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End of the McMansion Era

End of the McMansion Era

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by Luke Willson

Maybe you’ve seen a McMansion. Maybe you live next door to one of these neighborhood behemoths. They tower over their neighbors’ modest two-story homes or exist in subdivisions of cookie-cutter giganto homes. Over-sized and poorly-conceived, these super-houses are considered such eyesores that some municipalities have tried to prevent them by placing limits on the size and square footage in new home construction. For people living in the shadow (literally) of a McMansion , a recent report by the real estate website is welcome news, even if it means smaller projects for home contractors. For better or worse, the Era of the McMansion has come to an end.

The Surveys Say: Smaller is Better

Announcements of the end of the McMansion Era cropped up online after a recent report on American attitudes toward home-buying, published by real-estate site The decline in new home-buyers over the last few years, largely as a result of the recession, is well-known. But, this most recent report shows that another aspect of American families’ dream homes - the desired square footage - has decreased significantly as well.

Another survey, conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, backs up this new development. According to the report, nine out of 10 architects are signing on to smaller, cheaper home construction projects than in the past. The construction of luxury home improvements, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, fountains and landscaping, has also experienced a decrease. This is great for the average home owner, but it will likely mean a shift in focus for many home contractors.

What Is a McMansion, Anyway?

McMansions, so named for their similarity to McDonald’s meals (mass-produced, super-sized and with a side of fries), are typically more than 3,200 square feet, with 10-12 foot ceilings, lavish interiors, and porticos so large that they could probably come equipped with a drawbridge. Pejoratively known as "Garage Mahals ", "Persian Palaces ", "Starter Castles ", "Faux Chateaus " or "Hummer Homes ", McMansions are characterized by their gigantic stature and lack of architectural style. Another problem is that the homes have such a large footprint that garden and yard space is often drastically reduced in normal sized lots. Though, somehow, many of them still manage to cram in the requisite circular cobblestone drive.

McMansions are a relatively new development. The average size of a new home construction in the ‘60s was 1,200 square feet. By the ‘80s, when McMansions were first being built, the average had risen to 1,710 square feet, and by the 2000s it was a whopping 2,330 square feet. However, these days the home construction trend is reversing, and, for better or worse, experts don’t expect the down-sizing to end any time soon.

During the housing boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the market for these huge homes skyrocketed. As a bridge between the average suburban house and upscale custom mansions found in gated communities, many home-buyers found themselves in a position to build or buy their own "mini-palace". Whether constructed in a freshly-painted subdivision of nearly identical McMansions or built in an older neighborhood, these massive houses satisfy a desire for affluence… and irritate neighbors.

If you’re worried that the new house being built down the block is going to be a looming behemoth of a home, breathe a sigh of relief, because that era is coming to an end! More likely, it’s going to be a normal-sized house that won’t give you a creeping feeling of insignificance. Of course, a smaller home doesn't have to be less classy home.

Small House, Mansion Appearance

  • There are countless, affordable home remodeling projects that can create the sophistication and elegance that McMansions once were intended to deliver. Consider giving your house the sophistication of a fake English manor by adding a fountain or constructing a new patio or deck. Landscaping and gardening services can also do wonders for a boring yard (the McMansion probably doesn’t have space for a yard anyways). Upgrading your home’s siding or contracting repainting services are also a good way to spruce up your home’s exterior.
  • McMansions aren’t just ostentatious on the outside, they’re luxurious on the inside too. Fortunately, there are plenty of remodeling services that will help improve the look and feel of your home’s interior, such as bathroom remodeling, kitchen remodeling, bedroom remodeling - nearly any room of the house can be remodeled to your specific needs and desires. Improving the lighting fixtures in your home is also a good project, as no McMansion is complete without the faux-crystal chandelier. And, finally, flooring is another fantastic home improvement project that can show off the beauty of your home.
  • Of course, increasing the square footage of your home is probably the best option for showing your neighbor they’re not the only one with a big home. Consider making a home addition, like an extra bedroom or sun-room. But, if large houses are already a problem for you, try not to go overboard on the additions. You might find yourself in possession or your own McMansion!
  • And, finally, we also offer demolition and destruction services if you feel that it’s come to that…

Hiring a Professional

To learn more about the construction and remodeling services offered through, feel free to browse our collection of articles. Or, contact us today to be connected with a certified home contractor. We offer free in-home estimates and a large network of general contractors that can help you with nearly any home improvement project. Call us or contact us online today!

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