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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Progress at Stephenson Castle

I received a note from the folks over at Stephenson Castle, there are some new photos on the site featuring the build progress. Doesn't look too far from being dried in and ready for some finish work! Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all the castle dreamers and builders out there.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slow progress, but progress...

Survey completed.  Took a while, but we had some unfortunate difficulty with a simple thing like a cashier's check from the bank that the surveyor's bank wouldn't accept due to the payee's line on the check including my name.  I never saw it, but why the heck the teller had my name on that line, I don't know.  Of course the nearest branch for the bank was almost 4 hours away round trip and there's no way we were going to spend the time and expense for that, so we had to re-scrape together the funds for another check while sitting on the now useless check.  Argh.  And the bank wouldn't cancel it over the phone.  A little early in the game to be running into difficulties, one would think!

At any rate, the surveyor only mapped about 30% of the land in the area of the proposed build site.  It makes sense not to do the whole thing as that would incur additional and unnecessary expense.  Pretty basic layout, a virtually straight driveway directly to the site; the house is first, then the leach field, then the creek, all the appropriate setbacks included.  Progress is progress!

Also, the architect did some checking with the building department regarding our intent of building a small accessory apartment first and then building the house later.  Seems like it was an acceptable idea to the building department, and they suggested that we pull and yearly renew a building permit for the "big house", that way if the regs change in such a way that it would no longer be able to build the second house we'd have the approved permit in-hand and would still be able to build.  Never would've thought of that on our own; just goes to show you that if you're going to build,  let the building department know of your plans and ask lots of questions!  Could save some grief later.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ICF Castle (Scott's Castle)

Scott's Castle

At last, someone has really built a castle of sorts using ICFs.  they obviously didn't do this themselves, but some folks have asked about building a castle with ICF materials, so here's proof it can be done.  The structure here is  over 11,000 square feet, so this is not an inexpensive venture.  Photo from site.

Castles for sale


Just for fun I think I'll post these here.  There are several castle like homes for sale, and several serious castles as well.  If you have a spare million or more burning a hole in your pocket you could have one of your very own.  Some of them are pretty neat from a architectural and historical view, and all of them are just cool to look at.

Landoll's Mohican Castle

I don't know if I would call this a castle or if it's an owner built castle, but it reminds me of Castle Rogue's Manor in style so I'll mention it here anyway.  Landoll's Mohican Castle is in Ohio, not too far from Columbus, and can be retained for events, getaways and various functions.  Looks quite pretty and it would be a neat place to have a look at.  Some of the interior pictures look like they put quite a bit of effort into the look and design, but I hate to say that some of the look has been overdone to the point of being "touristy" if you know what I mean.

Castle Northmoor

Castle Northmoor has been built by Harlan Shaver and is near Kansas City.  Looks like he started the project in the early '80s.  Not a whole lot of information about the project itself, but the tower looks like an addition to a normal house.  The article here implies that Mr. Shaver built most or all of the structure himself.  Pretty cool castle turret!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unknown Michigan Castle


 A castle in Michigan 

Found this castle on another castle aficionado's website.  I don't know anything about it other than what is posted on the page.  The photo here is from their site.

Flex-c-ment - Simulated Stone



I really hope we can swing an honest stone exterior, even if it means using "fake" stone blocks of cement to get the look.  I generally despise fake stone as it tends to look like exactly what it is - fake.  Monochromatic and repetitive tiling is also a drawback of that type of material.  Obviously some of these man-made materials can look quite good, but you can approach the cost of real stone with the higher end materials.  Here's something I happened across while doing a search for castles on the web, it's called Flex-c-ment and it uses a pressed-in pattern for creating the stone look.  They even have wood patterns too, which I thought was a nice touch for getting the rustic look without the rot.  It's up to the installer to refine the look and add good coloration to get the best out of the end product.  If they had classes to do this I'd consider using this method of getting the look without too much expense.  Searching the internet for faux stone or the like returns several manufacturers making the materials, perhaps there is an upsurge in popularity for this kind of facade.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Need an interior archway built for you?

Just found this site for pre-made ceilings that are shipped to you ready to put together.  I'm not advertising for them, but it may be useful to someone out there.  Maybe one might not have the time or knowledge to put together a barrel vaulted ceiling or a door arch, so this might be a way to go.  The prices seem fair, but that depends on how much cash you've got vs. how much your time is worth.  Have a look.  Archways and Ceilings Made Easy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sqire's Castle

We had the opportunity to visit Squire's Castle in Ohio while visiting some friends.  It was built by one of the founders of Standard Oil Co as a gatehouse for his estate, but the rest of the estate was never built and all that is left is this shell.  There is a nice park surrounding the structure with hiking trails through the greenwood.  Quite beautiful, I like the Ohio woods.  Sharply rolling terrain behind the castle would have been a neat place for a hill- or ridge-top castle proper.  A neat little place, I wouldn't call it roomy by any stretch and I think it would have been expensive to condition the air inside during the hottest and coldest months.

The below pic was taken with my phone ( funny that my phone takes neater pictures than my nice camera ) with 360 Panorama.  It was free in the app store, so grab it while you can before they start charging for it if you're interested.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest house, in-law, starter house

Ok, this one's officially complete. Not much more I could add to it, maybe some changes to the colors and design (I think the windows should be a little lower) but this is a good layout.  Interior space is small but open, the double doors will allow the outside in and the patio allows outdoor living area. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mother in Law

Done.  Not too bad looking.  A stone border around the planted area is needed, plus a walk-out flagstone patio with French doors on the back or end facing the camera would add some attractive and useful living area to make the place feel a little larger.  Have to check code and see how 3 season covered areas are viewed as far as square footage goes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mother in Law

I think this one would be just dandy as a starter house for the property and it could easily double as a "mother in law" or guest house once the main building is completed.  Only 750 sq.ft., simply designed, with an open floor plan and potential for a loft area this one could be built quickly and get us into a home on the property to start with.  Inspiration for this cottage was drawn from Google image searches of Black Forest vacation homes, Schwarzwald Ferienhaus if you'd like to see some too.

EDIT:  Updated the photo.  Don't mind the mangy grass, I'm still working on getting the software figured out!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Architectural services selected, balancing act

We're getting our foot in the door of this project and the balancing act must begin.  Budget with desires, our crazy designs with resale-ability, ideas with time.  Luckily our designs have shrank steadily over time (thanks to not winning the lottery, dangit! ;) ) so we have more reasonable ideas space-wise, so that helps a lot in moving this project toward an affordable outcome.  The one item other than finances that I think we'll struggle a bit with is how this place will look in the end.  We're not going to live forever.  We don't expect our offspring to want to continue to keep the house.  That means someone else will buy it.  Frankly, there's a limited pool of people that would be interested in buying something far out there, and even more limited bunch that could actually afford it; that means the more wild and crazy a project is the harder it will be to find someone that's willing to pay us for what it's worth.  If we were able to build something amazing by ourselves for less than $150,000 we probably would go that route, but alas it will likely cost more than that and we'll need to get a return on the investment.  I'd also like to stay married and get the house built in this lifetime!

Creating this idea using a more conventional route to homebuilding will likely mean dream/design sacrifices.  If we did it totally DIY, the only ones to tell us that we can't do something would be the engineer or local codes so there would be no limits other than time and money.  That's not how things are working out, but hopefully we'll be able to get some parts of it done just right - tastefully - and folks will think, "Castle!" or, "Schloss!" when they see it.  A suggestion of a turret.  A bit of crenellation, perhaps?  Steep roof somewhere?  Some half-timbering here, a lot of stone there.  Yep.  No reason it can't be done, we've got books full of great houses pictured with those details and they are very desireable homes.  Of course, many were built 75+ years and more ago by millionaires; but hey, who's counting?

Anyway, first thing's first; we'll get a survey done and get the septic in.  We are considering a super-small house on the property (perhaps it will remain as a "mother-in-law") to get out of our current house and out from under the mortgage.  It wasn't too bad before, but with the little'un here and the other half not working as much in order to be home and take care of her (Day care/Baby sitters are expensive!) it would help more to get out of this place and into something with a much, much lower overhead.  But that's all on the drawing table.

Will keep the blog updated, and we'll post that first shovel of dirt getting displaced for the future "castle".

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This is a whatsit?

Unknown fungus?
Saw this growing among the leaf litter on the forest floor.  I have no idea what it is, but I suspect some kind of fungus.  Anybody know what kind this is?

EDIT: Solved. Squaw Root aka Cancer Root. A parasitic plant that feeds off of the roots of oak and other trees. Lives underground, except when the chlorophyll-free flowers pop up and that is what is visible here. Sure looks like a bizarre fungus, but it's a plant.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Now where can I put that turret?

I like this design quite a bit, but it's lacking a turret! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A very nice sound...

video
video

...greeted us when we got out of the car today and it sounded like the videos above.  The creeks are year-round, and at this time of year are a bit more vocal than they would be otherwise thanks to the spring rain giving them a bit more energy.  Normally in the summer or deep winter, the bottom creek is at best a foot wide and the top one about three feet wide and considerably less active.  The pictures don't give a good sense of scale, but they're both about three to four feet wide at this point and they sound impressive with the multiple little falls they pass down as they meander across the property.  One is currently beginning to undercut one of the old stone walls, so it's going to get moved - which is part of the plan anyway - and be incorporated in a pond with a slightly grander waterfall.  A pretty thing to listen to, stepping out a future back door.

None of the trees were greening up, but some of the undergrowth is beginning to show some leaves.  We can't seem to manage to get out there when the sun is shining and take pictures, I hope that this isn't a harbinger of the continuous state of the weather here.  One of the cloudiest and rainiest cities in the country is only 125 miles from here (Binghamton), so I guess we'll have plenty of water but a little less sun.  The ticks have come out from winter as well.  Most unfortunate, ugh...parasites.  Didn't have these in California where I grew up, but then I didn't have any deer, turkeys or anything except skunks and opossums really, and I grew up in a rural area.  Just have to make sure we get some ducks, geese and/or chickens to take care of the little pests.  I hear geese make nice "watch dogs" too. 

We've been in contact with some folks to see about getting the sewer put in before our permit expires, and visited a few architectural offices in the area as well.  We'll see how that pans out, and pics of any "groundbreaking" to follow as they can.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

This is a unique castle, and a mine to boot

Hard Luck Mine Castle.  An owner built castle and a mine with a slightly industrial look, lots of metal fixtures.  For sale too.

Not much about this one...

A residence being converted to a castle.  I couldn't find anything else about it on the web, so here it is.

Stone Gate Castle, er... Manor I mean.

Had some spare time today while the kid was taking a nap to peruse the web to see if any new castles had come out of the closet and into the light of the web, sure enough I found one.  I must admit that the site calls it a "manor" and not a castle, but I figure it looks like a little castle to me. The site needs some work (or at least it displays poorly on Chrome), but the owners apparently hold classes that teach stonework and stained glass amongst other things.  I really like the interior, especially the great hall.


Photo from Stone Gate Manor site.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Add some renders for fun, added "car port"

EDIT: Removed and replaced car port pic.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Design

One thing that has become abundantly clear with the arrival of our child is that any time at all that I had for hobbies has been pitched out the window with force.  I have unfinished stained glass windows that I get to look at in passing on the way to other tasks, CGI ideas that never even make it past my imagination, and the ones that do actually get rendered take 3 times as long to get modeled.  That means nothing terribly original is going to come about, but I can still tweak and modify some of the things I already have.  So that's what's happened here, I'm sure you'll recognize the resemblance to the preceding models.