Grand Designs homes that did NOT impress the neighbors

With whacky plans, impressive innovations and drama by the skip-load, it’s no wonder Grand Designs has been on our screens for 20 series.

From eco-friendly feats to metal masterpieces, the Channel 4 show is property porn at its finest – but not everyone is such a big fan.


Ben Whitney and Joanna Susskind-Whitney were thrilled to show off their property to Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud and Natasha HuqCredit: Claire Williams
But recently, it's been reported that the property was burned down by angry vandals


But recently, it’s been reported that the property was burned down by angry vandalsCredit: Channel 4

Last week, viewers were horrified after hearing Ben and Joanna Whitney’s £170,000 “American ranch-style house” had been vandalised and burned down by local thugs.

But they’re not the only ones whose kooky creations have caused a stir.

In the past homes have been ransacked, branded tacky eyesores and even delayed for years over bitter rows with the neighbors.

Now, we remember the most tense disputes that played out on Grand Designs.

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Neighbors’ bitter dispute & £10k bill for smashed gate

Dome House in the Lake District seems to be abandoned six years after Grand Designs


Dome House in the Lake District seems to be abandoned six years after Grand DesignsCredit: Peter Powell / Sunday People

Robert Gaukroger spent more than £1million constructing his eco-home, named Dome House, in Bowness-on-Windermere, the Lake District, in 2009.

The impressive structure was shaped like an eye with long wooden beams and slender windows, nestled among lucious countryside.

But when it was revealed that the home, which was designed to “blend into its surroundings”, was to be used as a B&B and fancy self-catering cottage, locals were not happy.

By 2016, it was a decaying shell of its former glory and Robert was locked in a bitter dispute with his neighbor, Jane Moore.

She claimed he bought 150ft of land from her for £700,000 in 2008 but changed the plans significantly.

Jane said Robert extended the building’s footprint to 750ft – five times the agreed size – and also alleged he changed his plan for the property.

“He did show me vague plans of what it would look like, and said he was going to live in it. There was never any mention of it being a B&B,” she told the Daily Mail.

Not only that, Jane claimed he fenced off 10,000 sq ft of her land. Mr Gaukroger denied infringing on her property, but agreed to pay her legal fees. The neighbor also alleged that she was left with a £10,000 bill to repair her gate after builders smashed it.

Robert was last known to be trying to flog the property, which was originally listed for £2.3million in 2014 before being reduced to £1.5million two years later.

After selling in 2016, the property underwent “extensive renovation” according to the new owners and is currently being run as a “luxury Lakeview guest house”.

‘Blight on the neighbor’

It took Sally Cox and Mike Russum 12 years to build their unusual spaceship-like home – mainly because the neighbors weren’t happy.

They were forced to fork out £30,000 on planning approval alone to get their odd glass structure erected on the street in south London.

TV host Kevin McCloud admitted it was a “sculptural sore thumb” despite being “perfectly executed”, and he wasn’t the only one to take a dig.

One local called it “a blight on the neighbor” and another said some thought it was “hideous”.

This property was branded 'hideous' and a 'blight on the neighbor'


This property was branded ‘hideous’ and a ‘blight on the neighbor’Credit: RIBA Architecture

Mike revealed his inspiration was utilizing the small space he had in London and capitalizing on it by building upwards.

The property, which featured an open-plan, suspended workspace and a glass dome at the top, was based on features of a ship.

‘Eyesore’ ravaged by local yobs

More than £70,000 worth of damage was caused by ravers, squatters and vandals


More than £70,000 worth of damage was caused by ravers, squatters and vandalsCredit: Alamy

In 2007, Chris Miller and his wife Sze Liu Lai, from Essex, renovated a ramshackle houseboat with recycled materials.

They hoped to sail up to London and enjoy life on the water with their two children, but it didn’t quite go to plan.

The couple invested £80,000 into the massive 100ft boat, named Medway Eco-barge, before eventually running out of money.

Their wood and metal vessel was moored in the Thames estuary, near Southend, before vandals and squatters broke into it in 2011.

The home also became the venue for teenagers’ parties, which caused up to £70,000 of damage and rendered all hopes of renovation out of the question.

One local Steve Morgan, whose Barge Cafe was opposite the boat, said it “looked very strange” and “a bit tatty” after being left empty for a couple of years.

Furious mayor slams ‘ugly’ home

This property in Yorkshire was branded a 'rusting metal box'


This property in Yorkshire was branded a ‘rusting metal box’Credit: granddesignsforsale

Stephen and Anita Yeomans spent £700,000 building a five-bedroom home that overlooked the River Ouse, in Yorkshire, back in 2015, but locals were not happy.

Former Mayor Susan Murray branded it “an ugly building sticking out like a sore thumb” and fumed over it not reflecting the area’s heritage.

The couple tried to appease them by spending £60,000 on steel cladding to mimic the former industrial style of the area, which was a striking orange-red colour, but it wasn’t well-liked.

Kevin felt it was “beautifully designed and exquisitely crafted” but conceded locals “will say it is a ‘rusting metal box.’”

Wave of complaints over unfinished lighthouse

Chesil Cliff House was considered one of the saddest lighthouses


Chesil Cliff House was considered one of the saddest lighthousesCredit: Channel 4

Edward Short borrowed £1.8million in the hope of constructing his dream, a luxury Devon lighthouse with an infinity pool at the top, a home cinema, sauna and steam room, before he ran out of cash.

He tried to raise funds for his “vanity project” by constructing a smaller property, named The Eye, but couldn’t sell it because the original home was still next to a building site.

The designer hoped to complete the builds and urged locals to “stick with it” after receiving multiple complaints about it being “an eyesore”.

Last year, Edward revealed the costs had doubled but optimism remained about eventually putting the home on the market.

Burned down home

Ben and Joanna were devastated when their caravan, which was inspired by an American ranch, was burned down by local vandals in Glasgow last week.

The couple lost all their possessions in the fire but thankfully were not hurt.

Locals seemed to split over what happened, with one branding them “gutsy” for “building a wooden house in that area”.

Others weren’t so kind, adding: “Such a stupid place to build a solo unit, said before the caravan was torched, “that’ll get burnt down”

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“I know that area and I wouldn’t leave a used condom laying about, it’d be stolen.”

Another added: “Seeing a wooden barn being constructed in ‘a gritty area of ​​Glasgow’… and thinking ‘You are literally building a fire for youths to set alight.'”

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