McMansions are not necessarily in gated communities

One writer suggests both McMansions and gated communities are alive and well in the United States:

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the real estate market saw an explosion of “McMansions” and sprawling estates across the nation. The economic downturn toward the end of the decade brought the country back to earth and shifted the trend in new housing from giant luxury homes back to moderately sized residences.

While many have claimed that the McMansion boom is over, others beg to differ…

While the tiny house trend has been intriguing to observe, it’s not terribly indicative of where the country is headed in general. For every house that’s being built on wheels, at least one other is moving into a luxurious gated community.

To be honest, experts who voiced a death sentence on McMansions, estates, and gated communities probably spoke too soon.

This piece seems to suggest that homes in luxurious gated communities are necessarily McMansions. However, I’ve never seen evidence that would suggest this is the case. There is little doubt that these two trends were occurring around the same time with gated communities picking up steam in the 1970s and 1980s and the term McMansions arriving by the late 1990s even if the homes started growing in number in the 1980s. But, not all gated communities necessarily include large houses. From what I can recall from the 1997 book Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States, gated communities can often include middle-class or more average homes as can even be in urban neighborhoods with smaller homes. Gates may project the image of exclusivity but this can be relative or as Blakely and Snyder point out in the book, the gates are often just ornamental rather than serving as real barriers.

At the same time, it would be interesting to look at some data on this. Yet, it is relatively hard from survey data to define a McMansion beyond basic features like square footage and number of rooms.

To the Miami Herald: a 23,576 square foot home is not a McMansion

The Miami Herald features a 23,576 square foot home for auction. However, they err by calling it a McMansion:

If you need a house that stretches across east and west wings, a massive McMansion — said to be the largest home for sale in Broward — will be auctioned off on Dec. 8.

The 23,576-square-foot, custom-built home on 10 acres features seven bedrooms, eight full baths and two half baths. It boasts inlaid Italian marble and cathedral-style ceilings, and comes with a guest house, four-car garage, and statues and objects of art from all over the world.

“The finish work on the inside is the most amazing, with 30-foot high ceilings, chandeliers. It’s just magnificent,” said Jim Gall, president of Auction Company of America, hired to auction off the home, which was listed a year ago for $10 million…

Gall said he plans to start the bidding on the house at $5 million.

Homeowner Ray Moses said he and his wife, Pam, spent five years building the mansion after buying the property, which was formerly used as a horse boarding facility. Broward County property records show they paid $2,225,000 for the acreage in 2003.

Here are four reasons it is not a McMansion (with the most important reason at the top):

1. This home is far beyond the size of a McMansion. This kind of square footage is way beyond a McMansion.

2. Because of its size, luxury, and land, it is also out of the price range of a typical, particularly in Florida. The price might make sense if it was a big house in New York City.

3. This is not a big house on a postage-stamp lot; there are ten acres of land.

4. The home is custom-built, not part of a suburban neighborhood where the houses all look at the same.

By size alone, this home is not a McMansion but the other factors matter as well.

Interestingly, the report on the auction starts with the term McMansion and later uses mansion. Does this suggest the terms are interchangeable? Again, I would argue they are distinct categories.