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A McMansion is the "Big Mac" of residential architecture: large, often mass-produced, and lacking style or elegance. The slang term came into use in the boom years of the 1980s, as over-sized houses with a floor area between 3,000 to 5,000 square feet were built on small lots (the house itself often covering a larger portion of the property than the yard in a common setting).

To put the McMansion in historical perspective, consider the evolution of the single-family residence over the last half century. The average new American home swelled from a one-story structure having about 980 square feet in 1950, to a two-story, 2,340-sq.-ft. structure in 2004 A McMansion therefore, is two to three times the size of a typical single-family residence built within the last 50 years.

McMansions are intended to fill the gap between modest tract homes in the suburbs and custom-designed homes often found in gated communities and upscale neighborhoods. Like tract homes, McMansions can be mass-produced in suburban areas or built as single homes in an existing neighborhood of smaller homes. Conflict has arisen in Fullerton and other cities when the construction of a much larger home does not fit into the scheme of the neighborhood's older, smaller existing homes. Proponents claim that McMansions revitalize suburbs, reduce sprawl, and promote reinvestment in older suburbs. Developers call McMansions "luxury move-up homes."

Critics have weighed in against McMansions since their earliest inception, criticizing their wastefulness, cheap and mass-produced construction and cookie-cutter look. McMansions have no true architectural style, but borrow motifs and elements from various and often incompatible architectural styles, using tract-home construction to mimic traditionally-built homes. Large homes crowded onto small lots also block sunlight, putting nearby residences into shadow. Characteristics of McMansions include:

  • Oversized, especially in relationship to the lot size, with small or no yards
  • Two or more stories
  • Voluminous roofs (McMansion communities are often likened to a "sea of roofs")
  • Built with mass-produced materials
  • Ostentatious in appearance, often out-of-sync with surrounding homes, especially in rural-looking neighborhoods
  • Use a pastiche of traditional features, such as gates, gables, wrap-around porches, creating a non-harmonious exterior
  • Various window sizes and shapes
  • Faux or fake features such as dormers with windows that don't open or inaccessible widow walks
  • "Themed" in various faux styles, such as Mediterranean , neo-Tudor, neo-Colonial
  • Three or more garages
  • Interiors that feature "great" rooms, formal living/dining areas, open kitchen/family rooms, master suites
  • Reception areas and kitchens on the ground floor with bedrooms on the upper level

There are several examples of McMansions in Fullerton , all of which have been constructed or enlarged to their present size within the last ten years.

Single-family residence (2002)
Single-family residence (2002)


single-family residence (2002)
Single-family residence (2002)


single-family residence (2002)
Single-family residence (2002)



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