Grand designs, minimum planning

ONE of my favourite TV programmes, that’s to say one that is less awful than most of the others, is Grand Designs hosted by designer and writer, Kevin McCloud.

It’s never an easy road that the subjects of each programme apparently travel, because without fail, they seem to underestimate the costs of their project and end up having to borrow more money.

Who in their right minds would undertake a major refurbishment or new build, often with projected costs running into many hundreds of thousands of pounds, without having their estimates checked and rechecked by qualified people?

And if they have indeed been checked then perhaps those professionals should look for work in a less demanding environment.

Only inmates of certain institutions would put themselves in situations like this, but as sure as eggs are eggs, they almost always find themselves having to find an extra hundred grand or two, because either materials have mysteriously escalated in price, or surprise, surprise, they find themselves in the middle of winter and work has come to a standstill.

But fair do’s the British weather is something that very few of us have had experience with. It could happen to anybody.

Here’s a suggestion though: start in the early spring and give yourself more time. T

he other side of the coin is that even with expert advice, some of these characters decide that they know better and plough on regardless, often project managing (whatever that means) their own build.

And guess what, they almost always fall flat on their faces. Repeatedly one of the biggest hold-ups seems to be the manufacture and installation of windows, because they are never your ordinary run of the mill windows, but tinted quadruple glazed; bullet proof; one way; mirrored jobbies.

Having waited months for these beauties to arrive, they then often find they won’t fit. Oh darn. Let’s knock a bit of brickwork out.

On top of all this chaos and financial uncertainty, many of the couples concerned decide to have another baby.

Stuck in a small caravan on-site with the two toddlers they already have, surrounded by a sea of mud and now another kid on the way.

Yes I can see the attraction. But amazingly in spite of all this, most of the stories end happily.

McCloud always manages to wax lyrical about the finished build, but it must be an effort sometimes.

A cross between a poet and an architect, you get the impression that even if the finished house looks like a toilet bowl with balconies, he will find something complimentary to say about it… then go off and laugh himself silly.

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