'Frugal' Grand Designs builder creates treehouse paradise

Grand Designs builder proves you CAN save money on your dream home by fitting the kitchen, bathrooms and four bedrooms in his treehouse paradise for less than £30,000 (but he did take advantage of mates rates!)

  • Danny, a vice principal from Lincolnshire, builds his dream family home
  • READ MORE: 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  

A Grand Designs builder who aimed to construct a dream family home for just £300,000 managed to kit out almost the entire interior of his house for £26,000.

Danny, a vice principal of a college from Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, appears in tonight’s episode of the Channel 4 architecture programme with a grand vision and a tight budget.

Describing himself as ‘frugal’, he reveals his plan to build a treehouse-inspired four-bedroom home on a two acre patch of land he owns.

After a project which lasted around eight months longer than he had initially expected, Danny achieves his dream of building the treehouse, which is powered by solar energy and heated by infrared technology.

He admits he has gone over budget by £375,000 but puts these spiralling costs down to inflation which has affected the price of building material – and reveals he has spent less than £30,000 fitting the wardrobes, two bathrooms, the kitchen and the bedrooms in the house.

Danny, a vice principal and father-of-three from Lincolnshire, aims to build a treehouse-inspired home for his family-of-four in tonight’s episode of Grand Designs

At the beginning of the episode, which is filmed in October 2021, Kevin McCloud travels to North Lincolnshire where Danny’s project is about to begin.

He jokes that he is known for saving money and that he has been inspired throughout his life – and in this project – by his mother Sue’s hard work raising him as a single mother.

‘I’ve looked to my mum as a role model,’ he said. ‘Absolute grafter, worked multiple jobs, and I look back in awe as to how she managed it.’

He then unveils his plan to build the family home for his three children from two previous relationships; oldest son Casey, who lives with him permanently, and two younger children, Grace and Lucas who visit a few days each week.

Danny’s kitchen is one of the many elements of his dream treehouse home which was fitted by a good friend

Danny’s home contains two bathrooms, both of which were fitted by friends which helped him keep costs down on his project

The master bedroom in Danny’s home looks out onto a balcony which has a roof garden and looks out onto woodland

The treehouse-inspired home which sits on a two-acre patch of land in Scunthorpe is based around a steel structure

‘They are my world, my life revolves around them,’ he explains, adding that he wants to build the treehouse for them to make incredible memories and grow up in nature.

As he discusses his concerns around his tight budget, Danny tells Kevin he hopes to complete the whole project in a year and with a £300,000 budget – and as a well known money saver, he is prepared to do everything he can not to overspend.

‘I don’t want luxury. I want the house to do what it needs for me and my family… I don’t want designer or anything fancy,’ he says. ‘I’m very confident we can bring it within that budget.’

As the project gets underway, there are a few bumps in the road which set Danny back in the early stages – including back-and-forth with engineers and architects over drawings and designs. 

And when building eventually begins, Danny’s project manager Mike realises the steel frame which provides the foundation for the entire house does not match up with the timber walls. 

The project manager explains that a 300mm gap between the frame and the wall means there is a ‘serious design error somewhere’ within the structure. 

When Danny becomes aware of the issue, he says: ‘It’ll be interesting to know who’s expected to pay for it.’

The interior of Danny’s home is open plan and sleek, with plenty of light from French doors leading out onto decking

Danny’s dream home features a suspended first floor comprised of ‘pods’ which run on infrared heating

After discussing all options for how to rectify the issue, Danny decides to install two extra steps on the first floor of the house, which is determined to be the cheapest option.

With design issues putting the project on hold, Kevin returns to the site a year after building first began and speaks to Danny’s two younger children.

He asks the children what they are most looking forward to about their new home, and Grace reveals she’s excited to ‘climb trees’ in the garden.

Kevin then asks the children how long it will be until they move into the new house, according to their father.

Grace replies that Danny has said they’ll be in ‘by Christmas’, however Lucas has other ideas.

He jokes: ‘But I doubt it… about 10 years.’

However, after several setbacks and a struggle to manage rising costs due to inflation, Danny finally finishes the house and is living in it permanently by July 2023.

Upon arrival, Kevin marvels at the structure which contains three suspended pods on the first floor which rest on the steel frames.

Despite all the stress of the project, Danny reveals it has all been worth it to see his children enjoying the house.

‘It’s a nod back to childhood innocence and the simplicity of life,’ he says.

Leading Kevin inside the house where he reveals a sleek and minimalist interior, Danny leaves the presenter open-mouthed when he reveals he has had almost the entire home fitted for £26,000. 

‘It was a mate… a good friend did the kitchen, the bathrooms, the utility room, the wardrobe, the bedrooms, en-suites, so the full shebang, for £26,00,’ he says.

He admits that, despite being as frugal as possible, he has gone over budget by £75,000 and has spent £375,000 in total. However, he explains this is down to a significant increase in the cost of material since he began working on the project due to inflation.

He says: ‘It’s a massive success and that’s a testament to everyone involved in this.

‘Ten-year-old Danny wouldn’t have dreamed it. There’s lots of elements of my childhood that weren’t great. These things shape you.

‘For me to stand here and say I’m proud of myself is important.’

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