for long either. Who knows.

I will say this: as a working mother of 2 young kids, I can barely keep up with the maintenance and cleaning of my 1300 sq. ft. house. I can't even imagine attempting 3000.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I guess none of us really NEEDS anything more than 40 sq ft and a toilet and a bit of food every day. It gets dangerous when defining what other people NEED and WANT. Especially in a home decorating forum, as we don't NEED to repaint, reupholster, remodel, and so on, either.

Great big houses provide a lot of work for people, don't forget that. Someone has to mow, garden, clean, cook, polish, repair, decorate ...

I'm not advocating living beyond one's means. Or tearing down houses and replacing them with zero-lot-line monstrosities and ruining the feel of the neighborhood. I totally get that. But a particular number of square feet in a house doesn't automatically equal EVIL, either.

(And I'm not defending myself: I live in a 32-year-old house, 3200sqft, big trees, decent semicustom homes but nothing fancy ... It is definitely not a McMansion. I don't like them either! But judging the people who live in them is not my cup of tea.)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I think a certain percentage of people who live in them would be happy to live in something else. Its simply what was available at the location they needed to be. I work in an area on Fridays that has three basic phases of housing: late 19th early 20th c. farmhouses, midcentury ranchers and splits that don't quite have 8 foot ceilings and have bedrooms about 8 x 10 and Mc Mansions. (big but purely builder grade.) Those are the choices and rather than deal with something that is underserviced electrically and underinsulated, a number of people I know picked something that was "bigger than we need" but in the right location and at least didn't need a remodel.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Lurkish, do you really "need" more than one pair of good shoes? Really, what is "need"? Do you "need" maybe two or three pairs when a child in Africa (to pick a place randomly) has one if they're lucky? Who gets to define what we get and how many of them we "need"?

In your world I am feeling like you'd like to see this place torn down and replaced with a nice little 1500 sq ft green home (whatever that is...mostly it's crap sold for too much because it's "green"). I'm not trying to pick a fight but ask honestly, so what would you do with houses like mine, given you feel they're nothing but excess? Do you see any value in saving a historical home at all? Even if it's bigger than you define as need?

I guess I'm with doonie et all on the not throwing stones. I have a 2100 sq ft house and frankly, it's a little small for our lifestyle. We like to entertain and can't sit more than 8 at a time in the dining room. It's only two bedrooms and we would like a guest room. But it is ok because we're not there much. When we were shopping for this home we were settled on a 6000 sq ft place (another queen anne) and I remember telling DH that was HUGE! Now I'm not saying this box isn't huge, but it's bigger than I would have thought a family could live in comfortably, but much like segs friends, we use it. We like to entertain and it allows that. We host charity functions in it...and then the big thing...we're restoring it to it's former glory because while some might see it as an excessively big box...we see it as a wonderful family home that should be honored for all of it's glory, even if part of that glory was that it was a major mcmansion in it's time :)

I'm reminded of a four block section of a community outside of a hospital we visited when DS was a baby...somewhere in Cincinnati (childrens hospital neighborhood if anyone knows it). It was founded in the early 1900's by Germans with wealth. Row upon row of 5000 too 10,000 sq ft homes all done in brick, all similar, all the same land size (about a quarter of a block) sit in their faded glory together. They're 1900's mcmansions. Didn't have the glitz of a home built in the 1880's (or the gaudyness) nor did they have the charm of a 1920's bungalow, but they do have charm up the kazoo. Beautiful homes, and all are now languishing in the "hood" waiting to be found again (I like to think). Totally mcmansions by all definations here, but still, fabulous homes...homes I'd drool over any time.

Then go to Duluth where you have a collection of FABULOUS stone mansions from the turn of the century. Amazing architecture, but still, those homes were built for one reason...to impress, and impress they do. Not built for large families, etc, just built to be big and glorious. I for one wouldn't begrudge (ok I do because I envy the owners LOL) anyone their large mansion in Duluth (generally we looked at 8000 plus in size...there are a lot of them). Should they be replaced with little green huts? I think they should be treasured and saved myself. It's part of our history.

But the whole thing comes down to that whole judging thing. If people can afford to care for the home and enjoy living in it, why is it fair to whine about it? There were plenty of people who ended upside down in much smaller homes in California in this crash. Over extending oneselves was not limited to those in 4000 sq ft homes and above.

Demi, thank you :) It really is an obnoxious box but we do love it.

Natal, it's obnoxious to heat as well but we're dealing with that. Last year we were about 800 a month between propane and electric heat. This year we will have a heat pump installed and we're getting more efficient on the duct work system (which is rediculous). We expect to cut that bill down beyond half this year between window caulking (they hadn't done it), proper window coverings, repair and replacement of non-productive systems etc, not to mention killing four hot water heaters!

Pal, the thing about saying its sort of a finishing issue...see that gets sticky because many people hate many styles of finishes. That jersey housewife...Teresa...I think her home is obnoxious to the extreem, and yet many people love that kind of over the top tuscan stuff. Many think old homes are awful, no amount of convincing can make them understand how lovely an old home with history is. Some like clean lines like MCM homes, which I'd happily bulldoze normally. So using the details as the descriptor or qualifyer for a "mcmansion" is really not that clear cut. Again it's all in the eyes of the beholder.

My dream home is a 1600's cape. I'd honestly kill for one. And yet I was telling someone that in our victorian society and I thought she was going to fall over in a faint. Crappy construction (ruff finishes, big box, etc) was her view. I feel the same about her MCM :oP (I actually like many MCM's but they're not my living style).


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

If you want to call it judging so be it you're entitled to your opinion, I could care less. However, don't put words in my mouth. I never said these people are evil, just self centered which is true. After working in the industry and seeing this ugly mess up close and personal now for years, I think I'm entitled to my opinion and so it stands.


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forgot to add...

Igloo, don't put words in my mouth or make assumptions, your comments don't even relate to what I'm talking about.

Natal - the concern in that article is a reality in our area. I'm just north of Troy in Michigan and we have vacant mcmansions everywhere that were mostly owned by people in the auto industry. Some in tracts on .2 acres others in the middle of established neighborhoods and even more on cleared acreage, especially in Bloomfield Hills. There are lots of older large homes (Mansions) as well there owned by old money, but they haven't experienced the problems the newer builds have. Almost all the inventory is 15 years old and younger and a large majority are bank owned or experiencing short sales.

Maybe it's hard for some to relate to what I'm saying about excessive housing because the problem we're experience is more local and it's not as prevalent in other areas? I knew my comments would be taken out of context by some of you though. Regardless it doesn't change my point of view.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I think the "Mc" in McMansion relates to the predictability--each one is just like the other one, which is fine in fast food burgers, not so great in housing, at least to my mind. I do think of large but builder's grade. The inevitable great room, two story entrance hall, and other features that appeal to some people, not to me. I've had a number of unusual houses in Los Angeles (Storybook, Spanish Revival, Foursquare, Craftsman) but I've been lucky enough to not have to live smackdab next to my neighbors.

The 3mil+ place in Herndon might be over the top, but it's hardly cookie cutter.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I think, also, that the term refers to places that were built so out of context. I've seen so many of these places built in rural communities, that just do not have the infrastructure to accomodate them. But some developers bought up a cheap couple of acres, got a subdivision permit and started throwing up "The Oaks at Riverside"...which was quite ironic as they cut down all the oaks and blocked the river view with the huge rock walls surrounding the subdivision.

Then these places were sold to out of staters/retirees who thought that the price was phenomenal because when they sold their 1700 SF house for a humungous profit, they could buy a 6000 SF manse and still have enough left over to buy a bigger new boat and a couple of Hummers. Please be aware that I'm not in any way condemning people for wanting to upscale...I just know what these folks were up against as I have to try to get the contractors & developers to finish the work they were required by law to do, but they've long since gone bankrupt and have walked away from the whole mess.

I felt so bad for the man who'd paid almost half a million dollars for his McMansion, and it's sitting next to a weedy lot. He said that more than half the homes in the subdivision are now rentals and his place is worth less than $200K now. His place is gorgeous, to say the least, but not worth anywhere close to what he paid, and never will regain the value. The golf course that was part of the deal never appeared, instead, some farmers are now running their livestock on those grounds and goats have been brought in to keep down the weeds. To add insult to injury, he and the few other property owners (most of the properties are now bank owned) are paying their HOA dues and are fighting the lawsuits and liens against the HOA because the developer left them holding the bag.

I'm not sure how it is in other areas...Oregon has very strict land use laws, so in existing communities, a tear down would require a conditional use permit and cost a small fortune to get a variance to replace with something bigger. So we're pretty fortunate to not have McMansions in the midst of existing subdivisions, but they are built on the next plats over.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

"A McMansion is like obscenity: it may be very hard to define but many people know what it is when they see it."
-Very witty Pal, & oh so true.

"..the "Mc" in McMansion relates to the predictability--"
-Ideefixe, that's it in a nutshell!

"I think a certain percentage of people who live in them would be happy to live in something else."
-Pal, isn't that so true, & something to bear in mind about so many people & where they live? We often end up in houses at least in part due to fate, or destiny, or something out of our control like that.

I feel I was *meant* to end up where I am, but a 1987 tract house does not really have "ME" written all over it. I think many people are in the same situation. We go on to make the most of what "IS," & hopefully find ways to make a less than ideal house a home that is our own.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I live in a Los Angeles suburb and joined with a lot of people to try and stop the building of the MacMansions here, because it is all done illegally, but the city and state was making too much money on the property tax increase and refused to stop it. Before I explain how they were illegal, I would like to comment on style. For example, Queen Ann or Victorian style homes were an international accepted style, designed and built according to certain prameters, and generally appropriate for the neighborhood, this being a relevant issue to most builders and buyers. The style and appropriatness are not an issue to MacMansion builders here in So.Cal., the reasons being; first, the people who bought them wanted them for extended family or second; they purchased them for an investment and rented out the rooms to help pay the mortage. If the size was jaw droopingly huge, imposed on others privacy, and looked like it was designed by a third grader, and decreased the value to the property around it, no problem. The only stylistic prerequisite seemed to be a two story front door with giant plastered foam columns in front. The first few were designed by an old guy from Cuba that didn't have a architect license in this country.
In order to understand how they were built illegally, you need to know the laws. All of the MacMansions I know of were built as owner builder to get around the rules. But there are requirements that the builders did not conform to. First, the property must be the main residence of the builder. Second, the home cannot go up for sale for twelve months after completion. Third, you cannot do more than two owner builders in any four year period. Fourth, any work done on a house that is $500 or more, labor plus materials, must be done by a licensed contractor-unless they are the owners employees. If they are the owner's employees, the owner must withhold Federal and State Payroll Tax, pay into workers comp., and abide by all other employer rules like OSHA. They never did this.
Here's how it worked. A shady realestate broker would buy a piece of rundown property in a better section of town, usually from old people, so they could get it at a good price. Then the broker would get a loan from a subprime lender like Countrywide for no down payment and stated income. Many times they used a straw man to get the loan. Next they would present the plans to the city planning department for approval and the code deferments they needed to build such a large house on such a small lot. Then they would take the plans to the bank and get a builders loan on the projected value of the property when it is finished. Now they have enough money to buy the building material and even buy another property. Next, they have the MacMansion built by people who are unlicensed and who they pay under the table. They withhold no taxes, pay no workers comp., have no insurance and keep no records other than they need to get their own federal and state tax deductions. You could walk by any of these houses while they were under construction during the evening and watch the workers being paid cash. How much did these people (owner builders) make? Here's a typical example. I talked to one of these guys, a Mexican national, about how much it cost him to build the eight thousand ft living space home that he was building at that time. I told him my guess was about thirty thousand dollars. He laughed and said, "Not that much". He gave me the card to the GC who was building it for him. I asked if he was licensed and he said no, that's why he's so cheap. I in fact, knew this guy and knew he had been fined by the state several times for various building scams. I looked on the realestate site and found the property was purchased for thirty five thousand dollars. The house was sold, before it was finished, for 1.7 million and this guy was working on two other houses at the same time. Do the math. This guy was an illegal from Mexico, and in a couple of years, by skirting the law, became a multimillionaire. All illegal.
What, you may ask, did I do about it? I'll try to make a long story short. First I went to a City Council meeting and the councilmen said I didn't know what I was talking about. The next council meeting I brought a pamplet with the written rules. The bureaucrats and politicos said that it was the states job to enforce the laws and not the city's. I went to the California State License Board, Sting division and after some haggleing they asked me to furnish the addresses of these homes where I thought they were breaking the law. In two days I provided the addresses of fifty MacMasions that were currently being worked on, got copies of the building permits, and got a map of the city and circled them in red and turned this over to the license board sting division and told them I could get one hundred but that would take me two or three more days. They said the fifty was enough. What happened, you may ask? They did a sting on two of the houses and got them for everything mentioned above. I was at the second sting and the owner was so angry that the state inspectors had to call out the police. He screamed, you can't do anything to me, I'm rich. Believe it or not, that's what he was screaming. What was the final outcome you may ask? The two houses that were inspected were completed and the owners had to pay a small fine because they were first time offenders. The California State Contractor's License Bureau never did another inspection in my city and they refused to answer any questions as to why. I guess the state, county, and city wanted those property tax increases and didn't care about how these MacMasions destroyed a community.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

You have a lot to say, & I would love to read it, Someone! Paragraphs would sure help. Middle-aged vision thing, I guess.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

The 3mil+ place in Herndon might be over the top, but it's hardly cookie cutter.

Actually, there are two other homes across the street from that one which are identical to it, built by the same builder.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Ha. I didn't look at that link before.

European countryside in Herndon. Um, yeah, right.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

i think of mcmansions as being built by the enormous national builders who buy large developments and provide a choice of 6-7 floorplans and some more facades and you get to "have it your way" with many limitations...keeps costs down, more square footage for the $...many moldings, lights,flooring, etc,etc, etc can be found in the home-depot aisle...very appealing to those who want a larger home, but who don't necessarily want to (or can't) spend "custom" price/sq ft.
compared to the homes built by custom builders, who are able to make changes to floorplans, and use higher quality materials, etc,etc,etc. in my mind, the lack of uniqueness/individuality ALONG WITH THE SIZE is what makes it a mcmansion compared to a large custom home.

i think the concept of them was fine to start...more affordable, larger homes....however, it seems like people want more, more, more---whether or not they can afford it. if you can't afford to landscape, furnish, and/or maintain a home, but buy it anyway, it's a problem.... imo, that is what has been happening and has led to the negative label. i don't see anything negative about living in a large home with many bathrooms as long as you can AFFORD it!!! too many people don't know what they can afford...


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

suero, I was thinking that a 1-acre lot was a pretty good size, until I saw the aerial shot, and how the house has almost covered it. What European countryside? All I could see was the commercial building (parking lot/lots of cars) over the back fence, uh...moat.

Here is a link that might be useful: Linked, again, so you don't have to scroll up.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

My statement about an owner being able to build what they want on their own property if there are no covenants against it does not mean that I think it is the right thing to do. You all are making me laugh;) Somehow, in the process of asking simple questions, the general innuendo regarding my personal knowledge and beliefs (none of which I stated) in a few of the above posts is that I am ridiculously plebian. At least it kinda seems that way. Maybe that wasn't the intent, but goodness it seems fairly heated on this forum!

Anyway, I think we can fairly well recognize shoddy workmanship. So that part of the equation is fairly easy to discern. It does become a little bit of slippery slope when trying to define excessive square footage for a person or family. There is country to country variation. And even city to city variation. Look at NYC proper and the tiny lofts and their prices. However, I would not choose to live there.

It looks like the term "McMansion" was first coined in 1990 in the San Diego Union-Tribune. However, I think mass production of crappy houses started in the 50's as the GIs were returning from the war. Tract housing arose during that time period. Then in the 90's, maybe even the 80's, the houses started getting larger and larger. What I am unclear of is if this was more builder driven or consumer driven. With mass production of anything, individual workmanship declines. Like palimpsest noted, in some school districts and neighborhoods, the choice comes down to purchasing a house that needs work done versus a new McMansion type house.

We purchased a 3500 sq ft freshly built spec home in 2000 because we had limited time to look (2 days), we had 3 small children so we were interested in the best school zone, and we knew we would not have the time to "fix up" any home. This half of the neighborhood has similar size homes on reasonably sized lots. ( Maybe I am living in a McMansion!) Our backyard backs up to pastureland and woodland, so I felt all right with our kitchen addition to the back. However, I am also glad it is not visible from the street. I have had more than one person ask me why we didn't just move and build a new house. I love my yard, especially all of the trees we have nutured and even grown some from seed, and garden. So, we have been redoing the interior, renovating and improving this house to make it truely ours. We have ripped out the builder grade baths and replaced them with. And most recently we have renovated the poorly planned kitchen. We plan on remaining here into retirement. We look at it as a home, not an investment.

I do find shoddy sameness in housing disturbing too, but I think it's been with us for a while. (Gypsum wallboard has not changed significantly from its inception in the 50's.) And, for the record, I do think it is offensive to tear apart an established neighborhood by putting a huge house in amongst all the cute cottages. I wouldn't do it.

Just a few thoughts..

Doonie


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Sorry about the lack of paragraphs and the run on sentences in my pryor post. It was late at night and I was tired. Hope someone got something out of it. It was a long post and I was trying to enlighten people. That's OK. My story, multiplied many times, is a big part of the economic collapse the country is now experiencing. Another example of why fighting corruption in this country is a waste of time.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

To me, the epitome of a McMansion is newish house selling for over 700k (in my area), but the builders only bothered to brick the FRONT of the house. I will never understand this.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I think the definition of McMansion differs based on geography. I'm in the South in a mid-sized city. Land is still reasonable here and the newest ring of suburbs is not yet far enough out that it is unmanageable to drive in. The tear-downs began in probably 2002 and have been restricted to two or three of the most desirable inner-ring suburbs. I would say that only a few tear-downs have gone forward since the 2007 real estate crash, and those are in the top suburb and are custom jobs rather than spec.

So, for me, the tear-down mentality and destruction of the cohesiveness of neighborhoods is not where I think "McMansion". I think of the third-tier suburbs with new construction with lots of busy detail and gabling on the front facade, but plain, tiny-windowed sides and back and the same floor plan over and over. It's a house pretending to be something it isn't. Personally, I choose to blame a lot of it on Thomas Kincade and those confounded "cottage" paintings with smoke curling out of the twelve chimneys and candlelight glowing from the many cute tiny windows overlooking the babbling brook with the stone footbridge. Unfortunately, those paintings are two-dimensional, just like the homes they inspired.

But then I started thinking about the 1920s homes that I have always loved so much. Spanish Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Craftsman -- adorable all. But didn't a LOT of them have the same essential 6-room floorplan with the bedrooms down one side, the LR, DR and kitchen down the other side, and the bath either at the back or between the BRs? And if I am down on the McMansions, shouldn't I also be down on the bungalow neighborhoods? My 2/1 Tudor bungalow was no Hampton Court. But I just can't make the parallel, even if I can't come up with a logical reason why not.

Maybe it's the size of the McMansions. But then we're back in the argument of where to draw the line of acceptability -- 2,000? 3,000? 4,000 square feet? I think it's more the uninspired design, or the use of interior space that has no bearing on the exterior (primary front windows in the master closet; floating chimney because the builder doesn't even want to spend the money to pretend it is a wood-burning unit; closet pimples sticking out of the upper floors).

And we have lots of new smaller construction here designed for first-time buyers or empty-nesters. Tiny lots, tiny houses (lots of 1-car garages with driveways so shallow that the second car sticks out into the road) or no garages at all. A few chunky pieces of barnwood at the entry to make everything look "rustic". The houses are all rectangular to limit construction costs, so the use of space inside is often awkward. The subdivision is often called "Something Lakes" and advertised as "waterfront" when in fact all the little houses and their 8' x 10' poured patios back up to a shaggy glorified retention pond. I don't know what to call these places, but at 1,400 sq. feet they offend me just as much as those from 6 years ago that are 3,600 sq. ft.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

"I think the "Mc" in McMansion relates to the predictability--each one is just like the other one, which is fine in fast food burgers, not so great in housing, at least to my mind. I do think of large but builder's grade."

Bingo! We have a very dear friend who lives a "McMansion" development. He purchased it between 8-9 years ago for over $900,000. When I walk into his house, for that money I expect to find custom hinges and hardware from an upscale reproduction company, not off the shelf from HD or Lowe's. You'll find that in my house. I don't expect to find it in his but alas, there it is.

"To me, the epitome of a McMansion is newish house selling for over 700k (in my area), but the builders only bothered to brick the FRONT of the house."

Another example of the "dumbing down" of quality in workmanship. Oh yes, let's just brick the front of the house and side the rest and no one will notice or care how ridiculous it looks.
I do have to say that in my friend's development there is a lovely "McMansion" that is modular built. The whole exterior is bricked-faced and it looks gorgeous. It reminds me of an old stately home and could fit somewhere on some acreage in a "real" wealthier neighborhood...we're not talking about in a development.

Besides the use of lower grade hardware, why on earth would anyone want to look at very nice rustic Spanish-style tiles in a powder room when the toilet and sink are delicate, almost Victoria-styled. To top it off, there's the mish mosh of fixtures, again from HD or Lowe's. Doesn't anyone (I'm talking builders here) even think or care that maybe there should be some cohesion when designing and putting together a kitchen or bathroom? Don't even get me started on the lousy layout of my friend's kitchen and the hodgepodge of "stuff" stuck in there. I'm not talking about the very lovely European blending of different types of cabinets and hardware that you see in fine homes, but the general lack of regard for what is aesthetically pleasing. So many textures, so many roof lines, so many different finishes making it all look like a jumbled and poorly thought out mess.
I'm convinced men have designed the majority of these houses and care not a whit about design integrity, but only care about making a fast buck.

That's my perception of the McMansion.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Pesky1 has described my community to a "T".

I live at the foot of a 15K ft picturesque mountain where lots of retirees have come to buy these monstrosities. There is a golf course development called "The Resort" that is full of these over-built homes. My biggest complaint? Most of these don't even face the mountain! It would be like building a home on the ocean but not having any of the picture windows face the beach. The homes are built regardless of the lot or the view. There is more than one that has the GARAGES facing the mountain. I guess those hummers and that big boat need the view, not the people.

But my favorite horrible house was a gigantic log-cabinish montrosity (it's the mountains, our McMansions are often faux-log cabins). The front is humongous with a large two-door entrance flanked on either side by two enormous, ENORMOUS (maybe 10 feet wide by 20 feed high!), symmetrical arched windows. Lovely, right?

Wrong.

The front walkway from the driveway goes right past one of these windows. What was inside that window? Yep. The guest powder room, well, the only bathroom located on that floor and the one anyone hanging out in the public areas of the house would use. The toilet was located right in front of this enormous window. The window took up one entire wall of this bathroom All I could see was sitting on that toilet while the UPS man dropped off my deliveries. The other window was THE window for the major public area of the house. None of it faced the mountain...the back bedroom windows, not even the master bedroom, faced the mountain.

How would one possibly do symmetrical window treatments for these two arched windows? They are architecturally symmetrical, but their purposes would prohibit window treatments that could serve both. The arched window was so large I wondered what attractive window treatment it could possibly have that would provide necessary privacy.

If you had a dinner party, you'd want these windows opened and the lights from inside to shine out beckoning guests to enter. But that would be impossible.

The inside of the house had no relationship to the outside. Simply awful.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Lukkish I'm sorry if you feel I was putting words in your mouth as that was not my intent, nor do I understand where that was done. I asked you a question after you stated what was acceptable in a house size. So what would you do with the big ones? Are doonies and my homes tear down material to you given you have determined that 4000 is max for anyone to live in???? Honestly, what would you do with the homes that are too big in your book?????


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

people choose to brick only the fronts because that is what is included with their facade....to brick the entire house is an option so ridiculously overpriced that most people choose not to-whether they can afford to or not!!(that is with these big national cookie cutter builders...)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

In my original post I said the property costs about thirty thousand and the house costs about thirty thousand to build. I meant to say, the property was three hundred thousand and another three hundred thousand to build.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I've lived in a 1926 Tudor, approx 1400 square feet, including the basement. And I loved the facade, the extensive and beautiful woodwork, and the way that the outside of the house fit the inside, and gave clear clues to the "appropriate" way to decorate the home.

But, the neighborhood got seedy. As in two weeks after we moved out, there were news stories about several bodies being found in various dumpsters, and one just out on someone's lawn (how does that even happen???) And the electical was ancient. The beautiful windows were drafty. The plumbing was ancient. And city codes pretty much prohibited doing anything piecemeal - no you can't just replumb the bath - they only give permits for the entire house or nothing. The lots were small and the house was much of the lot. These houses were built in the 20s and 30s and small, so I don't think they were McMansions of that time.

We moved to a 2700 square foot home in the suburbs. The facade is bland. There are four or five house "styles" in my immediate neighborhood. None of them are attempting to imitate a Victorian or a Colonial or any other label that I can think of - they're various versions of blah.

But....the neighborhood is much safer. No bodies found on the lawn or in a dumpster. The schools are better. I can have a bedroom for each of my children AND room for a home office for myself and my husband. I chose to make tradeoffs. And that's likely what most McMansion owners are doing too.

I think that many people would love to have a home that fit their needs/wants for neighborhood, size, style/craftsmanship, and budget. Sometimes you can't get everything. For the increase in price between my old house and new, I could have totally renovated the old house. I still would have had a crummy neighborhood, a teeny lot, and a dysfunctional kitchen (four exits + hot water radiators = little counter/cupboard space.) And 1400 less square feet.

The problem with people buying what they cannot afford goes well beyond McMansions. There are a lot more foreclosures in my old neighborhood of beautiful, character-filled, affordable homes than in my current blah neighborhood.

I could have bought a custom home on a large lot for what I paid for mine....if I was willing to live more than an hour from work. I hate commuting with a passion, so that was not a good option for me.

I could have bought something built with more charm and design "integrity" but that would have cost another $100,000 or so in any of the neighborhoods that met our needs. That would have been foolish for my family, as maybe we'd be part of the foreclosure crisis now.

I think this thread is heated because most people with "blah" homes (regardless of size) didn't buy them just to annoy the neighbors, or just to have 8 extra and unused rooms to "show off" with. They made tradeoffs that seemed to work best for their family.

If for some reason we needed to get a bigger house (I can't imagine why, but something could happen) I could see myself building what some have termed a McMansion. I would love to build, just so I could choose a @#$%@#$ wall paint color without my husband insisting that what's there is fine.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!Again

My home is built in a neighborhood of single story Ranch style homes. Each home is on a piece of property measuring 100 X 75 ft. The McMansion builders would buy one or two properties on the street and build a house with a footprint that was 10ft from the front curb, 15ft from the back property line, and a two to three ft easement from the property line on each side. They are two to three story with high ceilings. The outside looked like it was designed by a grade school kid. They don't fit with the other houses in the neighborhood. They look huge and stupid.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I'm at 3000 sq ft so avoid the labeling...but I would love to have a McMansion as it would give me more rooms and wall space to decorate...LOL!!! Is that sick or what:-) Can't afford it...barely make my own payments. Repeating humbly "there's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home."


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Igloo - The comments in my post may not be popular but they are true. Are there people who need larger homes? Sure, of course. Are you one of them, I have no clue, only you can answer that. Is your home a McMansion? Probably not considering it isn't a new build on a tiny lot and built out of shoddy materials to look like something it isn't. However if you had read my post completely through you'd see it also says

"And its not about buying large Victorian home that's a 100 years old and 8 billion sf either."

Which I specifically said because I've been around long enough to know you'd chime in.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Meangoose, (you're not all that mean, are you?) you just articulated so beautifully what I was trying to say on Palimpsest's thread about Needs, Perceived needs, Culture.

Rather than sounding so pathetic, like I "settled," I meant to convey thoughts similar to yours about trade-offs.

Yes, I too live in a blah, suburban house. I too, used to live in a golden oldie full of character. You & I both appreciate charming, old houses, but needed to make choices weighing a number of issues when we bought the second time around.

We are in similar situations, I think.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

In my opinion, it boils down to "live and let live." Whereas I am free to think your house is a "McMansion," you're free to think my house is a "McShoe box." Once I remind myself of that fact, I am not so keen on continuing the discussion!

But having said this, it is an interesting issue and I am glad Natal brought it to our attention.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I do think its sad when a charming old home is torn down to make way for a huge monstrosity that takes up most of the lot. Especially when it is in an established older neighborhood with a mix of homes of different older styles. There are many in my neck of the woods in NJ. There is one right around the corner from me, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. The builders who build them don't really care about integrity of neighborhoods, or the environmental impact these homes have, they only care about the almighty dollar, and how much profit they can make.
Larger new construction homes are not for everyone, just as old victorians, and old cottages or colonials or bungalows with ancient plumbing and electric aren't for everyone. Everyone has the right to choose what is best for them. Mcmansions are surely not my style, and if they truly are falling out of favor, I will not be sad to see them not popping up in my neighborhood.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

It's become apparent that there are several trains of thought as to what a McMansion actually is, and the discussion is suffering for it. Sheer size and blandness is not the same thing as replacing a cottage and ruining the feel of a neighborhood. They might be related sometimes, but they aren't the same thing.

So I went to find more definitions ... from Word Spy:

McMansion: A large, opulent house, especially a new house that has a size and style that doesn't fit in with the surrounding houses.

Note: The word McMansion has only been a part of the lexicon for a little over ten years, but it has already undergone a fairly significant change in meaning. In fact, the word's current meaning seems to be almost the opposite of its original sense. As the earliest citation shows, McMansion used to mean something similar to cookie-cutter house (that is, a house that has a bland style that's identical to all the nearby houses). This fits nicely with the formation of the word, which is McDonalds (the fast-food chain) + mansion. After all, what could be more bland and "cookie cutter" than the fare served by McDonalds?

Which totally explains some of the miscommunication in this thread. I would be testy about building houses that don't fit with the neighborhood, too. But I'm not testy about people who move into a builder neighborhood full of large bland houses.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

.to brick the entire house is an option so ridiculously overpriced that most people choose not to-whether they can afford to or not!!(that is with these big national cookie cutter builders...)

Bricking a large house is a long and tedious project. Skilled brickmasons do a good job and, imo, it is not overpriced. (At least what we paid to have our house bricked was not overpriced - wasn't cheap, but you get what you pay for.)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

To brick or not to brick...that is the question.

My thought is to equate it to getting dressed. Would you go out with only your undergarments and a shirt on, neglecting to put on either a skirt or slacks? Nope, didn't think so.

I agree with allison0704. Any job, big or small, do it well or not at all.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Lukkish I did catch that childish remark but was ignoring it on purpose since it wasn't necessary in this conversation. Really it was beneeth you and I assumed it was a momentary lapse in judgement.

God forbid that someone who lives in a large house wants to contribute to the conversation about large homes. Given you decided sq footage was the determination of a necessary home size I don't think it's strange that someone in a larger home might want to counter your arguments by explaining why they live in the size home they do. Perhaps in defining excessive home size you have also determined thread contribution size?

Please people, if your home is 4001 and above or maybe 3001 and above, your comments are not welcome :oP

By the way, there is no national defination of an excessive home size. While some communities have made rules in regards to home size (most add restrictions or covanents on the buildings to increase efficiency or fit within local lot use standards) these vary by community and are significantly different. In many communities I have worked in a 1000 sq ft house is the mansion of the community and less than 4 people living in it would be deemed rediculously inappropriate when the neighbor is in 600 sq ft with 12 to 16 people in the home. It's all relative.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

This is a simplistic point in a thread that is more about a "culture" but I would rather see a house built honestly out of concrete block -- or all vinyl siding for that matter, than a house that only has better materials on the front and cheapens when you turn the first corner. Part of the phenomenon is houses trying to look like something they are really not.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Which totally explains some of the miscommunication in this thread. I would be testy about building houses that don't fit with the neighborhood, too. But I'm not testy about people who move into a builder neighborhood full of large bland houses.

I couldn't care less about a development of McMansions, but I hate it when they pop up in old, established neighborhoods.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I do think that a McMansion is more about appearances than reality and flaunting money rather than exhibiting taste. Not everyone has the same taste, but much of what is built now is abominable-banana split houses with brick, stone, stucco, and siding on one building not to mention other ostentatious elements.

A Mcmansion also does impact other homes in a neighborhood when it is built in place of another smaller home and now takes up almost the entire lot. We have some in our neighborhood that make the house next door look almost like a child's playhouse (disclaimer: this is an fairly well-to-do neighborhood with good-sized homes, ours being one of the smaller ones). The new houses were built on a lot that had one large home and now has six homes which are close enough together that I bet the owners could string a clothesline between them. In some cases, the sunlight and tree cover from old oaks once shared is now taken up and/or destoyed because someone feels the need to build a big "look at me" house. The "60 Minutes" segment showed one man saying people in the neighborhood were jealous or couldn't afford to renovate. That is another misconception that many of these folks have. We bought our home (~2000 sq.ft 1960 ranch including the basement) precisely because it was a small, well-built house on a large lot (large that is for the DC area-half acre) with lots of trees. We were watching my parents struggle up and down stairs in their large place in PA and wanted to be in a place that could eventually work for one-level living when we got to that point. We have renovated over the years and will continue to do so as needed.

I think the definition of excessive home size is when your house impacts your neighbor's enjoyment of his/her space whether inside or outside. I do not want to look out and see your looming wall right on my property line. I do not want to lose my morning or afternoon sun because your new home blocks it. I am very careful to be a good neighbor and I would appreciate that in others. If you want such a huge house, find a place with a large lot.

I agree 100% with Pal about the materials thing. Some of the houses being built also have plastic interior doors, for example, and shoddy workmanship if you look closely, but, wow-granite countertops. It is absolutely trying to look like something you are not.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Mrsmarv, I had to laugh when you said men design the majority of houses. How true!

When we were building on and rebuilding the rest of the house, our builder, who is VERY good by the way, kept insisting we should put in carpet instead of wood, told me I should stain the cabinets instead of painting them white. He didn't think beadboard was a good idea. And said we REALLY should paint the kitchen and DR wall green, my least favorite color.

But he was so used to building the "standard" home in the City that everyone has. When all was said and done he was amazed at my choices.

This city builder wasn't used to doing exactly what the WOMAN wanted! I also think a lot of it had to do with him never building a home in the country before where design and colors are much different than in the City.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

i agree!! a beautiful, all brick house is gorgeous.
however, when it sits in a large neighborhood of large, "mcmansion" type homes built by a huge national builder and 99% of the homeowners do not choose the "all-brick" option, it is an option most people forego...the markup our big builder put on the all brick option was definitely quite a bit higher than if we contacted a mason to brick our home...it was a much different experience than when we dealt with a smaller custom builder in a couple of other areas...

these neighborhoods are often transient.... when you purchase a home knowing it'll be yours for 3-8 yrs, your mindset changes and you prioritize for the short term and resale and a beautiful kitchen trumps all-brick usually!!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Most builders do not choose colors, finishes, etc. They usually have a design person who does that.

Before building our home, we visited a parade of home where there was a house designed by a woman. Her husband was the general contractor. We loved it. We both commented on her use of space, especially in the kitchen/bath/laundry areas.

I agree with Allison regarding the brick. We went through 3 brick masons before getting the job done right and finished. It is not cheap, nor do you want someone who is not skilled working on your home.

I don't see many of the McMansion type homes in this area, maybe in one part of the city I am near, but I live outside city limits, in a rural area. I am more thankful for that after reading this thread LOL.

tina


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Interesting topic ... I agree with demifloyd's definition ..."What comes to mind is street after street that looks the same, same two trees in the front yard, same landscaping, same houseplans, all large homes built too close to the street, with very little space inbetween the homes, sometimes with roofs almost touching.

Usually these homes have a few "impressive" features--like lots of crown moulding, hardwood floors and granite, but have very little individual character." Cherry kitchens with stainless appliances and granite counters ...

Here the McMansions are being built in previously farmed fields, and the thing that you notice the most on these houses are the garages .... since that's all you see in the front of the house. And they are all squished together with little room between them, and there are empty fields behind them???

Igloochic, your gorgeous home was probably considered at it's time with the same feeling as the McMansions of today are ... but it has good materials and character that the McMansions of today do not.

I also live in a home that I know is too large for myself and my furkids ... 2500 sq ft. But my parents gifted me a 600 sq. ft. bedroom addition to the first floor so they could visit while they were able. Eventually I will be able to live only on the first floor and close up the upstairs, so will really live in approx. 1900 sq feet. Probably still too much for one person ... that's OK.

And I bought the property because of the 20 acres, so I wouldn't have to worry too much about any McMansion subdivisions crowding me ... and my town requires 5 acre lots at minimum. My forever home that I've lived in for 13+ years so far ...


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

There is nothing wrong with exhibiting taste and wealth, per se, I don't think. It's that McMansions do it the wrong way.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Cleveland, but there are some magnificent enclaves of "old wealth" here, which I'm sure is similar in many older northern cities.

You drive through them and it just blows your mind how beautiful everything is...big trees, beautiful homes with a ton of character and being kept up very well...perfect grass...

Whether it's in an urban neighborhood like Shaker Heights or "exurban" like Gates Mills, these houses are simply gorgeous, unique, and a wonderful show of what money AND TASTE can get you.

Driving through McMansion "enclaves" is not nearly as nice an experience. It's an ostentatious and untasteful display of wealth. The landscaping is not done properly, the houses and neighborhoods are not to scale.

If I were going to spend 500,000 on a home here in this area (in Cleveland that can buy you a TON), I'd much rather choose a tasteful, medium sized beautiful house in a wealthy enclave with taste than a comparatively larger and more gaudy new construction McMansion heaven.

There's a reason that "old money" looks down upon "new money". And it makes a lot of sense.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I don't think it makes sense to "look down" on anyone.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Thank you, demifloyd. That's what has been bugging me about this entire thread (both of them).


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I am a long time lurker on this wonderful site. Very rarely do I post anything. However, I must say that I would LOVE to have a hugh house! Even though I live in a nice 2500 square foot traditional home with just my husband and dog, if I ever won the lottery, one of the first things I would do is to build/buy a very large home. Not because I need the space or want to impress the neighbors, but simply because I love large homes. That being said, I will never win the lottery so I don't forsee that McMansion in my future. But, I will never be critical of those that do have them. After all, it IS THEIR money!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

(both of them)

???


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

igloo - get over it...tisk tisk...


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Tina, I realize that builders have a design team. But our builder was doing it on his own with no design team. He thought he was guiding me in picking things out thinking I wanted to have the standard cookie-cutter interior as the houses he built. Some carpet, some wood floor...the usual.

What we did was take a modernish style house and transformed it to look old. Never in his life had he done it before. I think he thought we were nuts. lol. But the best compliment was when it was almost finished and one of the workers asked us if this was our parent's house. Loved it!

I also agree with Allison about the brick. I never thought much of it until we hired "real" masons to do our fireplace and put "real" stone on it and on the outside of the house. Watching the precision cutting was amazing. The FP alone cost an arm and a leg, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.

In fact, I was so clueless as to what materials people built homes with that I had no idea there was fake stone! Give me real stone and brick or nothing at all. OTOH, I also like siding. :)


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Even though I don't care for mcmansions, I think if I had the opportunity, I would put one of those walk in huge closets for my bedroom. My home is a 1905 cottage, do you all know how small closets were made back then?? Thank goodness for the as seen on TV shoes under bed storage- LOL


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Both of them = both threads about this.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

So it comes around again that there can't be a discussion about culture that people can express disagreeing viewpoints without someone either being accused of looking down upon someone or being afraid that someone is looking down upon someone else. Welcome to the class system--the most class conscious people in America are the ones who maintain it doesnt exist. I am perfectly content with the fact that plenty of people think they are much better than I am, so what? And vice versa, I am not kidding myself.

The best way to disagree with the entire topic of a thread is to ignore it so it disappears.imo.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Yeah, Palimpsest, people can't have an opinion.

I'm horrified by "brick-front" yet my house is sided in asbestos-cement!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Welcome to the class system--the most class conscious people in America are the ones who maintain it doesnt exist. I am perfectly content with the fact that plenty of people think they are much better than I am, so what? And vice versa, I am not kidding myself.

Another amen!

Maureen, ours is too, but we liked the shingles so much we opted to match them with the new cement version when we added on. Good insulation and paint lasts forever! ;)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Stinky -gardener, you're probably right about us being in similar situations. I can't imagine that there are a whole lot of people that don't have to make some sort of compromise.

I guess I'm lucky in the sense that there was a neighborhood of blah houses that otherwise met my requirements. That way, none of my neighbors are giving me the stink-eye for my tasteless box - they have one too.

I live in MN, in a suburb of Minneapolis. There's another suburb here that I would *love* to live in, but at the time we were looking, we couldn't really even get into a shoebox there.

That suburb has some actual mansions, some very charming homes built in the 20s-30s, and some McMansions.

I can see why someone in a charming 20s home in that suburb would be annoyed when someone buys a neighboring home, tears it down, and builds a much bigger, less charming home.

I can also see why someone would make a perfectly rational decision to do so. People make tradeoffs. Will I build a house that maybe looks silly on the lot so I can have the size I want for me, and the school district I want for my kids? That answer is yes for some people.

It's hard to accept that we cannot control the decisions made by other property owners. Different things annoy different people. Personally, I probably wouldn't care if someone built a McMansion next door to me (even if my house was as charming as my former Tudor).

But if I got to impose my own "covenents" on my neighborhood to maximize my own enjoyment, it would be illegal for anyone to let their dog outside unless there was a responsible adult out there with the dog. Yes, even in fenced yards. The dogs that bark all day at anything that moves....they decrease my enjoyment of my property. The dogs that escape, because they can jump the fence or because a kid leaves the gate open - same thing.

The point here isn't a debate about dogs. My point is - communities have to set limits on how much "say" we can have on other people's property. Otherwise I can't build a big ugly house and you can't have a dog.

Someone posted something to the effect of "if you want a bigger house, go get a bigger lot" (presumably NIMBY). The corollary to that would be "if you want to be able to restrict the size/type of home a neighboring property owner can build, buy the property yourself" or perhaps "only buy in neighborhoods that have already established covenants to the effect."


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

"Welcome to the class system--the most class conscious people in America are the ones who maintain it doesnt exist."

Um, did that happen here? (Did someone say class doesn't exist?)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

So how do all you guys square with the 578 million dollar school in LA?

Did you see the housing numbers today? I am so glad so many of you are happy with the destruction of the so called " mcmansions". The new home numbers where awful. I'm so glad you can celebrate the destrucion of our economy.

Have you considered in the north, that a 2,000 sq. ft. home turns into a potential 4,000 sq ft. home in areas where a basement could be redone? This is not an option in other parts of the country.

I am so sorry for this site is not being used for everyday people discussing decorating. Instead, it has been hijacked by people using it for a political agenda.

This is not about taste, we all know everone will say "do what you like" But, it is about people having private propery. We need to make all private propery part of the governement? right?


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Very interesting postings. I was once on a "less is more" roll (I had read all of Susanka's books) and planned on bumping out the back of our 1979 , 2400 sf tract Garrison Colonial to give us much needed breathing space for our kitchen and eating area (18x10 altogether) . However, the costs for the addition were prohibitive (to me), over $300/sf BEFORE accounting for appliances and cabinetry. I asked the contractors to estimate for a single room addition, just a breakfast room, so that the kitchen could be expanded into the current breakfast room, but the prices were even higher per sf. So now I am faced with remodeling the kitchen in the existing footage or taking the money we would have spent on the addition and trading up to one of the "McMansions" three blocks up the street. The "McMansions" are 3200-3700 sf and were built in the 90's. Some are prettier than others. Their kitchen/eating areas are about the size I'd like, and are 20 years newer than my existing kitchen, so I wouldn't have to remodel. I like the fact that they have mudrooms, first floor offices, and 9 foot ceilings on the first floor. So now my thoughts have shifted to "value for the dollars" rather than "living well in a small space". Of course, my current home is tract housing, albeit well-built, so these newer home have finishes that are generally a little nicer than what I currently have. In my area these larger homes run about $650-750k, and sit on 1/3 acre, so there are still nice sized yards.

Not all of us can afford or want architectural integrity and bricked homes on all sides. We are just balancing our needs with our finances, and our priorities. As someone else said above, for me, a nice functional kitchen will beat out brick on all sides every time.

As to the size of the lots, I like that they're still close enough together that the kids can trick or treat door to door, and that neighbors can talk to each other from their porches. They are established communities with many families living there for many years.

That said, my husband is doing that "here I die" thing when the subject of moving comes up, so the McMansion may only be in my dreams, LOL.

Just some thoughts from someone who was once a "not so big house" snob.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Interestingly, the economies that are booming (india and china) are copying US style mcmansion-cookie-cutter gated communities :)

They used to have individually designed architectural homes, now they want the mass produced tract homes and high rises !

I guess wealth brings the middle class into dreaming big, i mean 5000sqft-for-3-people big :)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

As for the 'brick and stone' comment, the price would be over-inflated if you were to build in an area where those materials are not used regularly, such as CA. When I built in TX, both material were standard to my home, as they are in almost every home in the Austin area, as well as TX in general.

Just my 2 cents, but not all Mc M. are created equal. There are spec homes, as well as the true custom builds, and if large enough, a *true* Mc M. The others I would classify as typical cookie cutter 'big houses' or wannabe Mc M.

Where I come from, a very large home left by wealthy parents to a family member, was usually considered a mansion. *That*, IMO, was considered class, as well as being respected people in the community who worked hard to get such a house. Hollywood/Beverly Hills....have things changed! ;o)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

We are guilty of knocking down a 1940's ranch and building a 3800 square foot house on an acre. Yes, it's much larger than the older homes, but it's not a McM but a custom home with high end finishes.

Do we need 3800 square feet? No, but it's nice to finally have a closet.Lol. Most of our new neighbors love our home, except one but you can't make everyone happy.
Not all large homes are McM.
Not everyone who builds a large home does it show off. I don't care what anyone else thinks. In fact, I custom built b/c I like simpler finishes. I didn't want crown moulding.
Not everyone with a large home is living beyond their means.

But for the most part I agree with the sentiment on this thread. I'd rather live in an older, smaller home with a shorter commute than a McM with an hour commute and that is exactly the choice we made when bought our first home.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

Meangoose, I enjoyed & appreciated your reply.

Yes, I agree, many people have to compromise out there, for one reason or another. I should add, though, that your "attitude" about it is healthy & mature. I aspire to be healthy & mature also. Thanks for the good example. If you look at the "other" similar thread you can witness some of my less mature thoughts on the subject of falling values.

Mature thought: It is what it is. See, I can do it too!

Someone was just telling me that we can keep a "running inventory" of all things that make us feel desperate, or we can tell ourselves a "new story" about our circumstances. Yes, I choose to tell myself a new, less anxiety provoking story.

Like: It was all meant to unfold just as it did, & I'm meant to roll with it.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

To me, "McMansion" is to "Mansion" (as in, the Biltmore or even your average a Victorian mansion) like a Big Mac is to fine dining. Sprinkle the bun with sesame seeds, slather it with "special sauce", leave a peek of bland, green iceburg lettuce hanging over the edge, it's still just a pre-formed, fatty beef patty on white bread.

Sure, you can "live large" in the McMansion, the same way you can get full on the essentially empty calories of a Big Mac. But if aesthetics and style and taste actually matter to you, you'll find it hard to be happy with an oversized tract house. That's because deep down, even though it's been fattened up with granite counter tops, Palladium windows in the bathroom and SS appliances and supersized to the point that even the dog can have his own room, you suspect that it's still not worth the money. It's also why, despite her defense of the people who do do buy the oversized tract houses commonly known as McMansions, igloochic does not live in one. Deep down, she knows better. Hers is the real thing ;^)


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

This thread is like deja vu!

I predict that this is going to be one of those threads where people in small homes defend their small size and people in large homes defend theirs.

Someone will post how wasteful it is to have a large home when much smaller worked for them. It uses too many resources, you don't need that space, it is ostentatious!

Someone else will say if I can afford it then who are you to tell me otherwise. You are all jealous, I don't come to your house and tell you how to live, if you can't afford a big house then don't buy one!

Telling someone their home is out of style is akin to saying their baby is ugly. No good will come of it! Just walk away! Walk away!


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

So true, Littledog! Very creatively said!

Ditto, dgmarie...& very funny.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

All I ask is, why??

Here is a link that might be useful: riches run amuck...


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

LOL Little dog :) I of course know that this home is more than an inflated tract home, but I guess I was trying to say that this home was once the talk of the town in all the wrong ways, just as the mcmansions are here :) It was considered too plain, too big and ate up too much of it's lot. Now no one complained it was too big for two people of course...because back in the day that was fine, but it was too big for the neighborhood, which consisted of three small and gorgeous victorian homes. This place blocked those homes views as well as their light and we won't even discuss the outbuildings, which included a five story tower right in front of their living room :)

In this thread there are so many definations of what a mcmansion owner is and what their house is that you could easily attribute the lable to many homes and their owners. I for one prefer not to cast stones. People love their homes, large and small and I don't think it's right to disparage them for doing so.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

According to a short article in AOL Finance, not a single *new *build priced over $750,000 sold in July. (They termed these McMansions in the article, but in many areas it would buy a well -built mansion and in some other areas a condo so take that with a grain of salt.)

1000 *new *builds in the $500K-$750K were sold

80% of *new *builds sold in Julu were under $300K.

Interestingly enough, the local record for a house was reached in my city this summer at slightly under $6M.
There are currently 3 properties on the market within spitting distance of my place in the $4M-$6M range. And I don't live in the best neighborhood in the city.


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RE: Good riddance McMansions!

I wish I had time to read through all the responses in this thread. I'm not sure what (or if there is) the general concensus is but I'll add my two cents.

As empty nesters, DH and I built the home we thought we "should" have a few years ago...hated it. Rebuilt what might be considered a "McMansion" (though not on a small lot)...love it and use all the spaces. Due to the energy conservation measures we took while building, heating costs are reasonable and, since we have no need for a/c, no energy costs in summer months.


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