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Kevin McCloud has hosted Grand Designs since 1999 (Picture: Channel 4)
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Grand Designs’ most jaw-dropping houses, from converted lifeboat stations to fairytale cottages

Grand Designs is nothing short of a national institution.

Presenter and creator Kevin McCloud has been taking us inside spectacular houses since way back in 1999 on the programme. It set the bar for reality shows of its kind and paved the way for the likes of Homes Under the Hammer, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and many many more.

Many pored over the show’s back catalogue during lockdown, and the series returned with a bang earlier this year in its 21st series.

Viewers in awe of a ‘goth house’ built next to a graveyard that cost a staggering £4.5m recently, marking one of the most memorable structures ever built on the programme – even if fans were quick to slam the ridiculous spending.

Even 22 years on from its first episode, it proved that the show still has the power to shock and delight viewers after all this time.

But how does it compare to the other spectacular builds? These are the most jaw-dropping houses ever seen on Grand Designs.

The water tower house

(Picture: Channel 4)

New-builds on Grand Designs are always an exciting fresh start, and there’s a thrill to seeing something created out of nothing. However, some of the greatest joys on the show come when people take on ambitious conversions – and there are none more ambitious than the water tower house in Kennington.

Property developer Leigh Osborne and his partner Graham Voce set about transforming a 100ft tower into a family home, and ran into a myriad of difficulties along the way. They originally expected to invest £600,000 on revamping it, but eventually ended up spending an eye-watering £2million on the project.

They still got a lot for their money though. The house stretched over 10 floors, featuring five bedrooms, 360-degree views of London and the largest set of sliding doors in Europe.

The arched eco house

(Picture: Channel 4)

For many, building a new house on Grand Designs is about luxury and excess, but not for Richard and Sophie Hawkes who appeared on the show in 2009. Inspired by building techniques from the 14th century, the couple created this ultra eco-friendly building to reflect their outlook on sustainability, creating something unique and environmentally responsible in the process.

The building featured more than 26,000 handmade tiles. It was also incredibly easy to heat thanks to its use of insulation, utilising triple-glazed windows costing £43,000 and walls stuffed with 10 tons of newspaper. Stunning and smart in one individual package.

The shipping container house

(Picture: Channel 4)

Sometimes, the most satisfying houses on Grand Designs have their origins in unexpected places. The creative mind behind this 2014 build created something truly stunning out of four shipping containers, repurposing something functional to create something totally fantastical. The build itself came together faster than most on the show, taking just seven months and costing £130,000. It’s one of the most inventive and unexpected builds from the series, as well as the most attractive.

The fairy tale cottage

(Picture: Channel 4)

A house doesn’t have to cost millions and take years to build in order to inspire viewers. In fact, this endlessly charming fairy style house remains one of the most popular builds ever on the show – and it cost just £28,000 to construct in the woodlands of West Sussex. Right back in the third season of the show in 2003, Ben Law spent eight months building this wooden house, with walls made using 300 barley bales. The modest project focused on sustainability, and the final result had more mystique and allure than many buildings on the show that cost many times the price.

The beautiful barn conversion

(Picture: Channel 4)

Barn conversions are 10 a penny, right? Not this one – this beautiful rejuvenation of a characterful barn in Colchester brought new life to a building that dated back to 1560. The sheer scale of the project was staggering, stretching across 690sqm.

The owners – artists Ben and Freddie – weren’t afraid to keep the original structure intact back in 2011, and combined raw, industrial edges with sleek glass and modern design to create something truly special. Best of all, it was something of a bargain, with the pair saving half a million pounds on the original estimation of £1.3million.

The lifeboat house

(Picture: Channel 4)

Grand Designs projects can be stressful enough, but Tim and Philomena O’Donovan decided to make things way more difficult for themselves by converting a lifeboat station half-way out to sea. In the end, the couple did an incredible job in creating a truly unique home from the wreck of a Grade II listed building in Tenby.

The house sits at one with the elements on top of a 40ft-high pier, and marked one of the most unusual, and riveting episodes of the show ever back in 2011. Even if the building itself is not for everyone, the sheer determination the couple showed to get it made is something to be respected.

Grand Designs airs on Wednesday evenings at 9pm on Channel 4


Credit: Original article published here.

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