I was inspired to build a castle because of the time I spent in Germany as a soldier. I also spent some time in Pennsylvania which is known for its beautiful old stone farm houses. I felt that if these farmers back in the 1800s could make their own mortar and build their own houses I could certainly do the same. Especially with the help of premixed mortar from Home Depot, just add water, how convenient!
I have dabbled in art all my life and view this project as my life's greatest work of art. Stone masonry is artistically very rewarding. But there is another side to me. As a software engineer I love all things science! I have a great interest the development and use of alternative energy. So I decided to make Keene Castle into "Castillo Verde" the Green Castle; a totally self-sufficient off-the-grid house. Castles are known for being drafty and largely energy inefficient. So to make a truly energy efficient castle presents some engineering challenges.
The core of the house will be timber frame and SIPs (structural insulated panels). This will be built by professional builders, not me. Once we move in(hopefully winter of 2013) then I'll be able to finish the stone exterior of the castle myself over a period of years. I toyed with idea of doing a double wall, stone on the inside separated by foam insulation and a stone exterior wall. But that would take too long and cost too much. It would be years before we could move in. So a single stone wall with SIPs is the best approach.
We have an 1100' driveway and all electrical cables are required to be underground. It would cost a small fortune to run electricity from the town road up to the house. This makes building the house totally off the grid that much more attractive. We plan to power the house with both solar and wind power which are complimentary; when it’s sunny there not much wind and when it’s windy there’s not much sun. Electrical storage will be a bank of batteries backed up by a propane powered generator that will automatically kick in if the other systems aren't producing enough power.
This is the software I
used - A fantastic
package - $495
For heat we will be using a wood boiler combined with a large water tank to store heat. This will be backed up by a propane furnace for times when we may be out of town.
The design below is the results of 2 years of trial and error. I'm not aprofessional architect so it was hard for me to get a feeling of room size by just looking at lines on a drawing. I overcame that by 1) measuring the rooms in my existing house and 2) putting prearranged furniture sets into rooms and then looking at them in 3 dimensions. The 3d aspect of my software was essential for me to be able to get a feeling of flow between the rooms.
My drawing will be used solely to convey my ideas to my builder. In November of 2012 I turned over my 3d drawing to my builder and his designer. They will do the real blueprints, calculatethe loads and design the timber frame. We plan to log timber on site in December of 2012.
In December of 2010 I used a laser transit and shot elevations all over the cliff face. I then entered that data into my architectural package so terrain in the drawing below is an accurate representation of the terrain on the cliffs.