The Grand Designs Gothic chapel in County Mayo

9 of the best Grand Designs property conversions

These unusual transformations show it's not all about barns and warehouses

By Becca Green | 15 September 2021

Property conversions come in all shapes and sizes. From castles and churches to caves and lifeboat stations, unique buildings have been transformed into homes by many brave self-builders.

Take a look at some of the best property conversions on Grand Designs with links to watch the episodes…

1. The Cave House, Wyre Forest

A house in a cave has got to be one of the most unusual Grand Designs property conversions ever. Angelo Mastropietro bought the abandoned 800-year-old property near the Wyre Forest in Worcestershire after seeing it advertised in a local supplement. He tackled most of the renovation and improvement work himself, straightening the walls and lowering the floors by hand, excavating 70 tonnes of stone in the process. Angelo also dug service channels into the sandstone floors, drilled a borehole for running water and laid cables across his neighbour’s field for power.

Watch the Cave House episode of Grand Designs
exterior of the cave house from grand designs with living wall and rustic wooden picnic bench on the patio

Photo: Andrew Wall

2. Kennington Water Tower, London

The Kennington water tower project – which Kevin McCloud referred to as ‘a monster, a beast, a crumbling giant’ – was originally built in 1877. It had been empty for decades, with gaps between bricks, trees inching their way through the walls, and hundreds of dead pigeons inside. Grand designers Leigh Osborne and Graham Voce didn’t do things by halves, with an ambitious budget and timeline, plus two new-build extensions to incorporate into this epic property conversion.

Watch the Kennington Water Tower episode of Grand Designs
kennington water tower in london was one of the best property conversions featured on grand designs

Photo: Jefferson Smith

3. The Gothic Chapel, County Mayo

Originally built in the 1830s, the Grand Designs Gothic chapel in County Mayo had fallen into disrepair. Andrew and Jackie bought it and restored the tower and roof before converting the interior into a home. The walls were deliberately repaired with a different colour brick so the story of the rescue work became part of the fabric of the church. Converting a church can frequently prove more of a penance than a pleasure. As Kevin McCloud pointed out, the soaring proportions are often compromised by having to squeeze in bedrooms.

Watch the Gothic Chapel episode of Grand Designs
The Grand Designs Gothic chapel in County Mayo is a perfect example of a property conversion

Photo: Mark Luscombe-Whyte