[via MSN realestate]
By Christopher Solomon
From Atlanta to Austin, Texas, and beyond, more governments have started imposing stricter building limits and even temporarily halted new construction while they try to get a handle on the explosion of these 4,000- to-10,000-square-foot homes, sometimes sneeringly called "garage mahals," "Hummer houses" or "starter castles."
Austin typifies the McMansion craze -- and the backlash that's followed. Several of the city's neighborhoods like Tarrytown and Travis Heights have seen an influx of large homes, said Kathie Tovo, president of the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, who lives in a "funky, fun" area just south of downtown that also has seen some change. Just down the street from their modest home, Tovo and her architect husband bought a house as an investment. After they finished remodeling it, the home next door got knocked down and replaced by a 4,000-square-foot building housing two condominiums. "What had been not a tiny, but a modest-size and -scale cottage, has been replaced by something hugely bigger than what's the scale along that street," Tovo said. "The entire yard is now lined by this massive house," she says of her house.
In February, Austin put in place interim rules that limit the maximum size of a new single-family home on any lot that previously had a house. For now, a builder can build up to the greatest of the following: 2,500 square feet; 20% larger than the home that was removed; or a 0.4-to-1 floor-to-area ratio for the lot. There also are limits on major additions to homes. Meanwhile, a task force is studying the issue.
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