Thursday 26 November 2009

Building a Castle, one stone at a time

I've always been an aficionado of castles, and even made a bid (unsuccessfully) to buy a small Scottish 'castle' (actually a manor house) a few years ago that was an ex-boy's remand school in need of substantial renovation. However, the combination of the UK property price boom and then the GFC makes it unlikely I could ever afford to buy a 'castle' fixer-upper, and DW was never all that keen on the idea of migrating to Scotland! So, I've now decided to build my own 'castle' as a holiday home on my parent's lake-side farm on the mid-north coast, with a view to eventually retiring there.

Not being totally insane, my 'castle' will actually be a modern DIY 'kit home' with some stylistic features reminiscent of medieval European architecture. Although I haven't even settled on a final house plan yet, the key feature will be to clad the exterior walls of the house with real stone panels, such as the 'rock face' granite cladding imported by Cinajus. The RRP for the granite cladding normally ranges from $106.33 per sq. m (white granite) to $136.67 per sq. m (for 'black' granite), and was recently on special for around $80 per sq. m. A few days ago I was checking that the product was still available, and found that Cinajus was having a clearance sale on some small 'remainder' stock for only $25 per sq. m! After much consideration (and two trips to the display yard by my parents to collect samples of the available granite colours) I've bought the stock of about 82 m^2 of white and 87 m^2 of 'black' granite wall panels. This should be just about the right quantity to clad a modest two-storey kit home. The cost of delivery of the 30 tonnes of stone to my parent's farm will add around $20 per sqm to the final cost, but the total cost will still only be around 30% of the normal RRP plus delivery.

Once I've found a few kit-home plans that I like, the next step will be to get an architect to draw up a plan with the features I like, and allows for the exterior to be clad using this stone. I'm not sure that a standard steel house frame will be strong enough to support this cladding, so I may end up building the exterior walls in hebel aerated concrete blocks, or plain old concrete 'besser' blocks. One major advantage of building the house will concrete walls and clad in granite will be a high degree of fire resistance -- very useful given the rear of the farm property adjoins the Wallingat National Park and is therefore at risk from bush fires.

Attaching the stone cladding to the new house will be a major endeavour - even though each 600x300mm piece isn't too hard to handle (weighing around 30kg), the entire consignment consists of around 940 pieces (28 tonnes in total!). Hopefully the finished product will end up looking something like this:

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