Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Snowguy716

"Monster houses" have neighbors miffed.

13 posts in this topic

http://www.startribune.com/462/story/666518.html

This article talks about how many inner-ring suburban residents are having to deal with modest houses in their neighborhoods being torn down to replaced by behemoth "monster houses". An uproar in suburban Twin Cities neighborhoods is leading to some ordinance changes to limit house height and size.

I haven't seen this much, not being from the Cities, but I can imagine if my neighbor put up a mansion sized house that butted the property line. I don't know about you.. but I like yards... but I guess if you want to spend your life in your air conditioned mountain of timber, then go right ahead. I'll be out enjoying the nice weather.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


This has it has become a particularly bad problem in cities such as here in Charlotte where there is a lot of new wealth, but not the common sense, it seems, to handle it. I think in a few years there are going to be a lot of empty houses in these places because people are finding that a 5000+ sq/ft house, especially for just two people, is far too much to maintain, heat & cool, keep clean, etc. It's like living in a shopping mall.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up in a "mansion" according to many friends. It was a log house with huge front windows, a loft, and a full basement. It was about 2500 sq. ft. for 5 people. It was plenty big for our family, and we never really even used the loft.

Now my family lives in an 1800 sq. ft. house with 3-5 people, depending on who's there.. and it works just fine.

Oh well.. there's this idea in America that bigger means better. Maybe we need more women running our country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe we need more women running our country.

I think with the state the nation's in we could use a single mom of four who works three jobs at minimum wage. Get someone with a sense of reality in power.

But that's neither here nor there.

These monster houses are goofy. If they absolutely must be built, then put 'em out in the country somewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The McMansion thing happens in most cities. Here in Dallas, it is common in a couple of semi-historic areas, Lakewood and the Park Cities, that are within a few minutes of downtown. It's kind of odd - lots of small craftsman and tudor cottages next to zero lot line McMansions that obliterate the yard, often in Mediterranean styles that clash with the rest of the neighborhood. Property values are quite high in these areas - little sells for less than half a million in Lakewood and property values in the Park Cities average well over a million.

Even in my much smaller hometown of Little Rock the same phenomenon has been occurring for years. The most prestigious older neighborhood, the Heights, has homes ranging from $400k to $3 million and probably 1/4 of the homes there have been torn down and rebuilt.

The impetus occurs when you have older houses that are small and in poor condition in a prime neighborhood. In these neighborhoods the lot is worth the same with or without the house on it so investors can make a tidy sum by buying the home and tearing it down and replacing it with the largest home they can fit on the lot. Even worse, sometimes they knock down two homes and build one giant mansion on two lots which really destroys the intimate character of the neighborhood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here in coastal California we have written the book on teardowns.

What cities need are strong zoning parameters including F.A.R.s (Floor Area Ratios including garages) height limits including solar access to neighboring properties (I think some cities in Colorado do this) setbacks and building geometry that are respectful of the existing built pattern.

It is even weirder out here since living outdoors is a no brainer. Why in the world would you want to completely destroy your garden just to be able to brag about your huge master suite, 500 sf kitchen and new media room?

If your property has the room you should be able to build any distasteful McMansion you wish to, but you shouldn't be able to loom ominously over all of your neighbor's sweet cottages and gardens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has it has become a particularly bad problem in cities such as here in Charlotte where there is a lot of new wealth, but not the common sense, it seems, to handle it. I think in a few years there are going to be a lot of empty houses in these places because people are finding that a 5000+ sq/ft house, especially for just two people, is far too much to maintain, heat & cool, keep clean, etc. It's like living in a shopping mall.

Ha! There are 3 of us living in a 1000 sq ft tuna can and that's hard enough to maintain. I can't imagine maintaining a 5,000 sq ft trophy house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


The McMansion thing happens in most cities. Here in Dallas, it is common in a couple of semi-historic areas, Lakewood and the Park Cities, that are within a few minutes of downtown. It's kind of odd - lots of small craftsman and tudor cottages next to zero lot line McMansions that obliterate the yard, often in Mediterranean styles that clash with the rest of the neighborhood. Property values are quite high in these areas - little sells for less than half a million in Lakewood and property values in the Park Cities average well over a million.

I can appreciate the objections but there are countervailing arguments as well. Some would contend that over the long haul the rejuvenation of our cities requires an intown housing stock that can compete effectively with suburban offerings. In particular, they say, sustainable cities require the social and economic investment of families as well as singles and couples. They maintain that unless families are able to find comparable intown housing the suburbs will continue to dominate.

In addition, they say, it's inaccurate to hold out Craftsman and Tudor bungalows as the gold standard of style. They point out that in earlier times it was common for intown homes to be significantly larger, more varied in style and size from one another, and to be built closer to property lines, prior to the introduction of bungalow style subdivisions in the 1920s-40s. A hundred years ago it was not unusual for large houses (which would be called "McMansions" in today's parlance) to be built adjacent to much smaller properties. The idea that the houses on a street should be of a uniform size and "character", they would claim, is a relatively modern fashion that runs counter to the organic growth of cities.

My own feeling is that cities do need to be able to compete with the burbs for residents. While I don't believe that necessarily means offering the *same* housing stock that's available in suburbia, cities should try to avoid offering a hostile environment to potential residents who want bigger houses. Before long, housing fashions, energy considerations and market conditions will likely moderate the size of new homes anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think I've seen anything like this happening in Richmond. I have heard about it on 60 Minutes and it's amazing what some people do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think I've seen anything like this happening in Richmond. I have heard about it on 60 Minutes and it's amazing what some people do.

This is happening in my neighborhood in Huntsville, AL. There are at least 4 such homes going up right now within 1/2 mile of our house and the house two doors down from us is scheduled for demolition. Most of the houses have been sold and moved and then they built on the lot. The problem I have with it is that they built such large homes out of character with the neighborhood. I understand building them slightly larger, but I am talking 4000+sqft homes on a 0.25 acre lot when they are surrounded by 1500-2000 sqft homes. According to our neighborhood zoning laws, 30% is the maximum lot coverage, including outbuildings and covered porches. I guess the city is granting variances for all the projects. The rules are already in place to prevent it from happening, but it doesn't matter if the city doesn't enforce their own rules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can appreciate the objections but there are countervailing arguments as well. Some would contend that over the long haul the rejuvenation of our cities requires an intown housing stock that can compete effectively with suburban offerings. In particular, they say, sustainable cities require the social and economic investment of families as well as singles and couples. They maintain that unless families are able to find comparable intown housing the suburbs will continue to dominate.

In addition, they say, it's inaccurate to hold out Craftsman and Tudor bungalows as the gold standard of style. They point out that in earlier times it was common for intown homes to be significantly larger, more varied in style and size from one another, and to be built closer to property lines, prior to the introduction of bungalow style subdivisions in the 1920s-40s. A hundred years ago it was not unusual for large houses (which would be called "McMansions" in today's parlance) to be built adjacent to much smaller properties. The idea that the houses on a street should be of a uniform size and "character", they would claim, is a relatively modern fashion that runs counter to the organic growth of cities.

My own feeling is that cities do need to be able to compete with the burbs for residents. While I don't believe that necessarily means offering the *same* housing stock that's available in suburbia, cities should try to avoid offering a hostile environment to potential residents who want bigger houses. Before long, housing fashions, energy considerations and market conditions will likely moderate the size of new homes anyway.

Very well said. My neighborhood is exactly the same way. I live in an 800 square foot house on about 1/4 acre lot (if that) and on both sides of me are million dollar mansions. It's strange.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to get a picture of this house in Taunton, MA (small struggling city 45 mins south of Boston) that I saw. It is the absolute definition of a McMansion and it's squashed on a tiny lot on a street lined with double decker duplexes close to the street. It is the funniest thing I think I've ever seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.