As a union carpenter, T.J. Baker (above) works on large,
complicated structures like baseball stadiums, computer-chip
factories, and high-rise hotels. So what does he do in his
spare time? The same thing most carpenters do: He remodels his
house. But Baker's remodeling project is unique, to say the
least. He's turning a 1952 Alamo, Calif., ranch house (below)
into a medieval castle, complete with notched parapet, tower,
The right side of the house is nearly complete. It has columns,
crenelations, and a stucco finish that looks very much like cut
stone (below). It also has some features you're unlikely to
find on other medieval castles — shear walls, upgraded
insulation, and new vinyl windows. Behind the parapet is a
conventional sloped roof with a built-in gutter that drains to
downspouts concealed by columns.
On the left end of the house is a garage that Baker plans to
demolish. In its place he's going to build a two-story addition
with a tower; it'll connect to a new garage with overhead doors
that look like drawbridges.
The moat will go in last, with the landscaping.
Baker started the remodel in 2004 and would like to finish in
2008. However, working only nights and weekends can make for
slow going, and he concedes that he may not finish until 2010.
Not that he's discouraged — the project is already paying
dividends. For instance, Baker says that directing visitors to
his home is a breeze: He simply gives them the street name and
tells them to "stop at the first castle." — David