Summary of problems with Australian McMansions

One Australian columnist covers a number of the critiques of McMansions:

THEY’RE not McMansions. They’re Shateaux. They’re houses so big they take up the entire block, stretching fence to fence like a Neo-Georgian Graceland. From Caroline Springs to Camberwell, Werribee to Wantirna, many new houses have six bedrooms, three living rooms and five bathrooms — not to mention teen retreat, parents’ zone, indoor/outdoor cabana and entertainers’ deck.

Many are the slums of tomorrow being built for the people of today. In established suburbs these houses are being built by Chinese investors for other Chinese investors so they have somewhere safe to park their money amid the financial crisis. The Chinese don’t care about heritage trees, visual intrusion or the lack of privacy; they just care about getting maximum box for their buck.

For Aussies, it’s more about having the appearance of wealth and upward mobility, even if they don’t quite have the funds to match. With a four-wheel drive out the front and a jetski in the garage, it’s all part of our modern sense of entitlement. People tell themselves they deserve it, even if it’s all on credit and interest-only loans…

As long as it meets the state building code, no one has the ability to stop anything from going up. It’s too bad for residents affected by the monolithic monster being built next door that blocks out their light, overlooks their backyard, is three times the size of any other nearby house and stretches from boundary to boundary. They can’t even look at the plans, let alone object…

Sure, we all want bigger houses, but there’s a difference between big and supersized. What’s the point in having a house that is so massively huge that you can’t afford to heat or cool it, let alone meet other utility costs?

What’s left? Covered here: bad architecture; too much space; slums of the future (either because they are poorly built or push buyers into debt); outsiders entering the neighborhood; about showing off wealth; fits broader patterns of consumption; teardowns ruin the homes of their neighbors and nearby residents can’t fight back; McMansions are inefficient in energy use. Perhaps the only thing missing in this article is a connection to the terrible sprawling suburbs. Or, perhaps the suggestion that such homes exemplify all that is wrong about society.

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