Grand Designs: The one that got away…

“You should’ve been on that telly programme” is one of the most common reactions I get whenever anyone sees pictures of the barn for the first time. Well the thing is, I very nearly was. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking back on it, I’m not entirely sure why I contacted Channel 4. Shell-shock maybe? I’d just become the proud owner of a barn full of cow dung. Time to get Kevin McCloud up to help me personally draft a project plan or something.


Unfortunately that’s not quite how it works. But enticed by some pictures of a wreck of a barn, that even by Grand Designs standards was pretty impressive, a Channel 4 team came up, complete with camera, microphone and list of difficult questions, and filmed an interview. Presumably to take away, review and compare with all the other delusional self-builders hoping for their 15 minutes of fame.

GD: “And what’s your build route? How involved do you plan to be? Project managing yourself or handing it all over to a professional?” Me: “Um, don’t know really. I mean I think I’ve found an architect but I”m not really sure what I’m supposed to be asking him to do.”

GD: “OK. So what sort of look/feel/finish are you aiming for?”   Me: “Er, well, I haven’t really thought about it really. I suppose a sort of modern sort of traditional kind of barn sort of thing. If you know what I mean. Sort of.”

GD: “And what about budget? How much are you planning to spend on the conversion?”   Me: “Um, well, I don’t know really. I haven’t given it much thought yet.”

GD: “So when are you hoping to be moving in?”   Me, with great confidence: “Oh it will be done by Christmas” (Well they  didn’t ask  which year…)

Riveting TV I don’t think. If they’d gone ahead and tried to make a programme out of it, putting me in front of the camera would have come under the header “Cruelty to dumb animals”!

I can imagine the team discussion in the bar at the airport on the way back to the safe haven of the C4 studio. A total stunned silence until someone finally cracks: “She was clueless, totally ******** clueless! What a bloody waste of our time. She’ll be ripped of by every tradesman on the planet. She has no idea what she’s let herself in for. She’s completely insane. She’s never, in a million years, going to get that finished.”

Right – right – probably right – mostly right – right – totally right – Absolutely dead wrong!

In the early years of the programme I don’t remember there being ‘Revisited’ programmes. Back in the good old days, people seemed to be able to finish building their entire house within the year’s filming schedule. (FFS – How? Will somebody share the secret?) But just imagine if they had started filming me in 2001. It would have been the ultimate in repeats. Grand Designs – Revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited – revisited 

And so I was relegated to the cutting room floor.

Hey ho! Maybe it’s just as well. Think of poor old KMcC – My total lack of planning, head-in-sand approach to budget, and complete inability to do things in any kind of logical order would probably have driven him to the nearest loony bin. I am the very best showcase of how not to do it. I think this one might just have rendered him speechless. 🙂

The funny thing is, if they’d come back 5 years later and asked the same questions, I still don’t think I’d have been able to answer them. But it hasn’t stopped me. So for anyone in the middle of a self-build project who thinks they’ve lost their way

Don’t despair. You too can go from this




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