Emotional moment woman building £1.2 million home inspired by her grandfather on Grand Designs breaks down in tears on the construction site after he unexpectedly dies at the beginning of the project

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  • Reading time:7 min(s) read

  • Rosa, from Wye Valley in Herefordshire, appears on Grand Designs tonight
  • READ MORE: Step inside one of the ‘worst’ Grand Designs ever seen that’s for sale for £1.95m – a ‘floating’ four-bed home built on an Essex flood plain 

This is the emotional moment a woman who is determined to see out her late grandfather’s dream of building an innovative home breaks down in tears on the site of the project.

Rosa, who has teamed up with her partner Craig to convert a decommissioned steam railway reservoir once owned by her grandfather into a dream family home, appears the first episode of the new series Grand Designs, which airs on Channel 4 this evening at 9pm.

The episode, which charts the couple’s project from December 2019 to August 2023, during which time Rosa’s grandfather tragically passed away, shows her striving to complete the four-bedroom, open plan home in his memory. 

In a clip from the episode, Rosa cannot contain her emotions on the site as she sorts through her late grandfather Leo’s belongings.

On a dreary day as the rain pours down, Rosa sorts through Leo’s possessions that he had been storing in the reservoir while sobbing. She says: ‘I feel really sad because it’s all his stuff. His bike, that’s in there, and everything.’

The episode opens in December 2019 as host Kevin McCloud visits Rosa and Craig on their patch of land overlooking the valley.

Rosa explains that the area is of sentimental value to her, because her grandfather Leo used to take her up to the reservoir every day when he picked her up after school.

She recalls her grandfather telling her: ‘It’ll never be in my lifetime, but one day you’ll live up here.’

Despite 86-year-old Leo’s prophecy, Rosa says she wants to finish the house while he is still around to see it. 

Rosa, who appears in the first episode of the new series of Grand Designs, which airs on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm, cannot control her emotions as she goes through her late grandfather's belongings

Rosa, who appears in the first episode of the new series of Grand Designs, which airs on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm, cannot control her emotions as she goes through her late grandfather’s belongings

‘My grandad’s health has deteriorated a lot especially in the last four years,’ she says. The couple also reveal they’re going to live with Leo while building work is carried out, and that their budget is £700,000.

Grandad Leo appears early on in the programme to talk about the natural beauty of the valley and the reservoir.

He tells Kevin: ‘To me it’s paradise. It is paradise.’ 

He also explains that Rosa was the inspiration behind buying the reservoir in the first place, and says it’s ‘unbelievable’ to know she is going to build a house on the land.

After inheriting a water reservoir owned by her late grandfather Leo, Rosa is determined to turn it into her family home

After inheriting a water reservoir owned by her late grandfather Leo, Rosa is determined to turn it into her family home

By the end of the project, which ends up taking four years in total, Rosa and her partner Craig have an enormous, open plan family home

By the end of the project, which ends up taking four years in total, Rosa and her partner Craig have an enormous, open plan family home

The house opens up onto a mezzanine, which looks out over the valley where Rosa's mother and grandfather grew up

The house opens up onto a mezzanine, which looks out over the valley where Rosa’s mother and grandfather grew up

The couple install a statement kitchen in the ground floor of their enormous family home (pictured)

The couple install a statement kitchen in the ground floor of their enormous family home (pictured)

Just a few weeks after speaking to Kevin about his pride in his granddaughter’s project, and while Rosa and Craig struggled with contractor quotes that were £400,000 higher than their budget, Leo passed away.

As Rosa sobs while sorting through his belongings, she says: ‘I’m so proud to actually be his granddaughter.’

Recalling how her grandad died ‘suddenly’, Rosa says: ‘It was a complete shock. It was on the Tuesday he was fine and then on the Wednesday he wasn’t.

‘We had all the horses, they came down and all the dogs were with him and me and my mum were with him and then he quietly slipped away.’

She adds the land on which the reservoir sits now ‘takes on a different meaning’ to her and describes it as his ‘legacy’.

Craig and Rosa's impressive master bedroom contains a standalone bronze bathtub

Craig and Rosa’s impressive master bedroom contains a standalone bronze bathtub 

The couple turned one of the bedrooms in the four-bed house into a nursery for their son Leo

The couple turned one of the bedrooms in the four-bed house into a nursery for their son Leo

The house sits within the framework of the former reservoir but also features a large extension, allowing space for a courtyard

The house sits within the framework of the former reservoir but also features a large extension, allowing space for a courtyard

Rosa and Craig told Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud they are 'horrified' by the amount of debt they are now in after their project went £500,000 over budget

Rosa and Craig told Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud they are ‘horrified’ by the amount of debt they are now in after their project went £500,000 over budget

Despite concerns over the price of the quotes from contractors, the couple manage to get the project underway by December 2020 – however the cost of building the house still comes in at £950,000 – £250,000 over budget.

As the couple share their concerns over the cost of the project and the whopping amount of money they have had to borrow (£600,000), Rosa also reveals she is six months pregnant.

Speaking to Kevin just over a month into the project, Rosa explains she and Craig have set up a confectionery company during the pandemic, which they hope will help cover some of the cost of the project.

The presenter jokes: ‘You’re going to have to sell a lot of sherbet dabs, aren’t you? To pay for anything like this?’

By April 2021, the couple have had their son, who they sweetly named Leo after Rosa’s late grandfather. However, the cost of the project is ‘spiralling’, in Rosa’s words.

Each time Kevin visits the couple, they reveal more money they have had to spend on the house – including tens of thousands of pounds on a kitchen and bathrooms, which were not included in the price of the contractors’ original quote.

Speaking in 2022, Craig says: ‘The amount of debt we’ve taken on is horrendous. I never thought we’d take on this amount of debt… it’s actually sickening.’

In May 2022, the couple have finally moved into their new home – however it is far from being complete.

Rosa explains how a change in the couple’s priorities has led to them spending time with the family – however they are taking on most of the decorating themselves and they admit they don’t have the money to finish the project.

In June 2023, Craig explains the couple have asked their families to ‘chip in’ with cash to help finish the project and work once again begins on the reservoir site.

By the end of the episode, in a visit filmed just last month in August 2023, Kevin goes back to the couple’s finished home, which is finally complete after nearly four years.

Rosa and Craig tell Kevin the home ‘doesn’t feel real’, now that it’s finally finished.

As they lead Kevin around their family home, Rosa takes him to her ‘favourite point of the house’, a viewing point which looks out onto the valley and shows the space where her mother and grandfather grew up.

The couple lead the presenter through the rest of their home which includes a statement kitchen, a large courtyard and a nursery for Leo, who us now a toddler.

Speaking to the couple, Kevin says: ‘The whole thing is bloody super-glamorous! The moment you walk in, it’s glamorous.’

Although Leo sadly did not live to see the project through, Rosa’s mother says he ‘would have been absolutely over the moon’ with the finished result.

However, although the couple reveal they’re thrilled to finally be living in the house, they admit they have gone over their original budget by at least £500,000, spending approximately £1.2 million.

They reveal that money they inherited from Leo, as well as help from friends and family, helped them cross the finish line, however the couple’s mortgage is now several thousands of pounds every month.

‘It’s horrendous,’ Rosa says, before admitting that if she had known the cost of the project before undertaking it, she would not have done it.

However, despite the amount of debt they are in, Craig says: ‘It’s worth it.’ 




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