David and Greta Iredale's pioneering Huf Haus from Grand Designs
david and greta's huf haus in surrey

Huf Haus pioneer David Iredale passes away

David & Greta Iredale were the first Huf Haus self-builders to appear on Grand Designs

By Victoria Purcell |

Everyone remembers the 2004 Huf Haus episode of Grand Designs, when David and Greta Iredale bucked every trend to buy a German prefab house for their Surrey plot.

Sadly, David passed away recently. Huf Haus shared the sad news on their official Facebook page with a photo of David and Greta, calling him ‘a dear friend and part of the Huf Haus Family’.

david and greta iredale huf haus builders from grand designs

Greta and David Iredale. Photo: Adrian Briscoe

A tribute to David Iredale

They wrote: ‘A tribute to David Iredale. It is with great regret and deepest sadness that we share the news of David’s passing. The delightful David and Greta Iredale welcomed viewers to share the experience of building their own Huf Haus on Grand Designs, and in the process stole the nation’s heart.

‘David will always be remembered for his compassion, sense of humour, incredible artistic skills and creativity, but mostly as a dear friend and part of the Huf Haus family. Our thoughts are with Greta and David’s family.’

The first Grand Designs Huf Haus

Theirs was the first Huf Haus project featured on Grand Designs, showcasing the many benefits of the prefab method of house building. Retirees at the time of their self build, David and Greta proved that the process doesn’t always have to be riddled with construction problems, over-spending and time management issues.

The couple, who met while working at Olympia London – David as a museum and exhibitions designer, Greta in sales and administration – refused to pander to conventional middle-England taste. They met in the era of the Festival of Britain, when European modernist ideas and American products were influencing UK design. It gave the Iredales an appetite for something special in a home.

So when it came to building this project, they looked towards Germany, selecting a Huf Haus design that was precision made with little-to-no waste and huge eco-credentials. It was, at the time, a radical idea.

inside david and greta's huf haus

Inside David and Greta’s Huf Haus. Photo: Adrian Briscoe

A 21st century suburban villa

The entire house-building process, from initial design to build and finish, is provided by the company, and David and Greta Iredale’s home was erected in just four-and-a-half days on the plot of their former home in Walton-on-Thames. Benefiting from a ‘good summer’, the couple lived in a caravan on the grounds throughout the process. The house cost £495,000.

‘This outstanding house is a model suburban villa for the 21st century,’ said Kevin McCloud when the build was finished. During a 2019 revisit to the property – when Kevin revealed his favourite Grand Designs – he marvelled at the way that the couple had filled the house with David’s colourful art and sculptures.

‘Clearly, David’s outdoor sculptures, like his new pieces inside, are a more fluid and organic response to the rigidity of the building, they’re a more human foil to it,’ he said.

David Iredale carries a piece of art through his colourful Huf Haus

David Iredale was a keen artist. Photo: Adrian Briscoe

Keen house builders

The Iredales were no strangers to building houses. They designed and built their first home, a bungalow in Shepperton, in the 50s. Greta loved it so much she would turn all the lights on and run outside to look at it. With its blocks of colours and bold graphic fabrics, it set them up as pioneering modernists. The house featured in Woman magazine.

Their second project, Woodhouse, built in the late 60s, hovered five feet off the ground on stilts. ‘We wanted an outlook that wasn’t from the ground floor or a traditional first-storey height’, said David in an interview with Grand Designs magazine in 2004.

It was packed with groovy features including an orange perspex bathroom and a space-age fireplace in the centre of the room with a steel tunnel shooting through the ceiling at an angle. A leaky roof prompted the Iredales to demolish Woodhouse, clearing the site for their Huf Haus.

the bathroom with roll-top tub in david and greta's grand designs huf haus

The top-floor bathroom was Greta’s favourite spot when the house was first built. Photo: Adrian Briscoe

The rising popularity of kit homes

Since then, the awareness and popularity of kit homes in the UK has been on the up, with many self-builders realising the advantages of this speedy construction method. Surprisingly, one small, leafy cul-de-sac in Dulwich, south London, boasts nine Huf Haus properties.

Prefabs involve varying degrees of offsite construction – depending on the build method and supplier – before being erected on your plot in what can be a matter of days. And rather than offering a range of standard options, many manufacturers will adapt existing designs to suit your preferred style and layout, or offer a completely bespoke solution.

The combination of clear pricing, eco-friendly benefits and efficient build processes makes its easy to see the appeal of a kit home; it offers self-builders the chance to create a unique home for a fixed cost.

Watch Kevin’s 2019 revisit to David and Greta’s Huf Haus below:

Watch the original David and Greta Grand Designs episode on All 4
Watch the 2019 revisit – and Kevin’s favourite Grand Designs – on All 4