• fb icon
  • fb icon
  • fb icon
  • fb icon

Tracy and Steve Fox turned a run-down yard in London into an innovative industrial-style home. We ask Tracy how they’re getting on three years later

TV Secrets 1

HOMEOWNER PROFILE

Who? Tracy and Steve Fox

What? Created a contemporary new-build with a polycarbonate exterior and double-height living area

Where? South-east London

When?Series 14, 2014

What have you been up to since the show aired?

‘I’ve been spending a lot of time doing the garden, as it’s a courtyard house and the outside space is integral to the building. We’ve got an overhang on the inside perimeter, and I sowed the whole area underneath with wildflower seeds. There are no gutters, so when it rains the water cascades down like a Japanese water feature.’

Have you made any alterations to the house?

‘We were in a rush to get the kitchen cabinet doors finished and in the end they weren’t to our standard, so that didn’t work out. The problem with a minimal house is that you can’t disguise something if it isn’t right, so we had our carpenter friend make new cabinet doors out of black MDF. It was worth getting someone in to take their time and get it right.’

Apart from the kitchen, did it all work to plan?

‘Yes, I think because we instructed the architect to design a really low-tech build it works perfectly. It’s a basic house that has been made extremely well. For example, instead of having a heat recovery system, we utilised the property’s crosswinds. We had mechanical vents put in all around the back perimeter, and tilt-turn windows so that when we open our courtyard windows and doors, they pull cold air in from the back of the house, which is in the shade.’

TV Secrets 3

What’s your favourite thing about your home?

‘The feeling of utter secrecy each time you see it. People still knock on the big gate and wonder what it is, or they catch us with the gate open and want to have a look. They’re left speechless when they walk in and see the amazing facade of the house, because it’s hidden behind a row of shops.’

You’ve carried out other projects before, but what do you think you discovered from this one?

‘We’d previously added an extra floor to a house and redone the roof so we – foolishly as it turns out – thought we could handle a new-build, but it was a shock because of the legal rigmarole. Also, the expense of having to excavate surprised us – I think we’d spent half our money before we’d even come out of the ground. You need to have some contingency for that kind of work, and we didn’t.’

Would you consider another build?

‘I would definitely do it again, because I feel like I learned an entirely new language and it’s a shame not to use it. Steve refuses to talk about it at the moment, but I’m pretty keen. It is a gorgeous space and our kids love living here so it would be hard to leave, but at the same time I want a new adventure. There was a lot of heartache and stress, but it’s like childbirth: unless I’m actually talking about it, I’ve forgotten all that pain. Doing it again wouldn’t be a stroll in the park, but we’d be able to think it through a bit more.’

Finally, do you have any tips for other self-builders?

‘Do your research thoroughly, then double the money you think it’s going to cost. And it seems ridiculous, but it’s also the luck of the draw who will be assigned to you from the planning department. Our planning officer just didn’t understand the house at all and thought it looked like a shed. However, he moved to a different section in the council, and the next person we got loved it.’

TV Secrets 2

Words: Megan Burn, photography: Matt Chisnall

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
visit-award-winning-grand-designs-live-hosted-by-kevin-mccloud
grand-designs-the-street-episode-1
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs The Street Episode 1: The Details

We've got all the details of episode 1 of Grand Designs: The Street, aired on 4th April 2019, at 9pm on Channel 4 and hosted...
amazing-grand-designs-tv-houses
Grand Designs TV Houses

10 most memorable Grand Designs TV houses

We round up the most amazing, unique and memorable Grand Designs TV houses ever featured.
grand-designs-tv-house-britain-first-u-build-house
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs TV House: Inside UK's first U-Build house

Look inside the UK's first U Build box house to be featured on Channel 4's My Grand Design, hosted by Kevin McCloud in spring 2019....
riba-house-of-the-year-preview
Grand Designs TV Houses

7 RIBA House of the Year 2018 builds in detail

Take inspiration for your own self-build or renovation project from the extraordinary homes longlisted this year's RIBA House of the Year award.
grand-designs-seventh-episode-2018
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs TV house: East Devon cob house revisited

Take a look inside Kevin McCabe's finished cob castle in East Devon home featured on the finale of the 2018 series of Grand Designs.
grand-designs-third-episode-2018
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs TV house: look inside Britain's first hypoallergenic home

Take a look inside Grand Designs' first-ever healthy home TV house, which featured on the third episode of the 2018 series.