Featured Posts

  • Aerial Photos and First Floor Walls Finished

    Happy Thanksgiving. Two days ago the first floor walls were poured finally. So ICF is a really long construction process, really, really, long. There is a ton of residential construction going on where I live right now and I’m forever jealous of these stick frame homes I see go up in a week or two,… [more…]

    Aerial Photos and First Floor Walls Finished
  • Castle Wall Stone Options

    One of the main reasons to build a castle is because you like the way castles look, obviously. Otherwise you wouldn’t take on such an ambitious building project. One of the key components to how they look is the exterior stone cladding for your walls, and that can also be a significant budget expense. I’m… [more…]

    Castle Wall Stone Options
  • Exciting Day: First Looks at Castle Exterior

    After dreaming this place up at least a decade ago, putting it in the “what if” and “maybe someday” category, gradually moving it into the “possibly” category, then the “probably” category, and now hopefully in the “definitely” category.  After over a year of finally getting down to the nitty gritty and nailing down the interior… [more…]

    Exciting Day: First Looks at Castle Exterior
  • An Energy Efficient Castle

    We’re building with concrete, for a number of reasons. It is strong, it can survive hurricanes and tornadoes, it is thick, giving us the wall thickness we desire, but also it is incredibly energy efficient, and I wanted to build an energy efficient castle. Concrete has immense thermal mass which allows it to only slowly… [more…]

    An Energy Efficient Castle
  • My Modern Castle Design Philosophy

    I am not building a time capsule. It is not my desire to recreate a castle as it existed back in 1350. I am aiming for a more evolutionary structure. Conceptually with the idea that the castle may have been originally built many hundreds of years ago, and the bones of the structure would be… [more…]

    My Modern Castle Design Philosophy

Cabinets and Painting

We’re in the home stretch, supposedly, we’re still having hiccups on the exterior but on the interior we’re basically to the point where all materials are here, they just need to be installed.

The very first countertop was just installed, that was a bit of a fluke though, the rest are several weeks out. As of now though we have the master bathroom cabinets installed (and they have been for a couple weeks), the kitchen ones are in process. We’ve had the lowers installed, including my absolutely massive island, but the uppers were apparently measured wrong so there are problems. But that shouldn’t interfere with the countertop being measured and getting into production. We’ve also had vanities installed in two of the bathrooms, one of which also has it’s countertop.
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Meanwhile paint has started and is ongoing, and painting includes also staining all the wood, and there is a lot of wood. This is another thing I want to talk about where we get the “castle price.”

So way back when I call this place for a quote for us to put into our budget for paint. He tells me on the phone it is a dollar a square foot, and he says it somewhat defensively like I will claim it is too much. I say “of wall area?” He says no, of floor space. If you have a 3,000 sq/ft home, it is $3000, and that includes walls and ceilings, and all wood and wood trim. I say “Are you sure, it’s a castle with high ceilings and lots of trim and its huge.” He says, doesn’t matter, a dollar a square foot.

I still don’t believe the guy so I double it and put that number into our budget.

This guy isn’t some fly by night guy, he is the biggest in town he’ll tell you, he drives a hummer, he has tons of crews out working for him. So I figure he knows his stuff. So we have (had, actually some space was sacrificed on the altar of the budget) 13,000 conditioned space which would be painted, and so I had doubled the budget number for paint to $26k. This guy comes back when we actually need him to finalize his quote, his original estimate of $13,000 became $75,000 when he saw the castle.

I’m not a crazy person, nor am I made of money, nor am I uneducated. I didn’t win the lottery and had no clue how much things cost. I’m a small business owner who built my business scrapping and bootstrapping all the way, I’m intelligent, educated, and a compulsive researcher. I know when I’m being bamboozled. I had most of my house painted before we moved here, it was a much smaller house, 2200 sq/ft, but we painted most of it, two coats, and we had really bright paint underneath and were going to light neutrals so it took a lot of paint to cover, and we had all this complex trim in that house they had to cut in against, it wasn’t new construction with the big open areas. This painter we hired was very professional, he also drove a very nice truck (Ford Superduty with lots of chrome), and had multiple crews. It cost me $1200.

We went and got another paint quote, this guy came in at under $35,000 dollars, and he was doing more than the $75,000 guy, who only committed to one coat of finish on all the wood (the cheaper guy is doing 3 coats), and wasn’t using the products I wanted either. So guess who we went with? And the less expensive guys are doing a fine job, and they are very professional, and it is still a larger company with multiple crews. All the drywall is getting primer and at least two coats, all the wood is getting stain and three coats of finish.

What products am I using?

For paint we’re going with eggshell latex paints. I tend to like glossier paints, I like both the look at their durability and ability to not show my kids fingerprints etc, but I get that they’re not trendy. In my old house we used all gloss or semigloss, so going down to eggshell is less glossy for us. Also I think the glossier look is more period accurate. I let the kids pick the colors for their rooms and bathrooms, and I picked different colors for some of the other bathrooms. For the walls in 90% of the house we went with a bright white color called Swiss Coffee – this is also period accurate as well as white washing walls was about all they did back then. So the main colors of the house are dark grey stone, dark brown wood, and bright white.
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For stain we’re using Minwax’s Jacobean stain, and then for a sealer we’re using one coat of amber shellac and two coats of clear shellac. Shellac is a glossy wood top coat and sealer made from shell secretions of the lac bug that are ground and suspended in alcohol. It is one of the oldest known wood finishes and so is period accurate. It also gives off no bad VOCs or odors. When applying it smells like whiskey, it is safe enough to eat in some forms (in fact it is used on food and as a coating for pills, the stuff you put on your wood might have additives so I wouldn’t drink it), and it dries in minutes. Polyurethanes take hours to dry, during which time debris can fall on the wood and mar the finish. This also helps with labor. If you’re shellacking a door and start at the top, by the time you get to the bottom the top will be dry. It is also spot repairable. If you have polyurethane finished wood and you want to repair a damaged spot or scratch, you need to do a lot of sanding and or refinish the whole piece, or you’ll have a bump. With shellac you just slap on some more and it merges with the lower coats, it takes seconds. I really like using it and I’m surprised so many people don’t know about it. Clean up is also easy, just use ethanol.
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It comes in both clear and amber, I am using one coat of amber and two of clear because that gives just the right color I like. The only downside of shellac is it doesn’t stand up to water near as well, especially repeatedly getting wet or having standing water. So you shouldn’t use it on a floor, and I am not using it on my windows which could be left open in the rain or get condensation drips. On the windows frames we will use polyurethane.

Flooring Going In

We’ve started flooring the 3rd floor and the kitchen are done. We’ve had other flooring done for awhile now if we consider the tile in the bathrooms but here I’m just referring to the wood flooring.

I have around 10,000 sq/ft of wood flooring and that is a pretty big budget line item so I really had to shop around and try to get the best deal on it, using, every dollar per square foot I could save was $10,000 in my pocket. I ended up getting what I wanted from Hardwood Bargains.com Guy V. over there took good care of me, they had good customer service, and were able to get me what I wanted, which because of the quantity and the specificity was a custom run from a mill. I have 7″ wide white oak engineered planks, character grade with knots and whatnot, lightly wirebrushed, unfinished.

Engineered vs solid was a choice to make, in the end it came down to price and availability. The main benefit of solid wood is that it can be sanded a bunch of times, whereas engineered can only be sanded 2 or 3 times. I plan to never sand my floors so that isn’t a benefit at all to me. Meanwhile engineered is cheaper, more uniform, more dimensionally stable, less likely to cup, warp, or twist, and can also better be installed over concrete subfloors, of which I have a small amount.
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Why unfinished? The plastic/etc coatings on prefinished wood floors are fine and nice and they will never look better than the day they’re installed. They do not look old or antique and they never will, and they’re also quite expensive. I do not like prefinished floors, some look very very nice, they do, but if they ever get damaged and you want to repair you generally need to sand the entire floor down into the wood.

So we’re putting down this wide plank unfinished wood floor, and then we’re applying Watco’s Danish Oil in Black Walnut. This is another product so many have no familiarity with that I really like. It is again something they used to use a lot more often a long time ago and I think it is coming back into vogue. It is a combined penetrating sealer and stain, it both protects and colors the wood, and it does so by seeping into the wood and hardening. It isn’t a top coat, it doesn’t go on top of the wood, so you walk on the wood, not a sheen of something synthetic. So over time the wood gets a little worn and antique looking, which is desirable. You also never, ever, need to sand your floor. If you have any sort of texture on your floor be it hewn or wire brushed you can’t sand it because you’ll remove that texture, but that means you can never refinish if you have a urethane finished floor (something you’d otherwise want to do every 8 or so years). Like the shellac I like for my wood trim, Danish Oil is spot repairable, if you have a damaged spot you just pour more on, let it soak, wipe it off, boom done. No sanding required.
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It also applies very very easily, unless polyurethane or similar floor finishes where the guy is down on his hands and knees carefully brushing on a smooth finish, you literally just pour this on the floor, and push it around using a squeegee or brush, let it soak, and then wipe it up. I had a guy, who was either giving us the “castle price” or was quoting based on his own lack of experience, tell us $2 a square foot to apply this. Our current flooring installer is just charging us hourly to do it. He did the entire kitchen which is almost 500 sq/ft for $45. What is that 10 cents a square foot? He had never used it before but is now sold on the benefits of the product. It makes a nice floor, colors very evenly, is super easy to use, and has super easy future maintenance and repair.
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The goal is for my floor to eventually look like an old pub floor you’d find in England that was laid down two hundred years ago, and these products will allow me to get there.

Stone Cold Problems

The interior stone is basically done.

There is a lot of it, it ended up being something around 6,500 sq/ft of stone just on the inside. We had real trouble getting masons situated started around New Years. Our original mason, Accent Masonry, had to be fired/quit it was sorta mutual. I thought he (Josh, the owner), left in good spirits. He had agreed to a price and was working at that price, but only very very slowly, not sending the men up necessary, and even though we had an agreement we gave him an increase to try to make things better, and it really didn’t. Then we finally put it to him that we needed him to send more guys to finish and he said he would have to walk off and we sort of made it mutual, he claimed to be losing money, and we were losing time, and it wasn’t working out for either party. So I thought it was on good terms. I think the overall reason why he didn’t work out is he was never on site, just his guys, and they took a lot of breaks. He was paying them hourly but we paid him by the foot so without him there keeping them motivated and on task their pace suffered greatly.

Then we were going to hire this other guy, only this other guy didn’t really have employees in so much as he coordinated crews and acted like a middleman, which was okay, except he kept promising his crews one thing and they would show up, look at the job, and not want anything to do with it. But this guy kept telling us he could do it for us. So we told him okay, but he kept not delivering.

Meanwhile, the original mason, Josh, allegedly sent the below text to the new guy.

Mason's Fighting

We didn’t end up going with the new guy, he couldn’t in the end deliver the workers at the agreed upon price, but he was nice enough to forward this text to my builder. This is the sort of stuff we’ve had to deal with. After he left Josh gave us a price to get him to come back, then he allegedly attempts to collude with this other mason about raising prices.

Of course it’s also possible this other guy faked the text somehow as a negotiation tactic, we don’t know, we couldn’t be sure, we were tired of both of them. They seemed to us to be fighting over the job with us in the crosshairs.

So our stone work is at a dead standstill and we’re trying to find new guys. Originally we were paying $6 a sq/ft for labor, and we had found 3 masons to agree to that price before we went with Josh, then we gave him a bump to $6.5, and then he left, we had guys quote us $15, or one guy quoted me $23. I wonder if he thought I was an idiot or couldn’t do math. I’m not a lottery winner, I’m an educated successful self made man, I can do math, I can read financial statements, and I even sometimes do for fun. So this one guy quoted us $23 a square foot and says he pays his guys $7 take home pay. Like I say, I’m not an idiot, I know by talking to masons, local and out of state, and reading articles from Masonry Magazine and trade publications, I know how much a mason can lay down in a day. It supposed to be between 100 and 200 sq/ft, per guy per day (with a tender, some lower base laborer guy fetching and carrying). Even Josh’s guys who were slow, according to Josh, did 50 sq/ft a day. So if I remember my third grade multiplication correctly that means this guy is paying his workers $350 to $1400 a day. With 260 work days a year at the low end these masons are making $91,000 a year, at the high end $364,000, per guy, per year. It was all I could do not to laugh in his face, I waited until after he left. We get these ridiculous “castle prices” sometimes, yet another thing to deal with.

Finally we found a real winner in a mason named Samuel Hernandez. He had previously worked for a larger commercial outfit and recently struck out on his own. He has had his workers and arranged other crews and gotten them up to the site and cruising on the stone, stone is simply flying up, they seem to be working 4-5x faster than Josh ever did.

Most importantly the interior stone is finished, and for a long time I was worried that the rest of the house would be done but the stone would still be going on. I no longer worry about that. However our masons are going so fast we’re running into other problems in that now the stone supplier is having trouble keeping up with the window trim pieces we need to keep things rolling, and we also need to find a contractor to install our corbels that go around the cantilevered battlements.

So, here are some pictures of the completed interior stone:

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And here are some pictures of the exterior stone progress.

More Exterior Stone

Exterior Stone

I don’t even know how many tons of interior stone we have, but think of what all that mass does to the building. For the sun to heat it up it first needs to heat up the stone on the outside, then go through an inch of mortar, 2 inches of foam, up to 14 inches of concrete, 2 more inches of foam, another inch of mortar, and two more inches of stone. Stone is a good conductor of heat, but it also simply absorbs energy, it banks it. Its why you can put a hot pan on a granite countertop. This is why you can visit an old castle or old church in the middle of summer and it can be cool inside. I’ve been up there when its 90 degrees out and our air isn’t on yet and its quite comfortable inside. I worry our HVAC loads are going to end up totally oversized because building with so much thermal mass is so outside the norms that their models didn’t account for it. No matter how hot it has gotten outside, I’ve never gotten hot while indoors at the castle, even before we had windows and doors and insulation, except in the greenhouse, which is supposed to get hot. Of course if you actually go outside on the roof on a hot day you will bake.

Overall I think stone is the single biggest line item in our budget, and perhaps rightly so, it is a castle afterall, but it is also totally worth it.

Ready for Drywall

I need to do an update, there are reasons why I haven’t.

Reason 1: It has been sort of depressing. Work has not progressed as fast as I’d like. When we got our HVAC contractor nailed down in December I was told it could be 4-6 weeks for drywall, you’ll notice it is now almost May. We’ve had masonry issues as well I will discuss in another post. So to go up and look around and see almost no work done is depressing and so I don’t want to go up as often. There is also less to talk about because things aren’t getting done.

Reason 2: I’ve been incredibly busy with kids and family stuff. I coached a whole YMCA basketball season, now my son has baseball and up to 3 games a week, plus traveling for business and traveling to visit family, and watching a baby during the day as my wife gets more busy with her work (I’m the boss at my work, so I give myself kid duties most of the time since I can give myself the time off to do it.)

We finally got the sign off from the HVAC inspector 12 days ago for drywall, since then we’ve had a couple crews come up and leave, or say they’re going to show up and then don’t. There is too much construction going on in Chattanooga its hard to find people. So we have this drywall staged at each floor ready to hang but can’t find the guys to hang it. Then of course there are the people who want to give us the “castle price” but we can’t afford to pay that.

So we’re currently looking for drywall contractors, the job is big but it is broken up by floor and could be done a floor at a time. If anyone knows anyone please refer them.

So we have two and a half rooms with drywall hung, but not taped or mudded. Tile has been done in a few rooms and areas, the master bathroom is close to being done, and the cabinets for it are done but not yet installed. We have the interior doors on site, and a few are installed. We recently got a painter hired, which will be another fun blog post later. The big thing is interior stone is basically done and I want to take some pictures and do a separate post about that.

We’re so close to being able to finish up some rooms, and its frustrating that we’re having all these fits and starts trying to get it done, even the stone has had major delays. I just need something to go right for once.

So I need to do a post about the interior stone, and the stone in general, the masons, the HVAC, the tile, the interior doors, etc. But as we’ve just passed the 2 year mark on construction I just haven’t been feeling it as much. I thought we’d be in maybe by last November, hah, that we’re not in by May is incredulous to me, and I don’t know when the completion date is going to be. Not enough is happening on a daily basis to get us there.

I have a working portcullis

I guess not everyone is a castle nerd and knows what a portcullis is. A portcullis is a (usually metal) grid gate like a lattice that would be in front of the castle gate or door. Possibly behind a drawbridge but in front of the gate or door. Often the first line of defense it would be vertically raised and lowered using a counterweight system such that, in the event of an emergency (orc attack) the counterweights could be cut and the portcullis would come crashing down.

This has very little functional purpose outside of harassing solicitors who might come to the door. However, most castles had these, and I want to be authentic. Typically you’d most often see it in the open position as below:

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So I thought about just getting a short section and permanently bolting it into the wall so it’d look like there was a portcullis but there wasn’t really, this would have been cheap but not really ideal to me. I’ve tried to avoid doing lip service to authenticity like that. One of my pet peeves for instance is when people put tiny decorative crenelations on top of a building they mean to look like a castle. Crenelations need to be large enough to hide defenders, smaller ones are entirely pointless so why bother at all? Or to quote one of my favorite authors, they are about as pointless as nipples on a breastplate.

So we had planned from the get go to make it functional and it did require some finagling in the end, but it was planned for in the construction and so we had the spot where the portcullis could go.

But just because we had the spot for it does not mean we could figure out how to work it. We researched it heavily, asked garage door people if they had an option, asked steel people used to hoisting metal into the air, anyone we thought might have input we asked their advice on it. I also tried to figure out if there was a way to make a roll up portcullis as that would have been easier hid in the wall. Some of the solutions they proposed were quite expensive, but in the end we were able to use a $100 electric hoist (not a winch, a hoist, they’re different, something I learned in this process) and it works great. Smooth and quiet.
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Then we had to do the portcullis itself, and the same company that did our doors and many of our light fixtures, Iron Gallery LLC, made it for us. But they, and another supplier who had bid it, also talked about doing a track system, and a stainless steel ball bearing glides, or whatever. And that was very expensive, and I didn’t like it. Both the cost, and because I didn’t really see metal rubbing on metal as being a good idea, eventually it was going to scrape and be noisy.
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Then I had an idea, and I will pat myself on the back and say it is a good one. We decided to just use composite decking to build a track for the portcullis to slide through. Black composite decking. Probably the weirdest use for composite decking in the history of the world. Real wood may have been an option but wood eventually rots and having it buried in the wall rotting in what is ultimately an exterior installation (even if it is covered by an overhang above) was a bad idea. And then metal of course would have been noisy, but composite decking, largely plastic, and naturally slippery, won’t rot, won’t make any noise, and will look great, and was much cheaper than the fancy metal track option.
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There was a surprising amount of labor in getting it installed and the encapsulating walls put up around it, but it is done now and it opens and closes smoothly, quietly, and impressively. For safety we have a lockout on the 2nd floor with some steel bars preventing it from being lowered accidentally, which is good considering it weighs nearly 500 pounds. The bars can also be used to lock it closed as well.
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I don’t know how many people in the United States have a functional portcullis on their house, I’m willing to bet it is less than 5 people though.

Masonry Heater

We ended up going with a masonry heater for our great hall. I didn’t know what these things were before I started this process so I had to learn about them.

Originally what I wanted was a double sided see-through fireplace. The problem was we couldn’t find one that would work with our situation of having a very tall flue. The taller your flue the more draft it has, which means wind passing over the top sucks air out faster or something. Modern wood burning appliances are tested to function within certain parameters for flue (chimney) height, there is a concern they will get too hot and cause a chimney fire if the flue is too long.

I ended up cutting the fireplace in the basement for this reason. But I wasn’t going to go without a wood burning option in my great hall, I mean, come on, it is a great hall.

So a masonry heater is not a metal fireplace box or wood stove, but as the name suggests, built entirely out of masonry. And additionally the smoke’s path goes up, then goes down, then goes back up, so they’re making it even longer, all out of masonry. There is a firebox, then above it a secondary combustion chamber, and then the snaking masonry passage for the smoke. Mine also happens to send some of the flue gasses through a pizza oven, so yay!

The point of all this though is to make the firebox super hot so it burns up all the flammable smoke. There is no creosote buildup because the creosote burns up before it collects anywhere. It gets super hot and generates an immense amount of heat on only a small amount of wood. One or two fires is enough for heat to radiate from it all day…. and there are no flue height restrictions so bingo.

So I got a double sided see through masonry heater, with an attached pizza oven, and it fits the space well because of the width required for the down then up flue channels. However, the one downside is it doesn’t have that epic large opening you might think of in a castle, something you can throw a whole pig into or something. My builder was concerned about this fact, he felt the door was too small compared to large open fireplaces. Overall this is much much larger than any fireplace, but most people just see the door and wouldn’t realize that. But I was sold on having one of these, plus pizza oven.

This won’t heat the house alone, but I’ll be able to put my 20 acres of oak and hickory to use providing a super comfortable radiant heat during the winter, and of course pizza. It will get epically hot enough though that there is no way we will be able to use it to cook pizza in the summer.

I shopped around quite a bit for this, and ended up buying it from Maine Wood Heat (it also of course required a skilled installer). They had the best option I found and I also really liked some of their door styles with their gothic arch detailing.

If you’ve never seen a masonry heater before I recommend doing a Google image search, there are some really neat ones out there.

Masonry Heater

Masonry Heater

Mine still needs to be all dressed up with stone, it is sort of naked now, but the guts are all in.

Copper Turrets

Its been 6 weeks or so since the main roof was finished and we’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, on our copper. The copper supplier’s machine broke or something and we were stuck waiting for a replacement.

They’ve been getting worked on for a week or so now though and I didn’t want to post about them because thousands ($$$$$) of dollars worth of copper sitting on the ground where we’ve already had thefts….. I’m sure all you readers are honest but still. Now though the copper is installed and 70 feet in the air, so, I think we’re safe from theft. Tristate Roofing did the installation on our copper, just like our flat roofs.

So, to recap, some blocks were leveled and a custom curved heavy steel tube was brought up to the site at the exact radius of the towers. This tube was set on the blocks and light gauge steel truss work was built on top to create the conical shape. This was then sheathed with layers of plywood and covered with roofing underlayment, then, mostly, covered with copper roofing panels. Leaving a few gaps to provide an area for the crane to hold onto it. Then, this morning, the whole assemblies (20 ish feet wide, 12 feet ish tall, and weighing god knows how much) were lifted up into the sky by a crane and placed down precisely on top of the steel framed wall built to accept them.

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After they were put in place the workers added the few remaining missing copper panels, and I got some pictures.
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Meanwhile, fortuitously, our big heavy custom iron doors were delivered yesterday, so the crane was used to lift them on to the floors on which they belong, from which they can be wheeled into place. Some of these doors are 500 pounds or more, very solid, built to keep the marauders out.

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In addition to the doors being delivered yesterday, and the turrets going up today, on Thursday or Friday our greenhouse and skylight are supposed to be delivered/installed. So that is exciting as well, a very busy week.

In other news:

The plumbing rough-in is almost done.
The electrical rough-in has started.
The fire sprinkler rough-in has started.
The HVAC rough-in doesn’t even have a plan yet :(
Rainwater catchment system is complete (future post about that)
Masonry heater is complete (but not finished with veneer yet – future post)
Ceiling beams are all installed in the 1st floor family room (future post)

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The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on mostly…

Stone has been chugging along, bits of framing here or there, chimneys, breezeway stuff. Not a whole lot of big monumental things. We have our first few windows installed, more will go in next week. Plumbing has started and we’re about to turn HVAC and fire sprinkler guys loose.

The biggest recent development has been the completion of the majority of the roof. Why only the majority of the roof? Well, because we’re using different roofing systems. The majority of the roof is flat and uses what is called a TPO membrane. I want to thank Chris Fetty of TriState Roofing for getting that done for us. First they had to put down multiple layers of foam boards for insulation, then glue down the reflective white (and man that thing is bright, I think I need snow goggles on when I go up there – but that just shows how much heat it is reflecting), and of course flash all the penetrations. I had them use grey membrane for the sides of the parapet walls, it is the same material, just a darker color, and not as reflective. From a distance it may look like stone. Of course the tops of the crenelations will get stone, but then the inside of those walls up here I’m fine with leaving the more artificial (but water tight) finish. I wanted to use the white on the roof for the energy efficiency benefits, but the parapet walls aren’t insulated conditioned space so I’m fine with them absorbing a little more heat from the sunlight with the grey finish – and it makes it much easier on the eyes to look out over the battlements too. I’m not kidding, it is bright up there.

We will also apply spray foam to the underside of the roof deck, so when you combine that foam, the foam on top of the roof deck, and the reflective white membrane, I think we’ll have a very efficient roof assembly.

All we need now is the copper for the front conical turret caps, and then to crane those up and into place.

We also had some metal ship ladders built by JC Electric Gates installed for accessing the roof of the rear towers (the 5th or 6th floor if you count the basement or not), the view from up there is epic.

We do not yet have the skylight installed, but it is covered up for safety (and covered with plastic to keep the rain out).

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Its a wrap…

Still no roof, but we’re so close I can taste it. We have our roof decking, just not our membrane, things are starting to get flashed. We’re close, and oh so close to windows too, windows!

But the final silhouette of the castle is basically there, and it is a sight. The only thing missing are the conical turrets for the front towers, which are on site, just on the ground, we are building them on the ground and will hoist them up with a crane. It is safer that way.

So we’ve gotten finally almost completely wrapped with Tyvek, it is now a bright white beacon on the hill, and the masons are making good progress on the stone (though there is so very much to do). No finished pool yet, or greenhouse, or skylight. No doors installed yet, though soon on those as well. We did just get a massive driveway gate, it is just the metal framework now but once I put wood on it it’ll look like the gate from Jurassic Park.

So, here is how things look now:

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And since we’ve got decking on those flat-roofed fourth floor towers, I can provide what would be the fifth floor views, if there was a fifth floor.

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Crenelations

We have crenelations, yes, we do, we have crenelations, how bout you?

Since the resolution of the light gauge steel problems things have started moving pretty fast. The crenelations have gone up in a few days. Next will be the front tower 4th floor framing, then, or concurrently, chimney chases and rear tower framing, and we should be about ready for our roof membrane.

People the world over recognize crenelations as one of the quintessential characteristics of a castle, and it is a personal pet peeve of mine when people try to mimic them without the proper scale. These were meant to hide defenders, so unless your castle is being defended by the lollipop guild you need them to be pretty big, mine are. They are a functional part of a castle, not decorative.

The tooth part is called a merlon, the gap is called a crenel, and whole thing is a crenelated battlement, you could also possibly say a crenelated parapet wall. Additionally it is cantilevered, which means it projects beyond its lower supporting wall. This cantilever was done to provide space for little gaps at the base of the wall, called machicolations, that provided an avenue for dropping rocks or oil down on ladder climbing attackers (while not having to expose yourself over the top of the wall). We will not be having the machicolations, but we will be adding corbels to complete the cantilevered look.

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