If you are a fan of Grand Designs like me you will remember the inspirational property developer, Monty Ravenscroft, especially as it’s one of the only shows where the design was on a budget – although you can’t tell by the end result. The small Peckham House really is one of the best Grand Designs.

We met the avid property developers, Monty Ravenscroft and his partner Clare, at the NEC for Grand Designs Live – they were launching their new DVD at the show!

Grand designs for Peckham House

Grand Designs showed with Peckham House how building your own home in London is tricky at the best of times. But Monty Ravenscroft and Clare Loewe started off with two big problems no land and no money. Through hard work, guts and determination they found a solution.

Monty spent four years trying to find land, the time taken he says “looking for dereliction and having dreams a little too ambitious”. Eventually he came across an unprepossessing slither of land in Peckham, South-East London. At auction he paid £40,000 for what was essentially a driveway with rubbish on it. What’s more he had no firm promise of planning permission!

Peckham house plot

Peckham house plot

As seen on Grand Designs, Monty Ravenscroft’s plan was to build a cross between a garage and a tunnel – a long, thin, low house that would incorporate a dance studio and sprout two curved “bedroom pods” on its roof. Monty told us “The only place with windows would be at the back of the house, the rest of the house would be lit by skylights; though the pod skylights got moved down the curve to be more like heavily sloping windows.”

Grand Designs – Large sliding sunroof

They knew when they found the plot that there was no obvious way to build a conventional house as any structure would sit very closely to the neighbouring houses – windows on the side of the house would be impossible – a first for Grand Designs. However this suited Monty as it made the plot more affordable and he had the perfect solution up his sleeve for Peckham House!

Sliding sun roof designed by Monty Ravenscroft

Sliding sun roof designed by Monty Ravenscroft

Monty Ravenscroft learnt the sunroof trick when he found himself making retracting roofs for the architect Richard Paxton – one of his many genius inventions.

Without windows they have created a wonderful light space, mainly due to the unique sliding roof – an essential part of the new Peckham House.

Working much like a car sunroof, the ceiling to the main living area is a large expanse of glass revealing the sky and airplanes passing overhead. The glass retracts at the press of a button and slides back at the first sign of rain, thanks to a sensor.

Monty Ravenscroft’s box full of tricks

Monty’s ideas and vision can be seen all over this Grand Design’s house. Peckham House is full of unusual touches including a bathroom sink concealed in a drawer and possibly the quirkiest feature can be found in the bedroom; a bed that can be slid sideways to reveal a bath!

Compact bathroom, slides from under the bed

Compact bathroom, slides from under the bed

Monty told me “We decided to spend 170k in the end (40k for land on top..) to give ourselves better finishes and a snappy garden, 3 bathrooms rather than 1, proper blinds, full on hi-tec wiring, floating bookshelves, racy lighting – loads really – we could have moved in at the 110k level but given it was set to be worth so much more than the cost it all seemed worth it.”

Monty Ravenscroft ended up with such an amazing Grand Designs home but how did he do it and what did he learn? Well now we can find out all the juicy details about Peckham House as they have launched a fantastic DVD… more on Peckham House.