What Is McMansion?

McMansion is a derogatory term used to describe oversized and ostentatious houses. The homes are constructed with cheap materials and considered eyesores. Because the homes are built faster than other house styles, the dwellings are believed to be the “fast food” version of housing. 

The name association with McDonald’s is not a compliment. When a comparison is made to the fast-food chain, it’s not meant as a form of flattery.

McMansion Architecture Style

McMansions emerged in the 80s and became popular during the run-up to the subprime mortgage crisis of 08. As the polar opposite of minimalism, McMansions symbolized the American Dream. All of a sudden, maximalism replaced minimalism. 

The term isn’t relegated to only the US. McMansions are international and popular in Australia as well. Not only are the houses larger in Australia, but homes have more land. In rural environments, these houses sit on a few acres.  

Today, new homeowners are remodeling their homes so they won’t look like McMansions. The trend is what designer Jean Stoffer calls “deMcMansioning.” 

“I actually prefer a remodel versus new builds because it’s all about seeing potential in what’s already there,” said Stoffer while explaining how younger families often buy homes that have an outdated aesthetic.

The McDonald’s McMansion

The McDonald’s McMansion

In Long Island, McMansion refers to the McDonald’s McMansion. This is an operating Mcdonald’s franchise built inside a home from America’s Colonial period. 

Also known as Denton House, this fast-food restaurant sits in New Hyde Park, New York. The home was scheduled for demolition in the 80s before it was converted into a Mcdonald’s. When the home was remodeled, the owners agreed to transform it but only if they could keep the original exterior. 

Traditional Mansion vs. McMansion

HistoryBuilt before the 1980s, over 90% still standing.Most built in the 90s.
OwnersOwned by those with titles, affluence, or inherited homes.Middle-class buyers.
ClassTasteful, timeless materials, superior construction quality.Built quickly, less attention to construction quality.
AdaptionAdapts to nature and surroundings.May not seamlessly integrate with surroundings.
Building MaterialsStone, wood, brick - structurally sound, long-lasting.Plastic and less expensive materials are prevalent.
CohesionCohesive design, good flow, no mix-and-match of materials.Lack of classic cohesion, mix-and-match of materials is common.

What Makes A McMansion?

Although McMansions don’t have a specific definition like other types of houses, craftsman or colonial, for example,  there are a few common characteristics among them.

But not all McMansions are the same. After all, the term McMansion is slang, and slang terms represent a feeling.

Minimum: 3,000 square feet 

Most McMansions are at least 3000 sqft, larger than most homes in the world. The size is one of their most defining features.

Some McMansions can be smaller. For example, a 2500 sqft three-story home may be classified as McMansion. 

Cheap Materials

Before the financial crisis and the bubble burst, homeowners wanted to keep up with the Joneses. For that to happen, they used the cheapest materials possible in order to afford the sheer size of the home. The lower budgets explain why the construction quality of  McMansions is lower than other homes.  

Hodge Podge Of Materials

Many times, the materials in McMansions depended on cost. Because of this, the houses feature a mixed bag of materials. 

High McMansion Ceilings

High ceilings were important to McMansion owners to create a grand entrance. Huge living rooms and entryways with two or three stories and a chandelier in the center are common features.

Some consider the layout a waste of space since it reduces liveable areas.

Large Garages

It’s typical to find two or three-car garages in McMansions. Garages sometimes double as storage space.


McMansions were mass-produced during their heyday. Tract communities and suburban environments feature the home style. 

The homes look the same because they’re cheaper to build using the same materials. It’s also cost-efficient to reproduce homes with similar styles and compositions. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Are Some Problems Caused By McMansions?

Storm water runoff is an issue for homes situated downhill from McMansions. McMansions are built on raised foundations. After a rainstorm, water runoff is a problem for homes on lower foundations. Residents who encounter this problem must invest in costly drainage systems to protect their homes from water damage.

What Are The Four Meanings Of A McMansion?

McMansions are large, opulent houses. The term describes a home that has a flawed architectural design. It’s also a symbol for issues including sprawl and excessive consumption.

What Is McMansion Hell?

A blog dedicated to the McMansion. Launched in July 2016, the blog exposes the flaws and defects of McMansions. It also covers the latest home style trends and the inconveniences they cause.

What Is A McModern?

McModerns have replaced the McMansion ugly houses. The trend began during the early 21st century. The homes are similar to McMansion in that they’re built with cheap material and are mass-produced. McModern homes resemble Tudor or Colonial architectural styles.