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View Poll Results: What's your reaction to super-sized houses?
Repulsion 30 30.93%
Pity 16 16.49%
Envy 5 5.15%
Apathy 46 47.42%
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Vulgaria
Old 03-22-2007, 10:28 PM   #1
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Vulgaria

I admit it. I used to have mansion envy. I wanted either an estate, lodge, or castle. My tastes have changed. I was repulsed by this 60-minutes piece:

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What's your dream house?
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 02:31 AM   #2
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Re: Vulgaria

I used to lust after big houses. But after owning several houses I find square footage to be more of a chore than a delight.

I'm drawn to the designs of Sarah Susanka, author of "The Not So Big House". She is a residential architect who challenges the conventions of typical design with the proposition that we ought to design homes for the way people actually live, focusing on the quality of living environment rather than its quantity.

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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 05:09 AM   #3
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Re: Vulgaria

I put "repulsed" but not (only) because of waste or excess. Having lived in the Northeast I've seen a lot of huge old homes that are as delightful and impressive as they are expensive and hard to heat and clean.

The difference is in the details and craftsmanship and in the architectural scale. Who wants to live in, essentially, the "big box" version of a tract house? I just don't see the allure.


vs.
[img width=750 height=498]http://www.nraao.org/images/mansio4.jpg[/img]

The sins of the truly offensive McMansion is are the vast expanses of oppressive and tiresome roof and walls, with miserly, ill-placed and out-of-scale windows and doors and the pre-eminence of the massive garage. And, in the few McMansions I've been in, the interiors are even more soul-less, bland, and un-generous than the outside. The yuppie acquirents are usually clueless as to how to fill up the museum-like white box interiors (or worse, rental apt. "off-white" w/beige carpeting!). :P

The latter would prob. be close to my US dream house if I had the dough for a team of gardeners (it really needs more plantings), ext. maintenance guys, and a maid!

In real life, I would probably build something similar to what I have now, only with a nicer kitchen and more "green" systems with underfloor heating (retrofitting too costly for our stone/brick pile).

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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 05:55 AM   #4
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Re: Vulgaria

I don't quite understand the rationale for large houses. My brother has a 5000 sq ft house with two kids. They essentially live in less than 1/3 of the house and now the kids are gone to college. I have another brother who built 4000 sq ft house for him and his wife after their kids had moved out. Of course he will be working until 65 or over to pay for it.

I've mentioned to a number of friends how I wished someone would build a neighborhood of really quality home with lots of nice upscale features in the house with a size of 1300- 1600 sq ft, one story on a decent sized lot. Just about all the houses I look at in various locations I consider for retirement are well over 2000 sq ft, two or more stories on postage size lots. Smaller houses are in worse neighborhoods and don't have any upscale features. I understand developers want to maximize # homes per acre put don't understand why they couldn't make it with smaller nicer upscale houses.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 07:15 AM   #5
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Re: Vulgaria

Interesting thread! We got caught up in the "bigger is better" thing back in the late 80's and bought what was, for us, a "big" house. It was only 2500 square feet, but it had the 2-story foyer and all the fancy schmancy stuff. We got over it, and now live in a home-y, 1800sf log home. I just don't want more than that. With a bigger home, it's more $$, more taxes, more to heat, more to clean, more to furnish. I just don't get it!! But we also got over the keep-up-with-the-Joneses and trying to impress people. Don't need all that!

But driving through suburbia, we see SO many of these new developments with the big houses, "starting at" $500K, and in many cases, much more $$ than that. And we look at each other and say, who are all these people who can buy these houses? And then we know why people are up to their armpits in mortgage and credit card debt. Not to mention that now they have to work longer hours and commute farther to pay for it, which means they don't spend much time in that big home...

I agree with F-One about "how I wished someone would build a neighborhood of really quality home with lots of nice upscale features in the house with a size of 1300- 1600 sq ft, one story on a decent sized lot." Yes, yes, yes! But most people aren't ready for that yet. I have a feeling that at some point, more people will start to realize that less is more manageable.

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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 08:13 AM   #6
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Re: Vulgaria

I owned a big old house once, huge rooms and four bedrooms. It didn't cost much to heat back in the 80s. Now, I don't understand how people can tolerate the utility bills. In the future? Oldbabe's crystal ball prediction: a glut of old mansions and big box houses on the market and many neighborhoods full of humongous vacant homes. Hope my crystal ball is flawed.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 08:30 AM   #7
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Re: Vulgaria

I agree with F-One about "how I wished someone would build a neighborhood of really quality home with lots of nice upscale features in the house with a size of 1300- 1600 sq ft, one story on a decent sized lot." Yes, yes, yes! But most people aren't ready for that yet. I have a feeling that at some point, more people will start to realize that less is more manageable.

I'd like to see that too, but I guess in many areas, land is just too expensive. Where I live, the Maryland suburbs, I don't think there's any such thing as a single family starter home in new construction. That market has been taken over by the condo.

Also, on a square-foot basis, I think two-story houses are cheaper to build than one-story, because you have a smaller footprint, so you have less foundation work and less roof work, and the HVAC system doesn't have to be as sprawling.

I remember about 6 years ago, looking at new homes in the Houston area when I was there visiting some friends. For about $105-110,000, they had some one-story homes that were 3 br/2ba, 2-car garage, and probably about 1400-1600 square feet. But for about $25-30,000 more, you could get a 4 or 5 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath colonial that was also sporting a family room in addition to the living room, and probably about 2500 square feet. It just seemed like you got a lot more house for not a lot more money.

Of course, if you don't NEED that much house, I guess it's still a waste of money. But I can see how people get caught up in it.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 08:58 AM   #8
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Re: Vulgaria

I've started seeing infill developments around Raleigh that are usually higher-end and small-ish. There's a new luxury condo development next to my neighborhood that is comprised mostly of 1-2 BR ~1,000 sf units selling for ~$200,000. At $200/sf, that's about double what you pay around here for a similar entry level townhouse/condo/ single family house. There are also other examples around here of infill that focuses on high(er)-end luxury residential units, smaller in size than the suburban developments. Most of these aren't really 55 or better communities by design, but they are selling to DINK professionals in the 20-40 age group and empty nesters looking for a nice place to park their equity after downsizing from their suburban single family homes.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 10:44 AM   #9
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Re: Vulgaria

I watch House Hunters and see the expansive kitchens, huge master suites, and numerous other bedrooms and have a hard time believing the square footage quoted. Those other bedrooms must be the size of my old college dorm room.

We have a large home that presents small. The garage is hard to miss because we are on a bluff and the rest of the house faces a stunning view. We really only use the first floor unless we have guests that stay over. Time to downsize because the kids don't really have the time to hang out at our place. But gosh I will miss the vista!
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 11:03 AM   #10
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Re: Vulgaria

I don't understand the truly huge houses, but currently I have a house nearby that I would love to live in. It's something on the order of 2800 sq. feet and it's single story on a very large lot ( for San Diego) with a drop off behind and a magnificent view. The front door opens into the living room and formal dining room that is the center of the house, with a vaulted/steepled ceiling and windows all the way up the back wall to capture the entire view. The kitchen, family room, and three bedrooms are to your right, and the master bedroom/bath is to your left. Everything about the design feels intuitive and well thought out.

So I clicked envy since this house is a full 1000 sq feet larger than my current one, so I guess that makes it a McMansion for me.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 11:13 AM   #11
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Re: Vulgaria

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
I don't understand the truly huge houses, but currently I have a house nearby that I would love to live in. It's something on the order of 2800 sq. feet and it's single story on a very large lot ( for San Diego) with a drop off behind and a magnificent view. The front door opens into the living room and formal dining room that is the center of the house, with a vaulted/steepled ceiling and windows all the way up the back wall to capture the entire view. The kitchen, family room, and three bedrooms are to your right, and the master bedroom/bath is to your left.
Gee Laurence, sounds like someone copied my house. Except it's not in SD and is worth 20-25% of the one out there. (Oh yeah, and it has scorpions, rattlesnakes, ... )

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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 11:15 AM   #12
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Re: Vulgaria

Well, 3000 sq ft is plenty enough for me. But, I don't see any problem with others wanting 5,000, 6,000, or even 10,000 square foot homes. AFAIC, it's really no ones elses business.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 11:23 AM   #13
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Re: Vulgaria

When we built our house, it was impossible to find any really nice floorplans under 2000 square feet. I wound up doing the basic floorplan myself and having an architect friend develop it and do the exterior design/drawings. We got a lot of flack for building a 1500 square foot house (even though it has over 1000 feet of porch space). It is just expected that new houses are over 3000 sq ft here. I HATE the mcmansion zero lot line building that is all the rage now.

Funny "southernism" aside: I had been talking with friends about wanting a small cabin in the woods, like Henry David Thoreau, and a week or so later one of my less-literate friends said "so how's the throw-back cabin coming along"

For two people, it is more than enough room. Way more than we want to clean! The house is elevated & not in a flood zone, so we or the next guy could make another 1500 sq ft of living space (open span truss system) on the "bottom floor" which now collects debris and the tractor. The photo is sort of a "before" shot, I've added some nice landscaping since then.

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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 11:25 AM   #14
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Re: Vulgaria

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Gee Laurence, sounds like someone copied my house. Except it's not in SD and is worth 20-25% of the one out there. (Oh yeah, and it has scorpions, rattlesnakes, ... )

So is it a custom house, or are there others like it in your area? Hey, I like conservatives a lot, even though I think they are all wrong ( shh...don't tell DW, she's one of them!).
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 11:36 AM   #15
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Re: Vulgaria

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
So is it a custom house, or are there others like it in your area? Hey, I like conservatives a lot, even though I think they are all wrong ( shh...don't tell DW, she's one of them!).
DW and I designed the house - with the help of a professional, of course. I guess you could say it is a custom house built with liberal dollars (DW's upgrades) on a conservative budget (I griped a lot at the cost).
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 11:40 AM   #16
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Re: Vulgaria

I can understand the large houses if you are rich enough for them. The ones I wonder about are people who get into debt up to their eyebrows to live in a mcmansion.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 12:43 PM   #17
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Re: Vulgaria

I'm still a sucker for "appropriately scaled" timberframe architecture, which is often HUGE.

link





But I prefer smaller spaces for actual living.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 01:08 PM   #18
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Re: Vulgaria

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-One
I've mentioned to a number of friends how I wished someone would build a neighborhood of really quality home with lots of nice upscale features in the house with a size of 1300- 1600 sq ft, one story on a decent sized lot.
We are doing this. I think that developers, at least here in the NW where there are many retirees are focusing on this. I'm working on a project right now with upscale houses in the 1800 - 2200 range. They are all single story, but are duplexes on smaller lots.
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 02:10 PM   #19
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Re: Vulgaria

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
I'm still a sucker for "appropriately scaled" timberframe architecture, which is often HUGE.

link





But I prefer smaller spaces for actual living.
Beautiful but thats alot of windows to do!
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Re: Vulgaria
Old 03-23-2007, 09:17 PM   #20
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Re: Vulgaria

After 15 years in an 1100 sq ft (1bath) house, we love the luxury of a 2800 sq ft (3 bath) house. Pretty decadent for two people I admit, but the next home will be the rest home (diapers?).
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