Is Grand Designs a curse?

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Kevin McCloud

An impressive home converted from a Victorian Water tower has just had its asking price slashed by £2 million. The property featured on the Grand Designs TV show, but it seems that this wasn't enough to pull in the buyers.

So what do you get for your money, and does the cut in the asking price have anything to do with the show?


The design

The property started life as a water tower, built in the Victorian era on the land formerly occupied by the Lambeth workhouse in south London. According to the programme, the property was sold to Leigh Osborne and his partner Graham Voce in 2011 for £380,000, and they spent £2 million renovating it.

The result was a spectacular and dramatic building, over nine floors with its own lift. At the bottom a glass link leads into a glass cube - housing the kitchen and living area, and featuring the largest glass sliding doors in the UK.

The view from the roof terrace at the top is spectacular - around all four sides of the tower. There are also four bedrooms, a gym, a dressing room, and a study.

The couple were interviewed by the Sunday Times when they put the property on the market for £6.5 million. However, the Evening Standard reported today that they had knocked the price down to £4.75 million.

Is this so bad?

On the one hand, this isn't terribly surprising in the current market. Houses are worth what someone will pay for them, and the couple were holding out for a buyer with eclectic tastes who was willing to pay a premium for something unique.

The reduction means that the price is similar to the cost of more traditional properties of a similar size in a similar position. It looks like the couple has decided that in a relatively slow market they will have to wait too long for a buyer willing to pay a premium, so they want to broaden the appeal of the property.

The curse rumours

There's no suggestion that the Grand Designs programme itself is to blame for the price cut. After-all Kevin McCloud merely chronicles improvement projects rather than being involved in any way in the planning or building.

This is a pragmatic decision made by a couple who want to move on. However, there are those who are pointing out that this isn't the first time that the owners of a home featured on the programme have since run into difficulties.

In 2005 the programme featured an 18th century church in the West Midlands. However, the renovations took their toll, and six years later owner Dean Marks said his former wife never ended up moving into the home as they separated in 2007. He also suffered two heart attacks - which his daughter attributed to the work involved in the renovation. And he had to have operations to repair damage done to his shoulder through the heavy work.

Then there was the barge which featured on the programme in 2007. It broke free from its mooring in 2011 and washed up on a beach. It wasn't lived in, as the couple had run out of money and abandoned plans to live in it. They had intended to return to the project, but while it was moored, vandals had broken in and done so much damage that it wasn't worth repairing.

There's also the building known as The Curve in Brighton, which was beset by problems. Just after starting the project the owner had five heart attacks, and problems with the bank as the credit crunch hit. The house he was living in next door then caught fire. He persevered and moved into the spectacular home, but after suffering another heart attack he put the property on the market so he could take life a bit easier.

The people who affect house prices

The people who affect house prices

Co-incidence

Of course, when a series has been running for this long there are bound to be owners who have setbacks in life. There would be those who argue that this is just a matter of probability, and that the vast majority of people featured on the programme are still enjoying a wonderful quality of life in their dream homes.

However, this sort of logic won't do much to silence the muttering of those who are forming conspiracy theories about the 'curse' of Grand Designs.

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