Ian and Sophie Cooper met at university and have since spent their time together enjoying life in London. Ian works as a marketing consultant in telecoms and Sophie is a sales manager for a fashion firm. Both are passionate about design. They've done the usual thing of renovating flats and moving on... but three years ago they realised they wanted a different kind of life in a different kind of building.
Inspired by an illustration on a yoghurt pot, Chris Ostwald decides to build a New England-style water mill in the Chilterns, on a hill and nowhere near any water. Londoner Chris bought the plot 20 years ago and it has always been his dream to build a retreat for himself and his family.
Sarah and Dean Berry grew up on a council estate in Newport. Having moved away to London and made good, they have now returned home 17 years later and bought an 18th-century folly – a castle perched on a hilltop. They not only plan to restore the folly to its former glory, but wrap a large modern extension around the original structure, with lots of glass to capitalise on the amazing views.
Young architect Richard Hawkes and his wife Sophie have decided to move out of London to live the good life in the Kent countryside. They buy a plot of land on which they plan to grow their own food, and lead as sustainable a life as possible. For Richard it's an opportunity to experiment and build the house of his dreams; one that embraces cutting-edge green technologies and is capable of providing almost all its own energy.
Daren Howarth and partner Adi Nortje live in Brighton, and are champions of sustainable living. They want to build an earth-sheltered home from recycled materials, based on ideas pioneered in the 1970s in New Mexico. But land prices and planning laws have forced them out of England, across the Channel to Brittany, in France.
Kevin McCloud meets dairy farmer Andrew Ainslie and his artist wife Meryl, who runs a gallery on their farm in Wiltshire. But their farmhouse has been separated from their land by the expanding village, and Andrew and Meryl want to build a new house at the heart of their farm, so they can keep an eye on their herd of 200 cattle.
Mimi D'Costa and her husband Andre have moved to the Kent countryside to bring up their two boys. They have bought a large plot of land and want to build a home on it that is functional enough to serve their young family, but that will also blend beautifully into the landscape.
Not everyone gets to live out their childhood dreams, but Francis Shaw did exactly that when he bought a crumbling castle on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register. Little did he know what he was letting himself and his family in for. In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, the peel tower dates back to the 15th century and was protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Kevin McCloud returns in this program to see if their dreams have become a reality.
In 2005, Kelly and Masoko Neville set about building a spectacular oak framed and straw baled hexagonal house in the Cambridgeshire Fens. Kelly, a carpenter, had always dreamed of building an eco-friendly home that could provide a base for a new self-sufficient life where he and Masoko could produce their own food and energy from the land. Kevin returns to see their progress from series 7.
Barry Surtees, a self-made property developer, his wife Julie and their teenage children live in a large comfortable house in Brighton's most moneyed suburb. Barry decides to build a four storey modern mansion, complete with pool, gym, artist's studio, fantasy bedroom and Japanese roof garden.
Kevin McCloud revisits Alex and Cheryl Reay, who eight years previous had 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. A fault in the chimney caused a massive fire which destroyed the entire building. Overnight Alex and Cheryl had lost almost £400,000. Whilst most people would have walked away from this, Alex and Cheryl couldn't let go of their dream. Nine months after the fire, they decided to start all over again and rebuild the cottage, bigger and better than before.
In 2005, businessman Jim Fairfull and his wife Simone set out to build a glass pavilion by a loch in Scotland. Jim was suffering from a stress-related disease and hoped that living in a tranquil setting might cure him of his condition. But there is nothing calm about the process of building; and with such a beautiful location, it was a challenge to find a design that would do it justice and appease local planners. Kevin catches up with the couple to see how their build was getting on.
For 10 years, woodsman Ben Law fought for planning permission to build himself a house in the heart of the woods where he worked. But there was a condition attached: he could never sell the house; only pass it on to his successor. Ben wanted his home to be totally self-sufficient with no mains services, and decided to build it using only materials from the woods, using techniques pretty similar to those used a thousand years ago. Kevin catches up with Ben to see how he and his house are doing.