8.2
338 votes
Grand Designs

Grand Designs

Channel 4 1999

Kevin McCloud follows people as they build their dream house, often focusing on modern design, energy efficiency, maximizing space and views.

Warning: the following content contains spoilers!

The 10 Best Episodes of Grand Designs

Grand Designs - S13E6

#1 - The Japanese House (Season 13 - Episode 6)

Tamayo Hussey's missed Japan ever since she moved to the UK with her husband Nigel. To stave off the homesickness they've decided to transform a forester's lodge into a Japanese house complete with roof bath, tatami room and sliding paper walls. Keen to keep costs under control, Nigel and Tamayo decide to engage only the design skills of an architect and with no previous building experience they bravely go it alone, working without any detailed drawings and fire-fighting problems every step of the way. The wood they're using for the timber frame - Japanese larch - hasn't been used for building houses before in the UK, so no one can be sure it will be strong enough, the new interior walls don't meet properly and the replacement window design can't cope with the rain. But Nigel and Tamayo are determined to overcome any obstacle to get the Japanese house they're so desperate for.

The episode was rated 8.28 from 81 votes.

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Grand Designs - S7E12

#2 - The Glass & Timber House (Season 7 - Episode 12)

In this episode Kevin meets master carpenter Bill Bradley and his wife Sarah, whose plan is to build two identical timber houses in south London, selling one to finance the building of the other.

The episode was rated 8.25 from 12 votes.

Grand Designs - S17E3

#3 - Steam Bending House (Season 17 - Episode 3)

Kevin McCloud meets Tom and Danielle Raffield, whose lifelong passion has been steam-bending wood. They've used the technique to create extraordinary furniture and lighting, but now plan to use it on a larger scale. In an attempt to escape the confines of their tiny gamekeeper's lodge, they have decided to build a wavy wooden house in South Cornwall, completed with curved cladding, twisted furniture and interior walls covered with weathered timber. With a £100,000 budget, the pair have decided to do a lot of the building themselves, and Kevin is on hand to discover whether they're up to the challenge.

The episode was rated 8.21 from 236 votes.

Grand Designs - S7E1

#4 - The 14th Century Castle (Season 7 - Episode 1)

Every Englishman’s home is his castle but for Francis Shaw this is quite literally true. He and his wife, Karen, and their two young daughters, bought the ruins of a 14th Century castle in Yorkshire and took on the remarkable challenge of turning a pile of stones into a beautiful home. Surrounded by rolling green fields, the location is idyllic; however, the castle itself was little more than four crumbling walls.

The episode was rated 8.21 from 34 votes.

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Grand Designs - S12E5

#5 - The Derelict Water Tower (Season 12 - Episode 5)

Kevin McCloud marks the 100th episode with one of the programme's most ambitious projects to date. Leigh Osborne and Graham Voce want to convert and extend a landmark 150-year-old water tower in central London into a luxury home. Grade II-listed, derelict and with 6ft-thick walls, it's a huge challenge for the pair, who also plan to build two structures at the base - a lift shaft connected by a series of glass tunnels, and a modern living space. The result will be a four-bedroom property over nine floors, complete with a room at the top offering spectacular 360 degree views across the capital. The tower, which is located directly above London Underground's Northern Line, was originally built for Lambeth Workhouse in 1877 and became a Grade II listed building in 2008.

The episode was rated 8.19 from 86 votes.

Grand Designs - S22E2

#6 - Billingshurst, Sussex: Triangular House (Season 22 - Episode 2)

Kevin McCloud meets master carpenter Olaf, who is facing the biggest challenge of his career - creating an oasis for himself and partner Fritha on a small slice of land in West Sussex, which happens to be surrounded by a mainline railway and a busy A-road. Not only that, but half of the plot can't even be built on due an underground mains sewer. All they're left with is a very small triangle on which to build their future life together. With £190,000 in the bank, Olaf and Fritha must use all the ingenuity they can muster to make their triangular three-bedroom house come to life.

The episode was rated 8.18 from 62 votes.

Grand Designs - S9E4

#7 - The Eco Arch (Season 9 - Episode 4)

Kevin McCloud follows the progress of architect Richard Hawkes and wife Sophie, who are moving from London to the Kent countryside to build a hi-tech eco-friendly house with room to grow their own food. Richard also wants their new home to blend effortlessly into the surrounding countryside, concealed beneath a huge arch of clay tiles covered with earth and planted with grass

The episode was rated 8.17 from 42 votes.

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Grand Designs - S7E11

#8 - The Tuscan Castle: Revisited (Season 7 - Episode 11)

Kevin McCloud meets a couple who bought a ruin and moved to Italy in 1999, hoping to start work building their dream home in Tuscany. Since then they've spent all their time trying to get planning permission, but finally, after four years, they are about to start work. And it's an epic project: they have bought a derelict 1,000-year-old castle in the Tuscan hills. Now, the couple face their biggest battle of all: rebuilding this massive ruin into a comfortable and luxurious five-bedroom home.

The episode was rated 8.15 from 20 votes.

Grand Designs - S6E6

#9 - 300 Year Old Chalet: Revisited (Season 6 - Episode 6)

Kevin McCloud revisits Nicky and James Dobree. Nicky was raised in France, James in Beirut – both have fond memories of the mountains as children. So it was natural for them to one day look to buy a place amongst France's tallest peaks, the Alps. The journey moving the family, including their two young sons, Fabian and Felix, from South London to a renovated 300-year-old farmhouse in Les Gets was to have its ups and downs. It was never meant to be a permanent move. The original plan was to develop the top two floors of the chalet so the family could spend the summer there, overseeing the completion of the bottom floors. They would then be able to rent our the whole chalet in the winter months. The family were only planning to use their new home for the summer seasons.

The episode was rated 8.11 from 18 votes.

Grand Designs - S14E4

#10 - The Shipping Containers House (Season 14 - Episode 4)

A young farmer and architect in Northern Ireland hopes to make a home out of four large shipping containers welded together to form a giant cross. Patrick Bradley has come up with a £100k house design to be built out of four 45-foot shipping containers, welded together to form a giant cross and cantilevered over the top of a stream at a beautiful secluded spot on the family farm. His mum is hoping his new home will get Patrick a girlfriend. But his tiny budget is soon under threat.

The episode was rated 8.08 from 133 votes.

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Grand Designs - S11E8
#11 - The Dome House: Revisited
8.03
Season 11 - Episode 8

Kevin revisits Robert and Milla a year after their ambitious Lake District eco home seemed on the verge of running out of money. Have the couple completed their visionary timber home?

The episode was rated from 35 votes.
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Grand Designs - S11E7
#12 - The Disco Home
8.00
Season 11 - Episode 7

Claire and Ian try to build a home big enough for a disco on a small plot at the end of a London mews. But as angry locals begin to object to their plans, things start to go awry.

The episode was rated from 33 votes.
Grand Designs - S14E7
#13 - The Floating House
7.99
Season 14 - Episode 7

Andy and Nicki Bruce try to build an experimental flood-proof floating house on an island in the River Thames. But building such a complex design on a site with limited access is not easy. Andy and Nicki Bruce's amphibious house, the first of its kind in the UK. Their architect has come up with an ambitious, experimental design that has never been tried on a river bank in Britain and no one knows whether it will work. The Bruces decide to build on a site on a small island in the river. But it's not long before the project becomes bogged down in the logistical challenges of building such a complex design on a small island that is only accessible by a narrow footbridge.

The episode was rated from 97 votes.
Grand Designs - S13E1
#14 - The 1920s Cinema
7.98
Season 13 - Episode 1

Kevin McCloud follows a project to renovate and extend a classic 1920s cinema in Thorne, South Yorkshire. With little knowledge of restoration, Gwyn and Kate boldly set about turning the dilapidated building into a family home using masses of concrete after taking advice from an architect friend. The couple are hoping to create a hydraulic glass wall that opens up one side of the house to form a UV-filtered canopy, and there are also plans for a white roof extension that resembles a diving board.

The episode was rated from 125 votes.
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Grand Designs - S13E8
#15 - The Cob Castle
7.97
Season 13 - Episode 8

Kevin meets a master craftsman whose dream is to build a castle made entirely of mud. Kevin McCabe is the leading living exponent of the ancient art of cob building - wrestling houses out of mud using his bare hands. But Kevin doesn't just want to build another cob house, he wants to build a cob castle. Not only that, Kevin also wants their gigantic new cob house to meet the highest environmental performance targets ever set. It is truly an almighty challenge. The house will be formed of two vast curved cob roundhouses - the largest of which is inspired by the natural geometry of a snail shell - connected by glazing and topped with undulating wild-flower meadow roofs to mirror the surrounding Devon countryside. But building it involves mixing and laying a mind boggling 2000 tonnes of cob, all during warm sunny weather. Kevin is determined to have the main cob walls up in a few months. But soon the sheer scale of the task becomes clear.

The episode was rated from 101 votes.
Grand Designs - S5E4
#16 - Finnish Log Cabin
7.94
Season 5 - Episode 4

John Cadney and Marnie Moon have never had a permanent home. For 16 years they've camped on land owned by Marnie's parents because they could never afford to buy a house in the area where they live. So John, a carpenter, rolled his sleeves up and decided to build a house for his family with his bare hands. After much searching for the right kind of house they settled on an environmentally friendly four-bedroom log cabin. The whole thing was imported from Finland as hundreds of pre-cut bits of wood. All John had to do is figure out how it all fits together!

The episode was rated from 32 votes.
Grand Designs - S21E2
#17 - Sevenoaks, Kent
7.93
Season 21 - Episode 2

Greg and Georgie plan to convert a cavernous, dilapidated, 35-year-old barn in Georgie's parents' garden in Kent into a peaceful safe haven. But budget-squeezing building work soon sets in.

The episode was rated from 57 votes.
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Grand Designs - S14E2
#18 - The Cross-Laminated Timber House
7.92
Season 14 - Episode 2

Rebecca Sturrock has returned to her family home in Cornwall with her partner Gregory Kewish and a highly ambitious plan. Together they will transform a small, damp, single-storey bungalow into a cutting-edge home on a budget of just £80,000. With rain and wind hammering the site, however, it soon becomes dangerously clear they may have bitten off more than they can chew.

The episode was rated from 104 votes.
Grand Designs - S10E11
#19 - A 21st Century Answer to the Roman Villa: Revisited
7.92
Season 10 - Episode 11

Kevin catches up with Thomas and Dervla O'Hare who built a spectacular home on a hillside in Belfast.

The episode was rated from 24 votes.
Grand Designs - S10E9
#20 - The Brittany Groundhouse: Revisited
7.91
Season 10 - Episode 9

Kevin returns to see how Daren Howarth and Adi Nortje's project has fared four years after they decided to build an earth-sheltered home in Brittany.

The episode was rated from 33 votes.
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Last updated: oct 06, 2022

Comments

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Love this show, Kevin is a brilliant presenter who is both engaging and passionate about good architecture. His commentary and philosophy of building concentrate on sustainability and good design where he holds the self builders frequently to account.

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