‘Saddest ever’ Grand Designs owner feels ‘cursed’


The owner of a lighthouse-inspired home on the ‘saddest ever’ Grand Designs episode said he feels ‘cursed’ after revealing further strange delays have hit the project.

Edward Short, 52, said he is finally nearly in a position to sell the extraordinary Chesil Cliff House and is currently putting finishing touches on the build after more than a decade working on it.

But a series of unfortunate setbacks, including Covid and the temperature-sensitive tiling on the mansion’s pool, has once again crippled his plans.

The property featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs and was described as the “saddest episode ever” by many who watched it after airing in October 2019.

Edward Short
Edward Short was part of the ‘saddest ever’ episodes of Grand Designs for his ambitious project

The episode followed Edward and his family as misfortune beset the project leaving the house in Croyde, Devon, unfinished and with the family plunged into millions of pounds worth of debt.

The show also revealed that the process had taken a strain on Edward’s personal life, resulting in his separating from his wife Hazel.

But after pre-publicity for a sale put out by Knight Frank nearly a year ago – when it appeared his woes were over – Edward confirmed yesterday (April 19) the project still hasn’t been completed.

Pictures taken of the project in 2022 show a mass of scaffolding

On the official Knight Frank listing of the £10 million houses, the agents said that “The Eye will launch to the open market with a guide price of £10 million at the end of 2021.”

However, as with most things associated with this jawdropping property, the best outcomes have not materialised.

He said they now just needed a spell of warmer weather after temperatures plummeted earlier this month to safely finish tiling the swimming pool.

Grand Designs property
The property led to the two owners separating due to the strain

Edward said he would then retarmac the drive after all the lorries leave before he finally opens it up to bidders.

Over the years, the project has been beset by issues ranging from the banking crisis, the fall-out from Brexit and struggling to get materials, to both the pandemic and ‘pingdemic’ during Covid.

Despite all the problems, Edward remained adamant he would finish and described reports back in January this year that it had gone on the market as “premature”.

The property has been dogged by delays

Last year property consultancy Knight Frank announced the launch of the sale of the main house and its annexe known as The Eye to the open market – with a combined guide price of £10m.

The estate agent described it as “one of the most impressive waterfront homes on the North Devon coast.”

But a year on from the pre-publicity it is still yet to be fully marketed.

Edward said: “It is not finished yet but it is due to go on the market in May or June so hopefully we are near the finish line.

“The main thing that has affected it now is the tiling of the swimming pool and we need the temperature to stay above nine degrees.

“That’s the very last thing. If we do it when it is too cold it becomes a health hazard.

The lighthouse property
The home was built with five bedrooms, four receptions rooms, a sauna and more

“We all envisage it being done on time now. The temperature has to stay above nine degrees, including at night time, which it hopefully will from about now onwards. We are pretty well there. But if you tile it when it’s below you lose the warranty.

“After the monster years I have been on it, this doesn’t really feel like a delay. I think I’m only about a month behind schedule on the finish.

The sorry state of the ‘Saddest ever’ Grand Designs project which still hasn’t been completed

“When they pull everything out of the site, I’ll have to redo the driveway surface and the entrance as there are a tonne of lorries, but then that’s it.

“Some reports of it going on the market seemed to jump the gun and we are not sure where they came from.

“We were completely scratching our heads, but by the end of May we should be ready to go.

“I’ve been doing this build for more ten years – so have gone past headaches now and built a lot of resilience.

“It’s nothing too bad though, also for somewhere like this, if you pick a month to market it is always better to do it in the summer.”

Scaffolding surrounds the behemoth

The main property comprises of five bedrooms and bathrooms, four reception rooms, a sauna and a cellar.

There is also a three-bedroom studio annexe known as The Eye and double garage.

The house has been anchored into the bed rock of the cliff, painstakingly engineered to a level that leaves no possibility for erosional hazard.

Edward, a dad-of-two, said he had no option but to sell it to cover the large amount of money he had to borrow and said the total costs were set to reach £6m.

The property build was anything but easy

He added: “Every build has suffered due to Covid and the pingdemic and needing to get materials from Europe.

“We have waited over a year for some stuff and there were a number of delays waiting for building materials to arrive – they were headaches and that wait was painful.

“That’s all been done. Earlier this month we had the coldest winter weather and it snowed. It has been extraordinary. We had the banking crisis, the Brexit years, which were very hard, the coronavirus pandemic and then the pingdemic.

“Now a lot of people are off work due to Covid with more people having it than any other time in the pandemic that I can remember.

“This touches all sorts of areas and everything has been slow. We are connected to so many products connected to Europe, the supply chain, problems with the Channel, customs, I could go on writing things that get in the way. It’s a very long list and sometimes you do feel cursed by it all.

“I cannot make any plans of what I do next until it is sold – but I would be very surprised if they involved any more big-build projects. I think I need a physiatrist and help with PTSD.”

It’s hoped it will be completed this year

Edward said earlier the time was right to move on.

He added: “I’ll always be proud to have finished this. I owe it to my family to have a real end result, but the time has come to move on.

“I will have achieved what I set out to do, never deviating from the plans, and for that I’ll always be proud.

“These past ten years have been a marathon slog – and I have got used to being a millionaire in debt.

“I’ve accepted the only way forward is to finish and sell it.”

Edward said the two properties were being split in two with the £10m guide price being for both.

He added: “People thought it was £10m for the main one – but it’s prob about £2m and £8m.

“I accept some people will always hate it but now it is finished then I hope people may have a more subjective view.

Graffiti that has been sprayed inside the building

“Nothing looks good half way finished but now there is something there for people to say whether they absolutely hate it or like it.

“There has been a huge swing in opinion now it’s just about ready. You will never please everyone and I would not expect to, but it is a big relief to be where we are.

“I don’t mind people saying they hate it but the abuse has stopped now thankfully. Find me a building site that doesn’t look ugly half way through. In about one month it will be all systems go.

“We knew nothing about the press in January and neither did Knight Frank. It was only every going to go on the market when it was finished and dates have slipped a bit, but I would never have put it on the market in winter and can only assume there was some miscommunication somewhere along the line.”

In publicity material released ahead of the sale, a Knight Frank spokesperson added: “Chesil Cliff House is positioned on a three-acre site between surfers’ paradise Saunton Sands backed by the impressive UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Braunton Burrows, and the idyllic cove of Croyde, beyond which sits National Trust-owned Baggy Point.

Devon lighthouse project
An artist impression of Devon lighthouse project which landed owners in debt

“Not only does the property boast high design and build quality, it also has a south-facing position and an ease of access to the water with a private beach and foreshore.”

Christopher Bailey, Head of National Waterfront, Knight Frank, added: “Chesil Cliff House will be the most significant coastal property to come to the open market in the West Country for many years.

“It is iconic in the true meaning of the word and there is nothing else to compare it to on the market right now.

“It certainly sits at the very top of the national coastal waterfront market and I have no doubt it will attract keen interest globally.”

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