Meet the families and architects Building Dream Homes

From tricky planning issues to cramped spaces and tiny budgets, meet the families doing a lot with a little in the new BBC2 property series

There’s a brand new property show in town and it’s here to showcase innovative approaches to making families’ dream homes a reality in a market that means many people can’t afford to move to expand or upgrade. 


Stripped from Monday to Friday across the next three weeks on BBC2, Building Dream Homes is putting talented architects through their paces as they come up with solutions to a variety of building needs on a budget. Whether that means more space, easier access or a cool re-modelling, the series aims to shed light on making a lot out of a little. 

To get you in the fixing up mood, here’s a taste of what’s to come…

Project: Gayfield Square steps in Edinburgh

Budget: £100,000

In Edinburgh, in the heart of the new town and in the shadow of Scotland’s most famous castle, lies the A-listed Gayfield Square.   

The historic nature of the buildings here mean they can’t be altered in any way without special permission.

Oxford university lecturer Angelica Goodden has just taken early retirement, and moved into one of the estate’s stunning Georgian flats. It was perfect in every way but one. Angelica has MS. She’s able to move around without a chair at the moment but is at the stage where the disease is likely to get worse and her new flat had three steps going up to the front door. 

Because the house is listed, coming up with a solution the council would approve wasn’t easy. Angelica called on the services of architect David Blaikie to help with gaining permission and creating a design.

David worked with Angelica and a Surrey-based lift company, Sesame Access Systems, to come up with a cutting-edge but elegantly beautiful solution.

What they proposed was to replace the existing steps with the perfect mix of hydraulics and traditional stone so the new lift will sit on the existing stair arch supports and blend in seamlessly with its surroundings.

Project: Two storey extension in Edinburgh

Budget: £90,000

In Edinburgh, Mhairi and Peter Mcfaddenand their family wanted to extend their current home, after the cost of moving into a larger place proved too much.

With their budget set at £90,000, to cover everything from build costs to VAT and architects fees (David Blaikie was the man for the job once more), Mhairi and Peter want to say goodbye to their impractical home and had a time-scale of just four months to get the job done.

The new two-storey extension would provide a spacious bedroom for their boys, complete with en-suite, and a large new family room below.

Despite last minute changes and surprise extra costs during the build, it’s an extension that has changed their home and their lives for the better.

Project: Railway stop home extension in Scotland

Budget: £90,000

Jacqui and Kenny Loraine fell for the charm and stunning scenic drama of a former railway stop in the wilds of Penicuik in Scotland. They love the rural setting of their home but since they’ve had two boys they’ve started to feel very cramped in the two bedroom house.

Architect David Blaikie drew up plans for a much bigger kitchen and a new sitting room to enable the family to spread out. 

Jackie and Kenny are calling this an ‘austerity extension’. They had a tight budget and big ideas so to try and bring the build in, Kenny has done a lot of the work himself, not always without drama. A group of friends attacking the house with sledgehammers resulted in a brand new floor joist being split in two by falling masonry. And with Kenny fitting his efforts around his full-time job, and the family forced to live in an even smaller space whilst the work was going on, the strain on them was often hard.

However the home they end up with is stunning.

Project: Shepherds’ hut demolition and re-build

Budget: £100,000

Nestled in the wilds of the beautiful New Forest National Park, husband and wife Cheryl and Ciaran Maher opened their home to bed and breakfast guests after their two children Alan and Kelly went to university.

However, Kelly, having struggled with illness for the past eight years, was recently diagnosed with Chronic Lyme disease. Having undergone intense treatment for three months in Brussels, she needed complete rest when she returned Recuperating in a busy B&B was not an option.

So, Cheryl and Ciaran decided to demolish the tiny old shepherds’ hut in the garden and build an amazing two bed structure in its place – a haven for Kelly and Alan to stay in when they come home.

They chose local award-winning architect Wendy Perring to design their new space.

Perring needed to use all of her imagination and talent to meet the brief for the build. The footprint for the new home was not big, but the Mehers wanted to squeeze a lot in.

With an original budget of £100,000, Wendy came up with a stunning design that mirrored the old agricultural feel of the shepherds’ hut, using corrugated material and wooden cladding on the outside and also, with clever space-saving features like sliding doors and mezzanine floors, managed to fit in two bedrooms complete with en-suites and a stunning family area for the Mahers to relax in.


See Building Dream Homes tonight at 6:30pm on BBC2