The Best Episodes of Grand Designs
Last Updated: Jun 5, 2019
Grand Designs is a Channel 4 TV series covering unusual architectural house-building projects, presented by Kevin McCloud and produced by Talkback. The properties featured in the series vary wildly from homes underground to converted water towers, with the only common factor being that they're all rather unusual or extravagant in some way.
#1 - London: 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.
#2 - Revisited (2) - Sussex: The Woodsmans Cottage
Season 3 - Episode 15
Kevin returns again to see how Ben Law's woodsman's cottage has changed.
#3 - Yorkshire: 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.
#4 - Monmouthshire: 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.
#5 - Revisited - Isle of Wight: The Tree House
Season 10 - Episode 11
Kevin catches up with Lincoln Miles and his wife, artist Lisa Traxler, who had discovered an uninspiring 70s bungalow on the Isle of Wight on a prime piece of land surrounded by unspoilt ancient woodland and were going to convert it into their dream home.
#6 - Revisited - Killearn: Loch House
Season 6 - Episode 6
Jim Fairfull considers himself a very lucky guy. He was out fishing with a friend when he came across a beautiful, secluded loch. It's a magical place with stunning views over the nearby hills. He got chatting to the farmer who owned it and discovered the
#7 - Revisited - Hampshire: The Thatched Cottage
Season 7 - Episode 11
Eight years ago Alex and Cheryl Reay left London for a new life in the New Forest. They bought a run down medieval thatched cottage and lovingly brought it back to life. Then just before Christmas, with Cheryl pregnant, disaster struck.
#8 - South Cornwall: 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.
#9 - Weald of Kent: Arched Eco House
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
#10 - London: The Glass and Timber House
Season 7 - Episode 8
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.
#11 - Revisited - London: The Glass and Timber House
Season 7 - Episode 12
Kevin returns to see whether Bill Bradley has completed the work on his two timber houses in south London.
#12 - County Londonderry: 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.
#13 - Revisited - Essex: The Large Timber-framed Barn
Season 11 - Episode 9
Kevin catches up with Freddie Robins and Ben Coode-Adams who left their two bedroom London flat and took on the conversion of a huge Grade II listed timber framed barn in the Essex countryside.
#14 - Revisited - London: The Disco Home
Season 11 - Episode 8
Kevin catches up with Claire Farrow and Ian Hogarth who began a wild journey in 2010 to create d the ultimate fun family home, right in the heart of London, including a dance floor, dj booth and sauna.
#15 - Devon: Shaped Like a Curvy Seashell
Season 5 - Episode 4
For the last 20 years, Pat Becker has been living in a large Georgian family house overlooking the sea in Devon. Now that her family have flown the nest and the house has grown too big for her, she's decided to build a new home at the bottom of the garden. Shaped like a curvy seashell, the new house has concrete and polystyrene walls, which spiral down from the central staircase. Her architect has promised it will take only six months to build but constructing a round house is never straightforward!
#16 - Revisited: Woodbridge: The Modest Home
Season 10 - Episode 12
Six years ago Lucie Fairweather and Nat McBride began to build an affordable eco home in Woodbridge for themselves and their two young children. However, their journey was to be about more than bricks and mortar. Just before they got started, Nat discovered he had cancer, and after just a few months he passed away. Lucie decided to carry on with the project Nat had devised. Kevin McCloud returns to find out just how life has moved on for Lucie and to discover whether her wonderful and striking house has become part of the landscape.
#17 - Marlow: The Floating House
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.
#18 - South Yorkshire: The 1920's Cinema
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.
#19 - Revisited - Surrey: The Victorian Threshing Barn
Season 3 - Episode 13
Kevin McCloud revisits Philip Trail and his wife Angela who moved to stress-free Surrey and renovated a 150-year-old threshing barn after Philip was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
#20 - Lizard Peninsular: The Scandinavian House
Season 10 - Episode 6
Kevin meets interior designer Kathryn Tyler, who has decided the best way onto the property ladder is to design and build her own house in her parents' back garden in Falmouth.
#21 - Revisited - Creuse, France: The 19th Century Manor House
Season 14 - Episode 8
Kevin McCloud returns to a remote part of France and a restoration project of a dilapidated manor house started back in 2003 by Denise Daniel and Doug Ibbs. When Denise Daniel and Doug Ibbs gave up everything in the UK to start a new life in a remote part of central France, they couldn't have known what was ahead of them. Most people would have regretted falling in love with a massive, dilapidated manor house with just four crumbling walls and half a roof, but not Doug and Deni. This impressive, extraordinary and utterly determined couple rolled up their sleeves and slogged away day and night, doing everything themselves, year after year, until slowly but surely they created a magnificent edifice out of the ruins they bought off the internet.
#22 - Hertfordshire: The Computer-cut House
Season 12 - Episode 2
Kevin McCloud meets a pair of civil partnered university professors who have decided to build their first home from scratch. In addition to all the complications this usually entails, they have also enlisted the services of industrial designers who have developed a new computer-assisted method for cutting precision-engineered building blocks from scratch. However, though the technique may be clever, its creators have never created a building before - meaning everyone involved with the project is taking a giant leap into the unknown.
#23 - West Cumbria: The Adaptahaus
Season 10 - Episode 7
Alan Dawson has invented his own way of making a house, with every piece put together on site in days. But it must all fit perfectly. Only then will Alan know if his unique house works.
#24 - Tenby: The Lifeboat Station
Season 11 - Episode 3
Kevin follows the progress being made as Tim and Philomena O'Donovan, convert a lifeboat station in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, into a contemporary home.
#25 - Revisited - Lake District: The Dome House
Season 10 - Episode 9
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?