Castlerock Enterprises, Inc.
CEI

540-364-9055

Press

Landscape Architecture

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US Developers Journal

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Builder Architect

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Older Really is Better

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This Old House

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Professional Builder

I have a B.A. in structural engineering from the University of Florida. I had worked for a large commercial contractor – Omni Construction in Washington, D.C. – and was in the arena of doing large commercial projects. I had the opportunity to do a high-end custom home. I decided to leave and go out on my own. I’ve built high-end custom homes ever since.
In commercial development, the most important thing is time. To consumers buying a new home, it’s quality. I was tired of sacrificing quality, and I’m not writing the interest-carry checks as a big developer. Usually we will work with clients. I’ve never build the same house twice. We work with them to arrive at an external facade and look and an internal look. Half the time they have a lot; half the time we find them a lot. We’ll build on any lot or acreage within a 125-mile radius outside Washington.
My annual volume has almost doubled every year. I build about 5 homes per year for a dollar volume of $5 million. We are deeply rooted with real estate referrals. I choose to spend my marketing money with them. It’s hard to market what we do because we can do so much – whatever a customer dream is. About half the homes we build are Smart Houses. At that price range, people say to themselves, “What’s another $20,000?” It’s a much easier sell. It lends another touch of credibility to the fact that we’re on the cutting edge.

Building Components Creative Contractor Components Shape the new Into the Old Older Really is Better

Gretchen E. Yahn was asked to build a new house for a couple – nothing unusual there. But she was instructed to make the house look old so that it fit in with the historical nature of the Virginia countryside where it was to be built. “In order to meet this goal, we utilized natural components, such as stone and stucco systems,” said Yahn, president of Castlerock Enterprises, Inc., The Plains, VA. “Compounding this was the major requirement that this home take on a French country look in terms of aesthetics,” she said. “In doing so, we had an inordinate amount of steep roof pitches and curved roofs – it was just an incredibly cut up roof.”Yahn had engineer Randy Hoffman work closely with her long-time component supplier, Shoffner Industries, Inc., to design the roof as a component system. “The biggest challenge in the roof system was that we had different roof angles coming together at different points,” Hoffman said. “There would be four trusses all pitching at different directions and the challenge was bringing them together so that they would stay together structurally.” The structure was also beefed up by using microllams to hold it up “Because we had a lot of free spans inside, not to mention we had typical ceiling height of 13 feet, nine inches on the first floor,” Yahn said. “We also had a lot of combinations of standard gables with hips and curvilinear roofs.” The roof components for the 180-feet long house went up in three days. “If we would have stick framed it, it would have taken us in excess of three-and-a-half to four weeks,” Yahn said. Added Vince Palazzi of Shoffner Industries, “Castlerock was the only contractor who could make the owners’ timetable and the trusses helped make this possible for the contractor.”

Tomorrow’s Technology, with Yesterday’s Charm Luxury Homes

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Final Say – Unconventional Wisdom Professional Builder

Some readers may find it odd that Gretchen Yahn (Yahn), President of CEI, Inc., is a woman who runs a construction company. Yahn says that her being a woman gives her an advantage because she not only understands the building process – she can also fulfill the design needs of her clients. Yahn’s knowledge helps her to advise clients in all areas of building a custom home – the home design, product selection and the architectural details. Yahn say, “most people can not visualize from a blueprint – so I need to make it a fun and comfortable environment for the client – so they can ask me any question regarding their home. Anybody can help a client select fixtures, but, I can tell a client when to pick it and if it will or will not work well with their overall building structure and design. I look at the whole picture.”

The Metten House

As featured in this Marvin Windows & Doors advertisement

Lake Life

Underneath a cool, quiet exterior lies an energy that defines Fawn Lake as a golf course community continually on the move. Already considered one of Virginia’s finest custom-home, gated properties, the 2,800 acres of luxurious real estate project is about to shift into an even higher gear to help propel its residents into the next century.

Delivering Custom Quality and Innovation

Delivering truly “custom-built” homes with an innovative “twist” is what Castlerock Enterprises is all about. From mahogany floors to polished brass plumbing fixtures and dramatic rooms with a view, CEI takes pride in filling a growing niche in the high-end home market. A recently completed $1.5 million home in Rappahannock, Virginia, is representative of the kind of quality CEI puts into a project. Among the many special features included in the house are wide-plank maple flooring, maple cabinetry, ceramic tile and Mexican tile – all custom installed. When you start getting into truly customized homes and people start spending $700,000 to $1 million, “they want to feel it’s a custom home,” said Gretchen Yahn. “We provide owners with the feeling that they are getting something for life, that this is kind of their ultimate dream home.” CEI’s devotion to quality construction and customer satisfaction is clearly evident in the exclusive Lake Manassas community, where the company is building a series of unique and innovative “corporate cottages” just off the fairways of the Robert Trent Jones International Golf Course. The cottage exteriors are highly traditional, featuring redwood siding, cedar shake roofs, and lots of customized millwork. Yahn explains. Inside, though, CEI has worked its magic, blending past and present into a highly specialized living environment crafted to meet the needs and desires of the homebuyer. The cottages incorporate what CEI proudly calls “Vintage Country,” a creative update to the traditional Center Hall Colonial design that optimizes floor plan use and gives home buyers the kind of user-friendly comfort they desire. “I think the most innovative approach in what we do is the ‘Vintage,'” Yahn said, “All of our designs are knock-offs of what we call the typical Center Hall Colonial, with updated exterior materials and dramatic interior views throughout the house.” To complement their unique and flexible floor plans, CEI offers homebuyers an impressive selection of interior finishings. Upgraded wood floors, marble tiling, freestanding glass block showers and designer lighting systems are just a few of the “extras” CEI routinely incorporates into its homes. “We like to do that little bit extra,” Yahn explains. “We use a lot of different types of materials.” Quality Control is paramount to CEI and the Virginia builder maintains its edge by keeping itself lean and focused. “We’ve made a conscientious effort to remain small in order to provide the highest level of finishes and personality in everything we do, “Yahn said.”

Captured In Time

Builder Gretchen Yahn so skillfully recreated the rural character of a French country home in this 6838-square-foot masterpiece, that, from the outside, it literally appears to have existed on its site in the Virginia hills for centuries. “The client wanted a home that looked old – like it had been there for years,” says Yahn. She obliged, using a combination of stone, tinted stucco and reclaimed timbers to decorate a brand new residence with an aged appearance. The interior of the multi-level home retains a timeless ambiance while suiting the owners’ diverse tastes and collections. Reclaimed lumber, including white oak, chestnut and hemlock, deeply stained wood floors, highly-detailed millwork and reproduction fixtures are used extensively throughout the interior to maintain the style. The foyer features an impressive stone wall and a sweeping wrought-iron staircase that gives the entry the look of a villa, says Yahn. At the top, French doors open into the sole occupant of the upper level – the master suite – complete with its own luxurious bath and private balcony. A semi-circular gallery connects the kitchen/breakfast area with the home’s guest wing, which includes two secondary bedrooms, as well as the laundry and mud rooms. A circular stone terrace features a central post, which anchors a series of reclaimed timber spokes that extend into the interior gallery. The home features coffered ceilings with an average height of 13 feet. Located on a 160-acre estate west of Arlington, VA., the home is positioned on the site to make the most of the sweeping panoramas offered by the rolling foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains. A man-made lake on the site provides a home to two adopted swans. Yahn has an interesting construction tale to tell about this home. The newly constructed house was located on a site that had been occupied by an estate, which had burned down in 1898. “We had no floor plan of the original house, but in the midst of our excavation for the new kitchen, we unearthed pots, pans an utensils. The new kitchen was directly above where the first one had been! “The home was completed in April 1998. Hard construction costs were $263 per square foot.

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Estate Plans

Hume homebuilder Gretchen Yahn, who brought the property to the developers’ attention, serves as Chattins Run project manager.

Ms. Yahn, who builds luxury custom homes, plans to buy a 50-acre lot from the developers and build a speculative home.

Homes will feature natural exterior materials – stone, stucco and brick, for example, she said.“It’ll be very Cotswoldsy,” said Ms. Yahn, referring to a compact region in southwestern England famous for its historically and culturally rich towns and villages.

Homes on smaller lots might measure 3,800 to 4,200 square feet, she said. Excluding land, they would cost $1.2 million to $1.8

Building Beautiful

If you’ve been thinking about that lifelong dream house in Northern Virginia horse country – the one you’ve been planning to have built to your precise specifications, customized to your every whim – then chances are you need someone to help guide you through the maze of local regulations, infrastructure planning and myriad other challenges inherent in building a highly customized home. Someone like Gretchen Yahn.

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