Grand Designs couple change minds at ’11th hour’ on £300k home – ‘it’s going to clash’
Grand Designs shows off plans for Carlos and Maite’s home
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This week’s episode of Grand Designs saw presenter Kevin McCloud follow Carlos, a life coach, and Maite, a gardener and painter on their house-building project. The couple planned to build their vision of a home inspired by Rioja in northern Spain, the country Maite grew up in. But Maite does not just want to live in it, she is also designing it – without any professional qualifications.
From 2015 to 2019 Kevin McCloud made repeated trips to Graven Hill, Oxfordshire, where one of the biggest self-build experiments yet seen in the UK was under way.
Ten households were embarking on a mission to build their own homes and create a new street and McCloud followed the progress of this bold architectural endeavour over the course of a six-part series.
There was as much jeopardy and drama as you would expect from an entire street of grand designs, with each of the participants creating their own highly individual homes.
Three years later, McCloud is back to check on progress, and what started with 10 now numbers more than 100.
As well as revisiting some of the original pioneers, he is following some of the next wave of intrepid self-builders, starting with Carlos and Maite, who have ambitious plans to build a bold, Spanish-inspired home.
Maite and Carlos wanted to build a Spanish-inspired home complete with steel and wood panels and a sloping roof.
The entire project was budgeted at £310,000 but the couple admitted they are £30,000 short of the total before they even started building.
In Wednesday’s episode of Grand Designs: The Street, there were a few “creative differences” when Maite clashed with the professional architects and more turmoil when she changed her mind on the colour of a major paint job at the 11th hour.
He explained: “It’s certainly stretching the boundaries of what’s achievable. As we put on the final coat on the mid grey colour which the customer picked, she asked for a few photos to see how they’re getting on, only for the customer to have a panic attack, not liking the colour at the 11th hour.”
The couple had commissioned a pair of huge windows and doors from a small workshop in Yorkshire, spending £30,000, with the owner calling them “very oversized and bespoke.”
But Maite became worried the house was going to be compromised, with the window worker explaining: “To respray any windows and doors is a massive process in the middle of the project. It’s a production line at the end of the day, and once it starts on that production line, it needs to get to the end of it.”
Maite said: “He went to the workshop and took a photo and sent it to me. And I thought, that is not what I chose! Imagine, all this money and the colour is something that is going to clash everywhere. You want to do it perfect.”
By March 2021, it seemed the issue still wasn’t fixed, with the giant windows and doors seemingly arriving on site in the wrong colour.
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Maite was born and raised in Rioja, Spain and often returned to the country to visit her parents with her partner Carlos, a life coach.
She said: “I was here all my life, got married, had children and then I divorced. And then I thought, I want to start anew. I went to England, and I met Carlos. Three years later, we had another baby.”
Living in the UK, Maite has devoted much of her life to bringing up her children, working as a gardener and furniture partner but has always harbored a love for design, despite the fact she had no formal training.
One of her sons called it “inspiring”, while Kevin agreed: “It is inspiring since she’s had no formal design training.”
One of her daughters explained: “Mum has always wanted to build a house, it’s always been one of her dreams. Carlos supports her whatever she wants to do.”
Working from a short-term rental near Graven Hill, Maite had sketched some designs for the building with the help of professional architect Steve Chance.
She said: “I love to create spaces, that’s my passion. But I’m not an architect and I can’t do it anywhere unless I build my own house.
“It is very scary, nerve-wracking, to think you’re going to use all the money you’ve got to build your own house.”
Carlos continued: “She’s unconventional in her thinking about work and life. She wants to follow her heart, this is a chance to validate her natural skills as a designer.”
The self-build plots all come ready with foundations and services. Maite and Carlos paid £234,000 for their land.
Admitting she has “a very clear idea of what she wants”, Maite said: “The outside is going to be wood, and instead of being vertical, it’s going to be diagonal, because the building is not straight.”
However it wasn’t not long before there was another issue.
When presenter Kevin McCloud asked how the architects responded to what Maite wanted, Carlos said: “Creative tension, I think, is healthy when you’re collaborating. He threw some ideas at Maite and that was about what she did and didn’t want.”
Kevin predicted the home would be “breathtaking”, clad in strips of bark and dark steel panels, while light would flood in thanks to two walls of glass.
The couple also hoped to build a spectacular kitchen diner, as well as a first floor sitting room and three bedrooms.
Despite their ambitious plans, the couple had a small budget of £280,000 and estimated they would need another £30,000 to finish the job completely.
Carlos explained: “Currently, we’re going on this journey knowing we can’t finish the house completely, so we’re going to have to move in with maybe only one bathroom, the floors but we thought if we can get to that stage, we can take it from there.”
Maite added: “If we can live there and we don’t have to pay the rent, little by little, we can do one thing and then another thing.”
However the irregular shape of the house led to so many complexities, and the start date on site was delayed by a month.
When all the steel work was in place, they began to build plywood walls and skimmed them over with plywood. One month in, and architect Chance came to inspect it.
He said: “I’m very pleased with the progress, it’s gone really quickly. Having the steel go in first, in about a day and a half, really gives you the shape of the building.
“The experience of the building is going to be very different from a house with a similar house area.
“At one stage, I said we needed to think about lowering the roof, and not having a double height bedroom, which would reduce the costs – but basically, the clients felt they had to hang onto those things.
“If they said, even if we don’t have any finishing and we have to put the kitchen in later, they really wanted to commit to these elements. It’s a big commitment ultimately.”
Grand Designs, Wednesdays at 9pm, on Channel 4.
Episodes are also available to stream via All 4.
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