As a union carpenter, T.J. Baker 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 into a medieval castle, complete with notched parapet, tower, and moat.

The right side of the house is nearly complete. It has columns, crenelations, and a stucco finish that looks very much like cut stone. 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...

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