If you ask a fan of Grand Designs which programme they remember most, it’s often: ‘the one where the guy built his house in the woods’.

ben law s wooden house

Series three, 2003
The build cost £28,000
300 barley bales formed the walls
4.5 million viewers watched the show
The project took eight months

That guy was Ben Law (ben-law.co.uk). The project struck a deep chord with millions of viewers as we avidly followed the construction of his home back in 2003. Woodsman Ben wanted to build the property using the forest’s resources, while also ensuring it blended into the landscape. He acquired Prickly Nut Wood in 1992 through barter – his labour was exchanged for land – and from then until the house was erected 10 years later, he lived in a caravan.

ben law s wooden house2

Ben’s was the first property to be built in the forest in West Sussex for 50 years and there were conditions when permission was granted – if he was ever to sell the woodland or his coppicing business, he’d have to take his home down. By using traditional building techniques, packing his house with solar panels and wind turbines, and employing the help of many friends, Ben managed to keep costs low. Unlike in the TV show, the building is now filled with furniture for Ben and his young family, and there’s even the odd extravagance – a sunken hot tub sits on the verandah. ‘I love living here,’ he says. ‘Every day, waking up is a pleasure.’

For this series' TV house previews, pick up the November issue of Grand Designs, out now.

Photography: Stephen Morley

Kevin McCloud on how our homes give us the chance to reflect and have new experiences

Our editor-at-large ponders how our homes can give us a chance to reflect and have new experiences.
how-our-homes-give-us-the-chance-to-reflect-and-have-new-experiences
how-to-maximise-natural-light-in-your-home
Home Improvements

How to maximise natural light in...

Use architectural features and specialised finishes to maximise natural light in your home. Natural daylight is intrinsically linked to our mood,...
5-reasons-to-have-a-home-gym-space
Home Improvements

5 Reasons to Have a Home Gym...

5 Reasons to have a home Gym Space Modern life means busy lifestyles for many of us. Everything from work, family commitments and social gatherings can...
 
grand-designs-water-tower-conversion-london
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs water tower conversion in London

An ambitious Grand Designs water tower conversion based in London had two new-build extensions included in the renovation.
10-ways-to-simplify-your-space
Home Improvements

10 ways to simplify your space

Make every room feel bigger and more harmonious with these practical design ideas – from colour schemes and materials to streamlined storage Most...
passive-house-rural-barn-in-berkshire
Self Build Homes

Passive house rural barn in...

Inspired by a traditional timber barn, Tom Gresford has created a Passivhaus-certified home that sits perfectly in its rural setting. The West Berkshire...
before-and-after-remodelled-1960s-property-in-hampshire
Home Improvements

Before and after: Remodelled 1960s...

A dated 1960s property in Hampshire has been remodelled to bring it into the 21st century.   Faced with selling their tired 1960s home, the owners...
 
tv-house-timber-framed-new-build-in-bolton
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Timber-framed new-build in Bolton

Builder Paul Rimmer and his family have shown how to construct a sustainable home
tv-series-secrets-cliff-side-home-in-wales
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV series secrets: Cliff-side home in Wales

Find out how things have progressed since the owners wowed us with this new-build on a dramatic cliff-side in Wales.
transform-architects
Self Build Homes

Transform Architects

Transform Architects is an Award-winning RIBA Chartered Practice that specializes in contemporary self builds / extensions / disability adaptations and...
win-a-stainless-steel-fridge-freezer-from-fisher-paykel Win
Competitions

Win one of two stainless steel...

Enter now for your chance to win one of two Fisher & Paykel state-of-the-art fridge-freezers It is the style and quality of the appliances that...
tv-house-transformed-bungalow
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Transformed bungalow in Wirral, Merseyside

A dull bungalow in Wirral, Merseyside is transformed into the ideal home.
tv-house-hampshire-dairy-cottage
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Dairy Cottage in Hampshire

When their thatched house burnt down Alex Reay and Cheryl Robson rebuilt their dream home - a dairy cottage in Hampshire.
tv-house-birmingham-converted-church
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Converted Church in Birmingham

A restored church with a controversial plastic dome in Birmingham is now a family home.