I’m sorry to say this, because I know so many self-builders and renovators got hooked on the notion of creating an individual home because of them, but I simply cannot watch another Grand Designs. I get fidgety sitting through a re-run of Property Ladder. And, despite there being simply nothing else on, I will not watch another episode of Build a New Life in the Country.

This is not designed to be offensive to the names either presenting or behind these hugely successful shows. They have done a lot to promote the concept of self-build and renovation and, when I remember quite vividly the night before my job interview at Homebuilding & Renovating in 1999 sitting through a hugely entertaining Grand Designs the night before.

It’s just now, eleven years on, the formula looks very tired to me. Want a self-build show? Then gather together some pretty well-off, rather smug couples who think it would all very jolly to build an individual home; watch them get complete shafted by an architect who knows nothing about build costs, and watch with great anticipation while they go through the regular process of enthusiasm, a sense that they are creating a home that is truly outstanding and different, followed by a costs-spiralling related dilemma. And then, having magically managed to rub together another £100k, they get the damn thing finished, a year late, just in time for the presenter to make mundane comments about light, space and that old favourite, “it really brings the outside in.”

Now, let me just say that I know many perfectly right-minded people who love these shows and feel they are nothing but  force for good.

 For me, though, surely it’s time for something a bit different?

  • PamF

    Hi Jason,

    I agree with you that these shows have been getting a little samey of late but I was most encouraged by the recent series of property ladder which seemed to concentrate on the effect of the recession on house prices and the risk of losing your investment. In my opinion, all these programs need to tailor their content to current issues to maintain their audiences.


  • Douglas Cooper

    Funnily enough there’s little else on TV that I do watch. I find them current, informative and hugely entertaining. Being on the brink of self-build myself (for the past five years no less) I simply can’t get enough, especially when modern techniques I haven’t heard of are introduced. The only thing that really gets on my nerves are all the repeats they’ve taken to mixing up with brand new episodes.

  • Anonymous

    I love KEvin!

  • Anonymous

    oh, come on be sensible. Many people including myself got the bug for self build due to the shows,I too simply can’t get enough. I just completed renovation and shortly to start a new build. I learned lot from the shows without visiting other properties(peeping). with the help of HR and Grand design magazine, think I have done prety good job with my renovation, thanks to these show either on telly or NEC.

  • 355Pilot

    Don’t forget that these self-build TV shows are not only aimed at self-builders in the audience – the programme makers need them to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. The vast majority of those who sit down to enjoy the comments of Kevin et al are probably "armchair architects" – they would probably lose interest if there wasn’t an element of drama (the build spiralling out of control) and a bit of bling (the £15,000 kitchen tap).

    By the way, you forgot to mention one crucial part of the self-build TV show formula – the couple in question always find out they are having a baby, about half way through the build. There are many who say that design critique isn’t all Kevin is giving out… 🙂

  • Post a comment
    You must be logged in to comment. Log in