People on Grand Designs
  • What do they do next?
  • Go around gawping in wonder at their gaff forever?

I was watching a repeat the other day and one of my colleagues was on it. Asked about and no one knew about it.

Currently I wake up most morning and gawp in wonder but I also spend a lot of time wandering around spotting cracks from movement and the like and making a note for the builder to sort them shortly as we are almost 12 months on from finishing.

Think I'll gawp at this place for a few years then find a bare plot somewhere to build something from scratch rather than another listed building conversion as it's a ball ache dealing with the conservation people.

Did anyone watch the guy in Devon? Was so so sad. 

I expect lots of them spend their days gawping at spreadsheets trying to overcome the huge debt they conceal from Phil, and then move when they have some kids and realise those steep glass stairs and 2m squared of storage space can't conceal the aesthetic ruining paraphernalia, or that their house is otherwise hugely impractical.

I remember one lot that build their house in a hill with a huge random conservatory area at the entrance. When Phil went back it was mainly being used to dry washing as it was some wind and rain swept hole. 

The ones that always get it right are the architects that build their own homes. That one with the massive brick arch was a triumph and the guy didn't seem to have that much of a sweat on re. the cost. 


Was the Devon one the tit that tried to build a house on the side of a black run type slope? The only reason I feel sorry for him is that the architect and builder should have said I don't advise you doing this at all, and stopped taking his money when it was obvious it would fail. 

The guy who built the brick arch one is a really good architect.  We've looked at a build project and I've spoken to him a few times.  Seems like a nice guy, and his work si really nice.

  • Agree with sails I’d always build new before converting or renovating. 
  • But I’m moving into niche garage design first.
  • It’s the next big thing. 

Yes - it was awful though that he lost his wife and ended up completely lonely with the property still not complete and him broke. The girls had grown up and had to watch their parents marriage crumble due to this dream that just couldn’t work. 

as you say the architect should have just said no. 

I'd say the saddest one was a couple trying to build a new build "Edwardian" mansion. The husband was totally dominated by his wife (think the couple on the Fast Show where Caroline Aherne played the wife) and seemed to be a partner at a big 4 firm or similar, so was basically bank-rolling a folly. She was discussing 4k shower screens and curtains when the house wasn't watertight. Never got finished. I hope the guy had a massive debt (financial or otherwise) to her as otherwise I expect they didn't make it. To cap it all the house looked shit - more like a nothing passivhaus than Edwardian. 

Another fool and his money was the Irish castle bloke. It's not the GFC that cocked it up mate - it was your narcissism. 

One of the worst shows of its kind on TV.

Usually featuring 'character' interior designers who know absolute jack.

Who the heck is Phil?

I think we need to talk about Kevin...

Oh yes. Phil's the other bald smug property khunt isn't he? 

There was a fairly similar one in Scotland, where they knocked down a NATO listening post and built a sunken horseshoe shaped property on a steep cliff overlooking the Irish Sea.

Seemed it would go the same way as Devon Folly, but actually turned out brilliantly - one of the best ever.

It’s chavsploitation telly for middle class ppl

Presumably they’re off to the divorce lawyers

It's the same each time I've seen it.

Couple are going to build an eco-sustainable box, but first have to pour 10,000 tonnes of CO2 concrete to start it off, then either:

1. Delays of up to 2 years to finish it.

2. They run out of money.

3. They have a baby.

4. The man has a heart attack.

The only difference is the colour of the huge sofa they've had to use to fill the enormous sitting room.

  • I love Kev’s comical attempts at profound apercus as he signs off.
  • Always a comment about how the interior communicates with the landscape. 
  • Then an apparently rhetorical question he has no clue how to answer. 

Warlord, you forgot that they plan to live in a caravan for four months until the house is watertight but stay there for two years

  • The assumption they all make is that achieving dream gaffdom will by itself guarantee a life worth living. 
  • When in fact the hallmark of a dream gaff is you don’t notice living in it. 

Is that why your many dream gaffs feel like don’t exist?

I'd say the saddest one was a couple trying to build a new build "Edwardian" mansion. 

What about the one where the thatched roof burned down during construction and the fella had forgotten to renew his house insurance?  He vomited into a bin when told by the insurance company while on camera.  

Actually, might not have been the saddest as they rebuilt on a shoestring and did a reasonable job in the end.  But still - poor fucker.

  • Isn't our creation tasteful, darling?
  • It isn't, isn't it?
  • I like the way the light peeks through the blah blah whatever
  • Yes, so rustic blah blah the old and the new blah blah self sustaining eco lodge vomit
  • Indeed, vanity project massive debt no regrets dear?
  • Mmmmm, exactly.  If my mind was my cock, would you suck it?


*Dave's wife left him immediately after the house was finished, having spent 2 years in a caravan on a building site


  • You always wonder whether the fitter wives get involved with the workmen. 

Fucking Twitter - always pre-stealing the gags

One of my clients was on Grand Designs. His wife had a babe in arms when Kevin came back for the two years later show and they were talking about what a great place it was going to be to raise kids. Then they split up and she raised the design of the house as a reason for him not having overnight contact.

What if you aren't married when you start on your building project?  Am I just trying to fill the void in my life that is not having a wife?

Admittedly any poor lady who should be foolish enough to marry me is going to have to put up with my dream house that she had no say in.

Taking of vanity projects, one of the best shows was this guy who wanted to build a massive house on a cliff on the south coast somewhere like Devon. It was going to be his family forever home for his wife and young children. He spent something like a million just on the groundworks, putting in massive piles to support the house, and got as far as the concrete shell and then ran out of money.

There was a follow up show last year I think, eight years after he began, and it was still just a concrete shell and in the intervening period his marriage had ended and his children had grown up and left home. He was still rambling on about finishing it with non-existent money he wasn't able to raise from the banks, even though the whole reason for building the house had completely evaporated.

It would have been quite sad if he hadn't just been so deluded, still clinging onto this impossible dream.

I think almost without exception, I would happily see every single person on this show up against the wall, when the revolution is complete next week, and I am confident that our new Antifa/Black Labour Movement overlords will agree with me.

The exceptions are:

Brick arch architect dude and his family. He was OK.

The other architect who took a thin but long sliver of land in London and built something with boxes in it.

That's about it.

First up against the wall would be the f**king hippy with a trust fund who wanted a house that was like a boat, and was a walking advert against doing drugs. He was utterly unbearable.

It's almost like proboner hasn't read the thread. Almost.

"Think I'll gawp at this place for a few years then find a bare plot somewhere to build something from scratch rather than another listed building conversion as it's a ball ache dealing with the conservation people."

Why tho?

wouls suggest the answer to this question is yes

"Am I just trying to fill the void in my life that is not having a wife?"


Rather than trying to fill the void in his wife? You could be on to something.

I loved the chap from Northern Ireland that built a house from 2 or 3 shipping containers (which probably are still the property of Maersk).



Shipping container homeowner keen to help homeless - The Irish News885 × 560

Oh, yeah, that one was OK as well.



  • You always wonder whether the fitter wives get involved with the workmen.


Can genuinely say that I have never, ever, ever wondered this.

No one normal has ever wondered this.


Prince Andrew might have done.

Linda I just love watching diggers and craftsmen working and creating something in front of your eyes.  It's far more satisfying than many things I've done in life apart from crossing an ocean.

I also like being able to have things just the way I want them rather than buying an existing property which will be good but will have things where you'd have done them differently but it's too much effort now to bulldoze part of it and rebuild it.

I've got some friends who were on one of those type of shows. Converted some run down GP surgery or some such. It's a beautiful home now and the dosh from appearing on the show was a welcome help. Crap TV though because they are unassuming and not ostentatious pillocks. What amused me most was them having to rent out a bunch of stupid and impractical furniture for a day for filming then send it back to the shop (all paid for my the TV company of course). 

I didn't realise these people got paid to be on the show.

NI guy was an architect building his own home wasn't it?


You can always tell when Kevin McCloud thinks the house is wank because he says something like, "Is it unconventional?  Sure.  But what Alan and Janet have done here is create something [utterly horrifying] that's uniquely them"




The Devon guy, it was sad in part, but he was out of his depth and none of the builders/contractors told him. Why would they, everyone could see pound signs, lots of them.

At any stage he could have reigned in the build, but just kept blindly writing blank cheques. When it costs a million quid to make a hole in the ground... So he has done his life savings of £2MM, borrowed another 3,probably bankrupt and destroyed a marriage. Anyone know how it all ended up?

I mean it would have been an awesome house, and he did actually build a smaller version on another part of the site to try and raise enough money to finish the build of the main house, but you need basically to have the cash available to fund a project like that, and plenty spare because they always go way over budget: it's not the sort of thing to do mortgaged up to the hilt because eventually the money taps are going to be turned off.

Oh and the lunatic posh couple who were Bazzas. They decide to build in their garden, employ contractors and sub-contractors , who are cracking on. Meanwhile they sack them as they reckon they can do it themselves. Husband gets injured and is laid up for 6 weeks, leaving wifey to do everything. Best bit " Oh jonny the bricklayer I can't believe how fast and accurate he is" 

Yes love because he is approaching 70 and has been doing everyday for 50 years. She asks for him to return, he says no, and no other builders would touch it. So less than a quarter complete, job on hold, and she is ordering silk newspaper and chandeliers. Christ what is wrong with these people

I know an architect who had a whole Grand Designs filmed, but it was never shown because basically very little went wrong.  No drama as Chambo would say!

I think the house next to Herne Hill Lido was the one he had most contempt for.  It basically looked like a leisure centre and they dull as fvck.  Must have only just squeaked through.

Clubbers - yes, a very nice chap, IIRC. You wanted him to succeed and he did.  

FFS, it is not difficult to financially model a new build, if you are realistic, and have a contigency

I love watching series 1 on Grand Designs.  They were a LOT less grand. 

James and Sarah have bought a Victorian end terrace in SW London and plan to paint the hall, stairs and landing in French grey.  They are debating whether to replace the carpets. 

If you're doing conventional, it's fine.  When you're building it out of blue glass bottles and hay sourced from Uzbekistan (for its superior thermal mass), then who the fuck know where the outturn will be.

The worst part for me was definitely doing a listed building so you've got some conservation officer dictating the detail of what you can and cannot do with certain elements.  However, I'm grateful to her for insisting on strange sustainable wood and wool based insulation as it's turned out to be far better than what I was planning to use.

The Devon guy didn't he need to sell both properties for 6MM, and late on in the day, the smaller one he completed which he intended to sell to finance the completion of the huge project, the council said you cannot sell it until the big project is done. Vicious circle. 

  • Best ever was the quiet woodsman who built his gaff for nearly nothing.

Mcloud is a smug, jealous know all. His face when people say they ran over budget by 500k, but they don't care, or te ones who build on time and budget.


Remember the ghastly nouveau australian Architect who built/converted an old factory in waterloo, net door to the royal philomonic society. She spend hubbies Ibankers money like there was no tomorrow, went over a mil overbudget , and she didn't care a jot.

Her arrogance wa such she was required to do a party wall in a certain brick, but she said nah I will do it in this brick. Had to take it all down and start again. I guess they are divorced now.

The 20 seat dining table , the steel industrial ovens and hobs you only find in 3 star kitchens, literally, the dumb waiter , etc, etc.

It would be nice to do it in a money is no object style.

The Devon architect is some lecturer and based on Brighton. Most of his stuff bog standard, and as he was getting on this was his legacy, probably using loads of theoretical stuff he’d never tried, plus lots of wanky stuff that cost a manageable packet on a small project but blow everything on a big one - bridge for the drive, breeze blocks being cut to make curves instead of poured concrete, no engineer assessment of the rock hardness. I bet the builders couldn’t point to a single thing they had done that was anything like this. 

I dont watch this programme but I have a couple of friends who have done complete rebuilds (one was an eco sustainable)

both couples are still married but in both cases they spent a fortune on the work only to move back in waaaay before the house was anywhere near finished, presumably to save on rental costs, and thats where the strain really began to show. I dont think I would ever do this or if I did it would have to be as sails says money no object. There is no home i want so much that i would willingly introduce that much stress into my life.

Only do it if you can budget twice the intended cost......

I moved in with the builders still finishing up and it wasn't that bad to be honest with the main ball ache having to get up dawn because they'd be working by 7am and it's a bit disruptive having breakfast with builders going back and forth through your kitchen.  Also I had to be out of my bedroom because they were still finishing the en-suite.


You can always tell when Kevin McCloud thinks the house is wank because he says something like, "Is it unconventional?  Sure.  But what Alan and Janet have done here is create something [utterly horrifying] that's uniquely them"



Did anyone watch that program with Paul Merton's ex-wife Caroline whose surname escapes me at the moment? She and an architect went around europe oggling nice houses and nosing around them. That was good telly.

Yes Bananadude, I was thinking of Changing Rooms.

'Well, this room would look better by having green velvet wallpaper there and the other wall painted back for pathos'.

You can guess my rude words reaction to things like that.

Caroline Quentin 

Caroline Aherne sadly no longer with us

There are common themes on this programme. My observations:

1. Wife / girlfriend decides to be project manager and thinks she knows best and alienates the real project manager and all the tradespeople.

2. Project overruns into the worst winter (or two ot three) and rain EVER

3. Woman gets pregnant 

4. Family end up living in a caravan in a swamp in the grounds and have to move into a house not yet fit for habitation 

5. The glass never turns up on time from some workshop in Europe 

6. A delivery truck gets stuck / lost 

7. One of the couple get a bee in their bonnet about a really expensive kitchen or a fancy extra which blows the budget 

8. The rooms are really pokey with tiny windows 

9. Old furniture is dumped in the new house which looks odd, like care home type chairs and grandfather clocks 

10. No contingency has been added beyond about 5% for unexpected problems 

11. The house may be finished but there is no landscaping and there are pallets, pipes sticking out/ builders rubble and mud around the house 

12. There is some "quirky" feature which they think is cool but it is just weird like twisted wrought iron work or a gothic fireplace

13. The stress of all the additional costs tip the couple over the edge and the project becomes a living nightmare. They have to get friends and 80 year old relatives round to help them lay tiles, do wiring and step in once the project manager has walked out/ been sacked/ can't be paid. 


What miss said, which was the one where they had 600k spend , and a 10k contingency , it was a couple of Drs from memory. Dear Lord.

And sails? Your " build" was not a grand design by al accounts, was it?

Ebitda, I recall that the Dutch iBanker ended up in the tribunal or something with his employer, I think maybe Barclays. She wasn’t Aussie but had a weird accent. She was also involved in other litigation. 

It’s not a grand design in terms of being terrible innovative but it’s on a reasonable scale with some quirks and a spectacular setting.  Was certainly grand enough to keep me up at night.

I remember the woodsman dollapat is talking about. It was the first episode I ever saw. Not sure I've seen Kevin show as much respek since.

There was a great one in the times today.  A massive faux gothing Victorian folly made out of unreinforxed concrete.  300 plus steps to the top.  2.5 Lionels.

The more joyful version of this is Netflix's the World's Most Extraordinary Houses where they visit one country per show and stay at various interesting modern builds. 

There's a few Mcmansions but there are some genuinely lovely designs like this white concrete scando house overlooking a bay where they'd designed the windows in a way to make the views over the water look like paintings in a gallery from the inside, and various houses built amongst nature with breathtaking views out to treetops etc.

They don't chart the misery of the owners which I don't care about, I just want to see how the finished version functions as a home.

There was a good one the other night: Several acres in wales set aside for hippies to become 75% self sufficient. It took, like, 20 years for the house to get half finished, but the rooms which were completed looked pretty cool. Not sure how they're going to mow the roof, but hey ho. 

The couple seemed nice. I did wonder if he had ever brushed his teeth, or whether he gargled with cigarette butts. They were an amazing shade of yellowy brown, like the wallpaper in the house of someone who has stayed in teh same room for 50 years, chainsmoking B&H.

I also loved the fact that the other people on the project were called Leander and Ayres and stuff.

No. Your name is Peter, and you were previously an accountant in slough. 

They were all very well spoken. 

Anyway, Mrs Shooty is on a Nigel Slater and River Cottage binge now. I find Slater unbearable. Hugh FW is, obvs, The Man.

Was the house that was eaten by moths a Grand Designs house? Can't remember, it may just have been in the news. They decided to insulate it with wool because it was "sustainable" but forgot to treat it with insecticide and once the moths got to it they had a field day.

Not so sustainable after all (although it sustained quite a few moths, I imagine).

That may very well be the same one.

They did indeed insulate with a couple of £ks worth of wool.

It looked rank, until they plastered over it.

I think the plaster was some kind of combination of placenta and mud, but it looked OK when dried and painted.

leave complex challenging builds to the experts, just a thought.

It's been a year and no sign of moths getting at my wool but it was pretty sealed in and treated.

Oh OK it was "Grand Designs-esque" - so not actually featured on the programme. Would have made great TV though.