Grand Designs has returned for a brand new series. In episode one, Justin Maxwell Stuart renovated a home in a graveyard thanks to a near record-breaking budget for a Grand Designs project. 

 Grand Designs TV House from 2021 series - converted lodge in a cemetery in South west London

Image: Jefferson Smith

Originally scheduled to be on our screens last year, Grand Designs is back for 2021, and its new stars have had to overcome more than their fair share of setbacks.

The Covid-19 pandemic threw a huge spanner in the works of build schedules, added complications to filming during lockdown, and tested the mettle of everyone involved in producing the show.

However, thankfully this year's crop of self builders and renovators persevered. 

The first episode follows Justin Maxwell Stuart's effort to transform a dilapidated warden's cottage on the edge of a graveyard into a modern home. 

Read the full story: Find out more about Justin's build in the February issue of Grand Designs, for free

Grand Designs TV House from 2021 series - converted lodge in a cemetery in South west London

Image: Jefferson Smith

Home on a graveyard

During a daily walk with his dog Thunder, Justin would often venture into the local cemetery, past a fascinating neo-gothic lodge that had once been the graveyard superintendent’s home but had fallen into a state of disrepair. When it disappeared behind wooden boarding, Justin didn’t take much notice. But when a for sale sign appeared in late 2014, he couldn’t resist trying to find out more.

Justin's plan for the renovation were forged from the two unlikely buildings  – the warden's lodge and a multipurpose 1960s shed.

Watch the episode: South west London, 2021

Having decided to restore the lodge and demolish the shed, Justin opted to replace the latter with an ultra-modern extension while linking the two buidings together. Working with architect Simon Gill, the project even looked to dig below ground to create more subterranean space, including room for a swimming pool.

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Grand Designs TV House from 2021 series - converted lodge in a cemetery in South west London

Image: Jefferson Smith

Justin knew that the building was in a poor state of repair and was relatively expensive, noting that he could have bought a small castle in his homeland of Scotland for what they were asking for the lodge. ‘I was brought up in Scotland where everyone’s houses have so much character,' explains Justin, 'and I liked the idea of recreating somewhere like that in London.’

Grand Designs TV House from 2021 series - converted lodge in a cemetery in South west London

Image: Jefferson Smith

Stretching the budget

In true Grand Designs fashion, last minute changes to the build, including increasing the size of the excavation for the basement, caused the time-frame and budget to spiral, making this project one of the most expensive projects in Grand Designs history with a budget of £4.2 million.

But, was the finished house worth the time and expense? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


To get the full story and discover the details of the projects from this series of Grand Designs, subscribe to the print magazine now. You can find the full preview of this series of Grand Designs in the January issue to read online for free

read a free issue of grand designs magazine


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