McMansion Versus Usonian Mentality

My disdain for McMansions Continues. Find out why.

I am not sure about other parts of the country, but there is an absolute explosion of what is commonly called McMansions in our area. It is so weird that we are in these economically depressed (yes depressed) times and there are these houses popping up all around us that cost two, three or even four times the average price of a house in our area.

They have 10 foot ceilings. Reside on a SMALL lot. And totally DOMINATE the landscape. In other words, you can’t miss their ostentatious nature.

They are the total opposite of a Usonian House!

But what is funny about them is they are beginning to decorate them with a very distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright-ish Praire-look…just done really bad. I can actually tell you in my sleep the look of the next house that will be going up in one of these McSubdivisions. I can tell you the color of the brick, the use of rock veneer and simulated limestone capping and stucco painted a hideous color. Three car garages and MONSTER insulated roofs (so they can use the attic as storage…as if three floors was not enough room to put your stuff) finish it off.

What is appalling is they are usually taking an old-growth forest area, clearing the trees out until it creates a tree-line around the subdivision and smacking these suckers up and down that tree line…then advertising them as “nature-living”!

I’m sorry about my tone in this post as it really didn’t bother me much until I found out I was being beat out of really nice pieces of property for the sake of another McMansion (make that a super-size bathroom please). Not only that, many older beautiful 1960′s designed homes are being torn-down and these cancerous moles taking up their place.

I did talk to the owners of one and these homes a few months back and showed them the Usonian house plans for our future house that displayed the beauty it can access and the couple almost cried knowing that is REALLY what they wanted… but the builder was only offering the latest McMansion to them. Instead, they are stuck with paying $5,500 a year in taxes for a piece of property 70 X 100 and A LOT of empty space inside the house that takes up most of the property. Heating bills also top out and more importantly AC bills are more than the mortgage on most homes in my city. I mean sure you do not have to worry about landscaping… because there is no more room for it. Sure your neighbor is 5 feet away, but there is a “Forest” behind us (yes, they actually call a line of spared trees about 50 feet wide a forest).

I remember reading a book recently called the Millionaire Mind. A guy did a study of the average home a millionaire owns and I can tell you the people living in these McMansions are what is described as “Income Rich” not “Balance Sheet Rich”. In other words, they make A LOT of money, but at the end of the day, it all goes out in bills. Again, in other words, more actual millionaires are living the Usonian Lifestyle than you may think..no way they are putting out $5,000 to $7,000/mn for a McMansion.

To me, what the McMansion represents is a backwards view of wealth and ultimately happiness. I do not know anyone that would not be happy and have assets and live in a work of art, versus being broke and unhappy at the end of the month, but living in a McMansion.

McHappiness does not exist in my opinion…what do you think? Usonian with a balance of Wealth or a McCashflow supersized nightmare?

5 thoughts on “McMansion Versus Usonian Mentality

  1. Hi There J Adams,
    Thanks for that heaing and air conditioning a mcmansion, and using gas powered mowers, etc to maintain yards not even used, seems far worse to me than having an SUV . I drive my SUV rarely because I live in a reasonably sized house in the city and use a push mower, and walk to stores, church, post office, etc.
    2 minutes ago – 3 days left to answer.
    Kindest Regards

  2. Hi Just found your site and am enjoying it. Just thought I would pass on a story about McMansions. I think it was early 90s – we were back in Ontario visiting family and where in one of these houses. I asked the guy where he got his firewood ” The Garage”! Sounds like the disconnect with reality is alive and well in these homes. I am embarking on a similar adventure but a bit east – have five acres of shore front land on Deer Island in New Brunswick that I will be building on in 2015. Looking forward to watching your adventure unfold!

  3. Thanks, Jim! Yes the McMansion mentality may be so because as people get older and more affluent, they feel like they want to move outside the city…but do not want to give up their amenities. I guess you can almost call it Yuppie/Farmer living. It is rampant in our area and likely to grow more and more. As I said before, we are competing with MANY buyers that have that McDream in our area. We passed this monster (http://goo.gl/maps/piOzs) the other day and I just could not imagine building such a thing in a beautiful lake/country setting…it so insults the view. What is even weirder about that house is I talked to the building inspector for that house and she said that it needed a specialized engineered foundation (that changed as the builder was constructing it) because of the weight of the house (it is on a bluff). Can you imagine the expense? I mean I do not mind that someone got their dream home and more power to them but I just feel if owners knew the beauty that was possible through a more Usonian Style home, they would never build that way anymore.

  4. I just don’t understand these people. I live in a place called Old Tappan which used to be this suburban/agricultural little town when I was growing up. Then about two decades ago or less they started slicing it up and super-rich bastards started to build these McMansions everywhere. Whole forests were chopped down for these god-awful bloated boxes! The situation only got worse and worse when a Korean church complex was constructed, and these millionaire guys started to move in from North Korea or somewhere (with Kim Dung’s blessing?).
    Taxes went up everywhere, the locals couldn’t afford it and moved out. I stayed and stuck to my guns while this nice, decent-sized, well-built houses of old were torn down and trees butchered for 12′ ceiling monstrocities (they love the high ceilings so they can hang chandeliers in every room!). I think they’ve got like a dozen toilets each. They all have these custom-laid stone driveways where they leave their luxury cars parked despite the fact that they have 3 or 4 car garages (usually each with its own garage door and illuminating lamp, like some sort of docking bay!). It took me a while to realize that they leave their cars parked outside because they can’t show them off if they’re behind closed doors! None of these people are capable of cutting their own lawns–they hire these lawn service guys to so much as pick up a twig if it falls on their precious genetically-engineered and grafted sod lawns! They treat me like shit because My house doesn’t live up to their standards of excellence and doesn’t conform to theirs, what with my “natural lawn” and trees around my home. Just yesterday King Shit next door wasn’t getting the attention he deserved so he hired a chainsaw gang to cut down the remaining trees near his palace–apparently so Nobody can miss seeing him home from any angle! The Mentality is what gets me: my two McMansion neighbors are battling out for biggest pretentious ass: one gets an olympic sized in-ground swimming pool, the other has to have one At Least as big. One has 2 satellite dishes, the other has to have 4 (and they’ve gone from 6″ to close to 6′ in diameter!). One gets a tennis court, the other has to have a tennis court!
    I have trouble sleeping at night these days. Years ago it was quiet, silent, and Black around here at night. Now they battle it out with the most outdoor lights and floodlights on their houses. This thing across the street has easily a dozen outdoor lights illuminating it like some sort of Disneyland attraction! They even leave them turned on in the daytime sometimes, too! All I see is Waste Wast Waste. One of these things could house a dozen families comfortably. And they all drive SUVs (to look big and macho) and fancy luxury cars (to look expensive). The one soccer mom neighbor gets in and out of this huge white SUV every 10 minutes of each day–I guess to take a trip half a mile down the road to Starbucks. It’s just her, by the way, usually no more than one passenger. But, you know, they Need this big thing… My neighbor’s getting an ordnance to have an extra garage added for some reason… And in the distance I can see Lake Tappan, a man-made huge reservoir which was put in in the late 1960s, providing drinking water for our town and neighboring towns. Kind of pointless since all these McMansion elites think that tap water is Poison and are always buying bottled water in bulk! Many have specialty brands delivered to their homes every week!!!

    This is why I’m alienated here in the 21st Century.

  5. JTD, the richest person I know lives in a hundred year old farm house with plywood cupboards that his grandfather built. He owns an old truck, old clothes and about 1000 acres of the richest farm land in Canada. I remember reading a book recently that emphasized this point, “If you have to show your money, you are not ‘balance sheet’ rich…only making a lot of money you are quickly spending. I do get why they do what they do (immature with money), but would never cut those trees down or make an a$$ out of myself with opulence. We have a neighbor just like what you described and it drives us WAY more nuts than the partying guys across the street. If one maple key falls on their lawn the woman is outside with an outdoor vacuum whining away. Then when she is done, if I am outside, she will start to imply that maybe I should cut down our trees that are keeping our house 15 degrees cooler for free or that we should get on our hands and knees to weed the front grass (can’t use weed killer here) or perhaps do not use natural mulch, use black stained mulch to be more consistent with the street. Wow! Really? We have got ourselves so far away from nature and letting it be the gardener, I don’t know how to get back on track except move way out of the city. Sorry, one edit, the thing that gets me about most people like this is the mentality to throw everything out then pay home depot to have it all hauled back in sterilized. Example, “composted dirt”. What is wrong with composting the yard waste in the first place yourself and not sending it anywhere? I can go on and on about this.

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