Thursday, September 13, 2007

Busboom Castle (and the second interview for the site!)

Busboom Castle is an owner built castle near Mahomet, IL.

Mr. Bruce Busboom has taken the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for this blog about his castle. Without further ado, here's what he had to say:

How did you become inspired to build a castle?
I'd been a carpenter all my adult life, remodeled older houses, etc. and always wanted to build a new 'dream' house. When I started perusing house plans, none of them fit the 'dream' category. So I started sketching and estimating and resketching until I made it affordable.

What prompted you to actually start building?
I started stockpiling materials in 1987, stuff that went on sale, etc. I built all my own windows, cast the stone crennelations, drawbridge, etc. Finally it was time to start digging the foundation in 1993 and the ball was rolling. It's a big ball that cannot stop once it's started.

How much planning did you do?
I spent about five years sketching and planning. You can't do too much will pay off later ten-fold. In my mind, I drove every screw and nail five times before I actually installed it, every detail haunted my sleep.

Were there any difficulties with local laws/building codes/inspectors that you had to deal with?
No, luckily. I was building out in the country, and the county didn't have a real comprensive zoning law (at that time. They do NOW!). All they required was a sketch of the floor plan, which I provided. You couldn't readily tell from the floor plan that it was going to be a castle.

Was there any difficulty in obtaining financing for an unusual building like a castle?
I saved up for 20 years, worked three jobs, so I was able to buy all the materials without a loan.

How large is your castle?
5100 sq. ft., but that is not a real good description of size, since the ceiling in the Great Hall is 22 feet high. It contains the same volume as three 2500 sq. ft. houses.

What is it constructed of?
The exterior is 8" thick concrete 'split-face' block with special waterproofing additives. They are tied to the interior stud walls with galvanized metal, but there is a 1 1/2" airspace between the block and the first layer of insulation - 2" extruded foam. The foam is glued and nailed to the outside of the studs, 3 1/2" fiberglass insulation in the stud cavities, then 1/2" O.S.B. screwed to the inside of the studs. Aluminum foil is glued over that, finally a layer of drywall on the inside.

How long did it take to build?
Nine years.

Approximately how much did it cost?
$120,000 - but that was in 1987-1993 dollars, and I bought everything on sale. It would cost at least three times that today, plus the cost of the land.

How much work did you do yourself?
Virtually all of it. I had friends stop in and help occassionally (51 of them), and my step-father was there for moral support. I hired a backhoe operator to dig the footings, cement finishers for the flat concrete, and when I got behind in the fall I hired three bricklayers to help with laying the block. I spent about $9,000 on labor. I did ductwork, wiring, plumbing, everything. I made my own trim, door jambs, etc.

Are there any special or unique features that you'd like to mention?
I think my castle has the only real, working drawbridge in the USA. I cannot find any evidence of another drawbridge except the Cinderella Castle at Disney World, but it hasn't been operated since 1980 for some reason. I would like to know if anyone has information to the contrary. The oak and brass elevator is pretty cool too.

Are there any special "green" or "environmentally friendly" features included in the construction of your castle?
Oh yes. If LEED ratings had been around then it would have qualified for a "gold" rating. Everything was obtained locally, recycled when possible, I cut down as few trees as possible and reused the lumber. As far as energy efficiency, my electric bill for the month of July was $20.97, keeping the indoor air temp at 74degF. Not bad for that large of a space. I am not kidding.

Any services you could provide would-be castle builders?
The most interest I've seen is in how the drawbridge operator was designed. Most of the castles I've seen just have a stationary drawbridge with chains hooked up to the side. They are still definitely cool though.

Any advice for would-be castle builders?
Make sure your wife is on board. And make her be involved in the planning and construction. I am now divorced, I can't afford to keep the castle and am finding out it is a 'white elephant' on the real estate market. Be sure it's what you want and that you want to keep it for a long time! And GOOD LUCK! Pursue your is easier than you might think.

Anything else you'd like to add...
Busboom Castle is for rent, by the day, weekend, week or month! If you'd like to spend an evening or romanitic weekend and have the whole place to yourself, to get some ideas or make sure a castle is what you want, it is only $300 a night (including brunch).

Stop by the websites to support your fellow castle builder!
Castle for rent, day, weekends, week or month
Gags and Gifts, Uniques and Antiques, Art and Artifacts, Oddities and Novelties!

Many, many thanks to Mr. Busboom for returning my emails and allowing me to share this information with other would-be castle builders.

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