Grand Designs viewers NOT convinced by £1m concrete 'bunker'

Grand Designs viewers are NOT convinced by makeover of £1million concrete ‘bunker’ house as Kevin McCloud revisits the property two years on – saying it still looks like a ‘car park’ or a ‘Cold War’ building

  • Adrian and Megan Corrigall built a home almost entirely out of concrete on Grand Designs in 2018
  • The couple spent £500,000 on the plot and ended up spending £500,000 on the build itself 
  • Kevin McCloud returned and was ‘blown away’ by how the couple have transformed it into a cosy home 
  • But viewers were less convinced and said it still looked like a ‘Cold War’ bunker or a ‘car park’ 

Grand Designs viewers were left unimpressed by a £1million ‘bunker’ house after Kevin McCloud revisited the property on last night’s episode. 

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.

McCloud returned to the property in December 2020, more than two years after his last visit, and was delighted to find the couple had been able to make their stark, Brutalist home feel cosy and lived in.   

However viewers were less convinced by the transformation and said it still looked like a ‘car park’ or a ‘Cold War’ building, despite Adrian and Megan’s efforts to make it feel more homey.

One tweeted: ‘The house is still awful – putting some pot plants and paintings in a concrete bunker doesn’t stop it still being a concrete bunker #granddesigns.’

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, like the state of the walls 

MASTER BEDROOM AFTER: More than two years on and the couple  have coated the walls in resin, giving them more of a sheen, and added paint and personal touches to make it feel more homey. Kevin McCloud was decidedly impressed when he walked into the space but viewers were less convinced and said it still looked like a ‘car park’ or a ‘bunker’

SNUG BEFORE: The last time Kevin visited the property this room, which became a snug, looked dank and depressing and was jokingly dubbed the ‘swimming pool’ because it repeatedly flooded during construction

SNUG AFTER: The space is almost unrecognisable thanks to clever use of lighting, designer furniture and quirky artwork. But some unconvinced viewers said the personal touches were still not enough to elevate the ‘bunker’ into a family home

LIVING AREA 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 

LIVING AREA AFTER: The open-plan kitchen-living space has been updated with a new kitchen (pictured) after the couple realised their original design, which incorporated old science benches from universities and schools, was not practical 

Unconvinced: Viewers did not share Kevin McCloud’s enthusiasm and took to Twitter to slam the concrete property 

Another posted: ‘I’m sorry but that concrete monstrosity is beyond awful! You couldn’t pay me to live there. #granddesigns.’

A third wrote: ‘Anyone else thinking how the bleeding hell will they clean that house! Not my cup of tea #granddesigns.’

A handful of others were more forgiving, with one supporter adding: ‘I just want to send some love out to the family with the concrete house. It’s not everyone’s taste but you accomplished a dream and the kids love it. Win win.’ 

Kevin was unsure of what he would find as he approached the property on his most recent visit.   

‘I’m really interested to see if Adrian and Megan have been able to finesse it in any way,’ he said, ‘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

Supporters: A handful of viewers spoke out in favour of the bold design… but the majority slammed the Brutalist creation  

However he was thrilled with the exterior, saying: ‘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 LIVING AREA 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 LIVING AREA AFTER: Kevin returned to find the space transformed by quirky artwork and splashes of colour but some viewers said it was not enough to convince them that the house was a homey and welcoming place to live 

THE COURTYARD 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… 

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

BEDROOM NOW: One of the children’s bedroom, tucked away behind a heavy curtain, features stylish furniture

SECOND BEDROOM: At one end of the home are the children’s bedrooms, including this trendy space 

THIRD BEDROOM: This bedroom features a raised bed above built-in storage with a rock climbing wall instead of a ladder

‘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. 

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.’ 

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 

THE GARDEN NOW: The garden is more mature, there is a sunken seating area and the pool edge has been planted

Grand Designs is available on All4.  

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