Grand Designs couple go over budget by £200,000

Grand Designs couple go over budget by £200,000 building a giant cathedral-like home modelled on a Dutch barn house – but unimpressed viewers say it looks more like a ‘crematorium’

  • Nathan and Amye, from Lincolnshire, were on Channel 4’s Grand Designs tonight as they built dream home 
  • Couple wanted to build giant cathedral-like home modeled on Dutch barn house with contemporary style  
  • Build was hampered by torrential rain which caused excavations to collapse as well as the Covid-19 crisis  
  • Viewers said they were unimpressed by build, with many likening it to a crematorium and calling it too large

A couple baffled viewers of Grand Designs this evening after they went over budget by £200,000 building a cathedral-like home modelled on a Dutch barn house. 

Nathan and Amye, from Lincolnshire, appeared on the Channel 4 show tonight as they described their dream of building a barn home with a sleek contemporary twist and a striking 5000 tile armadillo roof with a budget of £400,000 in just 12 months.  

The build would also bring together three generations of family, with a wing for Nathan’s teenage kids Noah and Ava and an annexe for his mother and step father Rosie and Albert to move in to – from the static caravan they’ve called home for the last 13 years.

But the couple’s build was hampered by difficulties from the outset, with the foundations flooding amid a period of torrential rain, and the Covid-19 crisis pushing their project bill up to £600,000.

Viewers were left baffled by the build, which many suggesting the house looked simple for the massive costs, as well as likening to a ‘crematorium’, and one commenting: ‘Ooh they’re building a quirky community centre?’

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Nathan and Amye, from Lincolnshire, were on Channel 4’s Grand Designs tonight as they built dream home, but left viewers baffled by going £200,000 over budget building a cathedral-like giant home

The final built of the house, pictured, was very large. Some viewers likened its large chimney to that of a crematorium, while other questioned its overall look

Reaction: Viewers were not convinced by the built, which ended up costing £200,000 more than what had initially been planned by the enthusiastic couple 

‘I promise when I’m on #GrandDesigns doing my own build I’ll set realistic deadlines and budgets, another viewer said.  ‘Just because you can build big doesn’t necessarily mean that you should,’ one said. 

 ‘There’s something a little “crematorium” about that chimney,’ another said.   ‘#granddesigns new series wonderful but why build a house with a crematorium chimney,’ observed another.  

‘Lovely building on grand designs but that interior really lets it down,’ one said. ‘I don’t like it. Sorry. Just not for me,’ another simply wrote.  

Lincolnshire born and bred, Nathan had never moved far from his hometown. He had always wanted to stay local, setting up building, pub and microbrewery businesses right where he grew up, explaining: ‘I love being the boss, I wouldn’t want to work for anybody else or have a day job.’ 

The couple welcomed their daughter (pictured together) halfway through the project, before it came to a halt in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic

The couple bought the amazing land for cheap in 2019 and planned to spend a maximum of £400,000 on the construction, but delays, technical issues and the coronavirus pandemic saw them spending much more to complete the works 

But five years ago Amye, a teacher from Ireland, walked into his life and kickstarted a whole new chapter.  He said: ‘Meeting Amye has been amazing, it’s been a whirlwind.’   

Meanwhile Amye said she dreamed of building a stunning family home in which they could welcome children, explaining: ‘I grew up in the countryside, it was perfect. Nathan and I are planning to get married, maybe having some children, I’m hoping to recreate that.’ 

Nathan said: ‘I’m sure I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I’ve never done it before, I don’t know what I’m doing.’

The couple explained to Kevin they bought the plot without planning permission, with Rosie confessing: ‘The previous owners failed twice, which is why they’ve sold the plot. It didn’t look good.’

Inside the house, windows let in plenty of light under the high ceilings. The second floor opened to a large staircase leading to the bedrooms 

Outside, the house was completely covered in black slate. Some viewers noted the ambitious design was ‘not for them’ as some judged the house too big

The staircase, which is one of the house’s central feature. The house was designed with an open planned style, with an open kitchen, living-room, playroom and dining-room

They said they got the plot for a bargain for £100,000 and were hoping to build a five-bedroom house and a two-bedroom annex for Nathan’s parents. They hoped the project would take the shape of a Dutch barn, but in a ‘bespoke and very modern’ way.

It was a hugely ambitious plan and, with Nathan project managing, the pressure on him to pull it off was immense. Setting themselves just a year to finish, Nathan admitted: ‘Amye doesn’t understand delays.’

They costed up £400,000 for the build, with Nathan calling it ‘scary’, and adding: ‘Any more than £500,000 will start causing pain.’

He confessed he saw the entire build ‘as a challenge’, with Amye saying: ‘He is the worst communicator and an awful delegator.’

Meanwhile it wasn’t long before the couple are forced to move out of the house they shared together and into a more affordable rental.

A look at the dining-room, with a large table to host Nathan and Amye’s families, with colourful chairs, which opens to the kitchen 

Amye said: ‘I came over to England for one year five years ago and now we’re moving out of our home of five years to build the house of our dreams. It’s all a little bit much to take in emotionally. I’m an emotional person anyway but it’s just on peak levels at the moment.’ 

The pressure goes up another notch with news of an additional family member on the way, with Amye explaining: ‘The baby will be due halfway through the house build.  Now we need to make sure we’re stricter with the deadline so we can get into the house before the baby arrives.’

But it wasn’t long before the sodden agricultural landscape of Lincolnshire’s reclaimed marshlands left the couple struggle, with constant rain and a rising water table causing their excavations to collapse. 

Many unimpressed viewers (above) were not convinced by the house, with some calling it a ‘crematorium’ and a ‘quirky community centre’ 

Nathan explained: ‘We’ve had weeks and weeks and weeks of rain. It’s a nightmare to get right.’  With Amye’s increasing desire to get the house finished as soon as possible, there was little room for error or delay for Nathan.

Amye explained: ‘Nathan hasn’t been able to sleep the last few nights because of the rain. When he’s stressed he just can’t communicate. He hasn’t got the patience to communicate with me. It is hard because we want to just be comfortable and settled. And we’re just really unsettled at the moment.’  

The team desperately attempted to dig out the foundations, before the concrete truck arrived to pour. The delay could potentially be disastrous because a wait longer than two hours would mean the concrete might not bond together.

The lorries arrived in the nick of time, with Nathan saying: ‘The concrete has all been poured, every wagon. It’s a good day.’

His mother Rosie said she was ‘worrying for his stress levels’ with the build, saying: ‘He never says, “Oh it’s doing my head in”. He’s not like that.’

Meanwhile Nathan explained he was feeling nervous about the barn’s bespoke steel structure, which he had spent £50,000 on. He said: ‘We’ve spent hours and thousands of pounds making sure the drawings are correct.’

 Amy gets pregnant soon after construction begin and viewers got to see her growing baby bump during one of Kevin’s visits to the site

The following week, in December 2019, the team arrived with the erection team, and a crane to form the base for Nathan and Amye’s house.  The crane was backed into position but ran into trouble –  the ground was so waterlocked, it quickly sank into the mud, putting pressure on all the crane systems.

Nathan arrived on site, saying: ‘If it’s going to go wrong, it’s going to go wrong at this point. Hopefully get all the bad luck out the way early doors.’ 

Meanwhile the delay meant the driver of the steel lorry decided to cut his losses because he ‘has to go somewhere else.’ The crane was completely out of action and with the steelwork gone, nobody was aware of what the plan was.

The team manage to drag the lorry out of the mud, with Amye arriving on site to see how things are progressing. Nathan told the camera: ‘I don’t think she quite understands how complicated it is. But she doesn’t need to.’

Over the following days, the steel work team slotted the huge structure together – but the high design ambitions came with a high price tag.

Nathan’s architect friend Chris, who designed the home, said: ‘I’ve always said to Nathan, I don’t think his budget is enough. I don’t think he’s taking into account how bespoke the house is. Having said that, if he does bring it in on budget, I’ll be really impressed.’ 

By December 2019, Kevin visited the house and compares it to a ‘steel cathedral’. The couple said they planned to marry in September 2020, but admitted Nathan had been stressed throughout the build.

The stunning nursery for the couple’s little girl. The room features animal drawings on the wall, a lavish grey carpet and white furniture, as well as an eye-catching window wall

Nathan and Amye welcomed their daughter Niamh in early 2020, with Amye saying Nathan remained as busy as ever. Pictured, the bathroom in their new home

She said: ‘I often get the one-liner “I’m doing this for us!” I’m most excited about watching our baby grow in this house and making new memories.’ 

Nathan and Amye welcomed their daughter Niamh in early 2020, with Amye saying Nathan remained as busy as ever.

She said: ‘We’ve been a little busy since you last saw us. She was born on  the Wednesday and Nathan was back to work on the Friday morning.’

She set the ambitious target to have the house complete by September of that year and, with Amy cracking the whip to finish in seven months, Nathan spent the following weeks pulling out all the stops on site.

He said: ‘Since Christmas, we’ve ploughed on really. All the floors have gone in, brickwork going up, burning through the cash at the moment because it is going so quick. As long as it continues, it’ll be fine.’

By the end of the month, tilers have started laying the armadillo roof which encompassed the roof of the house.

Nathan took pride his hard work getting the build back on track but come March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic puts the project in a state of paralysis.

Nathan said: ‘It’s been scary like..are you going to get the labour on site, are you not going to get on, how much longer will it take. I just don’t know. It is a nightmare.’

Speaking with Kevin weeks into lockdown, the couple confessed the budget had been pushed to £500,000, with Amye adding: ‘The size of it wasn’t something we had a grasp of.’ Nathan said: ‘I’ve thought in the last few weeks, maybe it could have been smaller.’

Incessant rain and the coronavirus pandemic meant the building project was seriously delayed in 2020, but was eventually finished in the autumn

A few months on, Amye revealed she had also struggled with the lockdown, after finding it a challenge after they  to get samples for products.

She said: ‘It is now getting a little bit stressful having to make decisions. Show rooms aren’t open yet. But we’re having to go with it blind.  If we were to say, we won’t bother doing it till it’s open again, we’d be going back months again.’

Meanwhile she added that Nathan had quite different tastes than her, explaining: ‘Nathan gets very attracted to flashy things.  He wanted LED stripes in as many places in the house as he could get. His taste is a bit more eccentric than mine.’ 

Amye said she had set the brief for the ‘main feature’ in the house, the stairs, and had a clear view of what she wants for the main staircase in their home.  Yet Nathan was the one who has been having all the discussions with the workmen making the staircase.

When it came to Amye assessing the progress, she said the pressure was on, explaining: ‘It’s the biggest thing to go into the house, it’s also the most expensive thing to go into the house. I know I sent the original, this is what we’re aiming for picture, but I haven’t seen any of it since. I haven’t been part of the conversations so this will be my first time seeing what it’s like.’ 

Amye’s jaw dropped when the metal structure was revealed, with the young mother saying it was ‘not at all’ what she is expecting.

She said: ‘That’s why this isn’t what I expecting to see at all. I haven’t seen anything. This is the first time I’ve seen that. It’s not at all what I had in my head.’

But it was too late to change any of the designs for the couple so she had to reserve any final judgement until the stairs are in place, with Amye continuing: ‘The test is yet to come.’ 

Builders working on the side got issues when a massive crave got stuck in the mud when the driver forgot to put the handbrake off

By September 2020, Nathan and Amye took a couple of days off to get married but pushed ahead with the build.

Amye said the desire to get into the property is growing higher, with Nathan saying: ‘We’re so reliant on labour, I’ve used everybody I know. I see this as different to anything else I’ve worked on because it’s personal. My family’s happiness is wrapped into this. So there is a bit of pressure.’ 

By November 2020, the couple have finished the house, with Kevin comparing it to a series of upturned boats, protecting their human cargo.

The house was a super insulated, fuel frugal home, designed to look after its occupants, with Kevin calling t ‘so sharp and crisp’, adding: ‘It’s got personality.’

The way in is dramatic, like walking into a church, while once inside, the hallway opens into a huge double height hallway at the heart of it.

Amye said: ‘There was a moment where I was a bit hesitant and let down by the look of the stairs. I absolutely love it now that it’s part of the house and our home. I was wrong.’

The groundfloor had a warm living spaces at each end of the house, with an open plan kitchen dining room.  Upstairs, Nathan’s teenage children had bedrooms  and a shared en-suite while Nathan and Amy an enormous bedroom with an open plan bathroom.

Albert and Rosie’s annex was a more traditional complement to the main house, with Rosie saying; ‘I couldn’t ask for more. You always hope the children are going to look after you but you take that for granted. We will always be truly thankful.’

But the rush to complete the house came at a cost, with Nathan confessing it he had had to revalue another property in order to afford the  ‘just under £600,000’ budget.

Grand Designs airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4 

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