McMansion Hell visits the wealthy DC suburbs, home to the Brick Behemoth, the Tragic Tudor, the Chonky Corinthian, and more!

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Iä ! Iä! Shrub Ziggurat, the red brick of the hoods with a thousand strung.

During the holiday season, anyway.


Making fun of McMansions often seems like it accomplishes the opposite of its intended purpose. Instead of mocking the rich, the emphasis on conformance to certain architectural “rules” comes across more like old money sneering at new money. I honestly don’t care if the windows are mismatched. If the owners want multiple styles of window, it’s their house, I hope they enjoy their eclectic window choice. What are we supposed to do, have a window apartheid?


“Chonky Corinthian”

Band Name!
I bet they’re ace at toga parties.


You have to know the rules to be effective at breaking them. McMansions are badly designed houses (in more than just aesthetics) that no-one wants except the people who built them.

I’m in the ‘no money’ category myself. I don’t want a McMansion, or any other kind of mansion. They’re too big and expensive to maintain.


Missing the bonus round: The same houses with Christmas decorations up.


badly designed houses (in more than just aesthetics)

Yeah, I figure these sorts of houses must have some sort of non-aesthetic design flaws, but that doesn’t really come across when all the comments are things like “This gable doesn’t match the other gable.”

that no-one wants except the people who built them.

So, the resale value is low? To me, this just pushes the “house as investment” mentality that means you should never do anything unique or idiosyncratic to your house, in fear of scaring future buyers. (The house-as-investment mentality is also at least partly responsible for the 2008 bubble/crash and the ongoing fucked-upness of the housing markets in most urban areas).

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One of my pet peeves is “flagstones glued to a wall” trying to look like actual masonry. At least brick veneer LOOKS kind of like a masonry wall. I am amused by houses where they only apply the brick veneer to the FRONT of the house, because it would cost too much to apply veneer to all sides. Of course one of the siding covered sides has NO windows at all, to prevent you from looking into your neighbor’s window. Of course when that house is on the end of a row that mass of blank siding is a tribute to the fact that it is designed that way, and nobody thought to add a couple of windows because that is what is on the plan.


Finally, you’ve made it to Loudoun :clap:t4:
Brick-front epicenter :nauseated_face:


Forests don’t need mowing. Just sayin’.

In the sense that they are not good places to live, yes.

I used to know someone who lived in part of an old mansion, the owner was renting parts of it out to get the money so they could afford to look after the building. The rooms were expensive to heat and would get cold quickly if you didn’t bother. They moved to a more standard British semi-detached house after about a year of renting that place and suddenly found they had lots more money. Everything I have seen about McMansions suggests they are worse.

There are better ways to show your individuality than building a folly. Paint your house like Mr Blobby, I won’t care. At least it doesn’t cost the Earth in heating (and yes, too many badly selected windows will make that worse).



I’ve said the same thing before. The majority of these homes are not “owner built”. They are sold to someone who had no choice in the design and want the location or just a big house, or whatever.

I’ll pass on making fun of them with some elitist architecture snobbery “That gable is so gauche”


I feel at least semi-detached about this.


Turret dormers? Seriously??


It comes across to me like someone with good taste snarking at someone with bad taste who thinks money can buy good taste. The latter can be the builder and/or the buyer. I’m fine with this.

Unless these houses are mercifully set back from public view behind gates and hedges and walls they’re part of the publically viewable built environment, and fair game for criticism. Wagner’s reviews are particularly trenchant and funny.

In the outer suburbs and exurbs, definitely. They’re far from the city and from shopping and community amenities, they’re expensive to maintain, and the utility bills on those big (and frequently unused) interior rooms are nightmares.

In the future, those 4000+sqf white elephants will be bought up at a fraction of their original price and subdivided into slum housing for those who can’t afford to live closer to the city. From what tradesmen I know tell me about the build quality of these “luxury” homes, their conditions will start deteriorating very quickly once the new owners neglect them.

That mentality is being pushed as it stands, on the flawed assumption by builders and buyers that all those superfluous design features Wagner makes fun of will somehow make the house more attractive for re-sale.


First thing I did after moving into my humble 1960’s brick ranch style was REMOVE THE STUPID FAKE FUCKING SHUTTERS goddamn I hate those things.


Yes. There’s plenty of examples of modern architecture breaking rules or flat out ignoring them to make more consistent buildings with variation. Like Brutalism which isn’t my personal favorite style has plenty of variation and decent consistency. Some Brutalist constructions I like but most I don’t find appealing (I don’t like stonework either so I’m a weirdo) but by comparison McMansions make me long for that concrete hellscape that is a Brutalist building.


I live in Fairfax County, and it’s a real thing. Perfectly fine single family homes, built less than 50 years ago, are being systematically bought up, torn down, and houses with footprints that take up most of the 1/4 or 1/3 acre lots are taking their places. Whole neighborhoods are being transformed, property by property. The ‘for sale’ sign goes up when the old house is being torn down and the sooner someone signs on the dotted line, the more input they have on the finished product.


C’mon, Cory–get it straight. The swamp-dwellers are those of us who live in the swamp. These folks are, at best, swamp commuters.


These houses conform quite well to certain architectural rules, but don’t conform to the same rules throughout. At best, it’s a house designed by committee. At worst, it’s lazy design pitched to any sucker who will buy it.


I don’t think anyone wants mismatched windows, but it’s more like “meh, we’ll take it”. Windows are far far far down the list for the people who buy these houses.

Not that I’m one to talk. I drive this car: