Conversions

by Hannah Fenton

September 22, 2017

Modernist restoration in Brussels, Belgium

A 20-year love affair with a Bauhaus-influenced property has finally given one Belgian couple the home of their dreams. Xavier and Pascale de Breucker had…

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
tv-house-exclusive-upside-down-cedar-clad-eco-home
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house exclusive Upside-down cedar-clad eco home

Idyllic plot, check. Innovative design, check. Super-eco credentials, check. Natasha Cargill’s Norfolk home from the recent TV series ticked all the right boxes… just
grand-designs-australia-tv-house-sri-lanka-inspired-family-friendly-home
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs Australia TV house Sri Lanka-inspired family-friendly home

This striking Grand Designs Australia build combines concrete finishes with the architectural inspiration of Sri Lanka to create a family-friendly home.
new-tv-series-the-groundhouse
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Hand-built ecological home in Wales

As part of an eco-village in west Wales, Simon and Jasmine Dale set out to hand-build an ecological home, starting with only £500 in the...
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.
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-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.