For 25 years, Colin Steer was bewildered by a sunken portion of the floor under the couch in his Plymouth, England, home. At one point, he dug about a foot under the floor, but his wife, Vanessa, stopped him from going farther.
"My wife just wanted me to cover it back up because we had three children running around at the time," Steer said. "I always wanted to dig it out to see if I could find a pot of gold at the bottom."
After he retired at the end of last year, he went back to digging -- and what he found under his home, some might say, is a golden discovery.
5 Homes With Big Surprises Inside
Colin Steer Finds Medieval Well and Sword Under His Plymouth, England, Home
Location:New York City Price: $3.9 million Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/4 Sq. ft.: 2,400
It’s hard to miss a pivotal element of this East Village penthouse duplex, made from two apartments: a slide between floors.
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com says it belonged to Phil Galfond, a 27-year-old pro poker player who had the slide installed so he could fly back to his seat at the computer after a break. Following the U.S. crackdown on Internet gambling, Galfond moved to Canada, which is how his customized penthouse reached the market.
Features include top of the line appliances, Celador Oyster Stone countertops, white maple hardwood floors and an Italian-crafted Rintal staircase to bring the occupant up for a return trip on the slide. Outdoor space includes two glass-walled terraces, a private roof deck and a common roof deck. That area contains a pool, cabanas, BBQ area and a courtyard.
Location:San Diego Price: $6.499 million Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/5 Sq. ft.: 2,550
This beachfront house has a 30-foot-tall fully retractable glass atrium with floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls, allowing for unlimited stargazing and sea breezes.
The home also has features to block out Peeping Toms, in addition to automated window coverings and an indoor/outdoor surveillance system. Also on hand are fireplace, lighting and audio visual elements. This unique home also has a glass-walled Jacuzzi, an opulent glass-topped bar and a beachfront master suite with a steam shower and spa tub.
Expensive homes are the architectural equivalents of gas-guzzlers — the opposite of eco-friendly. That has changed — homes are increasingly built with renewable and repurposed materials, and more than ever are being designed to use alternative energy. But passive solar homes made by Earthship Biotecture are way ahead of this curve — they’ve been built green and off-grid for many years.
This particular Earthship structure boasts a waterfall and something you don’t see in any other home: “a jungle in which you can catch fresh fish for dinner.”
Mike Reynolds, architect of the Phoenix Earthship, says it best. "There's nothing coming into this house: no power lines, no gas lines, no sewage lines coming out, no water lines coming in, no energy being used. ... We're sitting on 6,000 gallons of water, growing food, sewage internalized, 70 degrees [or 21 degrees Celsius] year-round. ... What these kind of houses are doing is taking every aspect of your life and putting it into your own hands. ... A family of four could totally survive here without having to go to the store."
If this unusual house looks or sounds familiar, a humbler and drastically cheaper Earthship home appeared previously on CNBC in the “Weird but Wonderful Homes” slideshow.
A major part of the mansion’s interior is more than 350 years old — the wood paneling in the Great Room is from the circa 1650 hunting lodge of England’s King James II.
It also has a bowling alley, master suite with a fireplace, his and her offices, a conference room and a three-bedroom guest cottage. Adding to the elegance of this property is a porte-cochere leading to the garage in a second walled-in courtyard.
Location:Miami Price: $10.9 million Bedrooms/bathrooms: 8/10 Sq. ft.: 10,124
It’s been said that luxury homes are America’s castles, but this one in Miami comes with a massive moat.
This mansion, built in 2007, takes the royalty theme further, beginning with a dramatic wrought iron gate entrance, and the home’s towers have pointy vaulted ceiling bedrooms. Modern conveniences include elevator, median room, and something rather forward-thinking: a full house generator. The 14-acre grounds also have formal gardens, koi pond, fountain, guest house and gazebos.
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Steer, with the help of a friend, uncovered a 30-inch-wide, 33-foot-deep medieval well under the floor that site plans indicate could date back to the 16th century, British tabloid The Telegraph reported.
Hidden deep inside was a sword, which Steer grabbed while he was excavating the well, and using a rope to lift out debris.
"It was hidden at a 45-degree angle and sort of just fell out," Steer told The Telegraph. "It looks like an old peasant's fighting weapon because it appears to be made up of bits of metal all knocked together."