Grand Designs

Designer and writer Kevin McCloud guides us through the trials and tribulations – physical, financial, and emotional – of those obsessively trying to create a unique place to live.

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Episodes Season 13

  • 1. West Sussex

    How grand is too grand? How big is too big? In this first episode of the new series Kevin meets Clinton Dall from Sussex, who's attempting to build one of the largest homes ever featured on Grand Designs. Not only that, he wants it to be perfect - from the finish of his mirrored cruciform steel columns, to how the floor tiles line up with the dining room table - Clinton, a self-made cleaning businessman and father of four, is willing to spend whatever it takes to achieve his vision. It's a huge risk - down one road lies abject failure and financial ruin, down the other, the creation of something sublime and almost heroic. So which will it be?

  • 2. East Sussex

    Boat loving James Strangeways has spent the last 35 years travelling the canals and waterways of Britain. He’s never stayed in one place for more than a few days, and he's never liked houses. Realising it’s time to put down some roots on dry land, he commissions his nephew, architect Ben Hebblethwaite, to build him a home that's as unhouse-like as possible for a tight £300k.  To lure his boat-mad client into a more settled life, Ben designs a house with ship-like qualities. It floats above the marsh on stilts, clad in acres of timber and topped with a roof that looks like the giant keel of a sailing vessel. But it’s the first time that Ben has ever built a house from scratch, and things take a dramatic turn for the worse when just a few months into the project, the contractor goes into liquidation with £87k of their money! And as the house starts to take shape, James decides to tweak the design in ways that set alarm bells ringing for his young architect.

  • 3. Solent

    What do you do after recovering from a traumatic life threatening event, everything you possibly can on a beautiful cutting edge house, with all the amenities your loved ones could ever wish for of course. That's the life affirming adventure Bram Vis, wife Lisa, and their two children launch into, on an idyllic seaside plot on the Isle of Wight. They want to build a house for sharing, with generous entertaining spaces, and swimming pool where they can surround themselves with family. But soon the reality of their wild ambition starts to catch up with them, and there's a very strong possibility that they may not complete it. Fatalistically unwilling to compromise on the scale or design of their super home, their original £850k budget begins to spiral out of control. As they borrow what they can to desperately try and finish the project, the somewhat dubious honour of creating one of the most expensive Grand Designs ever looks inevitable...

  • 4. Wyre Forest

    The days when humans lived in caves in Britain are long gone – aren’t they? Not according to 37 year old Angelo Mastropietro. He found a damp dark abandoned cave in Worcestershire, that was last lived in nearly 70 years ago. Now he wants to become a 21st century British caveman. He’s going to spend £100k to almost single handedly turn it into a retreat, to help him cope with a recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a heroic task. Solitary months of carving, cutting, and drilling into the hillside are needed to create the rooms and prepare the cave for electricity and running water for the first time. That’s just the start, building a cave home doesn’t come with a manual. How do you make a cave comfortable for contemporary living, and at the same time preserve it’s unique cave-like spirit? For Angelo it’s a unique challenge that turns into an obsession.

  • 5. Country Antrim

    Michele Long and Michael Howe want to restore and transform a derelict 100-year-old blacksmiths in County Antrim, adding a giant horseshoe-shaped modern straw bale extension on the side. Keen to get his hands dirty, Michael launches into the project, armed only with a pickaxe. With virtually no practical experience, he wants to learn how to build a house by doing as much as he can himself. But the odds are stacked against architect Michael and teacher Michele. On this rugged stretch of coastline in Northern Ireland the weather is fierce. The budget is rock bottom at only £150k, and the deadline to complete just one year. Almost immediately the freezing weather, the scale of the task, and a workshop fire slow the project down. While Michele juggles work and kids, Michael struggles to keep up, and the schedule stretches from one to three years. Will they ever get it finished?

  • 6. South Somerset

    Can you really convert a cowshed into a home by learning everything from the internet? Private chef Ed Versluys and pilates instructor Vicky Anderson do not do things by halves. Within two years of meeting they got engaged, sold up and abandoned their city lives, buying an ugly derelict 1940s concrete cowshed with amazing views over the Somerset countryside. They're project managing and converting the cowshed themselves with the help of just one young builder, and what they can learn online. They've given themselves only eight months and just over £200k to make a warm, comfortable three bedroom home with straw bale walls, and wide expanses of glass. It's an almighty challenge.

  • 7. South Downs

    So what kind of house should you build when you move to a new place, that's traditional and architecturally conservative? Surely something that fits in, that's similar to the houses of the new neighbours you want to impress? Not if you're Stephen Yeoman and Anita Findlay. They want to put up a cutting edge post-industrial house, that's covered in bright orange rusty metal. Not only that, their plot is one of the most prominent in their new home town of South Downs - so everyone will be watching. Having to deal with an incredibly tight riverside plot, cash flow problems that threaten to bring work to a halt, and news of a first child on the way, Stephen and Anita's project proves a real roller coaster ride. And that's all before the fitting of their controversial rusty steel cladding starts to go badly wrong.

  • 8. Revisit #1: Buckinghamshire

    Kevin McCloud returns to one of the most ambitious Grand Designs ever. A year and a winter of flooding since his last visit, Kevin returns to the Thames in Buckinghamshire to see if the eventful construction of the U.K.'s first amphibious house has been a success. Now it's finished, can Andy and Nicki Bruce's 220 ton amphibious house really float? Andy and Nicki spent £1.2 million on their experimental house, but could never have predicted the logistical headache of building on a small island only accessible by a narrow footbridge. Heavy machinery was lost to the river, contractors were changed and the site was hit by the worst storms in recent history - causing severe delays and resulting in an unfinished and untested building. Now fully complete, both inside and out, Kevin discovers what it's like living on a regularly flooded piece of land, and how their unique floating home performed when the river burst its banks in January 2015.

  • 9. Revisit #2: North Cornwall

    Kevin McCloud returns to North Cornwall to see one of his favourite ever Grand Designs. Rebecca Sturrock and her partner Gregory Kewish's design was radical, to reinforce the walls of an old bungalow and put a new living space on top, made entirely of cross-laminated timber - all for just £80,000. It was an experimental system but Rebecca and Gregory were determined to do it all by themselves. But with rain and wind hammering the site, it was soon dangerously clear that Gregory and Rebecca had bitten off more than they could chew. Now fully complete both inside and out, Kevin finds out whether this innovative magic box of a house is really big enough to accommodate a growing family, and whether Rebecca's close proximity to her parents has been as rewarding as they had hoped.

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