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11 Jun, 18 / post / Architecture
Grand Designs: 20 Minute Challenge

Sometimes all you need is 20 minutes to talk through a problem with someone who can offer experience and a fresh pair of eyes. This was the case for some visitors I met at Grand Designs Live last year.

Most years we are part of the ‘Ask An Expert’ hub at Grand Designs Live in London, providing visitors with 20 minutes of free advice. During one particular session, the couple in question brought with them some plans and gave me a quick run down of what their architect had designed. They weren’t happy with the layout but didn’t know why or what to do next.

Having just 20 minutes to get inside these people’s heads and understand their building is a pretty tall order. But I like this sort of challenge!

We ended up re-configuring the stairs to give them less dead space, and shifting the room layout downstairs to emphasise the view and deliver the wow factor but still retain a degree of separation through defined spaces.

Grand Designs

At the ‘Ask An Expert’ hub, we typically advise visitors not to panic, but instead go back to their designers and explain to them what they need and why. It’s their house after all, and the designer is working for them! Once the Grand Designs show is over, we don’t usually hear back from those visitors as to what they did next.

But later in the day, as the show was finishing, I met the couple in question and they were enthusing about the service and information that I had provided earlier during our 20 minute session – a real joy to hear.

And from that point on, we’ve kept in touch. They have been doing a lot of work onsite themselves, living in a caravan on the site! Previously we’ve FaceTimed with them as they’ve walked around their site, answering a few questions; it’s been a really nice way to see and get a good connection with them and their Grand Designs build.

Last week I got an opportunity to visit them in person on site, and see how far they have come. My ideas from our 20 minute session have all been implemented and they are very happy with the overall scheme. The house has gone from an average mid-terraced property to a modern, clean family home with some great features. They have done really well and in the next few weeks they’ll be moving in – at that point I’ll go back to see the finished house and snap some more photos!

Grand Designs

We can’t take all the credit as the original architect defined the shape, but imagine what we could do if we had been given more than 20 minutes!

If you’re looking for support to create your dream Grand Designs build, we have already put together lots of free advice you are welcome to download:

FREE ’10 Things To Understand Before You Start Your Dream Build’ guide

FREE Project Planning Pack

And if you think we might be able to assist you with your project, do send us an email or call us on 01273 704901.

About the author
john smith
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