Sunday, 17 January 2021

Get set for Grand Designs: inside the most ambitious renovation projects showcased in the latest series

The countdown to the new season of Grand Designs is on. 

Kicking off its 18th installment in Aylsebury Vale on September 19, 2018, the series promises seven episodes of extraordinary self-builds accompanied by Kevin McCloud’s sage advice and celebrated commentary. 

But what should we expect from the new series?

To whet your appetite, we’ve rounded up the best projects featured on Grand Designs 2017.

Last year’s series featured a vast array of homes ranging from idyllic country homes to the tiniest possible new house in London.

While previous seasons have often featured spectacular homes costing millions, in 2017 McCloud took a look at some more affordable projects.

However, despite not all being in the seven-figure price range, they offered inspiration to even the most jaded of property connoisseurs.

The Herefordshire Hobbit House
Costing just ÂŁ100,000, the Herefordshire Hobbit house is a case in point.

A decade-long labour of love for owners Ed and Rowena Waghorn, the house was completely handmade by them — even down to the door hinges.

The couple and their four children lived on the site where they live off the produce of their smallholding while Ed toiled away every day on the house, even taking inspiration along the way from his geodesic domed chicken coop.

The heartstopping tale of one of London’s smallest homes
In London, one of the most surprising and heartstopping journeys was revealed in the first home of couple Joe Stuart and Lina Nilsson.

Clutching only a dream of escaping grasping landlords and ÂŁ160,000 in finance, they found a tiny plot near Canary Wharf on the site of a former coffin workshop.

The site was so small that to meet the latest regulations they had to not only build on the entire footprint, but also create a basement to add enough floorspace that the rules required — 83 square metres.

Joe’s decision to use dry earth walls instead of a concrete lining ends in disaster when they basement fills with water before collapsing.

Undeterred, he became utterly obsessed with the house, turning it into an shining example of eco architecture without compromise — and £90,000 over budget.

The concrete Peak District home
Not many homes have been compared to a car park on Grand Designs, but McCloud was clearly unimpressed with this concrete Peak District home — until he saw the finished article.

Dug into the side of slope and costing ÂŁ1million, the house appears to be nothing more than a small but pretty building, until visitors dig deeper.

Ecologist Fred Baker had a dream of creating a bill-free home for his wife and family and the two lower floors can be completely shut off from the harsh elements of winter behind rubber sealed and very thick wooden shutters. 

Clad in hand-knapped stone and weathered timber, the house now looks nothing like a car park.

The Somerset Snake House
Lurking sinuously in a Somerset wildflower meadow, is the snake house that left McCloud lost for words for the first time ever.

Toying one evening with an ammonite fossil on their kitchen table, Stephen and Elizabeth Tetlow realised they could create a home drawn from one of the most common patterns of the natural world — the Fibonacci spiral.

This was easier said than done, however, and more than 4,000 pieces of timber had to be handsawn to fit the curved roof that changes its dimensions constantly along its length.

Coming in at ÂŁ800,000, McCloud admits the never before attempted architectural spiral had taken his breath away.

The ‘insanely ambitious’ Herne Hill home
Back in London, Herne Hill, precisely, Beth Dadswell and Andrew Wilborne adapted and maintained rather than created something brand new.

However, McCloud branded the ambition of their plan for the former dairy as “insane”.

They wanted to retain the ruins, rust and decay as much as possible, reflecting their passions for 19th-century Parisian mansion flats.

In this case, however, their ambitions were somewhat thwarted despite the final budget of ÂŁ1.2million, thanks to building regulations.

Still looking elegantly distressed, though, the house is a Parisian-inspired little jewel in a formerly crumbling piece of architectural heritage.

The Ultimate Shed
Stymied by property prices in booming Belfast, Micah and Elaine Jones took the concept of living in a shed to its highest level.

Living in a caravan on the plot outside the city, they created a deceptively simple concrete box and perched another plain-looking timber box on top of it to create their dream four-bedroom family home for just ÂŁ245,000.

Plain from the outside, inside the house has a wealth of eye-catching details, including a beautiful bespoke staircase — made from offcuts and hand-painted kitchen tiles — painted by Elaine, proving that even the most modest of ideas can produce something truly wonderful.

A Haringey home of two halves
A dream home is indeed what Penny Talelli and Mark Edwards ended up creating in Haringey — despite the couple having completely contrasting dreams.

Mark adored period architecture while Penny plumped for ultra-modern, but they managed to achieve both against the odds.

Restoring a Victorian gatehouse and adding a vast zinc-clad black box on the back of it, they managed to spend ÂŁ1.25million on walking what McCloud said was a very fine tightrope in merging the two styles seamlessly to make an amazing home that has become a local landmark in the process.

The Wooden House built within a steep hillside
High in the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire stands a monument to ambition over practicality.

Fuelled by their hope of having a home in Britain with the spectacular views they were used to in New Zealand, Jon and Gill Flowers ignored the fact that no local builder would even take on the project because the site was so steep.

They ignored the advice to employ an experienced project manager — Jon quitting his job to take on the role despite no experience whatsoever.

Their refusal to compromise on their dream is the quintessence of Grand Designs projects down the years and McCloud was stunned by the result.

After such a standout series, what surprises and delights can the presenter bring to us this year?


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