A father to a stunned Grand Designs viewer last night on "The Craziest Episode Ever" after spending four years and £ 4.5 million converting an abandoned neo-Gothic cemetery shack into his dream home with a swimming pool and moat.
Justin Maxwell Stuart from London appeared on the hit Channel 4 series, grabbed the abandoned Guardian Lodge and adjoining ex-council toilet block in Fulham Cemetery in 2016 for £ 1.8 million and said he wanted it to be a luxurious one Mansion make 12 months with a budget of 1.6 million pounds.
His vision was to restore the lodge, but tear down the ugly toilet blocks and replace them with an enormous luxury extension on the ground floor with an additional moat and huge basement with swimming pool – all just a few meters from the nearest grave.
After starting the project in October 2016, he faced difficulties, including obtaining planning permission for the cemetery from his garden. He ended up spending £ 4.5 million and four years building his dream.
Viewers were blown away by the remarkable build, with one comment: & # 39; Possibly the greatest #GrandDesigns of all time. That was crazy, beautiful and very, very funny. & # 39;
Justin from London stunned Grand Designs viewers last night in "The Craziest Episode Ever" after spending four years and £ 4.5 million converting an abandoned neo-Gothic cemetery shack into his dream home with a swimming pool and moat (see picture before))
The father of one admitted that he would “never” have started the project in 2016 if he had known how expensive the full renovation would be
Another wrote: & # 39; Damn love #GrandDesigns and what an episode to start the new series. Damn good house, but damn good price too. «
Justin showed his enthusiasm for the project from his love for the cemetery, which he went through four times a day.
Justin served eight years as an infantry officer in the British Forces Scots Guards, two of which were on active service in Iraq and Northern Ireland.
But in 2006, his passion and interest in fishing moved his interests and he started Where Wise Men Fish, which offers fly fishing all over the world.
The deal is described online as an opportunity for Justin to "practice the extensive skills built in planning and conducting military operations and exercises in the army, into the equally complex and demanding world of adventure travel, to distant and remote destinations" .
Speaking of the program, he stated that he started the project after he and his & # 39; wonderful ex-wife split up & # 39; and said, 'I thought my life is now in turmoil and chaos, I now have the opportunity to do something off the beaten path. And I wanted the chance to do something very special. & # 39;
Justin was able to demolish the former city council toilet block and build a breathtaking extension of the original guard's hut, with light pouring into each room through large windows (picture, lounge).
The father of one said he was motivated to start the project after he and his "wonderful ex-wife" broke up and wanted to build a house for him and her son George
The ambitious builder is also closely related to the Lady of Traquair, Catherine Stewart, who is his first cousin, and said he took inspiration from Scotland's oldest inhabited house, her home, the Traquair House.
In the meantime, the former army officer said access to the cemetery was one of his main motives when buying the lodge house and he was hoping to install a gate from his garden to the cemetery, subject to further planning permission.
He said, “I don't see them as my dead neighbors, they are just my neighbors. And at witch hour, when they close the gates to the cemetery, then it really is my neighborhood.
“It will be a great statement for a castle. And then my folly – a pool. & # 39;
A local architect drew up the design and planned to properly repair the neo-Gothic lodge while the toilet block would be demolished.
As Justin set off on the huge project, he announced that he was hoping to turn the gatekeeper lodge into his own "grand castle" with rooms that "make a statement" (his completed main bathroom pictured)
In the meantime, the master bedroom took over the entire first floor of the house and gave Justin a green look into the graveyard beyond
In one of the most ambitious parts of his project, Justin built a 13-meter pool in the property's huge basement – all a few meters from the nearest grave
Planning constraints prevented Justin from building himself up, and instead planned to dig six meters deep to create a huge basement just a few meters from the nearest grave.
There would also be an excavation under the lodge itself, and above it a flat roof extension of the ground floor will connect it to the neo-Gothic lodge.
Given where it was located, there were a variety of planning constraints, but Justin said he hoped to complete the project in just a year.
He stated the project was valued at £ 1.6 million but admitted that he had only found £ 1.2 million to start the project.
The former Army officer was taken aback after being told that the total cost of the project would be £ 4 million and struggled desperately to keep costs down
He said 60 percent of the funds came from his savings, while he also received a loan from his mother before getting a mortgage on the lodge and its other homes, adding, I'm afraid I'm going down a disastrous black hole. & # 39;
But it wasn't long before Justin encountered a stumbling block. The businessman was stunned when the builders returned to him with a budget for the project.
He exclaimed: & # 39; £ 4 million? Woah! I mean – I don't know what they thought I looked like. But £ 4 million !? & # 39;
His valuer helped him revise the budget, but the new estimate remained stubbornly high at £ 2.1 million.
Justin paid a total of £ 1.8m to purchase the abandoned ex-council toilet block and zookeeper lodge at the London cemetery in 2016
Calling it "a bit of a shock", Justin said, "I haven't quite figured out how to pay the final bill. All I know is that there will be a balanced equation between selling this one and getting a bigger mortgage and harder work." 39;
In October 2017, Justin started demolishing the toilet block and said, "What a fabulous feeling, we're finally leaving, we're going to the races."
The schedule was extended from one year to a more realistic 20 months, giving a contractor eight months to demolish the toilets and build the basement and 12 months for a separate contractor to fill in the extension and lodge.
Two weeks later they started digging the basement, but they had to be delicate not to dig graves.
The do-it-yourself builder quickly set about tearing down the toilet block and digging the area around the lodge to build his enormous basement extension
Justin confessed that his greatest fear throughout construction was that the team would discover bones or a body and still manage to scrape through without unwanted discoveries
The contractor said that "not everyone was happy to work on the project" since it is in the cemetery. "We have half the team, they'd rather not work here."
On the spot, Justin immediately feared the team would find a grave, and the former army officer admits, “You just have to be aware of that when you're digging in an old place.
"The worst scenario is that we find a wife of Henry VIII."
The basement walls were built by April 2018, but Justin said he had "made some design changes" saying, "What was supposed to be a basement next to the house has now turned into a full excavation under the house."
After the basement was built, Justin confessed he hadn't cost it, but said he was determined to continue the project despite his debt spiral
He said he didn't cost it, adding: At the digging stage, the money is still here. When we get to the furniture, I'm a little nervous. & # 39;
Four months later, the team tried to support the structure with steel and were unable to start work on the basement due to fears that the main lodge could collapse.
But in February 2019 the shell of the cellar was finally finished. Justin said the project went well beyond its estimated time.
He said, “I thought it would take a year and a little. And that was miles away. & # 39;
After working on the project for over two and a half years, Justin confessed to Kevin that rising costs kept him up at night
The father of one child (pictured here with his son George and their dog Thunder) said he started "waking up in a cold sweat" and wondered if he had "made a massive mistake".
The above-ground and fitting phase began in April 2019 when Justin confessed that he woke up in a cold sweat thinking, "Did I make a massive mistake?"
He said, 'We're about a million pounds. It seems like an expensive hole in the ground. I would say £ 1.5 million is where I want to be. & # 39;
When Kevin told him the project could cost a total of £ 4.5 million, Justin said, “I've gone too far, it's about leveraging other properties.
“I'm maybe a million smaller. The problems are alive and keeping me awake like everyone else. & # 39;
When Justin reached the end of his project, a disaster struck and the Covid-19 pandemic further delayed construction and almost destroyed his travel business
The only way to complete the project was to take on an additional £ 1 million in debt.
But in July 2019, Justin's dream hit another major roadblock when the council told him he couldn't have direct access to the cemetery from his garden.
Justin was devastated by the news and confessed that it was one of the main reasons he invested in the lodge house.
When construction was plowed into its final stages, the father of one child said he was concerned the basement might be too dark and said, “I am concerned.
After four years, the self-builder invited Kevin back to explore his house and revealed the breathtaking, renovated zoo keeper lodge to the presenter (in the picture presenter Kevin McCloud in front of Justin's house).
The couple were particularly impressed by the magnificent entrance to the house, which featured cream-colored brickwork and a huge sky light
In place of the toilet block, Justin built a floodlit living area, huge dining room, and kitchen in tones of blue to remind him of the ocean
“It is essential that we do it right. We're in a phase where the cost of the project is really increasing. (I think) does that make sense? & # 39;
When Justin spoke to Kevin about the cost, he said he had traded two of his properties to fund the rest of the project. He said, “I'm not even going to entertain the idea that it's going to cost another £ 100,000. You have a reserve for a reason and I put it in. & # 39;
When the Covid-19 crisis hit, all work was suspended for three months.
Kevin revisited the website in July 2020. Justin said the pandemic had a huge impact not only on construction but also on his livelihood.
The father of one said he was overjoyed with the completed house, which he hoped he and his son could enjoy for years
Justin equips his breathtaking home in trendy turquoise and brown tones with additional gold accents (picture, kitchen and dining room).
In the meantime, he created a breathtaking extension of the lodge with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking a huge courtyard (picture)
He said, “I've spent the last three months writing resignations asking if they can put off stress. All the pressure to get this thing done … & # 39;
Justin managed to complete the project by November 2020, however, when Kevin praised the former Army officer for classifying the construction as “stunning,” adding, “It's so extraordinary to be found in central London. What is wonderful is the space and the light and the view of the garden. & # 39;
The house had four bedrooms, including a huge master suite with bathroom and dressing room, a reading room, and a stunning living and dining room.
Kevin compared the huge basement to a & # 39; Playboy Manor & # 39; with an extravagant wine cellar, a huge TV room with its own bar and the 13 meter long swimming pool.
Meanwhile, Kevin compared the basement to the ultimate bachelorette party with a huge wine cellar, game room and swimming pool
Justin said he was "excited" about the property and said, "Not a gentleman of the kind, but a goalkeeper."
Meanwhile, Kevin urged the ex-Army officer to discuss his financial situation and said, “Let's get down to business. Are you all in now – for £ 4.5 million? «
Justin stated, “It's not a character I'm comfortable with. It was a roller coaster ride when I started. It was a terrible financial roller coaster ride. & # 39;
Social media users were overwhelmed by the episode. Some said it was one of the best episodes of the hit TV series of all time
He said he would "never" have started if he had known it would take 4 years and £ 4.5 million.
Viewers dubbed the episode "one of the best Grand Designs of all time" with a comment, "What a great episode of Grand Designs tonight, great home."
Another wrote: & # 39; Brilliant Grand Designs. There was never a thought he wouldn't finish. & # 39;
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