How a developer of big homes differentiates his homes from McMansions

Few builders are aiming to have their new big homes labeled McMansions. Here is how one developer describes how his new homes differ from McMansions:

According to brothers Taylor and Milton Chamberlin, the goal for the Georgian style homes is for them to be an alternative to “McMansions.”

“We really take our time to design the homes to fit in the neighborhood. We’re not builders that come in and put this huge McMansion in a small neighborhood where it doesn’t fit. That’s not what we do,” said Taylor. “All of this is really thought through and it’s really livable, usable space. It’s not those McMansions where you walk in and wonder, ‘What do you do in this room?’”

The base model runs around $1.4 million and features four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, with the possibility of another bedroom and bathroom on an additional level. Costs will vary based on the different lot sizes and individual add-ons the purchasers want in their homes…

Another goal is to foster a 1950s sense of community among the owners of the nine properties, in which everybody knows and interacts with their neighbors. The homes will only be accessible via a private road and there will be a small fence around the subdivision…

The brothers noted The Barrett Companies’ effort toward green building and energy efficiency. From better insulation and caulking to installing appropriate outlets in the detached garages for plugging in an electric car, the Chamberlins believe small touches make their properties stand out.

These are big new homes that at first glance might fit several traits of McMansions. But, here is the argument the developer uses to say their homes are not McMansions:

1. The homes will fit the neighborhood. Critics argue McMansions, particularly teardowns, can disrupt the character of existing neighborhoods.

2. The home is not just about space; it is about well-designed and usable space. One argument about McMansions is that they provide lots of square footage but this is often contained in cavernous rooms or in poor layouts that are difficult to utilize in day-to-day life.

3. They are hoping to promote a community atmosphere in their small development. I wonder if this is primarily a function of size; the fenced-in neighborhood with a private road will only contain nine homes.

4. These homes will be greener than normal big homes. McMansions are often said to about excessive consumption and part of sprawl.

5. There will be a consistent design scheme with Georgian architecture and detached garages on the private road away from the streets surrounding the neighborhood. McMansions are criticized for mixing architectural styles.

In the end, I wonder if a majority of buyers and critics would think these reasons are enough to separate these homes from McMansions. These are still big homes in the midst of suburban neighborhoods. They may be more consistent and be less mass-produced but are they different enough?

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