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Most expensive Grand Designs homes

These spectacular homes are the result of big budgets. Was it money well spent?

By Hugh Metcalf | 10 November 2020

Budget. It’s one of the key drivers of a self build project, but one that many Grand Designers shy away from discussing. But it’s no secret that, over the years, many projects have overrun and overstretched the estimated spend. However, where budgets run high, so does the wow-factor of the finished home. Take a peek at four of the most expensive Grand Designs projects and discover why they cost so much.

Exterior view of the converted Victorian water tower which was one of the most expensive Grand Designs conversion projects.

A glass extension contrasts with the Victorian tower. Photo: Jefferson Smith

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. The glazing alone cost £240,000, and scaffolding hire was £60,000. Within the first half-hour on site, the foundations had gone up by £25,000, after builders realised they would have to dig deeper. Then, £35,000 was spent on a high-tech audio-visual system and £25,000 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.

Budget. It’s one of the key drivers of a self build project, but one that many Grand Designers shy away from discussing. But it’s no secret that, over the years, many projects have overrun and overstretched the estimated spend. However, where budgets run high, so does the wow-factor of the finished home. Take a peek at four of the most expensive Grand Designs projects and discover why they cost so much.

Exterior view of the converted Victorian water tower which was one of the most expensive Grand Designs conversion projects.

A glass extension contrasts with the Victorian tower. Photo: Jefferson Smith

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. The glazing alone cost £240,000, and scaffolding hire was £60,000. Within the first half-hour on site, the foundations had gone up by £25,000, after builders realised they would have to dig deeper. Then, £35,000 was spent on a high-tech audio-visual system and £25,000 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.

Image: Julian Winslow

Island home, Isle of Wight

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. But, this scale came at a price. The build budget overran to more than £2 million. With the land cost, the overall spend ran to around £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.’

The Recording Studio, London

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 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. While Audrey wouldn’t let Kevin McCloud know exactly how much they’d spent, she hinted it was near equal to the £2 million they’d paid for the property.

Watch the episode: West London, 2012

White marble kitchen with black island unit in the centre. Another Grand Designs most expensive home.

Layered lighting brightens the kitchen. Photo: Jefferson Smith

The Lighthouse, Devon

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.

Exterior view of the unfinished house in Croyde, north Devon

The Croyde project cost far more than was anticipated. Photo: Channel 4

Watch the episode: North Devon, 2019

What’s your most memorable Grand Designs home? Share your thoughts with us by tweeting us @granddesigns or post a comment on our Facebook page.

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