Friday, September 07, 2018

Apparently McMansions are back in a big way.

I went through a real estate rabbit hole last night. I haven't really been paying much attention to new construction because it's been moving and I didn't care that much.

It wasn't until a couple of months ago some developers planted 3000 sqft houses in a neighborhood with 1500sqft houses that I started watching new construction. It's just a really unusual thing to happen.

So last night I trolled through all the new real estate in my city and the surrounding ones and found that 4000-5000 sqft houses were being built en mass. I don't know who the market is for these things. This are usually at least 5 bedroom houses. But that wasn't even the scariest thing.

I ran across a listing (new construction mind you!)  for a house that is 14, 300 square feet.

The end days are upon us.

Mr S. said it really felt like 2006 because the houses seem to have all the baller stuff they were doing before the crash. Home entertainment room. Crazy stuff. And I'm not against any of that. I don't have house envy. My 2200 sqft place is bigger than we need. But I left last night feeling like my house was now puny. Before last night it was a decent size.

It seems to me like a certain portion of the market has been misallocated. It also feels like we never learn.


  1. And most of the stuff probably looks like would-be contestants that should be entered into the proceedings of McMansion Hell.

    So about architecture ...

    Apparently my favorite urban planner and architect is secretly a Nazi because he's used the same planning ideas as Albert Speer, or so claims the architecturally ignorant yet "super woke" New Statesman.

    They both read the same books, the two most important of which I'll share with you.

    1. "The American Vitruvius: An Architect's Handbook of Urban Design" (1922) by Werner Hegemann and Elbert Peets;
    2. "City Planning According to Artistic Principles" (1889) by Camillo Sitte.

    And so Léon Krier, who is one of the urban planning architects involved with Seaside, Florida by way of DPZ, is apparently a Nazi sympathizer because he followed the same design concepts as Albert Speer, who followed the books that were authoritative at the time.

    The same guy who happened to be hired by The Prince of Wales and perhaps future King of England to build a model town ... Prince Charles, you know, that guy.

    Let's get to the real reason why I have no faith in "investments" in US houses: most of them are bland, a lot of them are boring, and many of them are a combination of those plus being absurdly fucking ugly.

    I've been an owner of a house in the US before, and my old starter home of roughly 3300 square feet looks more or less the same as it did when I sold it, aside from a few bits of trim, a recent paint job, and the side yard being completely overgrown with some kind of invasive ivy or something.

    I spent absurd amounts of money fixing certain fundamental flaws only to be stuck with more of them in other places, and I eventually realized that the Japanese had it right after all.

    The overall look of that area hasn't changed. It's a place where you can blast down the broad streets at 50 mph and where only the most foolish of kids are out playing on them.

    What do I see when I go over to Seaside? Happy kids.

    Back before Seattle's planning elite decided they needed to bend over backwards and take The Giant Office Edifice of Bill Gates as well as The Giant Glass Edifice of Dale Chihuly up the backside of a reasonably nice area around Seattle Center, I remember seeing happy kids there ...

    I'm now in a place where the kids look pretty happy if they get to spend a weekend day over in Seaside.

    But as a rental, it serves a purpose: I have plenty of space to bring together belongings that have been in six different locations, and I am able to rent garage space for several vehicles that had been similarly dispersed.

    I can now do something that was costly in terms of time, which is to prune some of this glut of stuff back to the point where I can go somewhere else without a small fleet of shipping containers following me.

    Dealing with this rental is much easier than having to sit through the process of selling yet another house, especially when money isn't the issue.

    It took me six months to sell that starter house.

    The county's valuation of that house is now exactly what it was when I sold it over twenty-five years ago.

    So yes, the idea of renting here while I sort through my stuff in preparation for moving away to a place where I could possibly get away with building things that are nearly the complete opposite of being eyesores?

    Seaside started out on only 80 acres, BTW.

    Those little walkways in that interactive bit?

    Obviously those are completely Nazi because those were Léon Krier's idea. *guffaw* :-)

  2. If people can afford it I don't really care what they live in. But I think I'd rather have more land than a larger house. The land is what is valuable. If I had all the money in the world I don't think I'd get a bigger house. They do all seem to have the same weird architecture, and you always seem to need absurdly large furniture and a pool table to take up the space. Any house that is 3000sqft+ has a pool table. Even if you don't play pool. It's the rules.

    Like I don't understand TV rooms. Every room with a TV in it these days is a TV room. They take up a third of a wall!

    That's why it funner to buy a smaller house and knock down some walls. I don't think those McMansions ever really appreciate that much. And you can't really improve them in any meaningful way. the really large ones like that one I just found will eventually probably be bulldozed. Like the pillsberry mansion. They are just weird inside and specific.

  3. I had a beat-to-crap pool table that pre-dated the house ... but it was actually where I'd usually clean my guns. :-)

    The buyer liked it, and so I left it with the house.

    I always sucked at playing pool anyway. :-)

    The house was on a lot of land, and so by "the side yard", I'm actually referring to some acreage. If I hadn't had to deal with zoning and other government bullshit, I'd have ripped up the lawns and planted big gardens with actual crops on them instead.

    At least the fruit trees I'd planted helped sell the place.

    Now I figure that if you want a really big spread, why not just buy a hotel or a resort and live in a small part of it?

    Howard Hughes had the right idea -- if the spread is big enough, other people will do all of the time-consuming stuff for you. :-)

  4. Where we live the Chinese invaders buy a regular sized home, tear it down and build something that takes up the entire lot. Not sure how they get around the zoning, but they do.