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The End of the McMansion?

Posted by logic (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 27, 08 at 0:37

Is it bye, bye, McMansion?

Here is a link that might be useful: Home builders scramble to downsize floorplans


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The End of the McMansion?

The way i read that article is the builders need to build more affordable homes, and to do so AND make a profit,they are building smaller homes..Larger homes will,imho, never go away, as long as people can afford them..The problem in this country is people thought they DERSERVED them,whether they could afford them or not


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

We were looking at houses last month, and several McMansions were on the list. All I could think about when I looked at them was the HUGE amount of maintenance it would take to keep them looking good, the HUGE hvac systems that were in them, and all those tall, tall walls o' windows that who knows how to clean...

Another problem was that while they were huge, they were often very poorly built with the cheapest of materials possible. Yeah, I've got 40 doors, but they're all cheap junk that I'll have to replace kinda thing...

In the end, we bought an earthcraft home, it's still a nice size (about 3500 sq ft including the finished basement), but it's not a monster. It's also a simple roof design and all brick, which I'm hoping equals low maintenance...

I definitely traded square footage for quality of build and design.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

I was talking to a friend about sewing machines the other day, and told her that I would gladly spend a good amount of money on a simple machine like they built in the fifties and sixties, as opposed to the machines I see now, with plastic attachments, nylon gears and all sorts of bells and whistles even an advanced sewer like myself would never use in a hundred years. Then had the same conversation with our furnace man who was doing the fall maintenance on our heating system, and back-up heat.........expensive and basic.

It's not about MONEY. It's about QUALITY. If X number of dollars will build me a modest sized house like the rock of Gibralter, then I'd build it any day over a large crackerbox, full of glitz, made of plastic and glued together sawdust. The home in which I am living was built seventeen years after this territory became a state. The roof beams are just as true as they were 185 years ago. Alls you got to do is drive down a street in a twenty year old subdivision and try say the same thing. When I was younger, I did buy a brand new home in such a subdivision. I lived there two years, and the roof was sagging slightly when I moved, and the brads/nails were already rusting on the cedar siding. But, the realtor listed it as a Junior Exec home! whoeeeeeeee. Dang.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

We were looking at homes recently for possible relocation. Many of them in the area we were looking were huge - five bedrooms, five bathrooms, 5000 square feet, etc. This is what showed up in the price range we were looking at - what we think we'd get for our current house. I found it rather discouraging - the poor quality materials and workmanship in a pretty expensive house. I'd much rather have a smaller, quality home - I now REALLY understand The Not So Big House concept after seeing these cheaply built behemoths in person. We live in a 35 year old 2500 square foot house where we've replaced alot of things in as they've fallen apart - this place wasn't the greatest quality either when it was built in the 70s. We've used high quality materials and craftsmanship - clearly we care more about quality than quantity. It seems not many other people do based on some of these homes that are out there.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Oy (smacking forehead), this is were I usually come in on these threads and say ...

Large houses aren't all made with cheap materials, just like small houses aren't all of great quality. Most of the large tract homes built in the last 10-15 years by large builders, such as Pulte, Toll brothers,etc, I believe, were built to lower standards, but plenty of people/builders also put up large, high quality homes. We have seen many examples of that right here on the building forum.

Also, large homes are not a new phenomenon. Just moved from a very nice town in Mass, most of the older homes (much earlier than 50/60s, many from the 1800s) were not small. There has always been a demand for both large and small homes. I don't see that changing.

We are between houses right now, due to an overseas job assignment, but when we buy, I won't be looking at anything smaller than 4000 sq.ft. Some people spend money on big vacations, some keep horses. We like to spend time at home, so we spend our money on square feet!


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

FWIW, i have owned 3 homes in the last 20 years.1st was a Cape Cod built in 1950,maybe 1300 sf,no issues about quality except the home needed to be practically gutted and updated..2nd home built in the 70's ,1800 sf,very bland,builder grade everything,needed to be updated..3rd home is 4500sf,built 5 years ago...Some upgrades,but still not the type of "upgrades" we prefer,so like the other homes we have redone things,such as masterbath,etc..

My point is most homes that are built by developers are not of the highest quality,this is just a fact..The quailty comes when an owner decides to 'upgrade'/remodel/renovate..the custom touches an owner adds makes a major difference..

Getting back to the "older" homes and how people assume they are of more quality..I would bet 90% of materials used in homes today are significantly better then the materials used in older homes..People have a way of looking back at a time or place or home with a jaded eye...


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an example of McMansion

It'd be great for everyone to post their definition of a McMansion.What does a McMansion have they seperates it from simply a large home? What would one expect to find in the interior? I will not be surprised to see different opinions


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Homes built around the Victorian era were larger, because this country was plush from the industrial revolution. The homes built after WWII were smaller, because the returning vets, many of them stepping from life with their parents to marriage, needed housing fast. It has as much to do with the era as an individual.

To say that all older homes were quality built is also an over-simplification and I didn't mean to suggest that. I have seen real crap in century old houses, as well as excellent quality. There were rich and poor people then, too and people tend to build what they can afford.

But, as far as the norm for quality in building materials, if one does find older homes intact and not renovated, it is obvious that we are building the major parts of the structures more cheaply. My parent's 1930s craftsman has copper plumbing, for instance. And full thickness hardwood (real hardwood, not what is called hardwood now) floors. Cast iron sinks and tubs, not fiberglass. Foot wide, thick crown moldings, not pine four inch wide strips. Wet plaster walls, not drywall. Brass hardware, real brass.

Another old house I had lived in (circa 1890s) had marble covers on heavy radiators. I have hot water heat, and my equivalent to a radiator is really thin, really cheap metal..rusting after five years and plastic pipe.

Our homeowner's insurance would be priced out of reach if we had coverage to replace our old house with similar building materials, like solid wooden beams ten inches thick, solid mahogony stair railings. Slate roof with a life of 75 years. We do, out of curiosity, go look at new houses going up, and even those in what I would call the top five percent of price and quality in our area have the bells and whistles the basic construction is still not with materials like wet plaster or solid wood trims and still covered with thin (often vinyl) siding over some sort of laminated board.

There is a way to rate the expected life of construction one sometimes seen in commercial buildings. IE fifty year expectancy. I don't think most homes are built, even the stick builts, to last a hundred years anymore.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

To say that all older homes were quality built is also an over-simplification and I didn't mean to suggest that. I have seen real crap in century old houses, as well as excellent quality.

But there has been one hundred years of selection -- only the well-built houses from 100 years ago are still standing.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Nope, even the crappy ones from a hundred years ago are standing. I live near a town where who urban blocks..block upon block......are homes a hundred years old and older, and believe me, they weren't all "quality" homes. One hundred year old crap is still around.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Things I think of when I think of McMansions:

Great Rooms
Bonus Rooms
Open Floor Plan
5 or more bedrooms

One other huge reason why old homes were larger is that people didn't have birth control and they did have larger families.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Nope, even the crappy ones from a hundred years ago are standing.

Wow, that is impressive. It is all I can do to keep my 30-year-old builder's spec special from crumbling into sawdust and goo.

One other huge reason why old homes were larger is that people didn't have birth control and they did have larger families.

Hmm, my ancestors had big families in 2 or 3 bedroom houses. Three kids shared a bed, IFKWIM.

-Lena


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

"One other huge reason why old homes were larger is that people didn't have birth control and they did have larger families."

I disagree!

I am with lenam on this one... my mom was one of 13 in a small 3 bedroom house. Parents in one, boys in one and girls in one.

The small houses in her town were filled with large families and no house had more than 3 bedrooms... and only one small bathroom --- in the cellar, no less.

The large older homes in her hometown were occupied by rich folk with spoiled only children.... and house servants.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

The large older homes in her hometown were occupied by rich folk with spoiled only children.... and house servants.

I agree with that one. I do census research and have found a lot of the original houses where I matched them up with families I have been researching. They could easily be less than 700 square feet, and a hassle of children in it. I have lived in huge old victorians, too and as luan said, it would be a doctor, his wife, maybe an in-law and servants.

As I said, people bought what they could afford......in boom times, the rich had manses, in bust times, the rich had mases. The poor settled for little houses, or run-down big ones they inherited or got cheap.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

I was thinking about large rural farm homes and the homes of the wealthy with my comment about more kids. Yes, there are plenty of older, smaller homes.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

I can't believe that nobody has gone green yet in this discussion - mentioned how McMansions are huge consumers of our precious resources to build and fill with furnishings and use up more than their "fair share" of energy to maintain. Ya'll should be familiar with the arguments.
What's the trend in ceiling height these days - 14 feet? What's the cost to heat and air condition that extra sheer volume of unusable space in a huge house? (Yes, I'm a HUGE fan of Susanka and the concepts of TNSBH.)
Did anybody see the PBS series, Frontier House? I have some friends who are in the same boat as the rich family from California. They bought a huge chunk of land to build their dream 5000sf home. After the divorce, the mom and two kids live in one upstairs corner of the house and don't use the downstairs at all. And she hates having to keep it cleaned and all when they don't even use it.
As I get older and wiser, I'm down to 2000sf with two kids and older mom and DH working in full-time home office. And it works fine - we just aren't huge consumers because we don't have extra space for stuff we don't need. Maybe that's why we've always had enough money for solid 20%-50% down payments and haven't had to take out wacky loans to buy a house we couldn't afford. But that's a whole other topic...


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Ay caramba!!! So,only large homes use our precious resources? I'll bet my hvac system is significantly more efficient then most smaller homes..I am certain my home is much more efficient,better windows,better insulation,etc..just because a home is small does NOT mean it is energy efficient..

And i guess only people who live in modest homes can pony up 20-50% down payments? That is simply ridiculous...

Most foreclosures,unfortunately, are happening to modest homes,in urban areas...Most people who have "large" homes are not at risk of foreclosure...


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Huh? I successfully stirred the pot, but I fail to understand the logic here....

Are you saying that all things being equal, a 5000+sf McMansion built for say, a family of four, uses a "fair share" of one of our most challenging resources, energy, as compared to a smaller home? Note, I did not say, "an older smaller home" but I think that is your assumption and I'd have to agree with that.

But I personally think that it is selfish, from an environmental standpoint, to think one NEEDS, for example, a separate bedroom for each child and a formal dining room and a casual dining room and a kitchen table and a formal living room and a family room and a recreation room and the latest trend that I've seen, another lounging area inside the master bedroom suite, all of which I've seen in a single home for a family of four, with the tallest, scariest ceilings that I've ever seen that made the house cold and sterile, to be honest.

Sorry, but I can't even understand what your 2nd question is asking. I simply stated that I didn't buy more house than I could afford. We also have happened to not buy the most house that we could've afforded, just the amount of house that we needed. (But don't ask my mom - she'll tell you that we need to build a 2nd story.)

Are there real statistics regarding square footage for foreclosures? I don't know many who are really at risk for foreclosure (that I know of anyway) but I know lots of folks who are finding themselves "upside down" in very large homes.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

On an older McMansion thread there were a few posters saying how wasteful it was to have 4 people in a large house and how "great" they were for having 7 people in a smaller house. If you really do the math the family with 5 kids is going to use many, many more resources than the smaller family in a large house. It doesn't stop at the house, the number of kids will make a much bigger impact on resources in the long term.

It comes down to choice. We like to spend our money on a larger house, but only added 2 kids to the world population. Others families make different choices. A bit difficult to judge who is the "better" person.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

C9, I did go green. The house we bought is an Earthcraft house. If you google it you can see that there are all sorts of stringent requirements to meet when you build a green house, which this one is.

It's bigger than our last house, but far, far more energy efficient.

However, we didn't buy it to save the planet; we bought it because it's easier on our wallet than comparably priced homes that were not energy efficient.

And I *really* hate the word "fair". Fair, people, is not in the constitution. I don't give a rat's butt what you think is fair. Fair, schmair. I have no sympathy for people who have less than other people and whine that it's not "fair". Oh, boo hoo. Life's not fair-work hard, make your own luck, and make the best of what you have and stop looking at what other people have...

Off my soapbox, still cranky about the whole "spread the wealth" concept. Yeah, more like "spread the wealthy"...


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

well stated disneyrsh!!!! Is it safe to assume you didn't vote for the President-elect? ;)

Love the comment:

"spread the wealth" concept. Yeah, more like "spread the wealthy"...

I plan to use it, and will give you proper credit :)


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

I think McMansions are like porn: 'difficult to define, but I know it when I see it'. A McMansion is not simply a generously sized home with lots of single-use subdivided space. A McMansion and a gracious expansive residence can be easily distinguished. One is an external eyesore and an internal gag-me and the other is a lovely sheltering home of generous proportion. When you tour a gracious expansive residence you can easily imagine how you would live in it, even if the current decor and color scheme are "not you". When you tour a McMansion the house intrudes upon you and defines your shelter experience so aggressively that if you don't already love the internal finishes and the current owner's taste, you cannot figure out how to make it yours. In a GER you tend to guess correctly what is behind closed doors, in a McM will it be the pantry, a bathroom, some wierd useless closet, or the master suite opening right off the front entry?

I happened to be flipping through a Charlotte home builders giveaway the other day and they had a spread on a Mega-Mc, with the closing comment "although built to be the family's forever home, it is currently available...".


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

disneyrsh, I'll agree, "fair" isn't the best word to describe what I mean - it should be closer to "personal responsibility for saving the planet" in that if everyone just makes a small change for the purpose of clean water to drink or clean air to breathe, reducing noise or light pollution or the size of landfills or zero population growth, whatever, it's all personal choices. (That 4th grade report I had to write on "Ecology" started me off on all this!)

rileysmom, didn't the term "McMansion" start in the NoVa area with folks tearing down the smaller, older traditional homes and building monster homes right next to the old ones, hovering over them like a super-sized sore thumbs? Unfortunately, there are a few in my neighborhood, but most build and landscape so that they blend in okay. And it's mostly FEMA anyway, because if you rebuild >50%, you have to raise the whole structure one story. So they build 3-story homes right next to 1-story homes and it's tough no to look like a "McMansion" no matter what you do.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Dh and I just moved into a 1450 sq ft house in a retirement community and it's plenty big enough for 2 people! We had to downsize quite a bit, but there's a sense of freedom that goes along with getting rid of lots of tschotkes and other things that I'll never use.

We never lived in a McMansion, but all the ones I've ever been in seem to have lots of wasted space. Plus they seem to have enormous yards that take tons of resources takes to keep weed- and pest-free and fertilized and mowed.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

And I *really* hate the word "fair". Fair, people, is not in the constitution. I don't give a rat's butt what you think is fair. Fair, schmair. I have no sympathy for people who have less than other people and whine that it's not "fair". Oh, boo hoo. Life's not fair-work hard, make your own luck, and make the best of what you have and stop looking at what other people have...

Wow. Your compassion is overwhelming ...


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Compassion, schmopassion...


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Yup, life's not fair and I've found the sooner you come to grips with that and just get over it the better life is. Kind of like glass is half empty or it's half full - people with a half full outlook sure do seem to enjoy life alot more.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

I ran into a quote not so long ago I really liked and think it's a truism. Real wealth is living cheaper than you can afford to live. IOW you always have more resources than those you "need". Of course it was worded a lot more poetically. I'm certainly not rich, and the way things are going seem to be taking a trip down the slide of middle class, lol, but I know a few really wealthy people, and their homes, no matter how expensive are not pretentious and are inviting.

What is a McMansion? Agree with the hard to define, but know it when I see it idea. A person my age is familiar with the phrase Neuveux Riche. It was sort of spit out with disdain by families with "old money". I suppose today neuveu riche is a compliment, lol. But, it amounts to people who have more money than taste.

We had a McMansion go up on our road toward town. I thought it was a bleeding nursing home or something, as I saw the framing and it just kept growing. It's actually rather pretty, but they built it smack dab on the crest of a hill, devoid of any trees, and it looks out over acres of pastures and corn fields. It could have gone on the same hill, with a little better planning, and given the same view to the occupants, and looked at home. But, it looks like a big zit somebody needs to squeeze now. I live in a big old Federal and not at the crest of our hill, and we get lightening frequently enough, that every time I pass that place in a thunderstorm, I wonder if they have soiled their breeches yet?

Also up the road toward town is the second McMansion. It's a beautiful house, actually, with lots of Victorian gingerbread on it. But, it's on a typical small lot, and wedged in between two 1950s one story ranches, and they're lovely, but modest. Then the occupants have all these spotlights outside pointing toward the numerous bedrooms and windows. My God, I don't know how they sleep at night for the glare, nor why they think anyone wants to look at their house at three a.m.

Both of these huge homes would have looked perfectly suitable in the right situation, but look gauche where they are. So, in my mind........whether they are, or not........they're McMansions.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

IMO large homes and McMansions are 2 entirely different things. McMansions are big plastic-y things with fake fireplaces---you know the unvented ones with the hollow sheetrock box framed around it. McMansions push the limits of style. If it's French, it's tooooo French. A McMansion lacks both quality and taste. It's built with no regard for the environment and usually overpowers the lot it sits on leaving little room for trees or landscaping. I can imagine the little meter wheel that turns as electricity is gulped spins much faster on a McMansion----and not just because it's bigger.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

qdognj: "spread the wealth" concept. Yeah, more like "spread the wealthy"...

As opposed to spread (or even eliminate via job cuts) the earnings of the middle class instead, to bail out the "wealthy". 700 billion and counting.....while the wealthy execs and CEO's just keep getting more millions.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

A fast food meal is a pared down, cheaper version of a real meal in a good restaurant. It's puffed up, presented in a larger-than-necessary container to appear bigger than it is. The healthful, nutritious portion is miniscule, compared to the inexpensive trappings surrounding it. "Where's the beef," was an accurate criticism of one fast food chain's hamburger.

McFood/McMansion. There's no 'there' there. A poor imitation that may fool the eye for a moment, usually due to mere bulk.

BTW, 'new money' transforms rapidly into 'socially acceptable wealth' these days; it no longer requires the three generations of yore. There doesn't have to be a connection between 'crass' and 'wealth' any more than 'old money' always avoids 'crass'.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

LOL, Logic! My sentiments exactly!


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

it should be closer to "personal responsibility for saving the planet"

I think the phrase you are searching for is "responsible stewardship".


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

That's why I was referring to it as an old adage. But, it still rings true to a certain extent. Money doesn't buy class by osmosis. Really, really good clothing, cars, jewelry aren't gaudy or cheesy looking. They're classy. McMansions aren't.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Yeah, but one man's cheesy is a another man's classy OR one man's treasure is another man's trash. It is the judging and holier-than-thou attitude that really annoy me in these threads.

Recently, a poster was chided for sharing/showing the new car he bought. If he worked hard and can afford it, then good for him. I would like to have free choice on what I spend my money on ... I give that same right to other people.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Can someone make some sort of large vs. McM vs. small house sq ft boundaries? I couldn't get the initial link to work (by OP). If I live in a McM, it is because it is SO close to work and was the only thing we found that had a guest bedroom and bath on the first floor for elderly parents. What I would have built would have been quite different in finishes.


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

FYI, here's how Wikipedia defines 'McMansion.' It seems a LOT of homes these days meet their description. Hmmmm...

Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia definition of


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

This house is right across the street from our marina. I consider it a McMansion eyesore. It's huge & sits on just an acre. The building drawfs its surroundings of mid-19th century homes. (It is one of four McMansions all lined up in a row on this street.)

The listing says it was built in 1950 but that's incorrect, obviously. It's about 5-6 years old. The owners cheaped out on the landscaping...looks like everything came from Home Depot (small one-gallon shrubs & sapling trees). Nothing blooms...there's no excuse for not having blooming trees/shrubs/flowers in New England.

/tricia

Here is a link that might be useful: Mystic McMansion


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

Feast your eyes on these.
The rest are Mini-Macs.

Here is a link that might be useful: McMansions


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RE: The End of the McMansion?

tricia and berniek - I don't think either of those fit the mass-produced, oversized houses on tiny lots that is more what I view as being a McMansion. I guess I view it pretty much as described by Wikipedia.

They are big houses.

FWIW - I have no issues with McMansions as for some they are just fine. It's not a house size I'd want, but I can see the appeal for others and have a few friends that live in one. It is convenient for them due to many children, good schools, short commute, and very little yard maintenance.


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