Kevin McCloud talks us through his top tips for building your dream home.

Pauline and Godfrey Brandt with Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs The Street Episode 6

Image: Fremantle Media Group

From hiring the right people to thining about the home's exterior, we sat down with our Editor at Large, Kevin McCloud to get his building pearls of wisdom, from 20 years of Grand Designs TV experience. 

The first step 

They say that the first step is always the most important, and it’s very true in terms of building a house. However, even the most careful planners can expect costs to overrun. Adding a discretionary 20% to your budget is a good way of covering unforeseen costs that almost always crop up. Spend three years planning your project and putting everything in place in advance, and chances are you’ll be on site for six months. Spend six months planning and chances are you’ll be on site for three years!

Hire an Architect

Expert help from talented individuals doesn’t need to be hugely expensive, and if you go to a good architect, your fees will pay for themselves. In terms of what you want, a good architect will be able to give your home a unique feel, but also be able to let you know what works in a home, and, often more importantly, what doesn’t.

Hire a project manager

I see this a lot, people who can put up a piece of flat-pack furniture think they can build a house, people who run their own business think they can run their construction project. An experienced project manager will know the ins and outs of building, for example, digging a trench for pipes and cabling will mean starting negotiations with utility companies at least a year in advance, while pipes and cables need to be ordered at least eight weeks in advance.

Get the build costed a professional Quantity Surveyor

NEVER rely on a costing produced by your builder or your architect; you will soon learn that the construction industry is occupied by idealists. 

Professionals are key

They do this for a living, so employ as you can afford, starting with a great project manager and builder, use recommendations, and always check references! 

Go Green

The building stage of a house is the best time to start cutting your long-term costs – add insulation, incorporate solar panels, think about the sun in relation to your windows, where will you get the best light? Could adding that sky light cut your electricity bills? Adding a water butt could save on water bills…the possibilities are endless!

Don't follow trends

Don’t go for the latest trend, or something you’ve seen in all the magazines – incorporate elements that you know will make you happy and add value to the life you’ll live in your new home, not just value to the asking price.

Don't buy new

Once you’re in your new home, don’t throw away all your old furniture to buy everything new. Our possessions are our autobiographies, and you’ll be surprised what a bit of varnish or a lick of paint can do to an ancient piece of furniture!

Think about the outside

Do remember that the outside of your home is part of other people’s lives. Your home will become part of a landscape or townscape, so give your architect, landscape designer and planner room for movement here, your dream home may be someone else’s eyesore. The perfect quote for this instance comes from planner and building colourist Jean-Philippe Lenclos: “If you want to paint your front door, get your neighbour to choose the colour”.

Enjoy the build

This is many people’s dream, you get to plan your home from the ground up and live your vision! 


Do you agree with Kevin's advice? Tweet us @granddesigns or post a comment on our Facebook page.



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