A couple, Zoe and Tim Bawtree, who live in a Regency house in Cheltenham that is expensive to run decide to sell up and build a modern low maintenance house in their back garden. However, height restrictions mean they have to build 60 per cent of their new home underground and neighbours make 90 complaints about their planning application. Undeterred, the pair continue as planned, but the project encounters further problems including the departure of the builders.
Kevin McCloud meets a commercial surveyor, Henry Chopping, with an £800,000 budget who is planning to build an unusual home in Oxford. His chosen plot is situated behind a listed wall and strict planning conditions mean the house has to be only one storey high. With the help of an architect, the owner comes up with a design that makes the most of the land and available light, but his perfectionist nature causes the project to run behind schedule.
An architect, Martin Pease (and Katherine) plans an unusual home for his family where everything is white and open plan. He calls upon his experience of designing commercial buildings to build the house and uses materials and systems more commonly used in office projects. The biggest risk is that his house may look more like a car showroom than a comfortable retreat.
A couple, Jo and Shaun Bennett, with a love of gothic architecture and horror movies plan to use their budget of £250,000 to build an Addams Family-style house, complete with a stained glass window, a stone fireplace and an oak staircase featuring gargoyles. However, completing the five-bedroom house on limited funds proves difficult.
A couple, Pru and Richard Irvine, decide to build a family home on an industrial site in the Midlothian countryside complete with lime kilns, but are only allowed to do so if they become custodians of the kilns and their house blends in with the landscape. This proves challenging for the pair as they want to build a modern property that could be seen as a blot on the landscape to the locals. The task is made all the more demanding when they underestimate the long hours needed to be a project manager.
Rather than go down the traditional building route, Tiffany and Jonny Wood opted for a German pre-fabricated kit house with great green credentials. Before they could even think about building their house they had to prepare their site: a fiercely steep hillside. Tiffany and Jonny embarked on the biggest ground works project Grand Designs has ever seen, costing around £300,000. And, just when they were about to complete these mammoth works, the weather turned bad and disaster struck. Their neighbour's wall collapsed in a storm. The resulting damage could have cost them nearly £100,000. Determined to carry on, even through 80 tonnes of extra mud, Tiffany and Jonny persevered, and a year into their project, were finally able to go to Germany to choose their house. Every fixture and fitting had to be decided and, once made, no changes were allowed. Now, with the promise of the house taking only five days to go up on site, and with no possibility of landslides, hopefully their build will now run smoothly...
Kevin McCloud revisits artists David Westby and Leonie Whitton three years after they bought an olive farm in the Puglia region of Italy and planned to convert it into a home on a budget of £25,000. The project proved difficult due to their lack of experience and problems with Italian planning laws. When the presenter last visited they had built a guest house but their own residence was untouched.
Five years ago, John and Terri Westlake built a timber box that even they weren't sure about on the edge of a forest in the middle of open countryside. Now Kevin's back to see whether they've warmed to the design, and what life is like living the modernist dream in splendid rural isolation.
Checking on the progress of a couple, Greta and David Iredale, with a building background who replaced the timber house they designed themselves more than 40 years ago with a Huf Haus that was constructed by an efficient German construction team in just six days. Kevin McCloud finds out how successful the pair were in personalising the inside of the property.
Kevin McCloud returns to a Surrey village, where brain tumour sufferer Philip Traill and his wife Angela created a high-spec contemporary house in the shell of a barn. The design involved two bedroom pods connected by a walkway, leaving an open-plan living space between. Five years on, the presenter discovers whether the couple have managed to turn the building into a relaxing family home.
Kevin McCloud revisits Helen Gould and Phil Reddy five years after they built an earth-sheltered home in Cumbria. The presenter finds out if the house has survived without leakage and whether it has delivered the eco-friendly life the couple desired.
In Maidstone, Jean and Bill Letley, a septuagenarian couple plan a highly contemporary bungalow complete with underfloor heating and prototype steel foundations. The project would test even the most accomplished workmen, but is left to their daughter and son-in-law, who have little building experience and have to make personal sacrifices.