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Nightmare home project to appear on TV's Grand Designs
A WITNEY-based firm had to fight back the River Thames to build a stunning £1.5m home.
The three-storey, four-bedroom home has a basement below water level and Hyatt Construction had to dam the River Thames around the site in Henley to create it.
At one point during the year-long project, the river was just four inches from flooding the basement.
The saga, which includes battles with neighbours and dealing with narrow access, will be screened on Channel 4’s Grand Designs tomorrow. But company director Arron Hyatt, 36, said he almost walked away from the project when he saw the architect’s designs and the access problems at the site.
The father-of-two from Witney said: “It is a very long, thin site with the river at one end and 90 degree turns in the access road. It was a huge logistical challenge.
“We had to hold back the River Thames during the winter and spring of this year and at one point we were probably four inches away from having the basement full of water.
“There were also neighbouring disputes adding to the logistics of the site, so we could not put materials or gain access to either neighbour’s land.
“It was certainly the most challenging project I have been involved in and having the film crew involved adds a whole additional dimension.”
He said the film crews would often ask his team to repeat parts of the construction to get the right shot, but he said Kevin McCloud was “great” and got very involved in the project.
Mr Hyatt added: “I always watch the program with interest and comment all the way through, sayings things like: ‘That’s a school boy error.’ I will be sat watching it through my fingers on Wednesday.”
But Mr Hyatt, whose firm was involved in the project from start to finish, said he did like the building, adding: “It is definitely very interesting and thought-provoking.
“It’s a modern and nothing like the Victorian or Tudor mansions built along the Thames – this is really space age. People will either love it or hate it.”
The home, on the site of an old boathouse, features a water-source heat pump, which heats the building using the River Thames, a £35,000 walk-on glass roof that had to be craned into place and a boathouse under the home.
The home’s owners, Nigel and Lysette Offley moved into the building last month, and said: “It is no exaggeration to say that without Arron, we would not have been able to build our house.”
Hyatt Construction, which was established six years ago, is currently working on a new school building at St Mary’s Primary in Witney and has been involved in building nine homes in North Leigh and projects for Mid Counties Cooperative.