Over the last couple of years, I have been asked many questions about the building of Dupont Castle. I thought it might be useful to add this FAQ page to the website. Below, you can find the answers to many of the questions I have been asked.
Question: Why are you building a castle?
Answer: That's a good question. Patty and I have liked castles for a long time, and we decided that since we have to live someplace, why not in a castle. Since there are very few castles for sale in this country, about the only way we would be able to have one is if we build it ourselves.
Question: Was the design one that was "pre-made" or did you design it yourself? Answer: We designed it ourselves.
Question: How much land do you have where the castle is being built? Answer: We have 75 acres.
Question: How did you select the location for the castle?
Answer: We looked for about four years for the right place to build. Since we are doing the construction ourselves, we needed to find a place where there were few building codes. If we built in a place with lots of codes, inspections, etc. we would spend much of our time getting government approval for the many changes we are making as we go along. We probably would not be able to afford to build in a county with many building codes.
Question: Where exacatly is the castle located? Answer: We have not posted the castle location on the website because for now, we don't want a lot of people dropping by unannounced. Later, as we get further along, I will post directions to the site. For now, I can say that it is in West Virginia.
Question: Would it be possible for me to come and visit the building site?
Answer: Probably, but you will have to E-Mail me first to determine a good time for a visit. We are only there part of the time, and I would not want anyone to stop by and find us not there.
Question: How big will the castle be?
Answer: The keep that we are working on now is 40 feet by 40 feet. Our present plans are for the entire castle to be 100 feet by 76 feet. This includes the courtyard.
Question: How long have you been working on the castle? Answer: We started clearing the land and digging the hole for the basement in 1997.
Question: How long do you think it will take to finish?
Answer: Right now, we are working on the keep. We expect to have the keep finished enough to move into sometime in 2005. After we move into the keep, the work should go faster because then we will be able to work on the castle every day. Once the keep is finished, we will continue building the rest of the castle. From that point, it will take several more years to complete.
Question: How much will it cost to build the castle? Answer: We expect the keep to cost between $125,000 and $150,000. If we build the entire castle, a guess is that it will cost about $300,000 - $350,000. These figures could be way off, we have never built anything like this before so we won't know the final cost for sure until we are done. The castle is designed to be built in stages so if we run out of money before we are finished, we will still have some parts of it complete.
Question: Are you doing all of the work yourself?
Answer: So far, we have done almost all of the work ourselves. We did hire others to drill the well, install the septic system, pour the cement for the basement floor, and lay some of the blocks for the basement walls. We poured the footers, laid most of the block, did the carpentry work, the electrical work, the plumbing, etc. In short, we have done about 90% of the work ourselves.
Question: What type of blocks are you using, and why did you decide to build out of block?
Answer: The blocks are called split faced block. They are similar in size and shape to a normal 8 X 8 X 16 block, but the face is rough, sort of like stone. We would have liked to build out of stone, but after we built the wishing well and the gateposts of stone, we found that working with stone takes much longer (6 to 8 times longer) than building with block. I'm not getting any younger, so we decided that if we want to have any chance of finishing the castle, we would have to make some compromises.
Question: Will this castle be a private home?
Answer: Yes, we plan to move into the castle as soon as the keep is finished. We may also rent the great hall out for weddings and parties if we ever get the great hall built.
Question: I would like to build a castle, how do I get started?
Answer: When I decided to design a castle, I went to the library and read every book about castles they had. I got some ideas for the castle design from the books. Then we went on a couple of castle visiting tours. We live in Virginia, and on our two tours, we visited castles all the way from upstate New York down to Alabama. We learned a lot, especially from others who are building castles. Of course, where you build is of as much importance as what design you use. Our main objective when looking for a place was to find a location where there was small unobtrusive government. Of course, we also had to find a place with inexpensive land prices, and low taxes.
Question: How is it that you know how to do all this stuff, are you a contractor?
Answer: No, I just like to fix stuff, and build stuff. I once owned a couple of rental houses, and I did all the repair work, and even added two rooms on to one of them. I am what they call a "jack of all trades". I am an expert at nothing, and you should not assume that just because I do something a certain way that it is the correct or best way to do it.
Question: I see on your webpage that some people are mentioned as having donated time or money to the castle project, what did they have to do to get their name on your webpage?
Answer: Anyone who comes up and works for free for at least 4 hours gets mentioned as donating time to the project. Anyone who donates at least $20 in cash or $50 in either new or used building materials gets mentioned on the webpage as being a contributor.
Question: I would like to be a contributor, but have no idea to whom, or where to send a stipend.
Answer: If you would like to send a donation to the "Dupont Castle" building fund, you can mail it to:
Jim Dupont 170 Castle Hill Way Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
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