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Like family . . . Dot and Neil Smith with their architect Sarah Scott. PHOTO: WAITAKI DISTRICT COUNCIL

Dot Smith may have her own castle, but the industrious Oamaru woman is definitely no princess.

She even does her own cleaning.

Riverstone Castle has just received its final Code of Compliance, and is getting ready to receive visitors, 11 years from inception.

A ceremony was held last week to present a tongue-in-cheek Ye Olde Code of Compliance to Mrs Smith and husband Neil. Mrs Smith said the project had been “a journey”, but it was not over yet, with a drawbridge and wheelchair-accessible cottage yet to come.

“It’s not a project where you would ever have known what’s going to happen next,” she said.

“It was a huge project and we were very lucky to have the people we did to put things into place.”

Wanaka architect Sarah Scott designed her “first and only castle” in close consultation with the Smiths, and they had become like family, Mrs Smith said.

“I’ve had the privilege of working next to two of the most remarkable people,” Ms Scott said.

“They are just the hardest working people I’ve ever met. They work 12 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Mrs Smith said the castle had become the subject of envy among castle owners the world over. Some had got in touch.

“They’ve Googled me. They say lucky you are!’ The heating and maintenance bills [on old castles] are horrendous.”

When questioned on who had the mammoth task of cleaning the immaculate castle, Mrs Smith said she did, of course.

“I’ve got a castle to pay for. I can’t afford to pay a cleaner.”

Council building services manager Roger Cook said his team completed about 55 on-site inspections and structural and mechanical engineers completed construction and monitoring inspections as well.

The build used a lot of local tradespeople, which was great for the community and made the inspections easy to carry out, he said.