TV House: expansive 7-bedroom self-build on the Isle of Wight

Bram and Lisa Vis were just about to exchange on a house on the Isle of Wight, where Lisa grew up, when Bram was taken ill with a brain haemorrhage.

By Hugh Metcalf | 14 August 2020

After suffering a near-death experience, Bram and Lisa Vis, who featured on Grand Designs back in 2015, were inspired to take on the self-build project of their gargantuan dream home.

grand designs tv house isle of wight

Image: Julian Winslow

Bram and Lisa Vis were just about to exchange on a house on the Isle of Wight, where Lisa grew up, when Bram was taken ill with a brain haemorrhage. Fortunately, Bram came out of his illness, and he returned with a zest for life and a determination to spend it in a home that was worthy of such a miraculous recovery.

“With every house we saw we wanted to change something,” explains Lisa. In the end Bram suggested that the couple build their own house to their exacting specifications.

A sea view was high on Bram’s wish list, so when the pair found a prime spot overlooking the Solent strait, they were excited by the prospect. However it was owned by a neighbour who had already tried to build a home on the site, but had planning permission denied. They bought the plot with no planning permission in place.

Luckily Lisa and Bram’s plans were approved, with the help of ex-grand designer and local architectural designer Lincoln Miles. He proposed a predominantly one-storey house with a dramatic V-shaped cantilevered frame that would be virtually invisible to passers-by, nestled in-between protected trees on the hillside.

Watch the episode: Solent, 2015

grand designs tv house isle of wight

Image: Julian Winslow

On a huge scale 

At 836 square metres the sheer size of the house presented a unique challenge. For example, the gargantuan property was going to be clad in Richlite, a first-of-its-kind compressed paper and dark-oiled Kebony timber composite that requires each panel to be constructed by hand, and a very high-end pebble-dashing that covers the lower half of the property.

Using stones from nearby Bembridge beach, it took several craftsmen months to place the pebbles by hand – the task was completed at a painstaking square metre per day.

‘It was quite a risky decision to have one big main room, and that’s what we spent the money on,’ says Lisa. ‘We decided to invest in the best glazing and lighting systems, while we cut back on other areas. We didn’t want to compromise in this room because it’s where we spend most time’