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A Look Inside The "New Normal" McMansion

Tyler Durden's picture


And they're back:

  • 2,277 sq.ft. - Median new-home size in 2007
  • 2,306 sq. ft. - Median new-home size in 2012

Just as that crowning achievement of the last housing bubble, the McMansions, have once again returned with the second and final return of the Fed-blown housing bubble, the Bluths picked a perfect time to also come bac on the scene.

But back to the triumphal return of McMansions.

Readers will recall that one of the prevailing themes in the early post-depression years, was a return to thrift - in spending and in housing size - and after the median home size hit a record high of 2,277 square feet in 2007, it declined progressively in the following two years according to Census Bureau figures (we can only assume these were not manipulated unlike the jobs numbers). As David Rosenberg at the time, and as the NYT pointed out a day ago, "It seemed that after more than a decade of swelling domiciles, the McMansion era was over. But that conclusion may have been premature."

Because as data from 2010 and onward shows, now only is American fascination with size, in this case of one's home, back but it has never been more acute:

In 2010, homes starting growing again. By last year, the size of the median new single-family home hit a record high of 2,306 square feet, surpassing the peak of 2007. And new homes have been getting more expensive, too. The median price reached $279,300 in April this year, or about 6 percent higher than the pre-recession peak of $262,600, set in March 2007. The numbers are not adjusted for inflation.

However, since we have already covered the return of the housing (and all other) bubbles previously, we will not comment on how the Fed is once again doing everything in its power to bring about the biggest credit and housing bubble crash in history. The NYT has done a rather good and concise job of that:

 Yet the economy remains weak. How can Americans keep buying bigger and more expensive homes? It turns out, of course, that not everyone can.


“It’s all about access to credit,” said Rose Quint, an economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “People who are less affluent and have less robust employment histories have been shut out of the new home market. As a result, the characteristics of new homes are being skewed to people who can obtain credit and put down large down payments, typically wealthier buyers.”


It’s another sign that in today’s economy, prosperity is not universally shared.

Much more can be added here, although at the end of the day all signs point, as usual, to the Fed and its "reflate everything" panacea.

So instead of analyzing the prevailing Keynesian lunacy in which one needs asset bubbles to fix the aftermath of prior asset bubbles, we will simply constrain ourselves to discussing... interior decoration.

The infographic below from BusinessWeek shows how times, and tastes, how to decorate one's McMansion have changed in the past few years.


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Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:06 | 4186737 butchee
butchee's picture

It's an Illusion....A trick is something a whore does for money

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:30 | 4186783 Midas
Midas's picture

Don't call my escorts whores.   ---GOB

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:43 | 4186803 Gene Parmesan
Gene Parmesan's picture

The car’s in a town called Encanta. If you think that’s worth more than $200, I’d really appreciate it. I’m not even going to count it.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:10 | 4186986 fonestar
fonestar's picture

I want one.  How much satoshi?

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:12 | 4187360 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

No, a trick is someone a whore does for money; like you, for example.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:10 | 4186745 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

I have several aquaintances from my old job who just "had" to have their McMansions.

They already owned nice homes with large yards with mature trees. 

They traded them for new McMansions with granite counter-tops and stainless steel appliances, and 1,000 to 2,000 more square feet to keep all their junk in (important stuff like antiques from antiquing and clothes and shoes and new furniture and new SUV's).

These are people with two kids, no more than that.  They insisted on hosting the next Christmas party to show off their new McCastles of course.

Ego, greed, the lust for mammon.  And of course, this all pushed them to get bigger salaries and grants.  Paper pushers all of them; doing nothing productive for society.

The people below them all lost out; and either had their wages held stagnant, hours and jobs added without compensation, or were laid off.

Too bad our society has forgotten the Seven Deadly Sins and why they are Deadly.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:28 | 4186775 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Ask them how much they like their heating bill. Those high ceilings are the last thing you want in cold weather.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:46 | 4186816 Mike in GA
Mike in GA's picture

plus think of the roof lines on some of these puppies...20 yrs from now when these people have to do a $20-30K roof redo

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:59 | 4186968 stant
stant's picture

and the property tax, as my dad a plumber ,explained to me when i was a young man owning a house was glorified rent, and the biggest scam of all time

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:11 | 4187047 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

It's all about living WITHIN YOUR MEANS, bitcherrrs. All things being equal, and not going out and buying a fucking mcmansion that you can't afford, how can you compare paying rent to paying off a loan on YOUR property?

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:04 | 4187171 Oracle 911
Oracle 911's picture

Try don't pay the property tax on your property and you will see who truly owns your house.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:36 | 4187408 sleigher
sleigher's picture

You're right, but there ways to get around that.  To truly own the land that you "own".

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 14:07 | 4188240 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

There are few places in this country where you can actually get allodial title.

Home ownership is a scam as it is now. You have to pay rents in the form of property taxes and you have all the responsibility and very few private property rights in city corporation boundaries. You also have to ask permission to do what you want with what you allegedly own and often are under the scrutiny of gate keepers who's job it is to say no.

About the only thing one could say about home ownership is that if you added up all the rents over the course of time and that owning the house cost you significantly less you'd be ahead. You still have to quantify the responsibility aspect of it and in some cases that can be a lot.

I doubt I buy another house again...unless it's rural and at least 2 miles away from a city corporation (aka outside their reach).

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:30 | 4187071 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

Sorry, he was wrong. After 20 years of house payments you OWN the house. After 20 years of rent payments, you own a box of rent receipts. After working hard and paying my house off in 7 years I lived rent-free for 20 years before selling it for 5 times what I paid. Stupid renters!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:17 | 4187178 toys for tits
toys for tits's picture

He's talking about periodic property taxes.  


When you don't have to pay them, then you TRULY own your property.  Anything else is rent, since if you don't pay it you get evicted.  The gov't can set those taxes at whatever rate they want.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 14:25 | 4188289 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

While that may be true in part you have to add up all the costs of owning / maintaining the property and compare that with rent. The responsibility for the property has to be's not free.

Twenty years of property insurance is not free. Twenty years of property taxes are not free. The cost for appliances to maintain the property (mowers, trimmers and the like) are not free.

And there's your time. You need to count the costs of your time to shovel / mow / trim etc.

And finally, a lot of people who owned houses for 20 years didn't profit like you did. In many circumstances their value only changed marginally. A lot depended on when you purchased and how advanced the property bubble was at that time. I would venture a guess that the people who purchased your house will either see flat values or perhaps even declining value as reality sets in about where property values are going from here.

Further...there is a qualitative cost to being stuck in a place that perhaps you don't or can't find work. How do you take into account the freedom of renting especially when on a month to month basis you have the ability to relocate quickly? The people around the corner from me are stuck at the moment...they would prefer to relocate but can't because their house can't be sold for even what they paid years ago.

In a word you got lucky..not everyone can participate in the luck..NNT says as much in his books.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:56 | 4187052 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

"20 yrs from now when these people have to do a $20-30K roof redo"

We live within a DEBT BASED ECONOMIC SYSTEM.  That's the 1st thing you need to understand.  Then ask yourself, how much did it cost to redo a roof 20 yrs ago as compared to now, and how much did that house cost then.  Your currency is devaluating my friend.  We didn't make the rules, but if you're going to play the game, you need to know the rules. 

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:13 | 4186989 ZH Snob
ZH Snob's picture in the city of emphysema...let's take a look at some of these fabulous buys


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:08 | 4187355 Ljoot
Ljoot's picture

+1 for Firesign Theatre reference.

... and factory air-conditioned air from our fully equipped air-conditioned factory.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:14 | 4186992 Seer
Seer's picture

Many are likely situated in warmer climates... and in that case you DO want higher ceilings (and cupola would be advisable).

I'm in a location that has a heating season.  When the sun's out I get passive solar.  And for those days that I don't have that free energy I'm chucking wood (from the property) into the woodstove.  The core of the house is pretty open, allowing for good circulation.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:43 | 4187032 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Personally, I would rather be out having fun, than hunting dustbunnies in my effing vaulted ceilings, and air ducts.

"Your house is a place to keep your stuff, while you go out and get....moar stuff!!!" - George Carlin (R.I.P)

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:43 | 4186777 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

That's an all too familiar story. I have two to add:

I have two good friends who are married, and they just had to have a brand new four bedroom house, and nothing else would do. At the time they made this decision, they both had jobs, but the guy was saddled with around $20K debt from a previous relationship, and the girl had a small amount of debt from her previous marriage, plus some emotional issues.

Anyways, to get the loan for the house, they had to go through five different lenders, and then to get the deposit (they didn't have any saved), they had to ask the guys parents for his inheritance ($30K-$50K was the implied range). His parents are still alive though. So they finally got the loan, but a week before they were approved for a $450K loan, the guy had his hours cut at work, and a few months later, is down to two days a week. The girl is still working, but wants to quit and have children. They've purchased the house with four bedrooms for the children they plan on having, but both are approaching mid 30s, and they've been trying for years, to no avail.

My wife and I have tried to lightly suggest that they might have exceeded their abilities, but no - they HAVE to have that house. No questions.

Now they're at the point where they won't even pay their share of a meal (not even going Dutch - just paying for what they ate/drank). I don't care about the money, but the lack of principals, especially with friends, is galling.

I have another friend who I was talking with about the price of housing in Australia, and how it's ridiculously expensive ($300K is the low end of average where I live, 5.5x the average yearly wage) compared to the average wage, and it doesn't need to be so. He said "Well, that's just the way it is, and if you want to live somewhere, you need to pay that". He plans to knock down his house (which is a perfectly functional, habitable house) to build something bigger that will remove all yard space that he has, so when it comes time to sell, he makes lots of money (his yard isn't exactly small either).

As you've said, we've forgotten the Seven Deadly Sins - especially Greed.

(I can't believe I spelled "especially" with an X. Terrible.)

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:16 | 4186898 RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

Should close in 2 weeks on a 99-year old brick on cut stone Victorian; 4 (small) bedrooms, pocket doors, original hardwood throughout. Is in town with a small lot, but at 121K comes in well within my budget.  You couldn't build this home today.

I looked at new construction - you get shoddy quality for twice the price...and triple the property taxes. Naw, don't think so.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:34 | 4186931 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

Lucky bugger!

Australians have a tendancy to not leave homes like that standing - they knock them down and build new ones (real estate prices always go up, right?). The even more ridiculous thing is homes built in Australia aren't built for passive cooling - they all have dark roofs, use either ducted air con or multiple units, and are a single layer of brick (sometimes with rendering) on the exterior. When the sun hits the brick for even an hour on a summer day, it transfers heat into a house ridiculously well, and takes well into the evening for the heat to dissipate. We are so dumb here.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:20 | 4187182 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

Seems fashion will always beat good design. You will notice the "in" colour is now grey (usually dark grey) which is a great absorber of solar energy in the summer (so the house is boiling inside), and loses heat well in the winter (so the house is freezing inside).

Add in the current penchant for vast "open plan" areas, no "inconvenient" features such as wood fires (or if they do have a fire it's purely ornamental), large areas of single-glazed glass, and it's no wonder that "every home just HAS to have a 10 - 15kW ducted AC system" - which they run 24/7 in the summer, and 24/7 in the winter.

No wonder everyone's always bitching on about how much electricity they use!!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:27 | 4187010 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 14:33 | 4188322 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

In my area all new construction gets property tax abatement for 10 years. Some people make it a practice of moving no later than five years to a new house so the tax abatement is in essence perpetual for them. Also, the remaining five years of property tax abatement is attractive to the next buyer. Moving within the first five years also keeps the house pretty fresh and there's little if any upkeep to be done in that period if they're lucky.

The decay will come quickly, I've seen it a lot in new construction. The damage is also much more severe since the materials are questionable at best. When 90% of the materials used is nothing but glue and particles they don't last long.

The upkeep for some of these newer houses will likely overwhelm owners at some point when the whole thing begins to fall apart around them.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:23 | 4187002 Seer
Seer's picture

My wife has relatives in Australia.  I marvel at how the housing market there and in Canada (relatives there too) have both managed to defy logic.  Going to be a LOT of people suffering...

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:55 | 4187039 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

Some people are already starting to. I have friends who work either in mining, or industries that link in with mining, and every company they work for has laid off people (the lowest was 30 people laid off, highest was over 500). There has been massive suburban sprawl developing in what were areas of bush and farm land, and that expansion was thanks to ridiculously high coal and ore prices. Now that those prices have dropped, and mining companies are shedding workers and cutting costs, those houses are now up for sale.

The maths of the situation says things are bad, and it has to change really soon, but I've been thinking that since I arrived back in Australia in 2010. The can keeps rolling along though, much to my amazement.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 02:55 | 4187126 Bear
Bear's picture

I live in Cali ... Home prices are approaching their all time high water in properties in proximity to LA. And in SF, they have surpassed all time highs ... I guess that California has them Covered

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:15 | 4187365 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Long strike-slip faults.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:41 | 4187188 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

You live in Australia, the "Lucky Country"!

"It's Different Here" - until it isn't. "Everyone" is convinced housing prices will continue to rise, and "rents will go to the moon", except that with the exception of e.g. Sydney (and close to the CBD at that), rents have either plateaued or are (horror of horrors) dropping as a result of very significant oversupply!

If you are prepared to face a 30 minute commute (tragic I know!) it is very easily possible to rent a very nice property near Sydney CBD for a very great deal less than it will cost you to "rent" the money to buy that property of any major lender.

We're going to spend Christmas with a former colleague and her family - they moved to Queensland, and bought significant acreage (5+ acres) with a very nice 1960's Federation era Queenslander in the middle of the land block, for $100K less than they sold their inner Melbourne McMansion for (on a 450 sq.m.  battleaxe block), 200m from the local "Water Recycling Plant" (Sewage Works for those of us who are less polite). Stamp Duty was 1/3rd of Vic. rates too, which saved them another $12k.

This underlines just how stupid property prices have become, especially near major Metropolitan centres. When it hits the fan (and it will, soon)  there are going to be a lot of very unhappy "Property Investors" out there, who were all promised "untold riches for no effort", but who are all about to have a taste of reality.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:37 | 4186795 ceilidh_trail
ceilidh_trail's picture

Well said, EBW. Having just returned from 12 hours in the icu and hearing repeated whispers that our (not for profit hospital) CEO is/has been awarded a $12 million bonus even while we have had ours eliminated, your comment struck a cord.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:52 | 4187192 Marco
Marco's picture

For the profit of the board and upper management ...

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:16 | 4186897 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Always when I visit people in McMansion neighborhoods I can't wait to leave and return to my little farm on a dirt road. The houses are all identical and lined up in stifling order. I was once in a bathroom and the toilet was actually aligned perfectly with the neighbor's.. You could salute each other while sitting on the Throne.

Something about it reminds me of Madeline L'Engle book A Wrinkle in Time. The themes of "conformity" and the "status quo" are present and exalted. It is a generic theme that is within every society there is a powerful dominant group that challenges the minority group and they are too afraid to callenge it. In the book, IT is the powerful dominant group that manipulates the planet of Camazotz into conformity (i.e., they all have the same rhythm). It's amazing to watch how quickly people give up their independence and individuality to gain a sense of "status" which is forever meaningless.


Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:52 | 4186956 401K of Dooom
401K of Dooom's picture

Whatever you do, do not disturb the conformity.  The great mind of Kamazots will get you!  Just talk to Charles Wallace and his closed pupils.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:39 | 4187026 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

I play a lot of films for the neighborhood on my white garage door with a digital projector and decent speakers. It's a great value, the image is sharp and 8 X 15 and you can eat or drink what you want. In summer, we can have forty people. I have now started doing it in the garage in winter - with insulation in the ceiling, bubble wrap insulation on the roll doors, and portable heaters. I play a lot of animated for the kids and we have begun running through all the Hiro Miyazaki films. Brilliant stuff.

There's a funny animated american film: Over the Hedge with the animals fighing back on the new development. I love the main nemesis - real estate agent / development president who is always measuring peoples lawn.   

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:08 | 4187174 Serenity Now
Serenity Now's picture

That's awesome!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:44 | 4187033 Seer
Seer's picture

I recall something written in a country magazine about advice on buying property.  One person wrote that you should look for some place with nice views because you're not likely going to be going on any trips.  I'm thankful that I've got such a place- I don't even like leaving it, and when I come home it's HOME, even if I have to end up rounding up animals and dealing with random "events."

I once had "investment" property, a house, that had a view.  I was always so busy (and away from it) that I never had time to take it in.  Now when I'm busy I'm IN it (the view): I have all sorts of views around me.

Had some customers by a couple weeks back and they marvelled at how quiet it was.  Well, when my critters are settled down and folks aren't shooting or running chainsaws it can be deadly quiet.  Sometimes in the fall you can hear leaves detach off the trees as they settle to the ground.  And then there's the water running in the drainage ditches...  I understand the meaning behind "noise pollution."

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:19 | 4187371 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Compare and contrast with the McMansior neighborhood where an army of workers of dubious citizenship make every day a symphony of leaf-blowers, power-washers, lawn-mowers (for all of 9m^2 of lawn) while living on top of each other (nothing makes that as clear as having the former eyeline blockers like trees laid bare in fall).


Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:22 | 4186765 Whatta
Whatta's picture

2,306 sq. ft. - Median new-home size in 2012

Bah. You call that a ex-McMansion had bathrooms bigger than that.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 05:05 | 4187195 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

That's about the size and cost of the new garage I built in 2012.

On the bright side, if that's what being billed as a McMansion these days- if more of the family ponders going Galt - I can sell it as movin' on up to a deluxe McMansion in the hills...

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:20 | 4187372 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

You're a pox on our nation.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:22 | 4186768 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

The good part is that even if the houses went to 5,000 sq. feet they'd still contain the same amount of lumber.


Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:29 | 4186780 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

What?  You have a problem with a house built 28" on-center??

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 03:09 | 4187129 starfcker
starfcker's picture

Google the video of the house getting blown away by the tornado in diamond, illinois last week. granted that's worse case scenario, but that is not a very sturdy house, either. it's litterally gone in a second.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:59 | 4187194 toys for tits
toys for tits's picture

Very few buildings can withstand the full force of the weather, whether it be lightning, wind, or rain.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:19 | 4187527 superflex
superflex's picture

You could frame 12" O.C with 2x6's and a F4 would wipe it clean.

And it was Washington, IL.

You're 0 for 2.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 05:22 | 4187201 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

The relativist contemporary version seems to have lost some of the morality play aspect of the older versions...

There was once upon a time a pig who lived with her three children on a large, comfortable, old-fashioned farmyard. The eldest of the little pigs was called Browny, the second Whitey, and the youngest and best looking Blacky. Now Browny was a very dirty little pig, and, I am sorry to say, spent most of his time rolling and wallowing about in the mud. He was never so happy as on a wet day, when the mud in the farmyard got soft, and thick, and slab. Then he would steal away from his mother's side, and finding the muddiest place in the yard, would roll about in it and thoroughly enjoy himself.

His mother often found fault with him for this, and would shake her head sadly and say, "Ah, Browny! Some day you will be sorry that you did not obey your old mother."

But no words of advice or warning could cure Browny of his bad habits.

Whitey was quite a clever little pig, but she was greedy. She was always thinking of her food, and looking forward to her dinner. And when the farm girl was seen carrying the pails across the yard, she would rise up on her hind legs and dance and caper with excitement. As soon as the food was poured into the trough she jostled Blacky and Browny out of the way in her eagerness to get the best and biggest bits for herself. Her mother often scolded her for her selfishness, and told her that someday she would suffer for being so greedy and grabbing.

Blacky was a good, nice little pig, neither dirty nor greedy. He had nice dainty ways (for a pig), and his skin was always as smooth and shining as black satin. He was much cleverer than Browny and Whitey, and his mother's heart used to swell with pride when she heard the farmer's friends say to each other that someday the little black fellow would be a prize pig.

Now the time came when the mother pig felt old and feeble and near her end. One day she called the three little pigs round her and said, "My children, I feel that I am growing old and weak, and that I shall not live long. Before I die I should like to build a house for each of you, as this dear old sty in which we have lived so happily will be given to a new family of pigs, and you will have to turn out. Now, Browny, what sort of a house would you like to have?"

"A house of mud," replied Browny, looking longingly at a wet puddle in the corner of the yard.

"And you, Whitey?" said the mother pig in rather a sad voice, for she was disappointed that Browny had made so foolish a choice.

"A house of cabbage," answered Whitey, with a mouth full, and scarcely raising her snout out of the trough in which she was grubbing for some potato parings.

"Foolish, foolish child!" said the mother pig, looking quite distressed. "And you, Blacky?" turning to her youngest son. "What sort of a house shall I order for you?"

"A house of brick, please mother, as it will be warm in winter and cool in summer, and safe all the year round."

"That is a sensible little pig," replied his mother, looking fondly at him. "I will see that the three houses are got ready at once. And now one last piece of advice. You have heard me talk of our old enemy the fox. When he hears that I am dead, he is sure to try and get hold of you, to carry you off to his den. He is very sly and will no doubt disguise himself, and pretend to be a friend, but you must promise me not to let him enter your houses on any pretext whatever."

And the little pigs readily promised, for they had always had a great fear of the fox, of whom they had heard many terrible tales.

A short time afterwards the old pig died, and the little pigs went to live in their own houses.

Browny was quite delighted with his soft mud walls and with the clay floor, which soon looked like nothing but a big mud pie. But that was what Browny enjoyed, and he was as happy as possible, rolling about all day and making himself in such a mess.

One day, as he was lying half asleep in the mud, he heard a soft knock at his door, and a gentle voice said, "May I come in, Master Browny? I want to see your beautiful new house."

"Who are you?" said Browny, starting up in great fright, for though the voice sounded gentle, he felt sure it was a feigned voice, and he feared it was the fox.

"I am a friend come to call on you," answered the voice.

"No, no," replied Browny, "I don't believe you are a friend. You are the wicked fox, against whom our mother warned us. I won't let you in."

"Oho! Is that the way you answer me?" said the fox, speaking very roughly in his natural voice. "We shall soon see who is master here," and with his paws he set to work and scraped a large hole in the soft mud walls. A moment later he had jumped through it, and catching Browny by the neck, flung him on his shoulders and trotted off with him to his den.

The next day, as Whitey was munching a few leaves of cabbage out of the corner of her house, the fox stole up to her door, determined to carry her off to join her brother in his den. He began speaking to her in the same feigned gentle voice in which he had spoken to Browny. But it frightend her very much when he said, "I am a friend come to visit you, and to have some of your good cabbage for my dinner."

"Please don't touch it," cried Whitey in great distress. "The cabbages are the walls of my house, and if you eat them you will make a hole, and the wind and rain will come in and give me a cold. Do go away. I am sure you are not a friend, but our wicked enemy the fox."

And poor Whitey began to whine and to whimper, and to wish that she had not been such a greedy little pig, and had chosen a more solid material than cabbages for her house. But it was too late now, and in another minute the fox had eaten his way through the cabbage walls, and had caught the trembling, shivering Whitey and carried her off to his den.

The next day the fox started off for Blacky's house, because he had made up his mind that he would get the three little pigs together in his den, and then kill them, and invite all his friends to a feast. But when he reached the brick house, he found that the door was bolted and barred, so in his sly manner he began, "Do let me in, dear Blacky. I have brought you a present of some eggs that I picked up in a farmyard on my way here."

"No, no, Mister Fox," replied Blacky. "I am not gong to open my door to you. I know your cunning ways. You have carried off poor Browny and Whitey, but you are not going to get me."

At this the fox was so angry that he dashed with all his force against the wall, and tried to knock it down. But it was too strong and well built. And though the fox scraped and tore at the bricks with his paws, he only hurt himself, and at last he had to give it up, and limp away with his forepaws all bleeding and sore.

"Never mind!" he cried angrily as he went off. "I'll catch you another day, see if I don't, and won't I grind your bones to powder when I have got you in my den!" And he snarled fiercely and showed his teeth.

Next day Blacky had to go into the neighboring town to do some marketing and to buy a big kettle. As he was walking home with it slung over his shoulder, he heard a sound of steps stealthily creeping after him. For a moment his heart stood still with fear, and then a happy thought came to him. He had just reached the top of a hill, and could see his own little house nestling at the foot of it among the trees. In a moment he had snatched the lid off the kettle and had jumped in himself. Coiling himself round, he lay quite snug in the bottom of the kettle, while with his foreleg he managed to put the lid on, so that he was entirely hidden. With a little kick from the inside, he started the kettle off, and down the hill it rolled full tilt. And when the fox came up, all that he saw was a large black kettle spinning over the ground at a great pace. Very much disappointed, he was just going to turn away, when he saw the kettle stop close to the little brick house, and a moment later, Blacky jumped out of it and escaped with the kettle into the housed, when he barred and bolted the door, and put the shutter up over the window.

"Oho!" exclaimed the fox to himself. "You think you will escape me that way, do you? We shall soon see about that, my friend." And very quietly and stealthily he prowled round the house looking for some way to climb onto the roof.

In the meantime Blacky had filled the kettle with water, and having put it on the fire, sat down quietly waiting for it to boil. Just as the kettle was beginning to sing, and steam to come out of the spout, he heard a sound like a soft, muffled step, patter, patter, patter overhead, and the next moment the fox's head and forepaws were seen coming down the chimney. But Blacky very wisely had not put the lid on the kettle, and, with a yelp of pain, the fox fell into the boiling water, and before he could escape, Blacky had popped the lid on, and the fox was scalded to death.

As soon as he was sure that their wicked enemy was really dead, and could do them no further harm, Blacky started off to rescue Browny and Whitey. As he approached the den he heard piteous grunts and squeals from his poor little brother and sister who lived in constant terror of the fox killing and eating them. But when they saw Blacky appear at the entrance to the den, their joy knew no bounds. He quickly found a sharp stone and cut the cords by which they were tied to a stake in the ground, and then all three started off together for Blacky's house, where they lived happily ever after. And Browny quite gave up rolling in the mud, and Whitey ceased to be greedy, for they never forgot how nearly these faults had brought them to an untimely end.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:23 | 4187377 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

And then there was this little pig named Honky...

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:27 | 4186773 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

I'm just glad I don't have a mortgage.

I own my humble 1300 sq. ft. ranch house outright.  Couple acres to roam around on (or grow crops) and plenty of space that doesn't count as "living space" for tax purposes- big garage, big shed, sun room, etc.  I pay taxes that are almost literally 1/10th what some of the McManisons in the neighborhood behind me pay (We're talking 10-12K sq. ft. houses in some cases!).

Small house in the big house neighborhood in a good area.  My depression-era Grandfather was right.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:48 | 4186825 Pemaquid
Pemaquid's picture

Definitely. Let them drag the value of your house up!

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:37 | 4186935 grid-b-gone
grid-b-gone's picture

That's the way to go. More land, less house, and plenty of detached storage space.

Lower initial cost, lower energy bills, less cleaning to suck up your time, and lower property taxes.

Knocking $7K off your annual housing expense (mortgage, tax, & utilities) is like getting a $10K raise, and that repeats every year for the rest of your life.

Like this example..

Be mortgage-free by 40. Go high-quality on everything. The only difference between a modest home and that of the top 1% should be square feet.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:55 | 4187041 Seer
Seer's picture

I have several times the amount of land, but only a fraction of the house that a neighbor up the road has.  They pay something like 5x the amount of property taxes that I do.  Of course, I've got lower taxes due to having Ag land, but that's the decision that I made (instead of having granite countertops).  And come to think of it I don't think their house is south-facing (northern climate), so no solar advantage: I'm constantly amazed at how much money to thrown at houses and they can't orient them properly!*

* Had a friend design and oversee the construction of a passive solar design home.  During early construction he'd arrived to see that they'd laid out the foundation WRONG.  Someone thought that it would be "better" to orient things differently (as in better view).  Fortunately my friend arrived before the cement trucks did... And keep in mind that these folks are picked because they had some idea on building efficient homes!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:24 | 4187378 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

This is why you don't leave your job site when it's your money on the line.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:27 | 4186774 laomei
laomei's picture

And the hilarious part of course, is that the quality is, as it has always been, utter utter garbage.  Shit-frame housing that blows apart in a slight breeze.  "brick" facade homes, useless drywall that falls apart if you look at it wrong.  Yep, that's just quality stuff right there.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:35 | 4186789 CunnyFunt
CunnyFunt's picture

Too right.

All that OSB is pure crap, and it out-gasses like a Chris Christie fart. At least use real plywood, ffs.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:52 | 4186835 W74
W74's picture

But OSB is $8 at Lowes/HomeDepot.

Real Plywood might cost them $15 for ½"

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:56 | 4186846 CunnyFunt
CunnyFunt's picture

Come to think of it, I really don't think that the average McMansion debtor would know the difference between OSB and CDX.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:31 | 4187073 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

I didn't know what either were, nor what the difference was (we don't cover frames with plywood or particleboard usually in Australia), but knowing now - I've seen what happens when cheap furniture (think coffee tables) made with OSB comes into contact with water - POOF! It expands to two or three times its original thickness.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 02:04 | 4187090 Georgiabelle
Georgiabelle's picture

True. But plywood can delaminate when it is exposed to water as well. Each type of underlayment and/or sheathing has its plusses and minuses. When it comes to furniture though, you are just about always better off going with vintage items, at least for your casegoods. There is just no comparison in terms of the quality of both the materials and the construction. Given the choice between vintage mahogany or rubberwood circa 2013 I'll take the vintage every time, no matter what upscale label has been slapped on the rubberwood item (ahem, PB, C & B and CB2).

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 11:42 | 4187804 laomei
laomei's picture

Oh most definitely.  Just stay away from the plywood and composite sawdust everything.  Nothing beats good solid real wood for furniture.  Sure, it costs more, because real things, gasp, cost more than fake shit.  It'll also last a hell of a lot longer and maintain some resale value. The crap from Ikea however, that shit needs to be swapped out every year or two.  Do the math, unless you like rebuying your own stuff every few years, the choice is obvious:

Cookware: Cast iron for non-stick, copper for everything else.  It'll last a lifetime.

Furniture: Real wood, any soft surface should be either leather or upholstered (with the ability to redo it)

Utility shelving: Stainless steel, at least the core of it

Flooring: You can go real wood if you're willing to handle the upkeep, but stone is best. Carpet is retarded, rugs are ok.

Roofing: There's a wonderful thing called slate, it lasts a lifetime, let your grandkids worry about redoing it, Just embed it in the concrete vault which is your roof.


Of course, all these nice things happen to require that you live in a real house, made out of real materials.  At the bare minimum, you want steel-frame.  Stone is nice, I'll be the first to admit, but it's not practical.  Reinforced concrete however, is.  It looks just like your normal home, except it's not hollow inside, it's solid.  Yes, adding that window will be a pain, but that house ain't going anywhere.  You want the ease of wiring? You can easily attach studs to the walls.  Oops, that home improvement job is gonna require some REAL tools now, not the shit they sell at walmart or sears.


End result: weather-proof home that'll last basically forever with minimum upkeep.  So when some drunk joyrider crashes into your place you just wash off what's left of him with the garden hose.  

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:26 | 4187382 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Both burn just fine.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 05:11 | 4187197 Marco
Marco's picture

For the price difference you can afford to get formaldehyde free glued OSB ... not like plywood doesn't outgass.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:30 | 4187565 superflex
superflex's picture

You think the glue used in plywood is different than that used in OSB?

You might want to visit a Weyerhauser plant some time, Copernicus.

OSB has it's virtues and limitations, just as plywood does.

My first house built in 1923 had true dimension framing and solid wood subfloors.

Does that make it better than one with 1-5/8" x 11-5/8" floor joists and CDX subfloors?

It sure didn't have the energy efficiency of a newer home.

Just sayin.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:36 | 4186792 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

You ain't kidding, brother.  The exterior walls on most modern houses goes like this:

1.  Siding

2.  Tyvek wrap

3.  Insulation

4.  Interior drywall

5.  Welcome to the inside of my house.  No need to batter down the front door or break a window.  Just rip off the siding and punch through the drywall and you're in!  No alarms to set off and the spacing between the studs will EASILY allow a person to pass through.


Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:53 | 4186834 CunnyFunt
CunnyFunt's picture

No OSB behind the Tyvek?

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:49 | 4186952 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

Pretty sure codes requires osb or black board, but still easy enough to punch a hole through...

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:33 | 4187583 superflex
superflex's picture

You cant apply siding over framing without an exterior sheathing.

Building code 101.

Thinking is hard.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:56 | 4186844 NeedleDickTheBu...
NeedleDickTheBugFucker's picture

The concept of quality over quantity does not compute with 99% of the populace.  My mother always warned me of the inherent dangers of being "house poor".  Grew up (1966-1980) in a nice 2,400 sq. ft. house - 4 people, shared a bathroom with my sister.  The house was just like every other house in our neighborhood.  Never thought once about what it would be like to live in a "big house".  I can't decide who brought the concept of the McMansion to the forefront - the sheeple deciding on their own that this is what they want or the TPTB telling them that this is what everyone needs.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:10 | 4187055 Seer
Seer's picture

You do realize that 2/3 of the world's population lives on $3/day or less don't you?

And what you/I/us here might live in would be considered cheap shit compared to what the elites have.

If you think that most WANT by design to live in cheap houses you are wrong.  Sometimes you have to do the best with what you have.  For me it was a compromise: I figured that having more land over a "fancy" home meant more; and while I figure that my home is cheap (by your standards- and I'd concur), to my wife "cheap" is a cardboard box- my wife is from the Philippines.  I've at least got 2x6 walls and double-pane windows; and, the house (though I highly doubt it was designed for it, siting was just a coincidence) functions quite well for passive solar gain (I'd done significant studying of passive solar designs- was going to build my own home, strawbale [in-fill] construction).

Anything that is not properly maintained is going to fall apart.  And those "well-built" homes are going to be quite expensive to repair, if, that is, you wish to maintain their originality.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:49 | 4187190 laomei
laomei's picture

We own several properties here in China.

In the city, our apartment is made out of reinforced concrete, some windows frames and interior walls are made out of brick.

In the countryside, our 4000sq ft "villa" is also made out of... solid concrete slab, interior walls are solid brick.  No wood anywhere in the structure.

A house we own in another city, solid brick.


Meanwhile, in the US, people are still thinking it's a great idea to tear out plaster, because the horrible accoustics of drywall is so awesome or something.


A well-built home isn't expensive to maintain, in fact, if anything, it's far far far cheaper.  

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:27 | 4186776 GrinandBearit
GrinandBearit's picture

These fucking moronic buyers have very short memories.

It will end very badly.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:17 | 4186899 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Meanwhile, if you buy that sort of space you must clean that sort of space. In times gone by, when the prosperous had made it to where they could afford substantial homes such as these, they could also afford to pay people to do that sort of thing for them.  

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:44 | 4187031 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

that's the part I don't get. Do people really think interest rates are not going to go up as reality sets in and as all of the defaulted homes must at one point or another enter the system. Who is it again who did the interesting analysis comparing the middle class ratio of income and home values and determined we are in for a 70 percent correction. People laughed at him, but some areas have aleady seen 40 percent and we have yet to come close to facing reality.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:33 | 4186788 W74
W74's picture

And here I just wanted a 750 sq. footer to avoid renting.

Oh well. Free man pretty soon.  Free man.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:46 | 4186819 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

Thanks to property taxes, you are forever a renter.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:57 | 4186856 putaipan
putaipan's picture

a little adjustment in those taxes to remember henry george and we'll all be happy renters insted of serfs.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:21 | 4187065 Seer
Seer's picture

You can whine about it or you can do something about it.

No one said that you HAD to pay property taxes.  YOU picked a location that requires you to do so.  Go squat somewhere and you can avoid property taxes.

As I had no desire to live a squatter's life I opted to seek property with low property taxes: really, knowing that incomes are only heading down and that if one were to "retire" that that usually means "fixed income," it would, then, only seem prudent to make a good decision on such a matter as property taxes.  I "manage"* Ag property- my taxes are, relative to others', low.

* I say "managed" because I am only a caretaker.  When I die I don't take it with me.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:30 | 4187385 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

And yet you take better care of it than fools who think they will take it with them.

How does that work?

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:00 | 4186859 Jlasoon
Jlasoon's picture

Sounds like me. Couldn't find a 750sq footer for my wife and I. Where renting, beautiful building, all the amenities (Gym, pool, Internet Cafe, Concierge, Gaming room, First floor retail, garage parking), $25 for water, $60 hydro, and a modest monthly rent. I'm comfy, I don't have to change anything, something breaks maintenance replaces everything within 24hrs. Feels more like a luxury resort. I'll probably never buy again. This is too good for no headaches. 

Plenty of money left over for PMs, and I can leave whenever I want. Best deal in town if you ask me. Fuck the McMansions and the Landwhales that inhibit them. Why anyone needs 2500sqft is beyond me. The gluttoness have taken over.   

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:29 | 4187070 Seer
Seer's picture

As long as you have some sense of control over your expenses...

"The gluttoness have taken over."

It's all relative.  I'll guarantee you that your lifestyle is seen as extravagant by a LOT of humans on this planet.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 11:24 | 4187736 Jlasoon
Jlasoon's picture

When 70% live in poverty I would believe so.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:31 | 4187389 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Have fun stepping over the homeless and their excrement while avoiding sporadic gunfire.

You're really livin' the dream! /sarc

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:41 | 4187611 superflex
superflex's picture

Are you going to call Blackstone maintenance when the power is out and there's no food?

All I have to do is walk outside and harvest from my gardens.  I too can save plenty of cash for PMs while still paying my mortage, and I guarantee, my mortgage and property taxes are lower than your rent.

Good luck storing more than 1 weeks worth of food in your 2 BR corporate owned shithole. 

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 11:23 | 4187732 Jlasoon
Jlasoon's picture

Sure, your mortgage, insurance, maintenance, utilities and PROPERTY TAXES i.e. (rent) might be lower [I doubt it], but at least I know I don't own this property. You my friend are still falling for the optical illusion, and think you own your property. Like I said I leave when I want; no headaches. You on the other hand, not so much. I don't have a vested interest in my property, nor my country. I've secured a second passport, I have my exit plan. I suggest you do the same.

NO house in the middle of Cornville Iowa will protect you from the fallout. Being close to planes, trains, and water vehicles will. 

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:45 | 4186808 Downtoolong
Downtoolong's picture

2,306 sq. ft. - Median new-home size in 2012

Let me guess, that’s an average of 1,800 sq. ft. for 95% of the new patio homes/townhomes/condos and 6,500 sq. ft. for the other 5%.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:31 | 4187074 Seer
Seer's picture

I think that you've got it right!

Though 1,800 sq ft is quite a bit...

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:44 | 4186812 I Write Code
I Write Code's picture

Well two things, first I agree "McMansion" starts somewhere around 5,000 square feet, and second it isn't much of a trend in the high-price markets like Los Angeles, where the new civic thrust is tiny and tinier apartments and condos, bunched around rapid transit lines where the street traffic is already in gridlock about 20x7.

I have nothing against owning more volume, I like my stuff and prefer to segregate it in different rooms and still have space to move around.  I wish they'd build larger units in the multi-unit modes, it would seem to cost very little more and not add to neighborhood congestion ... unless people start stuffing that space with 47 illegals.

But hey, that's a huge trend in Los Angeles too, converting the garage to un-permitted rental housing.  Doesn't exactly give support to the McMansion idea.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:51 | 4186832 Cabreado
Cabreado's picture

"Median new-home size"

The article is missing volume (new home sales 2007 vs 2012) which leaves the "median" trend out in the wind...

It is easy to see why with lower volume and increasingly skewed wealth/income, "new home size" would bump up a few feet.

I'm more concerned with such thoughts as "we will simply constrain ourselves to discussing... interior decoration."

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:53 | 4186838 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

Some retards bought some property down the road from me, ripped down the perfectly good house that was on it, and built the most pretentious POS McMansion they could fathom.  It's a long, somewhat skinny property, and they built it to take up the whole width, leaving barely enough room to drive a vehicle back there.  That acre behind them has virtually no access because they just had to have the biggest fucking house that would fit.  Now, the fence is thrashed because they tried to get a gooseneck back there.  They got it back there, and I think they took some of the fence with it.  The house is ugly as hell too, and even worse, it's likely driving my property value up as it is "fancy" and somewhere around 5k sq-ft, meaning more taxes.  Oh, and they went over budget and past schedule on getting it built and now they cannot afford it, and are selling it. 

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 03:10 | 4187130 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

North Street in Greenwich was lined with fine Colonial houses that had been fine for a couple generations of American execs.  But these were apparently not good enough for the new hedge fund guys.  Over the last 20 years you've seen them all torn down and replaced with faux French Chateaux surrounded with new 6 foot high stone walls (replacing the old 2 foot high stone walls that had been there since 1700 - WITH nice iron gates.   I think they're expecting (rightfully so) mobs screaming for the guillotine.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 03:40 | 4187157 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

If that's what they're expecting, they should know that a stone wall ain't shit in these times. 

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 22:57 | 4186853 starman
starman's picture

Your house doesn't really worth more but it costs more to build because of inflation!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:40 | 4187080 Seer
Seer's picture

Actually, materials costs ARE higher, owing to changes in codes (which are sometimes good, sometimes bad) and scarcity of materials.  Now days we have engineered beams -pieced lumber and glue- because there's less and less good timber for cutting out single-piece beams from.  Say what you will, but lots of the engineered stuff IS highly functional.

But, yeah, inflation most certainly does bump up existing prices/cost.  That's the price of growth...

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:39 | 4187418 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

More like the cost of speculation.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:27 | 4186913 WillyGroper
WillyGroper's picture

What, no outdoor kitchen complete with space heater & fireplace?

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:44 | 4187083 Seer
Seer's picture

I have one!

Well, actually, it's my wife's.  It's fire brick arranged as a small fireplace.  She'd used it to cook on.  I think she tried rendering fat, but am not sure she was able to keep a good enough fire going- it's pretty small (maybe 1 1/2' square), a kind of rocket stove.

We do have a more elaborate barrel oven kit on order.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:29 | 4186920 novictim
novictim's picture

Let us set the record straight.  The FED is - NOT - following Keynesian economic solutions.




I am blown away that this meme that the FED is following Keynsian economic policy has legs here on Zero Hedge.  Use your brains people!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:52 | 4187087 Seer
Seer's picture

Well, almost NO ONE gets it right, and that also includes YOU.

The part of Keynes' theory was that it was OK to deficit spend in a down-turn in order to stimulate a recovery.  Although I don't spend time reading this stuff, I believe he did state that it should ONLY occur at such times and that upon a recovery it should cease.

Like all ideas, Keynes' ideas got distorted when they escaped from the lab.

If not him then it would have been someone else or some other distortion wrecked upon us: power corrupts.  This is most certain given that everything that we offer up is based on the basis of total insanity/improbability- perpetual growth on a finite planet.  Keynes is just a convenient distraction from having to discuss this fundamental problem: it's always an argument over how the game is to be played, not of the game itself.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 13:41 | 4188165 novictim
novictim's picture

Ya, that is one of his maxims.  He also supported TARIFFS.

Point is, all these shots on Keynes are nonsense.  We have not seen Keynesian economics anytime since Ronald Reagan...and even Reagan bastardized the goals with trickle down ideology driving the real policy;.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:50 | 4187452 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Huh, when I think of FDR, I think of the "Blue Eagles" of "industrial self-goverment" (also called naked fascism, by those with two neurons to connect to each other), market manipulation by decree (gold re-pricing and confiscation), and a whole lot of buildings and monuments that consumed resources but only kept a small number of people employed for a small amount of time.

While the Neo-Keynesian economics of bubble-flation may not have much to do with Lord Keynes recommendations to kickstart money velocity at the bottom of the pyramid (rather than blowing out the elite's kidneys with an ever-increasing supply-side approach to trickle-down "champagne"), that doesn't mean that FDR wasn't also a robber baron just like J. Pierpont Morgan and the other scallywags.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 13:49 | 4188190 novictim
novictim's picture

You really don't have a clue as to what you are talking about.

And since you have invoked Godwin's law, I guess we are done here.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:41 | 4186937 FecundaGoat
FecundaGoat's picture

I love my 7,600 foot home theater is 1000 sq ft!!
My family never wants to go on vacation!!

I can't think of a better investment....

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:52 | 4187457 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Cyanide's cheap.

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 23:53 | 4186959 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

These ugly McMansions have been spread all around marginal farmlands here in Minnesota. Farmers sold out their less productive lands for home lots. You drive through rural areas inside driving distance of the cities and they are everywhere studded around the fields. No trees around, just sitting big and fucking ugly out in the open, with a 30 minute average drive into the jobs. My real problem with them is two fold. They are ugly and in a short time will be unfashionable. Number two, as others above mention, the builders build the shit as cheap as possible and then set their realators to work getting top dollars for them.

I have been in many of these things, fucking huge, it seems soze is all people care about, quality sucks. On a windy day you can feel these houses shake and feel the breeze across the cold floors. If you buy one at say age 35, when you are 55 the house will be a tear down, due to quality issues including foundations built of cheap cement. It all cheap, widows, door frames, flooring, sheet rock! You can walk up to a wall and with some little effort push your finger into the sheet rock. When I was a kid, we bounced hard balls off of our rooms walls. No cracks!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:02 | 4186977 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Too bad you don't have earthquakes. I can't wait for the big one to hit Cali and watch the endless lines of fallen dominos.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:57 | 4187469 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Sorry, doesn't work like that. The seismic waves actually make interference patterns so that damage is isolated in pockets like the vibrational modal center of a drum. I was in the '94 Northridge quake, front and center. There were houses razed to the ground next-door to ones with hardly a scratch.

Physics, it's a motherfucker!

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 21:00 | 4189385 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Oh pleeez. I know that. I was just joshing. I liked the mental imagery. Wildfires bring all the ticky tacky homes one after another. One big long barbeque!


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 02:09 | 4187093 Seer
Seer's picture

The crime isn't that they are shoddily built.  Nor is it that they are ugly (well, I empathize, but beauty tends to be subjective).  And that they are huge isn't a crime.  No, none of these things ought to be condemned, that is if we believe in "free markets" and all.  What OUGHT to be condemned is the loss of farmland.   We managed to push food prices down, which in turn forced farmers off their land: yes, no one really put a gun to their heads and told them to sell, though I'm sure that many got the greedy bug- it was more a tale of a failing to support local farming.

"When I was a kid, we bounced hard balls off of our rooms walls. No cracks!"

And when I was a kid the walls were cinder blocks- YUCK!  And the metal on cars were such that if you got into an accident that metal would hold rigid and allow you to take more of the impact force.

I'm NOT defending cheap.  I'm merely pointing out that sometimes things are over-built/over-designed; and this necessitates the use of more materials.  Quality is about scarcity.

Eventually we'll find that most everything that we're looking at will decay into a pile of nothing one day.  There will of course be those surviving ruins, ruins which almost always were from the elites of the past.

Consider this if you think that things are bad:

My wife is from this area.  She has more of a house than a shack.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 08:20 | 4187270 Mentaliusanything
Mentaliusanything's picture

You may never read this Seer! But thank you for bringing me back to a reality. Like a certain American President I learnt to walk as a child on a dirt floor. At night the possum population hung in the rafters. kerosene lanterns,sugar in ant proof milk cans, flour with weavels and stick picking the paddocks gave me a very strong back. They were the worst of times but they where the best of times. drought and poor prices for wheat finally killed the dream. However I remember leaving, sitting on a mattress with the clothes closet strapped behind the head board of the red Chev 1.5 ton truck. Never look back as I did (I had no choice). When he passed away, dispite the caloused hands he had made it ! Made something out of the pain of loss.

last words were ...... what I leave, don't fucking lose it,( and he left a share portfolio that made him the first handshake at the AGM in 27 of top fifty) so I live simply with the thought of how hard it was for him and his hands. I would guess they were the last thing the cremation took. They too will prosper, it is the spirit of man. I live in a house I can clean in 15 minutes and drive a 12 year old vehicle, i rent boats and planes, never press a slot machine. horses eat and shit and I don't wear a watch. but I do wear RM Williams because they will out live me

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 13:58 | 4188212 novictim
novictim's picture

Hey Seer, your critique would make sense in a world of unlimited resources.  

But that is not the world we live in.  A massive home requires more fuel to heat and cool.  It requires more resources to expend for construction.  

As we are now teetering on climate disaster, likely facing mass starvation and crop failures due to shifts in weather patterns over the next 2 decades, I think the classic concepts of economic growth being "good" are no longer valid.  Just food for thought.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 14:29 | 4188312 novictim
novictim's picture

Hey Seer, your critique would make sense in a world of unlimited resources.  

But that is not the world we live in.  A massive home requires more fuel to heat and cool.  It requires more resources to expend for construction.  

As we are now teetering on climate disaster, likely facing mass starvation and crop failures due to shifts in weather patterns over the next 2 decades, I think the classic concepts of economic growth being "good" are no longer valid.  Just food for thought.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 03:30 | 4187147 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

We bought during the market nadir after Gulf I - when nothing was selling and mortgage rates were well over 8% (WITH 20% down).  Smartest thing we did was to buy far more than we thought we could afford in a place we had written off as too expensive.  BUT we bought a wreck of a house in a great neighborhood, an OLD suburb a few stops out of Grand Central in a village where kids walk to school and you can walk anywhere in the village (if you want, though few seem to do so).  Local taxes are higher than elsewhere but overall costs are LOWER than if we'd moved farther out.  The land alone was worth more than half of what we paid and by doing most of the work myself I know I'll do fine when I sell (unklike all the Manhattan yuppies who move to the burbs when they have kids.  The ones across the street bought at peak of market and have dumped in another 50% - for a place worth no more than the land.... (my engineer did the report on the place when it sold to the previous owner who did some cosmetics and little more - the place is structurally shot and should have been torn down after damage in a fire in the 1930's).  

A short commute is irreplaceable and no need for kids to drive the minute they turn 16.   Even at the worst of the latest downturn you could still find a buyer for a house around here while those nice big places well upcounty are sitting on the market for years.  And those places have absurd commutes by car (or by train - with the added bonus of ridiculous demand for train station parking spaces). 

All the farms that used to surround cities in the US have been turned into ugly exurbs - a horrid waste of land.   


Note - not all old houses are well built - nor are all new ones shoddy BUT old wood - circa 1900-1920 was dimensionally larger and tighter grained (it didn't rot in 10 yeasrs like the new fast growth stuff).  A house 75-100 years old will likely need all new plumbing, electric and a  tear off roof.  But I've seen plenty of 20-30 year old places already falling apart - especially the fake stucco over insulation board (traps water and rots the hell out of all the wood framing underneath).   I also haven't seen too many new places that were really built well - flakeboard roof underlayment - instead of old 3/4" T&G - same for exterior walls.  Vinyl siding isn't the same as clear cedar either.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:24 | 4187003 gosh
gosh's picture

I would rather have a bigger attic.  Its my understanding the attic size isnt counted in the sf total.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:41 | 4187030 Serenity Now
Serenity Now's picture

We were in New Jersey this past summer and drove through a "new construction" suburb.  At first glance, the McMansions (starting at $350K, I think) were big and beautiful.  But it only took me five minutes to see that they were crap.  CHEAP.  FAKE.  I feel so sorry for the people who buy these and find out how cheap they are when it's too late.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 00:47 | 4187035 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

why shouldn't our home reflect our economy - bloated, fake, and violating codes.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:04 | 4187048 Serenity Now
Serenity Now's picture

Good point.  ;)

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:58 | 4187477 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Like good mafiosos, we'll burn it down for the insurance too.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 01:35 | 4187069 bh2
bh2's picture

A few points:

1. The tendency to do some/all of one's work in an office at home rather than in an office building is a swelling trend. Usually provides better quality of both equipment and lifestyle and better use of hours (and cost) not lost to commuting. An extra bedroom of reasonable size serves this function quite nicely. And how many downtown offices have a private bathroom right next door and a personal snack bar just down the hall? :)

2. Cost of a suburban lot may have more influence on acquisition cost of a (new or used) home today, depending on location.

3. Having a laundry room provides not only greater convenience but also good potential for a lot of consolidated storage which can then be omitted in other areas -- possibly cheaper overall. If adjacent the kitchen, it can also provide dedicated pantry space, thereby reducing demand for fancy cabs in the kitchen itself.


Mon, 11/25/2013 - 02:17 | 4187098 Seer
Seer's picture

"Office" tends to be on the "virtual" side of things.  The future is pushing the other direction: we're going toward "phyiscal."  Our future overlords are going to be wanting us to produce actual things for them.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 02:22 | 4187101 I Write Code
I Write Code's picture

A common form of "McMansion" in Los Angeles is the "Persian Palace", so-called because there is a LOT of (old?) Iranian money in Los Angeles, and for a long time it has concentrated on real estate.  The local form of "McMansion" is to build every square foot allowed by law (or variance) onto small urban lots, typically about 4,000 to 7,000 square feet, replacing old homes that probably averaged under 2,000, many under 1,500.  There seem to be only two style of Persian Palace, one looks like the parts bin exploded with mismatched Greek columns and classical porticos and I dunno what else stuck together, the other being post-modern geometric shapes with large blank walls.  I cannot speak further on the quality of construction, but I was not aware it was an issue, certainly they all have to meet some tough new construction earthquake and fire standards and such.

The post-modern stuff you either like or you don't, but the mismatched classical is just about as ugly as you can build and still have it stand up.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 02:39 | 4187116 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

"The post-modern stuff you either like or you don't, but the mismatched classical is just about as ugly as you can build and still have it stand up."

I don't think they are designing "post modern" style or much of any style.  They're just building themselves their idea of a mcmansion in the US.  What I find interesting is that they see it as a good investment and dump a ton of money into it.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 03:32 | 4187149 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

You should see the Mafia specials in the Bronx and Queens..... lol.     They have a unique 'style' for sure.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:00 | 4187483 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

So many fucking goats!!!!

(and the hodge-podge of ignorantly thrown together classical et al was started by Hearst)

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 04:10 | 4187175 clawfoot tub
clawfoot tub's picture

What you "own" is the "privilege" to pay property taxes.

Your "rent" may or may not be lower than others in your area.

Let's speak plainly.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 08:10 | 4187279 22winmag
22winmag's picture

Maybe the kids who spray paint and piss on these McMansions have the right idea.


After all, so many of them are built with stolen money and owned by foreign and domestic criminals.

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 09:46 | 4187438 orangedrinkandchips
orangedrinkandchips's picture

The interior taste change is inevitable. 


I have lived in a house build 100 years ago and then a house built 50 years ago.

the 1912 house was all copper, fancy shit, entrance to an entrance, big rooms, wide staircase etcge


Then the post WW2 house, a bungalow where I even had to duck to get under an entrance it was so small, but, that was build post ww2 and they were in a hurry. Someone needed to live in that place.


Of course it is natural. If you are paying  250K for a house IT BETTER BE BIG@

Mon, 11/25/2013 - 13:42 | 4188169 novictim
novictim's picture

Yes, repaying debt in times of prosperity is -one- of the maxims of Keynesian economics.

But equating debt, itself, with Keynesian strategy is just flat out wrong.  Keynes believed the government needs to step in to correct imbalances in the economy when the market fails to do it(which it ALWAYS does).

Keynes believed that economic policy should address the needs of PEOPLE not ideology.

So in our time of 20% over capacity to produce and consumer demand in the toilette due to wealth inequality/massive unemployment we should see Keynesians proposing higher taxation on the wealthy as well as TARIFFS to force the return of jobs and government supported jobs programs and higher minimum wages to the level of $15/hour.  As we see NONE of these sensible ideas (due to political/corporate corruption) we must conclude that there are NO Keynesians directing government policy.

If you want to see Keynesian economics in full use then you need to look to Sweden or Germany.

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