Five kinds of new houses that are non-McMansions

A recent discussion thread started with this statement: “I don’t think it should cost $500K or 5,000 square feet for a body to live. Show me the opposite of the McMansion that is still sexy.” So what might this look like? Here are some common options today of non-McMansions, homes intentionally built not to be McMansions:

1. Tiny houses. These are opposites of McMansions because of their size. While McMansions are known for having 3,000 square feet or more, tiny houses have several hundred square feet or less. The tiny house is not just about having less space; it is a completely different way of life as it is hard to accumulate much in the house.

2. The Not-So-Big House. Promoted by architect Sarah Susanka, these homes are not necessarily much smaller than McMansions but are built more to the personal interests and tastes of the individual owner. In other words, these houses are built to fit the owners while McMansions are seen as being mass-produced homes that owners have to fit themselves into.

3. New Urbanist homes. These homes could look quite different depending on the area of the country in which they are located as New Urbanists argue homes should follow regional architectural styles. But, there would be some common features: front porches, closer placement to the street, alleys if possible. The New Urbanist home might have the same square footage or similar features compared to McMansions but is intended to be better connected to the surrounding neighborhood, encouraging more social life.

4. Very energy-efficient homes including passive homes and net zero-energy homes. Again, these homes may be like McMansions in features and size but they are seen as less wasteful and have more quality construction.

5. Modernist homes. I’m not convinced many Americans would choose this option but it seems to be a regular favorite of architects and designers. These homes are not necessarily smaller than McMansions but have much more architectural credibility and are often one-of-a-kind.

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