One house in Cornwall not only looks unique in its design but also has a unique story involving a 1980’s teen movie a sad tragedy and is something you’d see on a TV show- literally.
Last night (Wednesday, July 22) viewers were taken on the usual Grand Designs rollercoaster ride as the repeat broadcast showed the project going way over budget and even including the death of a builder.
But Channel 4’s showing of the 2018 episode was timely – as the property in Mawgan Porth is now up for sale.
Presenter Kevin McCloud spent time with Harry and Briony Anscombe as they set about building their dream home as part of their plans for a new Cornish life since moving from London 18 months earlier. They were inspired by a floating glass and steel structure similar to a house called ‘Ben Rose House’ – designed by A James Speyer – which was featured in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, in which it famously saw a rare Ferrari accidentally launched out of the window.
With plans to undertake another dream design, the house, as seen on TV, could now be yours for the princely sum of £1.8 million.
What you get for your money is a home like no other, nestled in a secluded five-acre woodland within walking distance of the coast.
But while you might have seen similar descriptions for houses sold for similar money, the story behind this one is just as remarkable as the property itself.
The episode tracked the progress of the build as TV producer Harry set about the ambitious build, helped by a team of local builders.
It followed the trials and tribulations of the couple and their team, as ambition sometimes faced the brick wall of reality and budget as they set about their mission of building their dream home, which was intended to be a replica of the house from the movie, despite never seeing it, on a budget of £400,000.
The striking building project on the site of a former dairy farm wasn’t without challenges. First came the fact that their dreams didn’t match their budget when McCloud revealed that to build a full replica would cost £800,000 – double their budget. Undeterred, Harry and the team of builders set about doing what they could in a timeframe of eight months, with some of the changes meaning the end result wouldn’t be an exact replica.
To keep the project on track, Harry resorted to a number of gambles, mostly relying on the infamously unreliable Cornish weather to be on their side and, if it went wrong, it could have jeopardised the entire construction. One such project involved laying the concrete before the structure was weatherproof, followed by a three-week wait while it set. Which, luckily, it did.
The program follows the progress of Harry along with his two experienced builders, Ken and Mark, as they plough through setbacks ranging from a wrong measurement setting them back several weeks, to the budget shortfall and the ‘Beast from the East’ storms that ravaged the county.
Worse was, however, yet to come. As the build progressed, awful news arrived that put the stresses and strains of the project into perspective, leaving the team devastated – the death of one of the builders, Ken Pearce, suddenly in his sleep.
“He was always so patient with us, we asked stupid questions every day and he’d put up with it and teach us in his charming Cornish way,” said Harry. “He wasn’t just a builder; he was a friend of the family too.”
A memorial stone with the words “Built 2018, Ken Pearce” was installed at the property as a tribute to mark the legacy of the builder’s last project which he didn’t live to see completed.
Fourteen months after the project began, the house, known as Natural Bridges, was completed with some subtle differences from the home which inspired them.
The main differences were that where the house from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is mostly glass, while the copy featured on Grand Designs has more walls in the form of Siberian larch cladding, less glass, and is bigger.
While the original budget was £400,000 the final spend was £510,000 on the build and the project ended up five months overdue.
But one look at the final result is enough to say it was probably worth it. Or – as Harry himself says – “Speyer was pure glass and perhaps a bit impractical, but it inspired us, and this is our version”.