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Video: Inside billionaire's high-tech castle

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    >>> back now at 7:48 with an inside look at the mega mansion being built in the ozarks . the 72,000 square foot home is a source of many rumors, are hollywood stars moving in? could it be a buncher for homeland security ? kevin tibbles in highland, missouri with answers. do you have some answers? good morning.

    >> reporter: could you just imagine the rumors, people wondering what are they doing way up there on the hill? this is what they've been doing, building pensmore, modder day state-of-the-art disaster-proof castle. rising from an isolated hilltop high in the ozarks , a massive concrete mansion unlike any other. soon to be one of the four largest homes in america. its name is pansmo pensmore.

    >> loosely derived from the french.

    >> reporter: it's probably more thinking put in the construction of this palatial estate. from successfulent tree muir stephen huff who designed it to be state-of-the-art. how much concrete will be poured here?

    >> several thousand yards of concrete.

    >> reporter: pensmore will be one of the largest disaster-resistant homes in the country, not far from joplin, missouri , devastated by a tornado this past spring. pensmore is made from an innovative concrete additive with millions of tiny pieces of wire mixed in, reinforcing it against anything from an f-5 tornado to a bomb blast.

    >> it makes the concrete much stronger.

    >> reporter: so i guess you're thinking heating and cooling a house this immense would probably bankrupt you. i know it would me, except pensmore is so energy-efficient, they're not planning on spending a dime. plastic tubes snaking through the insulated concrete walls will carry a liquid antifreeze of sorts all powered by solar energy either to cool or heat the enormous house. at 72,000 square feet , pensmore is bigger than the white house , bigger than the hurst castle and just shy of buckingham palace and all made of concrete. when people think concrete, they think --

    >> they think ugly.

    >> reporter: but this won't look like a bunker. the exterior, when finished will resemble a french chateau and huff's daughter susan is in charge of decorating the interior, all 13 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms.

    >> we're down to earth, not swanky people, we just want a traditional look on the inside.

    >> reporter: pensmore is so big, so inventive, so cutting edge that people started speculating about just what was going on up there on the hill.

    >> first we heard was the movie star theory. after that, it escalated to aliens, extra terrestrials . into the great wide open

    >> reporter: actually, brad pitt does hail from nearby springfield, missouri , but no, he and angelina and the kids won't be moving in, neither will e.t. and his alien buddies but there will be a little girl running around, huff's 6-year-old granddaughter, lucille. do you think your grandpa will let you have a playroom?

    >> yes.

    >> reporter: does he always say yes whenever you ask him for stuff? our house

    >> reporter: and pensmore, playroom and all, is on schedule to be completed by late 2013 . is there anything you forgot?

    >> if i knew that, i would nn't have forgotten it.

    >> reporter: stephen huff became so enamored with the new company he bought it and hopes in the future they'll build nor energy-efficient and safer schools, hospitals, someday maybe even homes. i'm now standing in the great hall, and i've got it tell you guys i've already got my dibs on this, know exactly what sort of kiss posters and stuff i'm going to put on the wall, the view of the ozarks .

    >> thank you very much.

    >> reporter: the view of the ozarks

By
TODAY contributor
updated 9/21/2011 9:11:35 AM ET 2011-09-21T13:11:35

As the monolithic structure began to rise on an isolated mountaintop in Missouri’s Ozarks, the chatter grew: Who was building this cement castle?

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“The first theory we heard was the movie star theory,’’ the home’s owner told TODAY. “After that, it escalated to aliens.’’

The mega-mansion wasn't Brad and Angelina’s new fortress of solitude, a military bunker or an extraterrestrial alien colony.

While Pitt did grow up in nearby Springfield, Mo., it turns out that the 72,000-square foot work-in-progress is the future home of software entrepreneur Steven Huff. Started nearly two years ago and slated to be completed by late 2013, the energy efficient, state-of-the-art, disaster-proof mansion made of concrete will be the fourth largest home in America, and certainly one of the most unique. While its owner is no longer a secret, the price tag is. Huff has not divulged the cost of the land or the final construction bill.

Huff recently took NBC’s Kevin Tibbles for a tour of the mansion that he has dubbed “Pensmore,’’ a name derived from the contraction from the French word for “thinking’’ and the English word “more.’’

Slideshow: What home buyers can get for $200,000 (on this page)

The massive structure will require several thousand yards of concrete to build. The building materials include a concrete additive that contains tiny pieces of wire that will allow the structure to withstand everything from an F-5 tornado to a bomb blast. Tornadoes are certainly a concern, as Pensmore is in rural Christian County, Mo., not too far from Joplin, the town that was ravaged by a powerful tornado on May 22.

Huff liked the insulated concrete technology so much that he bought the company, Wisconsin-based TF Forming Systems, that produces it. He hopes to put the disaster-proof mix to use in building schools, hospitals, and other homes in the not-too-distant future.

One challenge of owning a home that will be bigger than the White House and Hearst Castle and just a bit smaller than Buckingham Palace is the cost of heating and cooling it. Huff has thought of that, too: Plastic tubes are containing liquid antifreeze powered by solar energy are embedded in the home's walls. They will alternately cool or heat the house without using any electricity.

Want to go to college? Check the home value

The other challenge of building an enormous concrete home is aesthetic. When people think concrete, they think “ugly,’’ Huff noted. So Huff and his builders are looking to remedy that concern by designing the exterior of the 13-bedroom, 14-bathroom home to resemble a French chateau.

The interior of the mansion will be decorated by Huff’s daughter, Susan, who plans to avoid anything gaudy, if that’s possible in a home where the great hall is the size of an airplane hangar with enough room for Huff’s granddaughter to invite the entire town over for a playdate.

Story: Photographer reveals kids’ kingdoms: Their bedrooms

“We’re rather down-to-earth,’’ Susan said. “We’re not swanky people. We just want a traditional look on the inside.’’

Huff seems to have thought of everything, practically building a laboratory for energy efficiency and disaster-proofing while also making a concrete structure look swanky. Anything he missed out on, besides a guestroom for Brad and Angelina?

“If I knew that, I wouldn’t have forgotten it,’’ Huff said before laughing.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Barbara Corcoran on what home buyers can get for $200,000 or less

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  1. What home buyers can get for $200,000 or less

    What home buyers can get for $200,000 or less

    Each week, TODAY real estate expert Barbara Corcoran looks around the U.S. to see what homebuyers can get for their money.

    This week’s search goes from Maine to Texas in search of truly unique properties you can get the keys to for $200,000 or less.

    Published Sept. 15, 2011. () Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Grand Rapids, Michigan

    $144,000

    7 bedrooms, 2 baths

    See next side for the interior. () Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Heritage Hill is the first neighborhood of Grand Rapids and is right next door to downtown. This 1849 home was the first to be built in the neighborhood. The outside needs a good paint job, but has beautiful details like the trim and the porch columns. The entryway has a stunning curved staircase. There are hardwood floors, arched doorways, hand-painted cornice boards, white pine woodwork and crown molding and trim. The dining room has 12-foot ceilings and extra-large windows. The kitchen is bright and nicely updated with wood cabinets and new appliances. Property taxes are just $1,617 a year!!!

    View the listing. () Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Rochester, New York

    $159,900

    4 bedrooms, 2 baths

    See next side for the interior. () Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Rochester, New York

    Rochester is on the shores of Lake Ontario. This 1918 home is just minutes from the town center, and also from Olmsted Park, a 155-acre park with a collection of over 500 lilacs! The living room has original gumwood trim, hardwood floors and a contemporary fireplace surrounded by built-in bookcases. The dining room has beamed ceilings, French doors and a bay window. The kitchen is simple and functional with blonde wood cabs and a breakfast bar. The backyard has a new wood deck and a roomy yard with beds of wildflowers.

    View the listing. () Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Austin, Texas

    $165,000

    3 bedrooms, 2 baths

    See next side for the interior. () Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Austin, Texas

    Austin is the home of the South by Southwest music, film and art festivals and one of the most fun cities in the country! This impressive home with its pale green trim sits on a pretty green lot. The living room has a big bay window and a limestone fireplace. The dining room also has a sunny bay window that looks out on the backyard and the greenbelt next door. The kitchen has a tile floor and a window over the sink that also looks out on the greenbelt. The backyard has a shady, tree-covered patio.

    View the listing. () Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Macon, Georgia

    $184,900

    4 bedrooms, 3 baths

    See next side for the interior. () Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Macon, Georgia

    Macon, in the middle of Georgia, is known for its international cherry blossom festival and rich music roots. This house is nearly 3,000-square-feet big and just $62 a square foot! The interior has mahogany stained hardwood floors, cathedral ceilings and a two-sided gas log fireplace. The family room has a vaulted ceiling, built-in cabinets and brick fireplace. The new great room with its wall of windows feels like a mountain retreat. The kitchen has custom cabinets and Silestone counters. This brick home has a two-car garage with a wide driveway and stone walls.

    View the listing. () Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Whitestown, Indiana

    $194,900

    4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

    See next side for the interior. () Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Whitestown, Indiana

    Whitestown is a new community 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. This immaculate home with pretty shutters and perfect landscaping is just two years old. The open dining room has extra-long windows and white trim. The living room has gray walls, which I normally wouldn’t like, but these are nicely set off by the crisp white trim. The bright kitchen has a tile floor, a breakfast bar and stainless steel appliances. The big master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and tons of windows, but those ox blood red walls are making it look smaller and darker than it really is! The backyard has a wide open lawn and a tiny patio!

    View the listing. () Back to slideshow navigation
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