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Homes the Size of Castles Muscle Into America's Neighborhoods

Owning one's own home is central to the "American dream." But the dream can be a nightmare for the new homeowners' neighbors.

You see, some people want every amenity in their new houses -- and can afford it: lots of bedrooms, a big sunroom or deck, a spacious lawn, maybe even a swimming pool. Throw in a library, huge walk-in closets, and a mega-kitchen fit for a king's chef, and the result is a home of gargantuan proportions.

A "McMansion," as it's called. The name is a take-off on the "super-sized" drinks and French fries and sandwiches at McDonald's fast-food restaurants. Build a McMansion, and you've super-sized the American Dream.

That's fine and dandy if you have a rolling country estate on which to erect this monster. But squeeze one onto a modest lot in an older community, and you've created, in the eyes of your neighbors, an eyesore pretentiously out of scale with its surroundings.

Consider the case of an Arlington, Virginia, man who owns some restaurants and is planning to build a 1,600-square-meter house that contains, among its elegances, a ballroom, indoor swimming pool, library, prayer room, and 8 bathrooms. If built, the house would be 4.5 the size of the average house on the block.

"I'm within my rights," the owner tells the Washington Post. "I don't see why people can say anything. Life goes on."

Yes, say his neighbors -- our lives go on, literally in the shadow of your monstrosity.

Citizens who are freaked by the super-sized houses going up on their street have 3 choices: Move. Get the city council to pass regulations to limit the size of new houses in your area. Or win the lottery and build your own McMansion!