Curse of Grand Designs? Property on sale for less than it cost to build

Loch-side Grand Design will make a loss


Kevin McLoud

Tony and Jo Moffat, a couple of classical musicians from Scotland, appeared on Grand Designs in 2004, building a spectacular home by a lock in Kilcregan near Glasgow. Unfortunately an enormous over-spend during building, coupled with a difficult local property market, mean it has gone on sale for less than the couple spent building it.

And it's not the only Grand Design that didn't pay off.

The property is called The Longhouse (as they were copying the look of a Nordic longhouse), and is on a steep bank overlooking a loch and the Firth of Clyde. The couple bought the land for just £35,000 and intended to spend £230,000 building their home.

Unfortunately the programme chronicled their troubles on a tricky site during a terrible winter, and the costs spiralled more than £100,000 over-budget. They ended up spending a total of £380,000. Now, the Daily Mail reports that it is on the market for just £375,000.

The home is stunning, with floor-to-ceiling windows, incredible views and a vaulted ceiling. It is secluded and rural - and yet at the same time is only an hour from Glasgow. However, the local property market is struggling. Traditionally Glasgow hasn't been a commuter town, as there is plentiful housing and land within a stone's throw, so being an hour from Glasgow is tantamount to living in Edinburgh.

To add to the problem, the housing recovery has not been as strong in Scotland as elsewhere, and in many places houses remain below their 2007 peak. Recent months have seen prices growing more quickly, but the area as a whole has not bounced back as fast as elsewhere in the UK.

Design problems

This isn't the first disappointment for someone involved in Grand Designs.

In 2005, Dean Marks was featured on the programme renovating an 18th century church in the West Midlands. Unfortunately the stress of the work took its toll, and Marks and his wife were divorced in 2007: she never ended up living in the property. He also suffered two heart attacks and had to have a shoulder operation - which his daughter said was because of the arduous nature of the renovations.

In 2009 the programme featured a home called The Curve in Brighton, which was beset by problems. Artist Barry Surtees struggled to create a dramatic contemporary home, suffering a massive heart attack that required five bypasses, and facing issues with the bank as the credit crunch hit. Even the house he was living in next door caught fire. He finished the property, and briefly moved in, before deciding to sell it on and repay his debts.

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.

And finally, there was the couple who had transformed a Victorian water tower in Lambeth into a show-stopping property - buying it for £380,000 and spending £2 million on the renovation. They had initially put it on the market for £6.5 million, but were forced to cut the asking price by £2 million.

But talk of a curse may be overly unkind. With a programme that has been running for decades there are bound to be some properties where things went awry, and these are always going to be the ones we hear about. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of these projects which have been architecturally and financially an enormous success.

In February, for example, we reported that a converted waterworks in Bolsover went on the market 12 years after featuring on the programme. It cost £150,000 to build and was on the market for up to £750,000. Even more impressively The Big White House, a four-bedroom property on the beach in East Sussex, cost £350,000 to build in 2004 and went on the market ten years later for £1.675 million.