What is a McMansion?

A large, mass-produced home typically featuring a boxy shape and less intricate details is considered a mcmansion.

It is usually built on a smaller lot than the traditional mansions and often features multiple stories, garages, and other amenities.

These homes are generally considered an affordable alternative to larger luxury homes for those who want more space without the high price tag associated with custom-built properties.

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By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a mcmansion and a mansion?

Are they that different, or are they just two names for the same thing?

Unfortunately, determining which one best suits, your needs cannot be very clear.

This blog post will explore how these two architectural styles have evolved over time, who typically purchases them, their average pricing and size differences, and their pros & cons.

Finally, we’ll summarize our comparison of the two so you know exactly which style is right for you!

Suburban area with Mcmansions / By Brett VA - Bulcolic Mc Mansions LeesburgUploaded by AlbertHerring, CC BY 2.0,

“McMansion” was coined in the 1980s to describe newly constructed houses considered too big or flashy for their neighborhoods. The name comes from McDonald’s restaurants known for their uniformity of design across locations.

This same concept applies to these big houses – they all have similar structures and look identical because they are built by construction companies instead of being designed by architects.

They are two or three stories tall with steeply pitched roofs and large windows, often featuring gables or dormers on the upper levels.

They also feature open floor plans ideal for entertaining guests or hosting family gatherings.

Houses tend to be clad in various building materials, from stucco siding to brick veneer, depending on the builder’s preference but most commonly feature vinyl cladding due to its affordability and ease of installation.

Spacious large house?

These homes have become increasingly popular over the past few decades due to their relatively low cost compared to traditional elite homes while still offering plenty of living space for families looking for more room than what’s available in typical suburban housing developments.

In addition, many people appreciate having access to amenities such as swimming pools, hot tubs, game rooms, media centers, etc., all within one property instead of having separate buildings dedicated solely towards entertainment purposes, as some more significant properties may require.

In terms of pricing & size, these houses typically range anywhere from 3000 square feet up to 5,000+ depending on location & customization options chosen by buyers.

Prices can vary significantly based on location, quality materials used in construction, number of bedrooms/bathrooms included, etc.

Generally, prices will start around $300k & go upwards into millions if desired.

Overall, McMansions offer an attractive option when buying a roomy family home or something more modern and budget-friendly. While pros and cons are associated with each property type (i.e., maintenance costs and energy efficiency), it all boils down to personal preference when choosing between options.

What are the maintenance costs on average for a typical 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft McMansion?

Due to the immense size of a 5,000-square-foot McMansion, its upkeep costs are often higher than those of smaller homes.

The expenditures are approximately 2% to 3% of the total price of the McMansion, or $9,000 to $20,000 per year on average. This cost might vary based on the home’s age, condition, and location.

The cost includes roofing, landscaping services, HVAC system maintenance, plumbing, and electrical repairs, and painting.

In addition, the cost of furnishings and fittings can play a role in the overall maintenance cost for bigger McMansions.

As a home’s size rises, so does the quantity of work, materials, and equipment required to maintain it.

Is McMansion a luxury home?

McMansions are often criticized as symbols of American excess. They are also seen as cheaply constructed, so some people love to hate them compared to traditional mansions.

One of the criticisms real estate professionals have of these homes is that they are often too big for the average family, making them difficult to sell in the long run.

Despite the above, they have become increasingly popular in recent years. As we explore the evolution of this type of housing, let’s look at how it has changed over time. McMansions are the perfect opportunity for the working class to have their grand and luxurious home full of elegance and comfort.

Key Takeaway: McMansions offer a budget-friendly alternative to traditional voluminous houses, providing buyers with access to amenities such as swimming pools, hot tubs, and game rooms.

They range from 3000 sqft to 5,000+ sqft, and prices start around $300k and go upwards into millions.

Evolution of the McMansion

The concept of large, affordable homes originated in the 1980s as an alternative to new traditional houses. It quickly became popular among upper-middle-class homebuyers who wanted more space for their money but couldn’t afford a full-sized mansion.

These homes are larger than a typical single-family home, with two or three stories, and often featuring multiple garages, large kitchens, spacious bedrooms and bathrooms, formal dining rooms, and living rooms.

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Typical suburban area with Mcmansions

McMansions were built to look like traditional luxury homes from the outside while offering modern amenities.

  • They usually had large windows that let in plenty of natural light and open floor plans allowing easy entertaining. Many featured elaborate landscaping with swimming pools, patios, decks, and outdoor fireplaces or grills.
  • As time passed, builders began to offer more customization options, such as extra bedrooms or bathrooms for growing families or luxurious features like marble countertops or Jacuzzi tubs for those looking to splurge a bit more on their homes.
  • These additions came at higher prices leading into the 2000s, where the average cost was more than $500k – far above what most people could afford.
  • Today’s McMansions are still much less expensive than traditional grand houses, but they come with bells and whistles that can make them feel just as luxurious, if not more so, than some high-end properties.
  • From smart home technology systems to energy-efficient appliances, it’s no surprise that these houses are still popular among home buyers.

These properties have come a long way since their inception, and while they’re not the same as traditional luxury houses, they still offer an attractive option for many homebuyers.

So now, let’s look at the average profile of buyers who opt for this type of housing.

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Average Profile of Buyer Type

The typical buyer of a McMansion is usually young professionals or families looking for more space than what they can get with an average-sized home.

They typically want to move up from their current residence but need more money for a full-sized elite home. These buyers may be first-time homeowners, empty nesters, or want to upgrade their living situation without breaking the bank.

McMansions appeal to these buyers because they offer more extensive floor plans and higher ceilings than traditional homes at a fraction of the cost of actual mansions. Buyers also appreciate that many provide modern amenities such as open-concept layouts, large master suites, multiple bathrooms, and updated kitchens.

Buyers should remember that although these homes offer more square ft. than traditional homes, they often lack certain features in luxury properties, such as high-end finishes and custom details like crown molding or built-ins. Additionally, some neighborhoods may not allow certain construction styles, which could limit potential options when searching for a new home.

It is an affordable option for those wanting extra space without sacrificing too much on quality or style. With careful research and consideration of all factors involved in purchasing one’s dream home – size included – any buyer can find the perfect fit within their budget range, whether a classic single-family house or luxurious property.

When considering both of these options for housing, it is vital to understand the typical buyer profile and what factors they prioritize. The following heading will discuss the pros and cons of each option for potential buyers.

"The Big house" - Pros & Cons

McMansions have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering more space than an average-sized home at a lower price point. But there are pros and cons before investing in one of these properties.

One of the main benefits of buying such grand houses is that they provide more living space compared to other housing types. The average square footage is between 3000 square feet and 5,000 – much larger than the typical American home in the U.S., which averages around 2,600 sqft. 

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This makes them ideal for large families or those who need extra room for entertaining guests or working from home. In addition, they are often more significant than the typical 4-5 bedroom house, with many featuring six or more bedrooms.

Another benefit is that they can be customized with swimming pools, fireplaces, multiple bathrooms, and bedrooms – not typically available in smaller homes.

Additionally, many of these extravagant homes have high-end appliances and fixtures installed, making them ready to move into immediately without additional renovations or upgrades.

However, there are some drawbacks associated with owning a McMansion. These include a need for architectural character due to their mass-production nature with limited customization options.

Due to their large size, the energy costs can be high, and selling such a property will take a lot of work.

In addition, you can face potential zoning issues depending on where you live; and higher property taxes since they are usually situated in upscale neighborhoods with expensive real estate values.

Finally, it is essential to note that while they may seem affordable upfront, maintaining such a large house can add up quickly.

Therefore, buyers must understand what they are getting into before signing on the dotted line.

Key Takeaway: McMansions offer more space for a lower price point but have drawbacks such as limited customization options, higher energy costs, and potential zoning issues. Before buying one, buyers should consider the maintenance costs of owning an ample space.

Architectural Average - Pricing & Size

Most McMansions tend to cost between $400,000-$800,000 depending on location, size, how much customization was done during construction, and any upgrades made after purchase by the homeowner(s).

There are various sizes for a McMansion type of home, and they usually range between 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, with multiple stories and garages included in the design. So if you’re looking for something bigger than your typical family home, homes this size could be worth considering.

These houses often feature grand entrances with double doors or arches leading into an expansive foyer. They also typically include high ceilings and oversized windows for plenty of natural light.

You’ll find spacious living areas such as formal dining rooms, family rooms, and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms on different levels of the home. Mainly, these homes will include additional features like game rooms or media centers for entertainment.

The exterior designs vary greatly, but generally, they feature brick exteriors or stucco siding combined with stone accents around doorways or windowsills, giving them a more upscale look than other traditional homes in the area.

Some may even have balconies overlooking their yards which can be extensive given their larger landscape or lot sizes compared to other neighborhoods nearby.

Key Takeaway: McMansions are large, luxurious homes with an average area of 3-5 thousand sqft, and cost between $400,000-$800,000.

Features include grand entrances; high ceilings; oversized windows; formal dining rooms; family rooms; multiple bedrooms & bathrooms on different levels of the home.

Do real estate agents love or hate selling McMansions?

The majority of real estate brokers have a love-hate relationship with McMansions. On the one hand, McMansions frequently offer large, expensive houses that real estate brokers may benefit from selling.

On the other side, McMansions may be difficult to sell because of their vast size, high price, and perceived unattractiveness to prospective purchasers.

The McMansion has a stigma attached to it, and its notoriety is connected with the McMansion market. It boils down to each real estate agent’s own sentiments towards the sale of McMansions.

Some may find them profitable and like the challenge of selling them, but others may need help to avoid this section of the market.

McMansion vs. Mansion (Key Differences)

While they may appear similar from the outside, there are some critical differences between them.

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  • Size: McMansions are much larger than the median size of traditional family homes but smaller than a mansion. They usually range from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet and feature at least 5-6 bedrooms or as many as 10.

    The median size of a newly built mansion typically exceeds 7,000 sqft and often includes eight or more bedrooms with multiple bathrooms and living spaces. Their average cost is around $750,000 to $1 million.
  • Style: Many McMansions often feature an eclectic mix of styles with elements taken from different artistic periods like Victorian or Colonial style homes combined with modern features such as large windows and open floor plans.

    In contrast, real mansions generally follow one specific style throughout the house, such as Mediterranean Revival or Tudor Revival architecture, characterized by steeply pitched roofs and elaborate details on the home’s interior and exterior.

In this famous blog, you can read what makes McMansion architecture so bad.

  • Amenities: Both offer luxurious amenities like swimming pools, spas, outdoor kitchens/bars, etc. However, these amenities tend to be much grander in a traditional mansion due to its larger size & budget availability.

Key Takeaway: Each house type differs in size, style, and amenities. McMansions are typically 3-5k sqft with an eclectic mix of styles, while traditional large houses exceed 7k to 10k sqft with a single construction style.

Amenities such as swimming pools, spas & outdoor kitchen bars tend to be more grandiose in scale for mansions due to their larger size & budget availability.

Summarized Comparison Between McMansions and Mansion

McMansions are huge houses in various styles, usually with multiple stories and often featuring an oversized garage or portico.

On the other hand, Mansions tend to be much larger and more luxurious, featuring high-end materials such as marble floors and custom woodwork throughout the home. Well-designed and elegant architecture are hallmarks of traditional mansions.

  • Size & Layout: The average size of a new McMansion is typically between 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, while traditional grand homes can range from 7,000 to 20,000+ depending on the property’s size.

    Regarding layout, both types are built to accentuate their artistic aspects, such as formal living rooms/dining rooms/family rooms.

    Still, grand houses will generally include additional features like grand staircases or elevators for convenience when navigating through its multiple levels.
  • Architecture & Design: McMansions are often characterized by their cookie-cutter designs needing more creativity and uniqueness.

    On the contrary, a new traditional mansion carefully considers its environment, ensuring the home’s design blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings rather than dominating the landscape.

McMansions are often criticized for their lack of constructive integrity.

However, most of the mansion’s exteriors are clad in materials that reflect the specific styles they try to emulate, such as traditional brick or stone, resulting in a cohesive and authentic look.

Additionally, they may incorporate unique elements like spiral staircases leading up to balconies overlooking lush gardens or fountains in courtyards surrounded by stone walls for added privacy and security.

  • Price Point: The price point for a typical McMansion is significantly lower than what you would expect to pay, mainly due to its mass production approach, whereas luxury mansions require extensive customization resulting in higher costs associated with building them from scratch.

    Generally speaking, you can expect prices ranging from $500k-$1 million for a mid-sized McMansion compared to upwards of $10 million dollars (or more) for an estate-style mansion located within exclusive neighborhoods across America’s most affluent cities.

There isn’t a perfect answer when purchasing either type since each offers something unique depending on individual needs and wants.

However, whether it’s affordability or extravagance, both give real estate agents and home buyers options when looking at potential investments.

Key Takeaway: Both housing types differ in size, layout, architecture & design, and price point. McMansions don’t have one specific size and are typically between 3-5k sq ft, while traditional luxury houses range from 7-20k+ sq ft.

Luxury features such as marble floors and custom woodwork are standard in luxury mansions but are only sometimes found in McMansions.

Prices for a mid-sized McMansion can be around $500k-$1 million compared to upwards of $10 million for a high-end traditional elite home.

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FAQs in Relation to Mansion vs. McMansion

  • It typically features boxy shapes, many windows and doors, and over-the-top decorative elements such as ornate columns or balconies. These houses are usually much larger than the surrounding homes in a neighborhood and need a cohesive aesthetic. They can be seen as an example of excess consumerism where size matters more than quality craftsmanship or thoughtful design.
  • McMansions are typically large size homes needing more creative aesthetics or details and appear boxy. They often feature oversized garages and windows, multiple stories, and great square footage. They also tend to have a cookie-cutter appearance that lacks unique features or design elements.
  • Additionally, McMansions are built on small lots without regard for the surrounding neighborhood context. To identify one in your area, look for houses that appear out of place compared to nearby homes due to their size and lack of architectural detailing.
  • The term “mansion” is subjective and can vary depending on the region, size of the property, and other factors. Generally speaking, any residence with at least 5,000 sqft of living space is considered a mansion.
  • However, it could still be an impressive and luxurious home with plenty of room for entertaining guests or raising a family, and that’s where McMansion fits perfectly.
  • McMansions are large size houses, often built in recent decades. They typically feature a combination of different home styles, such as Colonial Revival and Neo-eclectic, and often need more cohesive design or planning.
  • The term is derived from the fact that developers mass-produce these homes with little regard for quality or aesthetic value. As such, they can be seen as an example of modern consumerism run amok.

Conclusion

In conclusion, McMansions are typically large homes with modern features and amenities that appeal to the average buyer type. They offer more space for less money than traditional mansions but need more architectural detail and historic charm.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference when deciding between these two types of homes. Regardless, understanding the differences between the two can help you make an informed decision about which style best suits your needs.

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George Nicola

VIRTUAL STAGING EXPERT / After eight years+ working in high-end design and property business I realised that we are missing a critical part of the property business. We were not providing enough value to these old and empty properties. Not every buyer would have the opportunity to see the potential of vacant property or in a bad state. The idea of Virtual Furniture Staging the property gives the buyer and seller an incredible chance in seconds of taking the critical decision.