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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
USA has 40 million unwanted big detached houses:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/feb/02/us-overbuilt-big-houses-planners-find/

How to get rid of these? Considering that there is also an unmet demand for 40 million smaller houses?

Obvious quick, low cost way to handle it is to use existing houses of excessive size as multiple units.

Since most part of unmet demand seems to be detached houses on smaller lots, though, these take building.

How is this being done?

Densification of existing large lot neighbourhoods, however, is not quite as satisfactory without adding public transportation.

Also, decreasing lot size means that parts of the built up area with houses on it should become surplus to requirements. What should become of them? Left to rot?
 

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They will be left to rot especially those that are in less desirable locations. After all most of these houses are still expensive, massive energy costs, and necessary for most people. The cost of making them into multi-family units would not be profitable though its a good idea. Eventually the values would fall enough or the homes would fall into disrepair and be demolished and new developments would be built over the old ones. It's hard to say for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They will be left to rot especially those that are in less desirable locations. After all most of these houses are still expensive, massive energy costs, and necessary for most people. The cost of making them into multi-family units would not be profitable though its a good idea. Eventually the values would fall enough or the homes would fall into disrepair and be demolished and new developments would be built over the old ones. It's hard to say for now.
Demolishing an existing house and building a new development over it costs a lot. Whereas moving several families into a big house intended for one will not increase the energy costs much (and the costs are divided by more people). Construction costs for using existing house would start small (starting with keeping some internal doors closed).
 

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Demolishing an existing house and building a new development over it costs a lot. Whereas moving several families into a big house intended for one will not increase the energy costs much (and the costs are divided by more people). Construction costs for using existing house would start small (starting with keeping some internal doors closed).
You won't find many families willing to share a house (think boarding house) these days. They would have to build separate kitchens, bathrooms, etc. Now I've seen homes converted into mutli family use, but they were always in the city in a desirable location which many of these homes aren't. This would be very costly with little benefit on whoever owns the property. Especially a two story McMansion.
 

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centralnatbankbuildingrva
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They should destroy every last one of there DISGUSTING McMansions (along with most of suburbia), and build Urban, walk able, beautiful, efficient, sustainable, culture filled mixed use communities for people.
 

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Margela Schurkel
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The problem is that you cannot convert all of them into something more useful and you always have to look at the costs. Some areas are that far away from the city center that these areas are only suitable for those auto-dependent settlements but not for some denser forms. Demolition of the houses in such areas is too expensive, so I fear the solution is to let them rot away. That isn't nice of course, but everything else would be way more costly.
 

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Arch(Struct) Engineer
Toasted Ravioli
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I don't see a day in which US suburbs are torn down, retired people or people who work from home can easily live in these areas and not be contributing to sprawl traffic. I know when I am ready to start a family that I will be moving to out to the burbs as many other people also will. Inner cities don't have the quality schools to keep people from moving to the burbs to start families.
 

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The housing market collapsed in 2008 and took with it subprime mortgage and easy credit schemes. The market will pick up, but it will never be like it was in the '90s and '00s. Those McMansions are done for.

It all depends on the price of energy. We don't have an alternative to fossil fuels that will allow us to keep our car-dependent subdivisions. If oil prices rise to $10 a gallon and never come down, you might see more interest in quality urban public schools and less interest in riding mowers.

Furthermore, higher fuel prices will drive shipping costs through the roof. Here in the Northeast we couldn't ditch the dairy farm fast enough. Who needs them when you can get your milk driven here from Wisconsin in a refrigerated truck? Again, if gasoline is $10 a gallon, we will wish there were cows in those meadows instead of McMansions and Walmarts. Eventually, we might have to return some of our real estate to farming.

The population of the U.S. has doubled since we started driving to the suburbs. We can't go back to our 1925 arrangements no matter how unaffordable suburban living gets. The future depends on a hybrid of new, eco-friendly urban centers with agricultural areas nearby. We need to revive rail travel and trade in our SUVs for little electric carts....

Before anybody starts drawing a masterplan for the end of the century, we must admit Americans don't have the heart, the mind, or the will to do any of this. Hell, we don't even want to pay the bills to keep our bridges from falling into the rivers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It all depends on the price of energy. We don't have an alternative to fossil fuels that will allow us to keep our car-dependent subdivisions. If oil prices rise to $10 a gallon and never come down, you might see more interest in quality urban public schools and less interest in riding mowers.

Furthermore, higher fuel prices will drive shipping costs through the roof. Here in the Northeast we couldn't ditch the dairy farm fast enough. Who needs them when you can get your milk driven here from Wisconsin in a refrigerated truck? Again, if gasoline is $10 a gallon, we will wish there were cows in those meadows instead of McMansions and Walmarts. Eventually, we might have to return some of our real estate to farming.
Obviously, demolishing rotten houses costs something. Not as much as building new apartment houses there, but there is the question as to how intensive a farm needs to be to meet the land clearance costs.

Creating a "quality" public school in a city where the school is previously low quality is a collective, costly action. Whereas moving families into vicinity of an existing good quality school in a suburb by densifying that part of a suburb is individual action - so the children can walk/cycle to school every day and need not be driven.

Building a new small house onto a part of a large lot that already has a bigger house costs something, but this is an individual action.
 

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∰f(W)dw≣∭f(r,φ,θ) drd&
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The problem is that you cannot convert all of them into something more useful and you always have to look at the costs. Some areas are that far away from the city center that these areas are only suitable for those auto-dependent settlements but not for some denser forms. Demolition of the houses in such areas is too expensive, so I fear the solution is to let them rot away. That isn't nice of course, but everything else would be way more costly.
You can always demolish those far away suburbs as well as near down-town suburbs and move the population into newly urbanized ,pedestrian friendly city center you've built in the place of near down-town suburbs. That way, you have a decently dense urban core and less sprawl.

...but of course that costs money.

The least expensive option is just to ban new suburb construction and steer all new developments into building the urban core ... going vertically instead of horizontally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You can always demolish those far away suburbs as well as near down-town suburbs and move the population into newly urbanized ,pedestrian friendly city center you've built in the place of near down-town suburbs. That way, you have a decently dense urban core and less sprawl.

...but of course that costs money.

The least expensive option is just to ban new suburb construction and steer all new developments into building the urban core ... going vertically instead of horizontally.
If construction of new suburbs needs banning, it means demand exists for new suburbs. But the problem is lack of demand.

How to promote densification of nearby suburbs?
 

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pooh bear
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I really can't see McMansions losing much popularity in the US unless if gas prices explode. While the popularity has decreased somewhat, they're still being built, and the only real shift in the suburbs is to build more apartments, but usually without any kind of urban style planning (usually in complexes, no shops on ground floor, big parking lots, etc).
 

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The Railroad Anomily
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I view this a good thing in that 15 years ago you could get a 2000 to 2800 foot house in my area for $160,000 and than the housing bubble happened raising that same house's price to $300,000 and even $500,000 and the giant rescission bear came out of the depths of Wall Street and attacked. Now I'm seeing some of these house's princes coming back down to $120,000 to $180,000 which means us normal income people won't be homeless anymore. But there are sections in my county where they went hog wild building homes a lot of the lots don't even have any homes or stores on them and I call them ghost streets.
 

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centralnatbankbuildingrva
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^^

Building urban cores that are actually livable and moving suburbanites there?
The good thing is that that is happening in many places wit hthe New Urbanisim Movement :colgate:
 

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centralnatbankbuildingrva
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I really can't see McMansions losing much popularity in the US unless if gas prices explode. While the popularity has decreased somewhat, they're still being built, and the only real shift in the suburbs is to build more apartments, but usually without any kind of urban style planning (usually in complexes, no shops on ground floor, big parking lots, etc).
They already have. There is a much larger demand for more reasonably sized urban mixed use development. This has been especially true in the recession and post recession era.
 

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centralnatbankbuildingrva
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Seaside Florida, Glen wood Park Atlanta, Kent lands Maryland, Potomac place Maryland, and countless others all over the world.

just look up congress for new urban-ism

http://www.cnu.org/resources/projects
 

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on the road
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Gas prices have been on the US 7 -11 per gallon in Europe for at least 30 years in some countries. That has impacted much more the fleet profile (smaller cars) than reduced car use altogether. Though many countries don't have vast suburbs in the American definition, there is a large number of people who commute from small towns to bigger towns/industrial parks by car everywhere.

Moreover, the article is alarmist and misleading: there aren't "40 million McMansions" at all! It is just a gross manipulation of numbers.

In any case, you can't convert big houses to multi-family units easily. Even if they have several rooms and bathrooms, they rarely have more than one kitchen (and all the plumbing implications of it).

Often, you also have a design in which bedrooms and private rooms are upstairs, living room, garage, "game" or "TV room" or "fitness corner" and kitchen on ground floor. To separate such houses into independent units is quite an effort that might be not worth the cost. And then you have the issue of providing individual metering systems for water and electricity, which are obligatory in most US states - and a good idea as well, as it reduces overall consumption of energy and water instead of relying on pro-rata expense share.
 
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