February 2009. Chris Clarke had just spent two years building his minimalist timber and steel dream home at Callignee in Gippsland when, less than a week after completion, it was burnt to the ground in the devastating Black Saturday bushfires. With nothing remaining but a concrete slab and a burnt out shell Chris was left shattered and numb. After recovering from the initial grief he was determined to re-build and re-use every last salvageable element of the original house. What he creates in the year or so following is simply remarkable. By adding sturdy recycled elements with the latest fire resistant materials, Chris sets out to produce a tough, resilient version of the original home (now dubbed Callignee One). Wearing its embattled past as a badge of honour, will Callignee Two not only face up to the Aussie bush?
Architect Domenic Alvaro and his partner Sue Bassett are urban animals who love the inner city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney. However their dream location comes with a nightmare price tag. So, they come up with a unique way of keeping costs down and do this by buying very small and building very tall. After buying a tiny corner car park measuring 7m x 6m they set out to create 220 square metres of light filled living space. Their vertical build comes together quickly thanks to pre-fab concrete panels which fit together like Lego. Construction itself is fast and efficient but there are interesting challenges on site. A miniscule block and two narrow cross streets won’t submit to the needs of a gigantic crane in a hurry – and the crane is essential as it hauls the huge panels and windows into position. Basically something’s gotta give – and it does. Will the result be worth the hassle?
When Jan and Ed Gillman bought a tumble-down weatherboard in Southport, their first intention was to demolish and start again. But on learning its unique history as the 1880’s summer house of Sir Augustus Gregory (one of the oldest houses in Southport), they decide to restore instead and plan to lift the original house and move it forward two metres on the block. What follows is a painstaking restoration process – and with no official heritage guidelines in place Jan and Ed are faced with a difficult choice: take the laborious path of restoring the house to its former glory or opt for the easier path and lose the history of the house.
Julie and Patrick Eltridge bought in Sydney’s beachside Clovelly three years ago, paying $1.6 million for an old house on a sloping block. It was the land and its sea views they wanted, not the asbestos-riddled house. With time a concern, they have to find a way to fast track a slick, uber modern, two-story residence in a matter of months. The solution comes from Melbourne and a firm of pre-fab builders, who custom build them four top end, architect designed modules in a highly efficient, regulated environment. On completion, the pods will be trucked to Sydney in a dramatic, oversized convoy and then crane lifted into position. Another challenging element of the build centres around the demolition and site preparation in Sydney. One of the site issues has more twists and plot turns than an Agatha Christie novel making the new modules look like a breeze.
For 17 years Trevor and Francoise Sullivan have lived with their two kids and numerous animals in an open sided shed on 33 bushy acres at Lake Bennett south of Darwin. With money tight they were sustained by thoughts of the beautiful home they’d one day enjoy – so they both nutted out a unique design. A cyclone proof, tropical tree house that is windowless and based on the shape of a 50 cent piece. With little or no funds, Trevor (a wood carver) is building it all himself (including furniture) with the help of generous mates. The going is slow but one of the first things finished is the magnificent central staircase, carved from a fallen Paperbark Tree. Will they get the roof on before the wet season? That is the question.
If ever there was an ideal place for a Hamptons house outside the Hamptons, the Gold Coast hinterland would be it – wide open spaces, balmy sea-kissed air and a sense of prosperity. For Steve and Lisa Morley it’s the American dream or nothing for their 4,000 square metre block. They love everything about the Hamptons style, from the warm timbers, to the many windows, pavilion style design, parquetry flooring and classic, soft interior furnishings. Lisa has done her research, designing many elements herself and will stop at nothing to fulfill her dream.
Nothing like an impulsive act to take you down a path you hadn’t expected in life. For engineer Peter Riedel and his interior designer wife Mary, their sudden whim was to purchase an 1870’s church for $20,000. It wasn’t even upright at the time and all they got was a pile of boards. Still, it captured their imagination and a plan took shape to re-build the church on their property, overlooking Wilsons Promontory and convert it into a house. Like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, their biggest challenge is the number of pieces missing.
Drew Muirhead is a self employed entrepreneur and man about town. He’s building a Balinese resort style mansion in leafy Cottage Point. Not one to do things by halves, Drew’s mansion will have Balinese Pavilions, an infinity pool, its own nightclub, five bedrooms, four bathrooms and a steam room. It all faces a private beach with boatshed and speedboat. The biggest battle for Drew, who is project managing the build – is the steep sloping block and access.
Ian McDonald and Rob Wilhelm are not building an understated new home. Theirs is a Grand Design in its most literal sense. A glass box with a roof like floating wings overlooking Port Phillip Bay on the Bellarine Peninsula – seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, cinema, games room, glass lift, glass panelled pool, rooftop garden – all the bells and whistles, all the boy’s toys. With a construction budget of $1.8 million, the question is will they burst the budget banks and by how much?
Over the years, Nick and Anna McKimm have almost made a hobby of renovating, selling and moving on. But with three young children, they’re ready to lay down permanent roots and build their dream home. A sleek, modernist, 60’s inspired family residence on a large, half acre block in Melbourne’s bayside suburb, Brighton. Nick heads up a successful building company and knows a lot about quality period reproductions - particularly classical architectural styles - and Anna has a flair for beautiful fit-outs. But as they’re about to learn, mid-century building is very different to other architectural styles and comes with its own challenges.
Ten years ago retired Civil Engineer Bernie Ryan and his wife Ruth, packed up their three kids and moved to Paynesville, a charming seaside town in Victoria's popular Gippsland Lakes region. Bernie’s a tinkerer with a huge shed filled with crazy projects started in a flurry, but left unfinished. Needing a new house and unwilling to pay a builder, Bernie takes on the construction himself, armed with an eccentric, industrial design, a minimal budget and a cowboy attitude. Bernie wheels out his old crane and ropes in a bunch of retired mates to lend a hand. He’s built bridges and industrial constructions before, but this is Bernie’s first ever house - and his ‘she’ll be right’ attitude lands him in hot water when the building inspector turns up unannounced. Bernie tries to do as much as he can on the cheap, with supportive Ruth ever hopeful he’ll pull it off, so the family can move from their rough old shed into a real home. This is a makeshift, do-it-yourself construction that could easily end up a shambles. Will this be the one project Bernie manages to finish, or a blight on Paynesville’s picturesque skyline?
Anne Potter loves all things retro - the fashion, the cars... even the hairstyles. So ten years ago, it was no surprise that she and husband Michael snapped up a modest 60’s bungalow overlooking the harbour in Sydney’s Five Dock. Since then their family has expanded and with three very active boys, they are really feeling the squeeze so they’re tearing down the old house to build their own modern version of a retro home, with curved steel and walls of glass with a hint of Mondrian inspired colour - a complete contrast to the well-kept, more conservative homes that surround them. This is Anne’s dream opportunity. As an interior designer by trade, she’s keen to be actively involved in creating their special home. But she’s been a stay-at-home mum, out of the industry for ten years, and overseeing a house construction is a whole new challenge. Can she keep across the intricacies of the job in between school drop offs, supermarket runs and cooking the dinner?
Kyneton, a country town in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, is known for historic architecture and bustling farmers markets. It’s the perfect place for foodies Rod Moore and Di Foggo – who are embarking on a huge life change. They’re farewelling a classic Victorian home with traditional furnishings and building a brand new, cutting edge flat pack house on a rugged escarpment overlooking the racecourse. Di is a keen gardener and wants to create a lofty paradise with a wide, rolling view. They’ve been burnt before with budgets spiralling out of control and schedules doubling, so they have chosen a high end, quality flat pack home knowing there’s a fixed price and a speedy schedule. Trouble is, the land isn’t complying and from almost day one generates unexpected problems. Seems even the most regulated grand designs are at nature’s mercy.
Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston have long cherished the dream of a laid-back, barefoot life in the tropics. And they have found the ideal location at Trinity Beach near Cairns in Far North Queensland. Their ambitious new home will grace a hillside block bordering a World Heritage rainforest and overlooking the Coral Sea. After years planning this grand sea-change, they are ready at last to manage its construction. Their vision is for a classic pavilion-style pole home, nestled in the tree tops. But project managing is tough enough if you’re on site… and they’re attempting the job from 4,000 kilometres away in Melbourne, plus this is a first time experience for them both. While they believe they’ve left no stone unturned designing their South Pacific inspired hideaway, they can’t escape the challenges of the location. A precarious driveway, tropical downpours and expensive local trades are all threatening to send their budget and schedule spiralling out of control. Between pressing work commitments and the tyranny of distance, these idealists still believe they can pull off the house of their dreams. The question is, can they?
For nine years, Michael and Sandy Rutledge have been making the weekend pilgrimage to their lush 20 acre property in Gladysdale, an hour east of Melbourne. Now they’re leaving the city for a permanent tree change and building a new family home on their acreage. But first they have to agree on a design. Sandy has a passion for Old World European, inspired by her travels overseas, whereas Michael’s a techno whiz who likes sleek, contemporary homes. Can their architect marry their differing tastes with definite ideas of his own? One thing everyone agrees is that this should be a house with a sense of permanence, a house that will stand the test of time thanks to thick walls encased in dry stone. But seems it can’t even manage a first season as continual wet weather causes delays and flooding. Before work is even finished, they have to face the unthinkable – the house isn’t waterproof! Despite their best efforts it’s an ongoing battle against the elements. Can they curb the leaks and deliver Sandy the stone fortress she’s been dreaming of?
Life in Adelaide, the driest capital city in Australia, has made Mike Dare and wife Lowen Partridge passionate about conserving water. Like many people, they decided to put a couple of water tanks in their new house. But these are tanks with a difference. Massive, custom designed steel anchors that support the house above the ground. With the roof acting like a giant funnel, 100,000 litres of water can be caught and stored in the tanks which are hidden behind internal walls. It’s out of the box thinking and what Mike does best. With 40 years of design and engineering work on some of Adelaide’s most prominent buildings, he’s developed a reputation as a lateral thinker. But Mike is now responsible for creating something that looks great too and preferably in the colour he’s most comfortable with – grey. Mike likes total control so he’s acting as architect, engineer and project manager. Working with logical systems on a house built largely offsite in factories, what could possibly go wrong? Just all the things he can’t control: the weather, the schedule, his walling company going broke and most importantly – his wife’s opinion of the colour grey.
Art teacher and sculptor Laurie Smith and his wife Renee Hoareau, a trained artist turned web designer, are both zealous art lovers; so joy of joys when, after years of searching they found the ideal block to create their ‘sculpture in space’. It’s almost as if this picturesque piece of Victoria, with its red alluvial soil, was designed especially for their new dream home. Their vision is to create a sort of domestic gallery that will inspire both inside and out. A modernist cube shaped construction of steel, stone and glass that celebrates and pays tribute to some identifiable artistic references. This will be a place to live, work, create and display their extensive art collection in equal measure. Inspiration comes from many sources – for example the 25 metre long stone facade with its tricky curved window is reminiscent of a well known state gallery. But handing over artistic license to a construction team is a big ask especially after an oversight at one of the first jobs on site, the concrete pour. It’s an early reality check that tests their ability to let go and trust. Will they manage to go with the flow and end up with the art house they so desperately crave?
Adventurous, outdoorsy types, Greg Kay and Trish Knight, live in the ideal spot to enjoy nature - right on the waterfront in Hobart’s exclusive Battery Point. The view is dazzling and the aspect fabulous so when the time comes to downsize, they don’t want to go far – and end up buying the block next door. The plan is to subdivide, sell the heritage cottage at the front of the block and build a new house at the back, facing the water. But councils have a way of altering even the best laid plans – and after several set backs and a re-think, Greg and Trish find themselves embarking on an epic upsizing adventure. The old cottage must be integrated into a massive new house with two distinct zones – historical cottage at the front, ultra modern glass, timber and exposed concrete extension at the back. But it’s not easy. Stubborn blue stone bedrock, steep, narrow, restricted access, and a rogue sewage line indicate trouble ahead. Add to that an architect given free reign, contracts done on a handshake, and Greg’s insistence on quality, and you have a schedule blow out with a budget spinning out of control. The big question is – can they afford to live there?
Eco conscious entertainers Claire and Lisa adore their hobby farming lifestyle on Victoria's Mornington peninsula, but the cute 1930's beach shack they've long shared with two pugs has lost its once savoured charm. They're upgrading and building a sustainable, modernist, entertainers' home that blends sophisticated design elements with rammed earth, recycled materials and raw finishes. It all sounds glamorous and straightforward but with a zero contingency budget what happens when a wet winter meets an insidious clay soil?
Max and Mariella have been planning to relocate to Bryon Bay since the birth of their daughter Ruby. As successful property developers, an ambitious build shouldn't be a problem - but handing over control to a local building team is harder than they thought. From the outset they make fundamental changes to the design making it a headache for the builder and for Max. Something has to give - especially when the bank learns the house they're loaning money on isn't quite the house being built.
Brett and Rees are the proud parents of three young boys and desperately need more space. They love their inner west community in Sydney's Annandale, so the plan is to build on the small empty allotment behind their apartment. The first sod has barely been turned when one of the heritage buildings on their boundary is in danger of collapsing. Exhausted by ongoing battles and a build that's months behind schedule - will Brett & Rees have enough grit and determination to see their project through to completion?
After eight years of planning, Melbourne couple Glenn and Kate Morris are finally making a start on their striking, sustainable ‘sand dune’ house near Inverloch on Victoria’s Gippsland coastline. For them, this crescent shaped, spaceship-like design is the ultimate response to a wind swept location. Once building gets underway, the couple need even more patience as attention to detail is paramount in this curvaceous new building. Lets hope it lives up to their high expectations.
Greg, a former bricklayer is passionate about two things – his family (partner Emma & their 4 yr old son Archie), and...bricks. As a testament to his love for both, he’s building (literally with his own hands) a tri-level, solid brick contemporary terrace house with a cantilevered pool on the top floor. He’s creating it from the rubble of their well loved old house located on a narrow corner block in Sth Melbourne – all that will remain of the original building is its classic Victorian facade. Greg has dreamt of building this home for years and is certain the time is right, even though it means sharing the place with the in-laws.
Hoteliers Richard and Denise have knocked down the family home in the Adelaide Hills and are re-building an even bigger version, despite the fact their kids are grown. This modern mansion will have all the bells and whistles, amid resort like luxury on 3 tiered acres overlooking Adelaide. But is this unpretentious, likeable couple creating a home or a hotel for themselves? Money may be no object but have they taken on too much?
Ardent collectors Kerry and Judy have a passion for Sante-fe style, mud houses even though they live on a sloping bush block on Sydney’s north shore. Inspired by an unconventional builder who changes his mind (and their design) on a regular basis, they set out to create a home out of recycled timber and corrugated iron, rendered in clay dug up from the side of the road. It may be straight out of the American mid west but this hybrid home will have a distinctly Australian flavour and provide an earthy backdrop for their many artistic objects, artifacts and collectables.
Darren and Ruth Rogers have almost polar opposite views about what their new house should be. Darren wants all the bells and whistles – home cinema, wine cellar, even a lift. Ruth wants chickens, a vegetable garden and a hills hoist. Finding a design that will satisfy both of them and their young son Raymond, is their shared aim.
Chris and wife Belinda bought the small ‘car park’ of land next door to their existing house, just 3.9 metres wide: literally a tiny gap in a long row of heritage listed cottages in Sydney’s inner west Forest Lodge. Their plan is to squeeze every centimeter of land into a uniquely sustainable house.
Daniela Turrin, Niran Peiris and their son Calum are doing something no-one in their historic street in the prestigious Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill has done before. They’re knocking down their old house to build a smaller one. But these are people who believe that the family that spends time together stays together – a premise that forms the core of the design of their new home.
Anchored in the middle of Bass Strait and subject to the ferocious winds of the Roaring Forties, King Island is about as far from the tropics as you can get in Australia. Yet artists Di and Andrew Blake have decided to build a house there after almost twenty years of living in far East Arnhem Land….2 locations literally at either end of the country.
Like many people, Dean and Sherril Lamb yearn for a simpler existence, for them and their three children. But unlike most people, they’re actually going to try and make it happen. They’ve sold their successful fruit shop and home in Warragul and bought 40acres in Pipers Creek in country Victoria ….all in the pursuit of total self sufficiency.
Before Matt McClelland’s wife Anne died six years ago, they’d been looking for a rural property to build on - a place to call home for them and for their four adult children to come to visit. So when Matt stumbled across 40 acres in central Victoria with spectacular views to Mt Alexander’s granite hill side, he knew he’d found the spot.
An abiding love of all things 1950’s, especially American design, architecture and art has been a life-long pursuit for dedicated collectors Warwick Noble and Melanie Hughes. If it’s from the 50’s, they collect it, they wear it…… or they dance to it! They live in an old fibro house built in the 50’s by Mel’s grandfather. But its boxy design has become too tight for them and their two daughters Evie 7 and Lola aged 9, so they’ve made the decision to build from scratch, and fast track to 50’s modern.
Kevin McCloud and Peter Madison talk Kevin's favourite ever Grand Designs Australia moments. Set in historic Homewood House in Surrey, England, Grand Designs Australia host Peter Maddison and Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud sit down with a cup of tea and an old fashioned slide slow to reminisce about the design features of each of the ten homes, selected from the past six seasons. The design gurus talk cladding, tiles and form, and with whiskey in hand, engage in some gentle banter over each other’s take on the architecture of their favourite builds. While the special looks over the past, it also serves as a teaser for the upcoming seventh season.