July 18, 2024


Friendly Interior

Grand Designs viewers blast couple’s plans to build UK’s first ‘self heating’ home as a ‘cold, uninviting glass box’

GRAND Design viewers blasted an eco-couple’s plans to build the UK’s first “self heating” home as a “cold and uninviting glass box”.

Appearing on the latest episode of the Channel 4 series, scientist Andrew and his wife Margretta spent over three years creating their eco-friendly property in Buckinghamshire.

Kevin originally feared the couple's home would be an 'uninhabitable science project'


Kevin originally feared the couple’s home would be an ‘uninhabitable science project’Credit: Channel 4

Back in 2017, Andrew told host Kevin McCloud that he was throwing all his life savings at the project which involved nestling the building deep into the ground to absorb heat.

He then topped off the flat roof with a layer of “ancient grassland” to trap heat in winter – meaning the couple wouldn’t need a single radiator in the property.

As the couple set out on the project, Kevin wasn’t convinced – and feared the house would be an “uninhabitable science project”.

Andrew and Margretta hoped to build their dream home in 18 months and set a strict budget of £300,000. 

Viewers labelled the house a 'cold, uninviting glass box'


Viewers labelled the house a ‘cold, uninviting glass box’Credit: Channel 4
The self-heating house doesn't require a single radiator


The self-heating house doesn’t require a single radiatorCredit: Channel 4

But like many Grand Designs episodes, the couple ran into unexpected problems and the house took DOUBLE the time to build – going £10,000 over budget.

In order to create the UK’s first “self-heating” property, the base, walls and roof all had to be made out of concrete which would absorb heat from the ground and effectively contain it.

At an integral point in the build, Andrew is told that the concrete that has been delivered is ‘too runny” and the builders are unable to use it.

He explained: “To dispose of it it costs three times as much as it costs to buy it.

The concrete base means the house absorbs heat from the ground


The concrete base means the house absorbs heat from the ground Credit: Channel 4
Viewers were unimpressed with the end result


Viewers were unimpressed with the end resultCredit: Twitter

“That one cost £730, so if I sent it back, it’d be over £2,000. For nothing.”

Despite the challenges of the pandemic and time delay, Andrew and Margretta moved finally moved into the property in 2020 and are thrilled with how it looks.

Walking round the modern, open-plan property, Kevin said: “This project was never about aesthetics was it?

“It was always an experiment, but I am pleasantly surprised. All that sun-trapping glazing is dazzling and a mirror to a luscious landscape.”

However, viewers on Twitter weren’t quite so impressed.

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“It’s like no one has any imagination any more,” one wrote. “Glass box, glass box, glass box. Stark, cold, uninviting and generally meh.”

Another wrote: “Miss the days Grand Designs was about realistic, cost-effective, ambitious and inspirational folk.

“Now it seems to just be about people with deep pockets creating soulless white boxes!!”

Meanwhile, a third asked: “Wouldn’t it have been more environmentally friendly to just stay in the house they had? No concrete, no lorries, polystyrene, pipes and be warmer too.”

For more home transformations, this ‘hero’ dad built his kids an ice rink in their back garden for just £27.

And this thrifty woman created a Mrs Hinch-inspired grey brick feature wall for FREE using wallpaper samples.

Plus this thrifty couple transformed their drab kitchen in lockdown using £10 B&Q adhesive.

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