I have long questioned the whys behind the McMansion neighborhoods in my area, but I am now seeing a new trend that puzzles me more. There are an increasing number of houses being built behind other existing homes.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the desire for a large house, with all possible amenities and I enjoy looking at the new home models with the custom this and thats and all the storage space one could possibly wish for. What makes less sense to me is that these homes are on such (relatively) small lots. Besides the fact that they look disproportionate, there is the privacy issue. Why have such big beautiful windows if you have to keep them covered all the time? Why would you want to hear your neighbors’ conversations while they are outside on their patios or even inside with the windows open?
I also understand that selling off a section of property can be profitable. Living in an area that has a good public transit system and is close to a major city without the negatives associated with actually living in the city definitely has value. But buying a piece of property that lies behind another house, with only a driveway leading it makes no sense to me.
The only thing that I can come up with is that the buyers are not really interested in spending time at home. They are buying a location that offers easy access to work and entertainment. Okay, I can understand that, but then why build a 3000 square foot house? A house this size is meant to spend time in, to have kids and dogs running around, to have dinner parties and barbeques.
I did some internet searching to see if I could make any sense of this concept – big houses with little or no yards — and came across several surveys asking people which they would prefer, a large house or a large yard. (The answers came from all over the US.) There I found like-minded people who preferred a large (ish) yard. This made me feel better, as I was feeling a bit alone, given the trends I am seeing in new construction. Reasons given include room for kids and dogs, place for a garden, privacy/distance from neighbors and interestingly enough, room for chickens. People opting for a smaller house also name utility costs and housekeeping as reasons to have a smaller home. Those wanting a larger house and a smaller yard for the most part either hate gardening/yardwork or could not afford the bigger yard in their desired neighborhood (many of these plan to buy the house with the yard later).
So the question remains, why would you buy a large house on a small lot? Especially if you are not often home to enjoy it. Is it the prestige of having a big house? Or is it simply the convenience factor – that these homes are easily accessible, close to a major metropolitan area and are in good school districts?
Another possibility (since many seem to be looking at the large yard for their “next house”) is that these are “starter” homes. Really? When you START at 3000 square feet, where do you go next? I guess some puzzles will remain unsolved.