New Grand Designs TV show will follow self builders at Graven Hill

Articles by Build It magazine
by Build It magazine
1st April 2019

Graven Hill, one of the country’s most innovative self and custom build villages, is set to appear on new Channel 4 series Grand Designs: The Street.

The six episodes will follow the stories of the first 10 self builders on site, as they take part in the biggest self build project the UK has ever seen.

Built on former Ministry of Defence land in Bicester, Oxfordshire, the 188-hectare site will see up to 1,900 homes built over the next decade with the aim of creating a unique community, where homes can be designed to accommodate individuals’ lifestyles. As well as homes, there are plans for commercial units, a pub, and a primary school.

Read more: The complete guide to Graven Hill

The new series, airing on Thursday 4 April , will reveal the stories behind the 10 self builders as they navigate the highs and lows of designing and constructing the home of their dreams.

The Graven Hill Pioneers – as they are known – come from all walks of life, ranging from those escaping the renting cycle of London and those who long to build an environmentally-friendly home, to first-time buyers and downsizers.

Each self-builder faces individual challenges along the way, but they all share the same desire to create the home they have always dreamt of.

Welcome to the Self Build Education House

3D Render of the Self Build Education House by Build It magazine

Build It magazine’s Self Build Education House is a real-life, access-all-areas project that will give you a unique insight into the process of creating your own bespoke home.

In this landmark series, we’ll be showcasing the process of self building in a way you’ve never seen before. Here’s what’s in store for Build It’s Self Build Education House and why you can’t afford to miss out on following our real-life project.

We’ll be sharing the full story of our journey through the Self Build Education House’s design and construction phases – including the inevitable highs, lows and learning points along the way.

Plus, once it’s finished, you will be able to visit to experience the products and materials we’ve used first-hand.

The Self Build Education House

Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill, said: “The opportunity to showcase the first 10 self builders at Graven on the national stage is a milestone not only for the development and its community, but also for the future of UK house building.

“The series will give viewers an insight into a bold and unique type of housing project, which has the potential to revolutionise the way that people approach both choosing – or building – a new home, and the environmental challenges the UK currently faces.

“The platform gives us the opportunity to show viewers the options they have when it comes to self-builds, and that the process is far more accessible than they may think. We hope that the diverse range of homes on the street will inspire others to consider building their own grand design or custom home at Graven Hill.”

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs: The Street, said: “It’s the idea that you take ordinary people who have got this slight glint of ambition and madness in their eye who say, ‘we can build a house, can’t we? How cool would that be?’ And before you know it, they’ve turned themselves into true radicals. I love that!”

What is the Graven Hill self build project?

One of the big attractions of Graven Hill for self builders is that it promises much more than the standard housing development we’ve got used to in the UK. A wide range of ready-to-go plots is available, offering the opportunity to create a custom home to suit pretty much any taste, budget and lifestyle.

Read more: Graven Hill project routes – Golden Brick, Tailored Finish and Mix & Match

The site is split into 11 Character Areas, each with its own identity. These range from the Community Streets, which offer maximum design freedom, through to the mews-like Urban Lane, the leafy Tree-Lined Boulevard and Rural Lane plots with field-facing views. Each area has a variety of plot types to support different project approaches.

What type of houses will be shown on Grand Designs: The Street?

Grand Designs: The Street will follow ten households, all of them from different walks of life and with different budgets. They’re probably at the lower end of what you would expect to see on on previous Grand Designs series.

The projects at Graven Hill are more accessible, costing anything from around £200,000 to £400,000. In terms of value, what they’re getting for their money is good architecture and homes that are really tailored to them – all with the lightest of planning.

An eco home featuring on the show was built using Hempcrete. The materials is a mixture of hemp, which is the stuff they use on the floor of equestrian arenas and is like finely chipped bark and lime.

Follow Marc & Laura’s journey at Graven Hill

Marc and Laura with their children visiting the Graven Hill site

Originally from the United States, Marc and Laura Marsdale have been living and working in London for the last 12 years.

The couple have always dreamed of building their own home, and now find themselves among the pioneers at Graven Hill, the UK’s largest custom build site near Bicester, Oxfordshire.

Follow Marc and Laura’s journey as they enlist the help of Facit Homes to build a bespoke home for themselves and their young daughter.

Read Marc & Laura’s blog

“The Pioneers are not people with large financial cushions to float on. Building for the first time brings with it a lot of financial, personal and emotional stress – which this series honestly reflects,” says Kevin McCloud.

“These very different households all took a big risk but ultimately, I think they’ve been rewarded for this, with brilliant very individual homes and a great, wild-looking street – which is a sort-of test bed for self-build construction techniques which I think is just brilliant. No two homes are the same.”

Grand Designs: The Street begins on Thursday, 4 April on Channel 4 at 9.00pm.

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