Mega-homes, mega-headaches?

Ralph Askin s a semi-retired architect with an 1,800-square foot home in Elk Grove.

Only time will tell what is to become of the large numbers of 3,500- to 4,500-square-foot mega-homes that have gone up in Elk Grove. These big, boxy, five- and six-bedroom homes have been constructed on minimal lots in Elk Grove in recent years.

I wonder if anyone else thinks about this sort of stuff.

If well-maintained, the homes should still be in good shape for many years. I once dined in a 600-year-old wood frame building in Lacock, England. It was still in excellent shape and has been used over the years for a spinning workshop, residence, and, most recently, a tea and lunch room.

With the suburbs’ mega-homes—presumably purchased by families with children, as we’ve certainly built enough new schools to accommodate them—we surely must wonder: What will happen when those kids are grown? Will the mega-homes be sold to other families with children? Become huge barns for empty-nesters to rattle around in? Turned into multi-family homes; pot-growing houses (very popular of late); bed and breakfasts; or flop houses?

And, as the foreclosures ramp up and fuel prices rise, it turns out that many probably should have settled for smaller and less expensive homes, with an actual backyard for kids to play in.

True, one sees recently built homes of up to 7,000 square feet or more—but that is an excess a bit hard to justify on either a global or local basis. Even renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright switched from building mega-homes to smaller, more practical and inexpensive (well, inexpensive for Wright) homes when economic and social times changed, and that was some 80 years ago.

Will all of the schools built to serve these homes still be needed, or will the schools themselves become expensive white elephants for the taxpayers to deal with?

It should be interesting to find out—for those of us that are still around over the next few years.