Graeme and Melanie have huge ambitions for their new home in Hackney, for themselves and for their daughters, 15 year old Isla and 13 year old Indi. They want the house to celebrate and cement their new blended family. The only problem is where they want to build - a tiny twin garage plot with no surrounding land, purchased for a whopping £275,000. Located on a traditional Victorian terraced road, Graeme, an architect, has nevertheless come up with an unapologetically modernist bright red-clad design. Inside it’ll be cleverly laid out to maximise space over 3 floors, including all-important bedrooms for the girls in a new basement. Despite the challenge of excavating 4 metres down in a tight urban site, the schedule is set at just 12 months.
Melanie and Graeme face a catalogue of challenges from the off: a main contractor withdraws from constructing the basement due to sky rocketing material costs, there are huge increases in mortgage rates, construction complications drag on and neighbours become increasingly frustrated. Exhausted and stressed somehow they remain determined to create a special, meaningful home - so much so that they are willing to ship bespoke floor tiles designed by Mel from Marrakech. But then comes a final bombshell as the project nears completion, putting all their hopes in jeopardy.
Grand Designs: Hackney Downs 2023
It has been drawn to our attention that a lorry belonging to Master Mix Concrete featured in this episode of Grand Designs, and that may have led some viewers to believe that concerns over the quality of the basement concrete on this project were the fault of Master Mix Concrete. We are happy to make clear that it has been confirmed to us that Master Mix Concrete had no involvement whatsoever with the basement at this property, and only provided concrete at a later stage of the project for the ground floor slabs and trenches in relation to which there was no complaint. We are sorry for any confusion that may have arisen in this regard.
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Photos of William Lyttle provided by AP Archive