those AWFUL McMansions? – CEOs earning outsized salaries are using their money to build outsized houses, transforming local neighborhoods with their McMansions. When is a house too large for its neighborhood?

A new study provides information about exactly what it is that people find so offensive about super-sized houses which have sprouted up in neighborhoods around the country. Often these are more than two times as tall as surrounding homes, and their architectural style is rarely compatible with the neighboring homes.

The results of this study can provide guidelines for communities that are struggling to regulate the construction of these houses in existing neighborhoods. Towns as different from each other as Portland and Beverly Hills have already passed laws regulating home construction.

While some new neighborhoods have been built with ALL super-sized homes, this study examines “infill” McMansions, or a super-sized house built to replace or add on to an existing home in an established neighborhood. The author of the study, city planner Jack Nasar, says, “We found some general rules that could help people build a new home that gives them more space, but still respects the views of other people.”

Previous research by Nasar and his colleagues found that about two-thirds of America?s largest cities have reported the appearance of McMansions and about 39% of these cities had adopted new regulations concerning their construction, but the question has been what exactly to regulate. The problem is that there is no accepted definition of what constitutes a McMansion, or what exactly people find offensive about them.

Results showed that the architectural style of a McMansion had the strongest effect on whether people rated it as compatible and visually appealing. Nasar says, “The McMansion house didn?t have to be the exact same style as others in the neighborhood, but it did have to fit in for it to be rated highly.”

Nasar was surprised that people didn’t start rating blocks significantly lower until the McMansion was at least TWICE as big as the surrounding homes. He says, “That’s a pretty big difference in size. Keeping your new house no more than twice the size of your neighbors doesn’t seem to be too much of a constraint.”

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