Missed ‘Grand Designs: The Street’ on Channel 4 last night?

Here’s what you need to know…

Last night Grand Designs: The Street showcased Graven Hill, the UK’s largest self and custom build development, and its been five-years in the making! In the six-part series, Kevin McCloud follows the first 10 pioneering self-builders on their journey to property perfection.

Featured last night: Building a home that is fit for the future

In last night’s episode we saw the oldest pioneers, Terry and Olwen, embark on their self-build journey, along with longstanding friend and neighbour Lynn.  The three of them have all relocated from Daventry to Bicester’s Graven Hill to build their dream homes.

Terry and Olwen

Terry and Olwen have built their bespoke, very individual, future-proofed home, while supporting their neighbour Lynn with hers.  They intend to retire to Graven Hill. Their build was not without drama – Terry is diagnosed with diabetes and carpal tunnel which effects what he is able to do, not only for himself but for Lynn as well and tensions between the two neighbours threatens their friendship as time marches on.

As Terry and Olwen’s budget depends on them doing most of the work themselves it could have serious repercussions.

During the programme we hear how important the Graven Hill community has become to Terry and Olwen.

We also hear the significance they place on planning ahead and attention to detail. At the end of the episode we see the results of Terry and Olwen’s labours – a bespoke, future proofed, innovative, Mediterranean blue themed home.

The details: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, started in April 2017, completed September 2018, final build cost £275k.


Moving from her traditional 250-year-old cottage, Lynn has begun to build a modern, spacious, open-plan home – a stark contrast to her previous residence. With little building experience, Lynn has benefited from help from her neighbours, Terry and Olwen.

Lynn faces problems during her build as there are serious issues with her underfloor heating and her roof. She also falls out with neighbours Terry and Olwen. With the help and support of Graven Hill and Kevin McCloud, Lynn comes through it all and finally we see her finished house.

Despite all the issues Lynn faced, she’s delighted with the individuality of her home and says she’d “definitely do it again”. With ground level, polished concrete floors and the upstairs adopting an Oast house-inspired roundel extending from the roof, her dream home is truly one-of-a-kind.

The details: 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, started in April 2017, yet to be completed, final build cost expected to be £400k.

Here are our top takeaways when considering your long-term home

Graven Hill has widespread appeal and we’ve seen individuals, couples and families from all walks of life and ages embark on their self-build journey. For many, a major factor when choosing or designing your home, is ensuring that its going to stand the test of time.

What kind of builder are you?

  • You don’t always need to have had previous building experience to embark on your new home project, but you do need to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
  • Consider whether you’re planning on project managing the build yourself, relying on friends and family or perhaps bringing in professional support to see it through.
  • At Graven Hill, you can be as involved or removed as you like. Having the option to use external builders and tradesman allows you to keep on with everyday life. Self-building doesn’t have to become your job, unless you want it to.

For further tips, here’s our guide to ‘Self Build Made Simple’.

What type of build will suit you?

For many, project managing a self-build in its entirety can seem out of reach and even overwhelming, and although our development takes a lot of the usual stresses out of the equation, there are other options to consider too.

Self-Build homes

Buying a serviced self-build plot at Graven Hill is an easier way to design and build your own dream home. Self-build is for everyone – from first time buyers and growing families to those who are looking to downsize and create a legacy for future generations.

Custom Build New Homes 

If you’re torn between the convenience of a new build and wanting to put your personal stamp on it, Graven Hill has the perfect option. Our custom-build new homes give you flexible, high-quality living space that is tailored to suit your needs, without you having to build it yourself. You still get to customise the internal layouts and finishes within your chosen home without the hassle of building from the foundations up.   

Mix and Match homes  

For the new breed of self-builder, our Mix and Match homes offer all the creativity of a self-build without the hassle. One plot, multiple designs, your choice. After picking your perfect location and design, we can easily advise on the cost of the land, foundations and build. 

What ‘later living’ provisions can you incorporate?

Within the Graven Hill development, self-builders can pick and choose exactly what they need to make their lifestyle and home completely their own. Here are a few options for later living plans:

  • Flush to floor doors and outer paving to guarantee easy, step-free access
  • Single level living – or one of our pioneers has even built a lift!
  • Widened doors for wheelchair access
  • Open-plan living, flexible rooms using sliding doors and use of wet rooms
  • Lowered light switches and handles for easy reach
  • Chest-height appliances to help avoid bending down
  • Easy and low maintenance outside space

The possibilities are endless – you really can make it completely tailored to your needs.

There are many financial, as well as social, benefits to having a home that grows and adapts to your present and future lifestyle. Not only are families able to enjoy spending time together in a stylish setting that caters to everyone, there is a lot less pressure to set money aside for moving costs or make decisions about when to downsize or relocate. Self-building allows your home to remain your home well into the future.