Grand Designs Australia
About the Show
Peter Maddison presents the Australian version of the architecture show that follows intrepid individuals as they try to design and construct the home of their dreams
Series 4 Summary
More self-builders create their perfect dream home as they transform their elaborate designs into practical living space in the fourth series of the Australian architecture programme hosted by Peter Maddison.
City slickers Glen and Kate were delighted when they found 19 windswept acres near the seaside town of Inverloch on Victoria's south coast, where they intend to opt out for a simpler lifestyle.
The plan for their new house was for something completely untested: a design based on a barchan sand dune - an arc-shaped sand ridge.
The idea for the shape came first, conceived not from the floor up but from the form down, and that meant working out a floor plan to fit the crescent shape.
Inside, seven free-standing rammed earth walls separate the spaces and help to support a 'ring-beam' of super-strong laminated timber that encircles the entire perimeter and props up a grand vaulted ceiling.
This is an adventurous and challenging undertaking, and the couple face many compromises as they build what is quickly dubbed 'the UFO house'.
Experiments by their very nature are often open-ended and costly, and this one is no exception.
Will Glen and Kate get through this complex and difficult construction to realise their original concept, or will they be forced to trim and modify because curves simply cost too much?
As a bricklayer, Greg has spent his adult life building houses for other people. Now, after dreaming about it for over 20 years, he's building one for himself out of the material he's most passionate about - bricks.
He and his partner Emma are ripping down their inner-city town house in a South Melbourne laneway to build a three-level home in which to raise their young son Archie.
They're also trying extended family living, assigning the ground floor of the new house to Emma's parents, who are contributing to the budget.
Trustingly, Emma's parents have left the design of the house completely to Greg, who plans to be as creative as possible with his beloved bricks, which will be custom designed and painted by hand.
His appreciation of craftsmanship is old-fashioned but his unique, industrial design sensibility is very contemporary, with much of the house made from recycled materials found at junkyards.
But handmade equals time-consuming, and Greg is under added pressure to move the family in, as he battles to get the ground level finished.
Plus, living with extended family is new territory for all of them. Can they survive the building process and live harmoniously in the same house?
Hotels have always played a major part in Richard and Denise's lives. They own 14 of them, so it's no surprise that when it comes to designing their new house, their inspiration is taken from buildings close to their hearts.
Theirs is a prime location up in the Adelaide Hills with sweeping views across the city and gulf; a site precariously positioned on a steep ledge, meaning they have to rebuild the hillside to support their huge house.
There's enough concrete for six typical dwellings - over 400 cubic metres - all needed to ensure this house doesn't slip down the hill.
And this is going to be a very big home with all the bells and whistles: an enclosed swimming pool, a home theatre, a decadent elliptical bathroom protruding from the vast master suite and, of course, endless views framed by six-metre-high dark glass.
To secure their vision, Richard and Denise have chosen the team that's built hotels for them in the past. But as works progress, it's clear that this building is of super-sized proportions.
The internal spaces are so large that fit-out decisions are constantly changing, but the couple stop at nothing to get exactly what they want. The question is... how much is too much?
This is a design driven by creating a sense of wonder. Just how they manage to tie all these enormous open areas together stylistically will either make or break this massive house on the hill.
Kerry and Judi are avid collectors of things with a history. They've got a keen eye for indigenous artefacts from all around the world and are always on the lookout to add to their ever-growing collection.
After travelling in the Santa Fe region of the USA, they fell in love with the hand-crafted Adobe building style. They loved the look and feel of the thick, natural clay-rendered walls and exposed timbers.
So inspired were they, that when they decided to split their large block of land in half and build another home, it had to be an Adobe: a rare slice of New Mexico on their bushy plot at Hornsby Heights, an hour from Sydney's Central Business District.
It took 10 years to find the specialists to bring their Adobe concoction to life: designer Andrew and builder Peter.
They share the couple's passion for the style, plus Peter has a vast collection of recycled timber and corrugated iron: natural materials used to construct the frame and cladding before covering the entire surface with clay render.
This is a one-of-a-kind construction process that also features some last-minute changes to the plans. But their biggest challenge comes in the form of an unexpected and immovable obstacle they discover runs right through the centre of what will be their lounge.
A sewer line would be enough to leave most people undone, but not Kerry and Judi, who plan to incorporate it into the design of their home-grown Adobe.
Darren and Ruth have almost opposite views about what their new house should be. Darren wants all the bells and whistles, including a home cinema and wine cellar, but Ruth wants chickens and a vegetable garden.
Finding a design that will satisfy both of them and their young son Raymond is their shared aim. After years of searching, sports fan Darren found his holy grail - a large patch of land within spitting distance of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Ruth is just as passionate because this unique inner-city block, just 3km from Melbourne's Central Business District, is large enough for a house with a garden.
Hidden down a laneway with no street frontage, this secret garden will be transformed into a contemporary three-storey family mansion. But this is a very traditional area full of Victorian houses, so their vision has the potential to upset the neighbours - something they're keen to avoid.
Building such a large home via a narrow bluestone alley is like threading a camel through the eye of a needle. As work begins, it becomes clear that excavating 400 square metres of soil for the basement will be a messy and noisy business.
As the building goes up, so does their budget and when Ruth receives a $50,000 quote for a chicken shed, it seems her dream of the 'good life' in the inner city might just be a castle in the sky.
Can Darren and Ruth achieve their individual aspirations, or will the compromise leave them both unsatisfied?
For builder Chris, the chance to construct a sustainable house for his family has been a lifelong dream. After working on sustainable building projects in Europe, he's developed a passion to bring this style of building to Australia.
Chris and his wife Belinda have bought the small 'car park' of land next door to their existing house: at just 4.9 metres wide, it's a tiny gap in a long row of heritage listed cottages in Sydney's inner-west Forest Lodge. Their plan is to use every centimetre for a uniquely sustainable house.
Chris's practical approach to his sustainable ethos is reducing energy costs. He's going the extra mile, insulating the ground underneath the slab to store heat from solar tubes on the roof to provide heating and hot water for the house.
Vertical gardens, double-glazed windows, underground water tanks and an insulating rooftop garden create a house that will heat and cool itself.
A fastidious builder, Chris is not afraid to think outside the box and innovate using a commercial flooring system to support the weight of his rooftop garden.
There are challenges to building on a tiny block of land in a very narrow street where every delivery vehicle needs to be measured, but this is nothing compared with the health bombshell delivered to Belinda shortly after construction gets under way.
It's an added pressure that tests the family both emotionally and physically as Chris battles to get the house finished.
Thirteen years ago, Meredith and Matt needed an escape from their busy lives as doctors in Sydney, so they purchased a working sheep property at Ilford in the central tablelands of New South Wales.
Their plan is to build a house for their family on the highest point of the 1000-acre property, but not a traditional rambling country homestead. Meredith and Matt want something more agricultural; simple in its styling, with materials that resonate with its rural setting.
But this is an off-the-map location and the romanticism of building on such a quintessential Aussie spot is quickly doused. Luring trades and scheduling their seamless integration is an exercise in logistics.
The isolation means juggling 10 cement trucks from three different towns to arrive on the same day, a job that would normally be handled by a project manager. But finding one prepared to commute to the site is impossible, so Meredith decides to take over.
The wettest summer for decades forces trades to down tools indefinitely, and the waterlogged site would be enough to persuade most to throw in the towel, but Meredith is stoic and determined to withstand the unseasonal weather.
To add more grief, the original designer plans don't marry with her and Matt's vision, so they're forced to make structural changes on the run.
Faced with escalating costs and a timeline that's out by a year, Matt and Meredith are left wondering if their farmhouse will ever materialise.
Daniela and Niran and their son Calum are doing something no-one in their historic street in the prestigious Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill has done before: knocking down their old house to build a smaller one!
They believe the family that spends time together stays together - a premise that forms the core of the design of their new home.
Combining their shared love of rustic materials such as stone and wood salvaged from their old home, the couple, who hail from Italy and Sri Lanka, intend to create an intimate living space reflecting their history.
Flying in the face of convention, they're building a two-storey home with a gravity-defying suspended slab that spans the main living pavilion, topped by a roof planted with gardens.
This is a house like no other, mixing traditional Sri Lankan architecture and Italian concrete finishes. Daniela and Niran are able to pull off this radical departure from their heritage listed neighbours because their plot of land is hidden from the street, accessed by a tree-lined laneway.
But this seclusion brings its own set of headaches. For Daniela, who's overseeing the entire project, it's all new ground as she negotiates her way through a minefield of red tape, heritage sensitivity and one very complicated roof.
In creating something unique, have the duo pushed the design envelope too far or will their brazen experiment be a perfect marriage of styles?
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 have decided to build a house there after almost 20 years of living in East Arnhem Land: the two locations are literally at either end of the country.
Drawn to live among the raw elements of nature, they've bought a spectacular parcel of land in the dunes of the island's wild west coast.
Their design - a central wedge of living space flanked by two asymmetrical wings - is startlingly different. From the air, it resembles a whale's tail, or the tail plane of an aircraft.
The clever angles of the north face break up winds and provide shelter, but the house also puts the local builder's skill set to the test.
There are no sub-contractors on the island, so the builder and his team need to handle everything, and this is not your average construction, with few straight lines and a great deal of tricky geometry.
Perhaps Di and Andrew's biggest problem is stopping the sand from their dune blowing away. Their solution is creative and cheap, but will it be enough to tame the forces of nature?
The couple must contend with dwindling resources, wind and rain if they want to achieve their dream, but King Island has never been a place for the faint-hearted.
Self-confessed hippies Cole and Jane have bought a thin sliver of land on a steep site that only a landscaper could love in the hilly suburb of Dynnyrne in Hobart.
After years spent landscaping sites for other people's homes, Cole wants to build his own house on this challenging slope, a task made all the more tricky by the fact that his design consists almost entirely of curves.
Cascading levels down the hill requires five separate concrete slabs, but pouring them is the only job done by professional contractors on site. For the most part, this entirely curved building will be constructed by just three people, none of whom have ever built a house before.
Joining Cole in the adventure is son Leif and his friend Freddy, who are both apprentice builders and up for the job, but attempting such a complex house using what is essentially unskilled labour is an incredibly optimistic approach.
Cole has to find a solution for everything, which even means coming up with his own system for a curved staircase. The whole thing might be one big, expressive statement, but the irony is that it takes a huge amount of work for this house to appear so fluid and natural.
Their ambitious time frame and budget are in danger of blowing out and, with no two curves the same in this house, it's a true labour of love.
Grand Designs Australia synopsis
Peter Maddison presents the Australian version of the architecture show that follows intrepid individuals as they try to design and construct the home of their dreamsEpisode Guide >