Is the McMansion era over? How the recession is changing the size of American dream homes

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 11:17 p.m.

    I have never wanteda big house. Why. All I want is house that is comfortable, private, maybe in the country. I do think people do buy more than they need and it is about ego. That is my opinion.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Aug. 28, 2012 9:25 p.m.

    Having a degree in architecture, I can appreciate the more interesting architectural elements that are more often found in the larger homes and buildings. On the other hand, I am concerned when people rely upon the size of their home to speak for their worth as human beings. Great care must be taken that people inhabit homes that they can afford and not to the point of being thinly stretched to afford something larger.

    I have no problem with a wealthy person purchasing a large house. Nor do I think anyone should feel ashamed or embarrassed to inhabit something more humble. I would love to live in a 6,000 square foot home. I live in an adorable, comfortable 900 square foot, 120 year old farm house. I am content living here and hope I can for the rest of my life. Elder Packer once said, regarding building a home and what the Lord would prefer to see: "Let them build what they want to build, but make sure you pay for it honestly, do a good job building it and live in it righteously."

  • Osgrath Provo, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 9:15 p.m.

    The size of someone’s house tells us:
    •The amount the owner can afford to pay,
    •The amount the owner chooses to pay,
    •The size of house the owner wants.

    Only one of those says anything about ego, and that is unpredictable. Utahbluedevil points out, many people live in large houses totally not self-conscious of their image. I once belonged to a book club where most of the people lived in Knudson's Corner or Canyon Cove, some of the most expensive real estate in the Salt Lake Valley. Some had multi-acre estates off 6200 South, others lived in large houses above Wasatch Blvd., others lived in modest houses built in the 1940s. All were good friends. Never once did we discuss finances or wealth. I made the commute from my West Sandy home with no sense of feeling out of place, even when we would meet in a house my whole house would fit in the living room.

    Only insecure people would buy a house to show off. People who are comfortable in their own skin would buy a big house on acreage because they love it, no to lord it over other people.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Aug. 28, 2012 7:31 p.m.

    The over-compensators I live around are the nicest people I have had the pleasure of living near.... much more so than in the cookie cutter neighborhoods of my past. None of them are trying to prove anything, so none talk about how much they make, nor what kind of car they drive, nor their stock options, or any of that mess.... it was those who wanted to live in McMansions that spent their hours trying to convince people they are successful. What I have found is in my neighborhood at least, everyone is pretty happy with who they are, and don't have any need to prove anything to anyone.

    On one side of me I have two doctors... and they drive all older more normal cars. The other side, he and his wife drive an R8 and and an S8. And no one cars. It has been a most interesting surprise -and a welcome one. I would hate to go back to a normal neighborhood where everyone is talking about money... So I will happily live in my McMansion and enjoy every minute of it.... because I can and it isn't hurting anyone else.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 5:34 p.m.

    @ No Fit

    If you'd look into the mirror you'd see that the recession has been deep and long, and that has affected individuals opportunity to purchase a larger home. It doesn't have thing one to do with Mitt Romney or "class warfare" except those tree huggers who insist upon burdensome energy regulations and "going green," along with the false premesis of "sustainability," have heaped costs upon us that only true government bureaucrats can appreciate because they love such. They're the "class" we can do without 24/7/365. I'm afraid you're unhappy because a lot of folks are waking up to realize that "change we can believe in" was really just "the latest and greatest nightmare" and its effects are designed to impoverish our children for decades as well as our grandchildren. But then, that's the beauty of socialism I suppose---everyone suffers together.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 4:24 p.m.

    re: Ernest T. Bass 12:52 p.m. Aug. 28, 2012

    "McMansions say more about their owner's fragile ego than anything else."

    Winner winner chicken dinner.

    But, seriously, what might Freud say about overcompensating?

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 3:29 p.m.

    To "no fit in SG" what class warfare are you talking about? My last post was nothing at all about class warfare, it was the opposite. You should desire to have a neighborhood where people would want to build the big house, or near a neighborhood with big houses so that they can pay more taxes. What you forget is that property taxes are equal for everybody. Not equal in the dollar amount, but equal in the formula used to calculate taxes based on the home's value.

    Plus, who care's what the RNC has said to do, I am not a Republican, and I still have my freedom of speech.

    Those that are engaged in class warfare are those that disparage people from building whatever size house they would like.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2012 1:28 p.m.


    Don't you let Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republicans hear what you have put here on the DN comment board.
    Remember, you have been instructed to let others know you are against class warfare when you are sharing your comments with the public.
    Or....was all that just sarcasm?

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 1:22 p.m.

    With respect to comments about energy efficiency, just look at the higher ceilings and vaulted trusses many new homes have as a standard in their design. That space is conditioned with either heat or cooling most of the year and yet the humans in the house never use it unless they happen to be on a ladder for a few moments. So maybe the square footages have gone down, but we're a long way away from the volume of usable space that used to be the norm. Go ahead and heat/cool that large air mass---the utility companies love you every month when you pay their bill.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 12:52 p.m.

    McMansions say more about their owner's fragile ego than anything else.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Aug. 28, 2012 12:05 p.m.

    The funny thing is today CNBC today also has a report that lending on Jumbo loans - particularly those loans over $1 million have taken off, growing in number 4 times that of conventional loans. So evidently there is a large group of buyers and lenders that don't know this yet.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 12:04 p.m.

    What some of you are forgetting is that if your city can get a development with .20 acre lots you should hope that they build bigger houses on them. The bigger the house, the more property taxes it will generate. The more taxes that the big houses pay means that much less you will have to pay when rates go up. Look at it this way. A kid living in a 2000 sqft home costs the same to educate as a kid in a 4000 sqft home, yet the parents in the larger home will pay more in taxes every year.

    Also, with cheaper housing comes people who may not share your same values on education. Do you want your kids going to a school where the parents see it as "free" daycare, or do you want your kids going to a school where they see it as preparation for college?

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 10:26 a.m.

    I always wondered when the big "look at me" homes in the east benches would begin to fade.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 9:25 a.m.

    McMansions have some advantages. They employ many skilled workers thus creating jobs and they bring in high property tax revenues. In medieval Britain they were outward statements declaring the owners superiority and are used in the same way today. Comfort, need and utility have been replaced by display. Fortunately, these tasteless monstrosities have progressed from Cool to Ostentatious and finally they have now become simply Kitsch.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 9:00 a.m.

    Size, whether energy efficient, smart and comfortable is not the whole aspect. It costs money and effort to have a larger home than is needed. The mark of success isn't in the hotel sized homes that many have built in the past 20 years. You build one and your neighbor builds a bigger and a taller one so it can block your view of the mountains or lake or both places. People listened to the builders, landscapers, cities, developers, insurance, utility companies, mortgage and neighbors as they proposed to build a castle for their kingdom. It brought jobs for all of the prementioned interests. The property taxes have increased significantly in the past couple of years so the cities, counties and state can take more advantage of those accessible fees and taxes that go along with the increased values of gas, electricity, roads, schools, water, sewer, user fees, waste water and other legislative, county commissioners, assessors, treasuers, Governor, city leaders and other can come up with. People have pride and government has power and the two meet and some win and some lose. In this last episode, people who weren't qualified for loans got them and now foreclosed.

  • chaliceman Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2012 7:08 a.m.

    Building quality homes which are energy efficient, smart and comfortable is becoming more important than size. Incorporating PV solar, solar water heating, and orienting the home to the best advantage of the natural heating and cooling effects of our local climate is becoming more important. It is good our builders are listening to us and building the kinds of homes we want and are willing to pay for.