A couple who had to sell their beloved £35, 000 painting after going over their initial £500, 000 budget have revealed the challenges they faced building their dream airfield house in Grand Designs.
In tonight’s episode of the channel 4 show, Kevin McCloud returns to Strathaven in Scotland, to meet flying instructor Colin MacKinnon and his partner, hovercraft instructor and trapeze enthusiast Marta Briongos.
They are part of the very select few who can claim to own their own airfield and their love of flying is so great, they decided to live on the airfield too.
Their ambitious plan was to build an incredible metal sculptural home inspired by aircraft hangars right next to the runway.
But the difficulties of building their elegant design soon became apparent, while finding people to do the work proved tricky.
Then with the project barely off the ground they had to contend with violent rain, snow, and the worst storms for a hundred years.
With work slowing to a snail’s pace, what was supposed to be a year-long project stretched into its third year. And when the money eventually ran out, Colin and Marta were forced to down tools before they could move in.
Six years on however, with Colin and Marta now in residence, Kevin finally goes to see the finished house in all its metallic glory.
Kevin McCloud returns to Strathaven in Scotland to revisit Colin MacKinnon and his partner, Marta Briongos, who want to live in an air field house. Pictured, now complete
The couple’s plan was to build an incredible metal sculptural home inspired by aircraft hangars right next to the runway – with an impressive interior to match. Pictured, the living room
The couple reveal that what was supposed to be a year-long project stretched into its third year – and well over budget. Pictured, one of the four bedrooms
In 2011, Marta and Colin (pictured) started the construction of their new home on an exposed Scottish hilltop
Ever since he was a boy, Colin has been obsessed with flying, so when he inherited £60, 000 back in 2005, he did what most aviation lovers could dream of – he built an airfield and set up his own flying school in Strathaven.
‘It’s a lifestyle thing really,’ explains Colin. ‘It’s not something you go into to make loads of money.’
Determined to be closer to the airfield, the couple gained permission to build a new house tied to the business.
‘It’s going to have two floors as we’re going to have most of our living space on the first floor, which will give us a better view over the entire airfield,’ says Colin.
‘It’s going to be a little bit like a control tower, but also living on the first floor will give us an element of privacy.’
As the project proceeds, the 100 mph storms demand a durable, robust building – so the couple set about having a 335 piece steel frame carefully designed and cross-braced to resist fearsome winds.
Describing the robust house (pictured now) before it’s built, Colin says: ‘It’s going to be a little bit like a control tower, but also living on the first floor it gives an element of privacy’
Presenter Kevin is impressed by how ‘sleek and pristine’ the finished project is.’ Pictured, the open plan kitchen and dining area
Six years on from his first visit, Kevin goes to see Colin and Marta’s finished house in all its metallic glory. Pictured altogether
They plan to have the sides and roof of the house super insulated and to clad it in corrugated aluminum to help resist erosion.
Inside, the ground floor will house a garage and four curved bedrooms with facilities. Meanwhile, they explain their desire to put in a slender spiral staircase that will lead to the first floor, which will become their elevated private apartment.
This will contain the master bedroom, a snug and the open plan centerpiece of their live-work home, while under the large glazed roof light on second floor, they hope to put a painting room and office.
But with money tight and the elements against them, they set a rather ambitious £500, 000 budget for the entire project.
‘We were hoping to do the house without having to get a mortgage or borrowing any money because we’ll have some money from selling our previous house,’ says Marta.
However, trouble strikes when an expert ground worker they hired to do the foundations suddenly cancels out of the blue.
‘The chap who was going to do the groundwork wasn’t available until August and the steel work is coming in six days,’ explains Marta.
While the couple set out with a £500, 000 budget, they say they ‘lost count’ of what the total really cost
The spiral staircase (pictured) leads the eye up through three floors and offers spectacular views across the airfield
So in the true pioneering spirit of aviation, Colin decides to have a crash course in how to do the foundations himself.
‘The great thing about the internet is that you can go online and get information on some of the biggest steel companies in the world,’ he explains.
‘The key thing is the accuracy of everything. Steel – you can’t stretch it, squeeze it. You can’t shave a bit off it very easily. It’s been made very exact and precise.’
On hearing the plan, a shocked Kevin adds: ‘I often applaud people taking on new challenges, but this is eccentric.’
In August, two months into the project, the steel skeleton for their house is miraculously up – something which Kevin describes as ‘remarkable.’
But it isn’t long before the couple realise they’re already £40, 000 over what they’d planned to spend.
And Colin can well do without more money worries as he’s already waiting on £100, 000 from an insurance claim pay out he needs to finish his house.
His only sell-able assets are his previous paintings on display in their rented house and he decides to sacrifice some of them.
The couple reveal how trouble strikes when an expert ground worker they hired to do the foundations suddenly cancels out of the blue. Pictured, the narrow spiral staircase
Upstairs features the master bedroom, a discrete bathroom, a snug TV room and bright galley with observation deck (pictured)
While he reckons the painting is worth £40, 000, it sells for £5, 000 less than he’d hoped.
And the couple are forced to halt the project after the insurance company release small amounts of money at a time, making project management near impossible.
But it seems the hard work has paid off as when Kevin re-visits the now-completed build, he says the engineered space frame has finally become a ‘magnificent’ home which is ‘sleek’ and ‘pristine.’
‘The now complete aluminium cladding really does covey the romance of the bold pioneers of aviation reaching for the sky,’ adds Kevin.
‘Despite the abundance of steel, indoors it is so remarkably well finished – with not a hint of condensation or rust.’
He goes on to explain how the bottom deck of house is more functional – sensibly housing a utility room for stepping out of oily flight suits, and three circular guests bedrooms – each with a small, bright bathroom. And for views of the runway, it features a porthole.
Upstairs, the circular open staircase leads the eye up three floors – which include the master bedroom, a discrete bathroom, a snug TV room and bright galley with observation deck.
However, while delighted with the build, the couple, who have since received their £100, 000 insurance payout, reveal the project came at a cost.
‘Don’t ask because I lost track,’ says Marta. ‘I started with a spreadsheet but halfway through the project I stopped. We don’t know – and we disagree on the price we’ve spent.’
The bright kitchen (pictured) reflects the bold personalities of Colin and his partner, Marta
Presenter Kevin McCloud (pictured) says how six years later the engineered space frame has become a home – something he describes as ‘magnificent’