Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grand Designs

I've mentioned the British TV-show Grand Designs before, but back then I only occasionally saw an episode and most of the times only a glimpse of it here and there. The show is aired on a rather off-beat channel here in Sweden, but since it's such an intriguing series - people, mostly couples, who set out to build, restore, rebuild their dream home. From small cottages to really enormous projects, grand design they all are in their own *small* or larger way. From listed old buildings, new Eco buildings to nothing less than modern monstrosities - this season I'm glued to Channel 9 come Wednesday 9 pm. The presenter Kevin McCloud also seems like a very likable guy, with his own views and opinions on each project, not afraid to say.

I'm constantly amazed how 99% of the times people can be so naive and clueless with their financial calculations and mortgages. The costs for most buildings can be resembled to a runaway train.

As a rule with very few exceptions, when you have to rely on craftsmen to build and restore, both time schedule and the costs have a remarkable way to slip slide away from the original plans... IMHO, I thought most people would know that by now. Why so many of these people don't get a preset fixed price on the work and materials, I have no idea.

It would certainly be interesting to know what happened afterwards, were they able to keep their dream house or were they forced to sell. Maybe there is such a follow up series or maybe there's information at the website, haven't looked.

On the other hand it is inspiring with people who actually dare follow their dreams - albeit financial as well as other naivety - all the ingenious creative ideas for building and restoring, the insulation solutions being hi-tech or old crafty methods, the details, the eco thinking (or not), the architecture, the craftsmanship.

Quite obviously I'm not a fan of huge modern hi-tech glass and concrete buildings. They totally lack charm and a homely feel, not to mention usually being far from environmentally conscious. Like the monstrosity of a house in Belfast. They did go under budget though and kept the workers working effectively. Despite the cry baby complaints about a wee bit of snow in Autumn, "we will get wet". And instead of working in the dark, heard of floodlights? Come work on a building site in Scandinavia during winters and you'll grow up quickly.

The Finnish log cabin was another fascinating project with a total cost that was truly amazing. In a positive way. Personally I'm far from keen on its looks though.

From the episodes I've watched so far I think my favourites are the listed 16th century farmhouse and the Devon barn and possibly the cruciform house. And I so hoped I haven't missed the 14th century Yorkshire castle episode...

More about the show and the fascinating house projects here and on the official Grand Designs site.


Poppy Q said...

oh my goodness, I LOVE Grand Designs. Here it plays on Saturday nights, so I have to set the DVR to record it. Usually I sit up when I get home, and watch it before bed.

Pia K said...

Oh, it's just great! Unfortuntaley there's been hockey on TV Wedn 9 pm for the past couple of weeks, that completely ruined my Wndn evenings of course...:/

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