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question about McMansions(19 posts)

question about McMansionsDuane Gran
Sep 23, 2003 5:57 AM
This week I heard a term tossed around that I can only assume refers to new large homes: McMansions. At first hearing this term it offended me a little. I did some searching for a definition of the term, but about all I can gather is that it is a derogitory statement about someone else's home.

The reason it offends me is because I recently purchased a new house in a suburb. The homes aren't all the same, but there is an architectural theme with reasonable homeowners association rules. The community isn't gated or anything like that, but for my area it is probably a little upscale. I'm not in over my head on the mortgage, nor do my neighbors seem to be house-poor. Am I being overly sensitive about this term? Are people just deriding someone else's possessions?
some people only feel better putting others downDougSloan
Sep 23, 2003 6:22 AM
It's somewhat PC to deride others for what they have, do, or look like, isn't it? It's particularly so if what they have costs more than the average Joe can afford. It's envy -- reverse snobbery. How many people here think that you can't own a C40 or Litespeed unless you are a "fast" rider?

It's funny how, it seems, the same people engaging in these derogatory remarks are usually the ones preaching tolerance and diversity, too. Hypocrisy.

Doug
I don't think that's it...TJeanloz
Sep 23, 2003 6:35 AM
I look at a "McMansion" in much the same way that I would an Airborne or Weyless (do they make frames?) bike. It is a copy that is pretending to be every bit as good as the best, and the owner believes it is as good (and is very proud of his titanium or carbon fiber bike), but the bottom line is that it is a poorly constructed POS that was probably overpaid for.

The term, as I see it, applies to very large, pretentious houses (in excess of say, 5,000 square feet), on very small lots (1 acre or less). Those with money see it as a garish, and false, display of wealth - most who really have the money to afford a house like that would hide it on a 10 acre lot, behind a gate. It would be like buying your fiance a 10 carat CZ, and insisting that it were just as good as the real thing. It might be, to her, but others see it as a gaudy display. The real issue is that if people weren't so hung up on the display of pretention, they could buy a nicer, smaller house that was actually well built. But very few people appreciate good construction, and fewer can afford it. Personally, I think the "McMansions" say more about their owners insecurities than anything else.
Anti-yuppy slur.128
Sep 23, 2003 6:38 AM
As I read it it references the Silicon valley et al 'dot com bubble' thing where kids were making big bucks and quickly putting up new structures. Often hastily built with garrish embellishments (incongruous artitechtural features, cut rate interior finish materials). Pretentious in appearence (giant entrances and sweeping staircases). Look at me, I'm nuveau riche...etc

Arguments against: not buying existing contributes to sprawl, developments can be elitist (restrictions and limitations- must be at least 3500s/f, no outbuildings, no cars on the lawn, no clotheslines, color limitations, builder pre-selected, no trailers, must exceed 350K in value etc) Possible tax base intrusion (increase), buy old (historic) homes and level them to build new ostentaious ones. Neighborhood gets overun by PC Birkenbabes and Ponytail PhDs driving VW's who hate SUVs, secretly read the WSJ, vote Republican and piss off the old rich.

Argument for: It's their money.

suppose a doublewide could be a McMansion to go??
re: question about McMansionsmohair_chair
Sep 23, 2003 6:41 AM
It's when they build a new development of hundreds of homes that are all huge, have little or no yard, and basically all look the same. In California, you see a lot of this now, 4000 square foot homes on 3000 square foot lots. They all have the same roof tiles, the same facade, and exterior colors are carefully controlled to three off whites and three earth tones. All the lawns and landscaping are the same. It's a mass production neighborhood, which is why they call it McMansion. It's the kind of neighborhood where if you stumbled home drunk some night, you might never find your home.
may not have a choice in CaliforniaDougSloan
Sep 23, 2003 7:05 AM
Small lots are almost a given in California. With land expensive and place to build sparse, you are almost required to have a small lot. I feel almost claustrophobic compared to lot sizes in Missouri.

Part of the "sameness" results from builders' choices when they do tract or semi-tract housing. It's much, much cheaper that way than one-off individually designed (custom) homes.

Interestingly, when you get out of the city limits here, the county mandates very large lots, like 10 acres or more, so that the water usage density is less. So, if you want a new home on a large lot, it has to be a really large lot -- nothing in between.

Doug
There's always a choicemohair_chair
Sep 23, 2003 7:30 AM
The choice could be to not build. Every time I go down to L.A. I'm shocked at how much more has been paved over to build homes. The Southern California where I grew up is hardly recognizable today.

But yes, you are mostly right. There are reasons they build homes the way they do, but I think it's also laziness on the part of the buyers. Laziness and submissiveness. Minimal landscaping means minimal maintenance, which means more time sitting on the couch watching football and eating twinkies. And since the homeowner associations that come with these developments usually regulate paint colors and other exterior effects, there's no need or desire to distinguish your home from anyone else's. I find it all very boring, and it's why I chose to live in a semi-historical neighborood of small houses with great character. It's not boring here.
increasing populationDougSloan
Sep 23, 2003 7:58 AM
Fresno's population went from 200,000 in 1980 to about 500,000 presently. Building was necessary.
Water usage! That's a good one. (nm)53T
Sep 23, 2003 8:21 AM
Denver/Boulder area....see Rock Creek or Highlands Ranch (nm)ColnagoFE
Sep 23, 2003 7:28 AM
I dunno ... I think more like Greenwood Villagesacheson
Sep 23, 2003 2:27 PM
Highlands Ranch, while an annoyance and eye-sore, is mostly sub 3000 sq ft homes. That's nothing more than middle management folks ... McCookieCutters, maybe. ;-)

Go to Yosimite and Belleview in Greenwood Village and you see some +$1M homes that are literally 6 feet away from each other.
Squander resources and create pollution like big SUV'sContinental
Sep 23, 2003 7:07 AM
It's part of an unsustainable lifestyle that is vulgar and inconsiderate of the other 6 billion people on the earth. Consumption instead of accomplishmnet for social status.
curious question about redistribution of wealthDougSloan
Sep 23, 2003 7:15 AM
If we were to redistribute all individual wealth and resources at the present total level to each person equally on the planet, how much would each have, and what kind of lifestyle would they have?

Are there so many "have nots" that wealth would be so diluted that it really would not make a significant difference? Take Bill Gates, for example. For round numbers' sake, if he's worth $60 billion, if we redistributed his wealth, each person would get $10. There aren't that many Bill Gates, either.

I've long thought about this, but don't have a clue what the result would be.

Doug
Excellent thought experiment53T
Sep 23, 2003 8:39 AM
I think your hypothesis is a very valuable tool to help Americans realize how good they have it. You point out there aren't many Bill Gates' and you are correct. Even if there were 1000 bill Gates, that's $10,000 each.

Now we start redistributing real people's money. There are roughly 3/4 Billion Chinese who don't have a pot to piss in, and another 400,000,000 Indians who wish they were Chinese. Looking to S. America and sub-Saharan Africa adds another 700,000,000 dirt poor people. Let's say they all have $10,000 net worth, thanks to cleaning out Bill and friends.

We have to take all the western-style capitalist/semi-capitalist people, say there are 250,000,000 in the US, and about 300,000,000 more in the rest of the world. The balance of the people who are not Western or dirt poor, we'll ignore and assume are already at the world average net worth, whatever that is. When we are done writing checks, each of us Americans will be left with about 20% of what we have now.

The poor of the world will be much better off, at least for a few weeks. Almost immediately, the machine will stop. Food production will cease, electricity and running water will probably go first. The security situation will deteriorate within a few weeks.

Individuals and groups that can provide security and utilities will be elevated to higher standing, and start to accumulate wealth, and new regimes will form. Oh well, it was worth a try!

"War made the state, and the state made war."
Many are growing out of poverty, striving for U.S. lifestyleContinental
Sep 23, 2003 11:05 AM
I've been traveling to South America for 6 years. There are many more and bigger cars, bigger houses, more roads, fatter people. Parts of the developing world look more and more like the U.S. What happens when they succeed? How many more billions can drive inefficient cars, live in large climate controlled houses, and throw away tons of trash?
Squander resources and create pollution like big SUV'ssn69
Sep 23, 2003 8:27 AM
In the larger context of global poverty, I can't argue with your point. Gross materialism is simply that--gross. That said, however, how many of us honestly keep our bikes until they are unrideable? We don't...except for Ed, maybe, but that's just 'cause he lives out in the sticks and doesn't want to saddle the horse to come into town.

We have created a society that also affords us the opportunity to use consumption to provide pleasure, satisfaction, comfort and other good points that coexist with the darker side. Again, though, that's just us here, and that means nothing to some poor kid who lives in a hovel and waits with fear for the next natural calamity in his/her third world country (or some poor kid who lives in the inner city or some Reservation in the Dakotas)....

Nonetheless, the activities of groups like the ELF here in SoCal are equally aberrant. How long before they accidentally kill someone, either a fireman or perhaps and infant trapped in one of the homes they are burning? Why are they only targetting SUVs? Why not 10 and 12 cylinder gas-guzzlers like the big Beemers, Jags and Mercs? Why aren't they going after the earth movers that scrape away entire hillsides to make way for developments while belching smoke? Here's an even better plan/option--why aren't they placing a 20 dollar bill under the windshield wiper blade of every ulta-low emission vehical in the mall parking lot?

Gawd, I'm starting to sound more and more like a broken Barney record preaching about the dangers of extremism, right, left, religious or otherwise. They and their type are idiots and criminals. We have a lot of ills within our society, and the "consume and discard" issue bothers me to. Still, that doesn't excuse the actions of these criminal fools. We're only human, though, and we tend to over-rationalize a great deal. Misguided goals, however, are still that--misguided.

In spite of its rediculous price, my new SoCal house isn't a McMansion. It's not big enough. But it is new, and that's enough to drive some people to label me anti-environmentalist. That's okay--they can call me that while they burn new housing tracts and Hummers. I suppose that all of the chemicals sent spewing into the atmosphere by their arsons don't counts towards pollution because they are "liberating" the earth.

Yeah...whatever.....
Squander resources and create pollution like big SUV'sDuane Gran
Sep 23, 2003 11:07 AM
This sounds like too much of a generalization. All houses better than what is found in a trailer park may be inconsiderate to the other 6 billion people on earth. If a person chooses to live on a dirt floor in a shack will that make the life of anyone else any better?
Doesn't sound like a McMansion to me (nm)ColnagoFE
Sep 23, 2003 7:25 AM
WordSpy definitionColnagoFE
Sep 23, 2003 8:05 AM
http://www.wordspy.com/words/McMansion.asp