Maybe one of the most memorable and emotional property renovation and transformation journeys to ever be featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs is the creation of an epic house on the clifftop in Devon with sweeping sea views and a design that would sit comfortably within a James Bond movie.
But the cost of creating lighthouse-style Chesil Cliff House was more than just the £5. 5m in order to £6m budget that eventually had to be spent during the 11 years of its difficult birth, it cost owner Edward Short his marriage too.
Over the years the project was hit with a range of issues and challenges, including spiralling costs, the banking crisis, Brexit, supply problems, bad weather and the Covid-19 pandemic. The result was Edward ending up £4m in debt and an epic episode of the popular property programme that was described by viewers as ‘the saddest show ever’.
But Edward cullen never, ever faltered from his vision of what the empty concrete shell standing on the clifftop at Down End, near Croyde, could become, and in July 2022 the finished house and the detached one-bed property in the garden were put on the market for a combined price of £10m.
And it’s a moment Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud thought he’d never see. When he last visited the site inside 2019 it was still a concrete shell, and he vocalised that there was surely no way Edward could ever finish this property.
In 2019 Edward was facing bankruptcy as well as TV fame as the saddest house build to ever appear on the show, with the empty concrete shell said to be described as a blot on the landscape by some local residents.
But then the day that Kevin thought was impossible became a reality and he went to have a look inside the property during the latest series of Grand Designs; but he wasn’t looking forward to it.
He says during the episode screened upon Wednesday, Octobner 19: “When I was last here I left fearful that Ed had wrecked this site forever. This project was a sad and cautionary tale about ambition, about over-reaching, trying to do too much and how damaging and corrosive that can be. Coming back to the building has produced mixed emotions and I think today is going to be quite a tough one. ”
However the first mix of emotions that hits Kevin as he climbs the rocks to the house is of shock and wonder. He exclaims: “Oh my giddy aunt! Superb! Oh my Lord, it’s a complete complex of buildings, the entire new wing of the building is in place and it’s huge.
“Where once there was slumped a barnacle of botched vision there now stands a fine monument to perseverance. Wow, everything here is epic, epic architecture, epic rock face, epic motorway flyover (entrance). ”
Amazing Welsh homes
We’ve launched a new property group on Facebook.
Whether you love nosing around beautiful properties or always keep an eye open for your latest project, this particular group will bring you the best found in Welsh homes, properties, renovations and more.
Join our new group for all the latest.
The house looks finished, plus through the windows Kevin sees that it is furnished too, but who is living here? Edward answers the front door, yet he is not actually living at the property. Despite the obvious joy of finishing the house Edward has the heart-wrenching experience of now having to sell it and see a new buyer enjoying his hard work.
Kevin wonders how Edward has managed to transform the house from shell to stunning dream home, but first he takes a tour of the completed home in addition to can’t stop gushing. See inside the house for sale here .
He admits that: “It’s gorgeous, it’s so good, the light – it’s glorious- and a sensational vista. it is so good to see it enclosed and decorated, and finished and done. ”
Edward’s favourite space is the master bedroom in the lighthouse tower, but it is tinged with sadness as he sits on the bed and explains why, saying: “I dreamed about this, I would love to wake up here, it’s just an incredible space, it can just what I wanted it to be, a bubble almost in the middle of the north Atlantic. inch
But how Edward has managed to finish his bond villain’s lair is still mystifying Kevin, who says: “I feel slightly embarrassed that I didn’t think you’d do it!
“I thought venture capitalists would come in and they would put in their own project manager, you wouldn’t retain title and even, effectively in the end, you’d be edged out. ”
It turns out that a property development lender is the investor in the site and why this site has now been completed, but that means the two houses, the lighthouse and detached garden house ‘The Eye’ have to be sold together – they are on the market for £10m with estate agent Knight Frank, Exeter.
Edward says: “The disaster for me would have been not to have finished this. It’s worth it because is actually finished, it would not have already been worth it had it not recently been finished, it would have been painful, very painful.
“I know I won’t be able to keep it unfortunately. If someone cleared the debts buying this and said you can have The Eye I wouldn’t say no, I can have a little dream, but really unrealistic. ”
And what of ex-wife Hazel, who began the unbelievably stressful journey of this house build with Edward but that did not last to its final chapter?
Edward says: “We generally get on better than when we were married, and this is the mother of my children, she’s always going to be a very important person in my life. ”
The couple’s two daughters are equally realistic and accepting of the final chapter of this epic house story, saying what happened to their mum plus dad, even without the house, probably would have happened anyway.
The young women think their parents are in such a better place now, both with new partners, and that Edward is happier, a lot less stressed than he was, and everything has fallen into place. So maybe this house story does have a happy ending, of sorts?
Kevin thinks so , saying the project has been a truly extraordinary achievement and one Edward should be proud of. He says: “Three years ago I described this project as a cautionary tale of over-reaching ambition which damaged relationships, fractured a family and which also of course had taken Ed to the brink of bankruptcy.
“And then you see that same ambition, that same drive is what has taken Ed also to this point, a point where he can call this place finished, where the family can draw a line and move on. ”
Recent rumours flying around the region and then landing into the national press have claimed One Direction’s Harry Styles as a new owner, or Michael Jackson’s former bodyguard as being interested in purchasing the property, but neither claims have been found to be true. Find out more about that here .
But what is true is that the new owner will be picking up the keys to a house that has seen despair in addition to sadness transformed into achievement and even positivity for the future, a legacy of fighting to the end and never giving up.
Kevin says: “Buildings can sustain us not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually too, their walls can contain within them angst and pain as well as love and joy. I don’t think I have ever visited a place which is so eloquently, so powerfully, soaked in healing and redemption and achievement.
“In the face of overwhelming odds Edward never once blinked, he pursued his dream to the end and achieved the near impossible.
“He will never live in his beloved lighthouse, together with I’m not sure I’ll actually get to see a project like this again, but on-one will ever forget whose lighthouse this really is. inch
Grand Designs will be on Channel 4 every Wednesday at 9pm and additionally available to catch up on All4. And don’t miss the best dream homes in Wales, property television stories, renovations, not to mention interiors – join the Amazing Welsh Homes newsletter , sent to your inbox twice a week.