Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud admits he is ‘blown away’ by the transformation of a family home he once compared to a ‘nuclear bunker’ and a ‘car park’ as he revisits the property 18 months on.
Adrian and Megan Corrigall spent 18 months creating the pioneering four-bedroom property in Lewes, East Sussex, entirely out of concrete, with their journey originally documented on a programme in 2018.
When McCloud visited the property at the end of the episode it was still not watertight and there was no heating.
Tonight, more than two years after he was last there, McCloud returns to the property to discover if the couple, who live with their children, have been able to make their stark, brutalist home feel cosy and lived in.
‘I’m really interested to see if Adrian and Megan have been able to finesse it in any way,’ he says, on the drive to the property, ‘to make up for all of those defects. I’ll be really interested to see it…
‘They must have done some work, they must have refined it. I hope they’ve turned it into a proper piece of architecture that’s somewhere to live, somewhere that’s a delight to live in that isn’t dark and dank and dripping, but is an inspirational home.’
BEFORE: Adrian and Megan Corrigall spent 18 months creating the pioneering four-bedroom family home in Lewes, East Sussex, pictured, almost entirely out of concrete. Pictured, how the project looked when Kevin last visited in October 2018
NOW: Kevin McCloud revisited the property in December 2020 and was pleasantly surprised by what he found. He noted that the exterior of the home (pictured) had been polished and ground down so the concrete looked more similar to limestone
BEFORE: The couple’s industrial chic property is built entirely using concrete. They raised eyebrows from Kevin McCloud when they revealed they would not polish the walls or even use paint or plaster. Pictured, the property’s kitchen and reception space in October 2018, when it was still not watertight and didn’t have any heating
Determined: Adrian and Megan Corrigall originally appeared on Grand Designs in 2018 and return tonight as Kevin McCloud revisits the build to discover how much it has changed – and he is stunned by the results
Within moments of pulling up to the house, McCloud is amazed by the sight that greets him and declares: ‘It looks really good. It’s beautiful. It’s been polished and ground back. It’s like limestone now, it’s gorgeous. It’s concrete from another planet.’
Adrian and Megan originally paid £500,000 for the plot, razed the existing property to the ground and set aside an additional budget of between £300,000 and £400,000 to build the bungalow out of a cutting-edge concrete.
Former BMX rider Adrian, 46, explained at the start of the project that his inspiration for using concrete came from his time spent at skate parts in Scotland as a youngster.
The couple opted for a pioneering Swiss ‘nano-concrete’ to bring the dream to life. The cutting-edge technology uses micro-reinforcing bits of glass fibre and shards of stainless steel to strengthen the concrete, a technique that has never been used outside of Switzerland.
‘It’s a great big brutal concrete bunker,’ Adrian enthuses. ‘Building in concrete is a really simple way to build a house. You’re pouring concrete, you’re not messing around with bricks and mortar, and you’re not doing any of that.
THE KITCHEN BEFORE: The kitchen of the family home, pictured, provided an example of the industrial effect created by the untouched concrete. On Kevin’s return tonight, he finds the space feels warmer and more welcoming
THE MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE: The couple spent £500,000 on the initial site, which included a bungalow that they razed to the ground, to make way for the unique building that featured seven different levels of concrete. When Kevin last visited the property in October 2018 it was not watertight and still had major issues to resolve
THE LIVING ROOM BEFORE: The couple opt for a pioneering Swiss ‘nano-concrete’. The cutting-edge technology uses micro-reinforcing bits of glass fibre and shards of stainless steel to strengthen the concrete
‘It’s about an honest building built out of a really truly, 21st century material with an incredible history but we’re using it in its most modern way it can be utilised… And we’re doing it on a budget.’
However they quickly ran into unexpected costs and end up spending £50,000 over budget, forcing Adrian to head off-shore on deep sea diving jobs to bring in extra cash.
‘We have had an absolute nightmare, we’ve got credit cards and god knows what up to our eyeballs,’ Megan admitted in one desperate moment. ‘We were pushed into this position where we couldn’t do anything.’
During one visit, when Kevin learned the walls were not going to be polished, the presenter observed: ‘It’s pure and uncompromised…
‘An aesthetic however, which is also going to be governed by the connotations of concrete, because underneath the questions of aesthetics lies a fundamental question: Could you live in a car park?’
When the presenter returned for a final visit in October 2018, upon seeing the almost-finished house Kevin branded it ‘unwelcoming’ and ‘a fortress, like an electricity substation’, although he ultimately appreciated what the couple had wanted to do.
THE PROPERTY BEFORE: The building made way for small alcoves and pockets of space. Adrian and Megan added their own personal touches to make the house feel homely and less industrial building, as seen left and right
THE GARDEN BEFORE: The outdoor swimming pool was created in a matching concrete setting to the house, each line flush with the angles of the house. Kevin returns to find the garden more mature and perfect for entertaining
On his return in December 2020, Kevin was far more effusive, and said he was ‘blown away’ by how the couple had transformed the space into a family home.
Adrian and Megan have added stylish furniture, quirky artwork and personal touches to create a modern bungalow that feels lived in and well-loved.
They use heavy curtains instead of doors between the bedrooms and have added skylights to flood the home with natural light – one of Kevin’s favourite features.
‘The bunker is full of joy,’ Kevin notes. ‘They’re great rooms, they’re great high ceilings,’ he declares as he tours the space. He adds: ‘I am blown away by this transformation.’
Grand Designs airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4