TV review: The House That £100K Built
Some might say that house building programmes are ten-a-penny these days and therefore a little dull, writes Naomi Dunning.
I'm afraid to say that The House That £100K Built (BBC2) does nothing to counter this argument.
Don't get me wrong I love watching programmes like Grand Designs, where hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent building, quite frankly, ridiculous buildings. I am usually amused by very rich people splashing their cash constructing enormous houses with indoor water falls, underground kitchens and numerous glazed walls.
I like to see them overstretch their budget, push architecture to its limit and usually get quite stressed in the process. But this new series is the complete opposite.
The house builder is poor. In fact 29-year-old Martin Whyment, who earns just £15,000 running his own pizza business, was using his parents' pension pot to build the house. I actually thought he was being a little irresponsible.
Martin in my opinion is also quite dull. He came across as sleepy scruffy, student type and not an enthusiastic businessman that wants to build a house. He did not get stressed, irritated, over excited or emotional. He mostly just looked bemused.
I also got the distinct impression he just wanted to build a conventional four bedroom homely house and not the architectural masterpiece that the presenter Kieran Long and architect Piers Taylor wanted it to be.
They told him his original design would look like 'plaster-board city' with a 'rabbit warren' of dark rooms. They told him 'simple can be beautiful' and suggested using polished concrete floors, wired glass walls and metal sheeting to modernise his design.
Martin was clearly unsure and dubious about the whole idea. But, he dutifully altered his plans and he covered the walls in slate rather than render, used snazzy modern burnt timber, and removed a bedroom to create space and light. He even used metal sheeting from an old television station transmitter on a feature wall.
I was, however, pleased to see he refused to follow Taylor's advice to put a bath in the corner of the bedroom. Even I thought that was weird.
Martin actually did a very good job, and the house did look modern and stylish. It didn't quite suit his scruffy student look, but I'm sure that will change one way or the other.
The whole point of the programme was to show that people who can't afford to buy a house, could build one instead. It aimed to prove that Martin had the right attitude. He had managed to buy a piece of land and was going to get his hands dirty and build his own house upon it for just £100K. It did do that, as he did succeed.
The problem was the programme was obsessed with the budget, and cost cutting, and this made it a little depressing.
Long and Taylor were enthusiastic presenters, but throughout the programme they spent most of the time talking about money and much less time on the design.
I wanted to know about materials and construction techniques whereas they wanted to tell me how much it cost. Everything was talked about in terms of cost first, and design second.
This programme also just did not have the drama of some of the other house building programmes.
I wanted to watch excessively large glazed windows being lowered into place, see cranes perched precariously on uneven ground, and water cascade through unfinished ceilings.
There was none of this. In fact the build went quite smoothly, apart from the obligatory British weather issues delaying the build.
The programme did not make you care about either Martin or his house. It was difficult to stay interested.
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