These big budget self build projects featured on Grand Designs broke the bank, but was the end result worth the expense?

 tv house the water tower

Image: Jefferson Smith

Budget – it's one of the key drivers of a self build project, but one that many Grand Designers want to shy away from in conversation. It's no secret that, over the years, many Grand Designs projects have overrun and overstretched their budgets. 

However, where budgets run high, often so does the wow-factor of the final property. Here's four properties that saw budgets for their builds or renovations run into seven figure territory. 

The Water Tower, Kennington

Leigh Osborne and Graham Voce undertook a huge project in converting a derelict water tower in London, but their ambitious plans far outstripped their original budget. Glazing alone cost £240,000, scaffolding hire was £60,000, and within the first half-hour on site, the foundations had gone up by £25,000, after builders realised they would have to dig deeper. £35,000 was spent on a high-tech audio-visual system and £25,000 was spent on an air-source heat pump, which provides hot water and heating.

The couple estimated that they spent £2,000 extra than budgeted every day they spent on site. 

Read more: TV House: Water tower conversion in London

Island home, Isle of Wight

 grand designs tv house isle of wight

Image: Julian Winslow

Imagine an endless wish-list of what you’d want in your ideal property and it’s likely Bram and Lisa Vis included it in their epic self build project on the Isle of Wight. However, this scale came at a price – the budget overran to over £2 million, and with the land cost, the overall build cost some £3.2 million.

Bram ended up taking out 11 loans to cover the cost of the project. ‘If you see light at the end of the tunnel and you want something badly enough, you’ll do it,’ says Bram. ‘You have to have strength and resolve – plenty of other people would have backed away, I’m sure.’

Read more: TV House: expansive 7-bedroom self-build on the Isle of Wight

The Recording Studio, London

 grand designs tv house in holland park - former recording studios

Image: Jefferson Smith

Only partly visible from the leafy west London street, Audrey and Jeff Lovelock’s huge four-floor home is something of an iceberg. Its top storey protrudes above street level, with several residential flats on top, but the bulk of the property stretches beneath the surface in a complex footprint of staircases, walkways and spacious rooms.

With a huge overhead roof lantern flooding the space with light, it was a complex build, and while Audrey wouldn't let Kevin McCloud know exactly how much they'd spent on the build, she hinted it was near the £2 million value they'd paid for the property. 

Watch the episode: West London, 2012 

The Lighthouse, Croyde

grand designs tv house lighthouse in croyde

Image: Channel 4

In one of Grand Designs most disaster-laden projects, Edward and Hazel Short looked to build a vast lighthouse-inspired home in Croyde, on a crumbling clifftop the North Devon coastline. The grand plans for the build saw loans of £3 million taken out to fund the project, but with setbacks and delays, the money was soon gone, leaving the building half-finished. Edward estimated that it would take another £2 million to complete the build. 

Watch the episode: North Devon, 2019


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