A tricky triangular plot in West Sussex

This house required imagination, determination and exemplary carpentry skills

By Paisley Tedder | 8 September 2021

Every Grand Designs project has its challenges, and the triangle house in Billingshurst, West Sussex, certainly had its fair share. The second episode in the new TV series sees Olaf Mason and Fritha Vincent tackle one of the trickiest plots ever seen on the show. Navigating a railway line, busy main road and a sewer, the build became a giant 3D geometrical puzzle.

A challenging task

Grand designer Olaf Mason, 45, who is a carpenter specialising in high-end bespoke interiors, decided to turn his hand to construction for this project, acting as architectural designer. He and his wife Fritha Vincent, 42, worked on the project together, but they had no concept of how tricky the triangle house would become.

The couple remained positive in the face of adversity though, spending a chunk of their budget on glazed windows to help reduce the traffic noise. Additionally, they have made the most of the obstacles in their way by creating a triangular shaped build, which allowed them to avoid the sewer and create a large garden.

Side cladding and windows of Grand Designs Triangle house in West Sussex

The amazing windows and doors cost a significant chunk of the budget. Photo: Jefferson Smith

The finer points

Despite the difficulties, the couple have found ways to work around the acute angles a triangular shaped project naturally creates. An eye-catching sculpting roof at the front is the focal point of the build, which will be covered in a zinc coating and layered with solar panels to help power the property. The first floor has the most acute angles in the building, where the main bathroom and two bedrooms are located.

However, it isn’t just the space that’s constrained in this self-build, but the budget, too: ‘Making this land buildable has cost a fortune that we didn’t realise we would need to spend,’ says Fritha. With a £190,000 self-build mortgage, and the bulk of that used to prep the land for building and secure the foundations, doors and windows, the couple were left with little to complete the project.

Sloping roof of Grand Designs triangle house with solar panels

The sloping roof is covered in solar panels to help power the home. Photo: Jefferson Smith

Ambitious ideas

Olaf and Fritha have exciting plans for the rest of the property, with a large ground floor open-plan kitchen and snug space, and a vast bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe on the top floor. As keen allotment owners already, they are also passionate about the large garden they’ll have when the project is complete. The plan is to build to an outdoor kitchen and a large circular firepit for entertaining.

Vibrant kitchen in orange and yellow with breakfast bar inside Grand Designs Triangle house in Billingshurst

The vibrant kitchen brings a homely feel to the house. Photo: Jefferson Smith

To hear Kevin McCloud’s view on the project and find out how Olaf and Fritha fare with the complicated ups and downs of the triangle house in Billingshurst, tune in to the brand new series of Grand Designs at 9pm, Wednesday 8 September 2021 on Channel 4