Press Peckham House Project on Grand Designs

Peckham House 15½

Press, Peckham House

Should you be thinking of a self build then your core team will be more critical than ever; both to the project and to your sanity.

Grand Designs

Visit Kevin McClouds' review of Peckham House and the project seen on Channel 4's Grand Designs. Read More Here

Inside Out Homes

Architect Zac Monro extols the virtues of blurring the boundaries between house & garden, and of open-plan living, all overseen by meia design director Monty Ravenscroft. Read more

Open House London 2015

Shortlisted RIBA Awards 2006. One of six voted as Nation's favourite Grand Designs' houses. Sustainable features include use of wasteland, recycled materials and innovative ideas. Gallery

Wed. 8th May, 2013

I am a big fan of composting toilets

Grand Designs green-minded presenter enthuses over toilets ...

Wednesday 8th May, 2013By: AdminClose

I am a big fan of composting toilets

theguardian by

When I ask the inevitable question: what are your favourite Grand Designs projects from the 100 so far? "I am enormously attached to those projects that are small," he says, and names just three. "Ben Law who built his house in the woods for £26,000, that remains the viewers favourite."

"Then Monty Ravenscroft , who did the urban version, and built a house in Peckham with no windows but a giant skylight that he engineered," he says.

The third, says McCloud, was the house on Skye built by Indi Waterstone and partner Rebecca. "I sort of lost my heart to it," he says. "It was tiny and it did not look like a traditional croft. It is wood clad and grass roofed, it looks like a big mossy boulder, a piece of mountain."

What they have in common, he says, is that "the constraints are so severe, due to size and budget, that the ideas that emerge are powerfully inventive."

Mon. 16th April, 2012

A Few Internet Comments

Comments from the internet regarding Peckham House ...

Monday 16th April, 2012By: AdminClose

A Few Internet Comments

MumsNet by Viewers

MarshmallowPies, I loved were Monty in Peckham who built a tiny but ingenious house on a narrow plot & shoestring budget.

Maryz, I liked the guy who built this one I can't find the right picture, but he was called Monty something and did his designs on the back of old envelopes (grin).
I often wonder how the house adapted to the inevitable "kevin" baby.

NicholasTeakozy, you and I share the same favourite. Monty's house is the most inventive Grand Design ever. Monty invented the construction method, the style of mezzanine and the moveable glass ceiling. He made it up on the fly and made it not only work but look amazing too.

Sun. 21st March, 2010

Would you build your own home?

Cheap land prices mean that more people are donning hard hats ...

Sunday 21st March, 2010By: AdminClose

Would you build your own home?

The Observer by

Monty Ravenscroft became a self-build sensation overnight, when he showed what could be done with an unprepossessing scrap of urban wasteland in south London. Armed with a tiny budget, a pile of books, a gang of mates and impressive derring-do he transformed a narrow, derelict plot into an open-plan, cutting-edge family home – his antics closely followed by Grand Designs. And the nation loved him for it: "It was a David and Goliath thing," says Ravenscroft, who works as an engineer, actor and film producer. "We were struggling against the system, as self-build mortgages all catered for the standard process, for a standard house with a standard value. Which ours had none of. We were going to use weird materials, in a weird site, with a weird design without any windows." The skinny strip of land was cheap at £40,000, because windows were not an option – his neighbours are too close – but, after 18 months of hard work and a spend of £170,000, the house was valued at between £600,000 and £700,000 in 2006.

Sun. 10th September, 2006

Roof with a View

How do you turn a rubbish dump into an uplifting new home? Ian Tucker travels to Peckham ...

Sunday 10th September, 2006By: AdminClose

Roof with a View

The Observer by

How do you turn a rubbish dump into an uplifting new home? Ian Tucker travels to Peckham to meet the man who found the answer in the sky

'A lot of life is about luck, but if you sit around watching TV, you won't be lucky. Luck is about how much you engage with the world, with people, and how much you inspire people to do something special.' It's slightly cornball self-help-book blather, but from the mouth of Monty Ravenscroft, spoken as he waves you round his family's snazzy new home, built on a driveway of land in south London, it begins to take on the feel of profound wisdom.

The house is wedged between two Georgian villas in a conservation area in Peckham. From the street it doesn't look much bigger than a Portakabin, but once inside you're amazed at the space and brightness it contains. Much of this is down to the house's unique sliding roof. Working much like a car sunroof, the ceiling to the main living area is a large expanse of glass that retracts at the press of a button to reveal the sky and airplanes passing overhead (and slides back at the first sign of rain, thanks to a sensor).

As Monty's partner Claire Loewe says, 'The skylight is wonderful; it changes the atmosphere of the room. There's something about opening up the ceiling that grounds you.'

Without the roof the house couldn't exist: the structure butts up so closely to the neighbouring houses that side windows were impractical. As Monty points out, when he found the plot there was no obvious way to build a conventional house. Which, in fact, was exactly what he was looking for: 'If we could find a plot that couldn't have windows, then it was a site we could probably afford,' he explains.

Monty learnt the sunroof trick when he found himself making retracting roofs for the architect Richard Paxton. He is what you might call an 'outsider engineer', who spent his teenage years building custom cars and even a rotating summer house on his parent's farm. Later, he became a regular on television's Scrapheap Challenge.

Armed with this knowledge he set about finding a London plot and, after some five years of searching, he went to an auction and paid £40,000 for a 'bit of shitty land with rubbish on it' with no firm promise of planning permission.

Two-and-a-half years of persuading planning officers later, the concrete foundations were laid - but only after his dad had remortgaged his own house to pay for the construction because no bank would lend them the money.

Grand Designs came along to film the entertainment as Monty persuaded architects to work for love not money, encouraged friends to discover their hod-carrying talents, built models out of cereal packets and managed to erect the house's steel framework without the help of costly crane - his budget to finish the house was £130,000.

Monty's particular ideas and vision are found all over the house. It is full of unusual touches. A bathroom sink concealed in a drawer. An open-plan ensuite shower. A translucent glass toilet wall that adjoins the lounge: 'When it's backlit you get silhouettes - which is more of a problem for men than women.'

Possibly the quirkiest feature can be found in the bedroom, where you'll find a bed that can be slid sideways to reveal a bath. 'I don't have time for baths,' Monty explains. 'Most houses have baths because it's what you're supposed to have - they take up lots of space but are never used. People have showers in baths, which is fine but tedious. With this bath, bathing is a special occasion, a theatrical thing.'

Monty is proud of all these details. How every wall 'floats' without touching ceiling, floor or another wall. The hidden stair rail fixings. The space-saving pigeon steps to the two mezzanine bedrooms that not only float but also gently spring as you ascend them - 'People find them more disconcerting than I thought.'

Wilder ideas (an open-plan toilet in the lounge as a monument to thinking) were moderated by his wife's Claire's taste. 'I grew up in a farmhouse and Claire grew up in a fashion house,' he jokes.

Claire runs her tango-teaching business from the studio at the front of the house, dancing on sycamore floorboards made from a tree felled to make way for the build. 'The studio is a dream come true. It has radically changed my life. I can babysit and still be at work.' When they moved in, their son Flint was a month old. 'I wonder if when he gets older and visits friends' houses, he'll look under the bed for the bath,' says Claire.

Living with a small child in such a unique house brings complications. 'We need a stairgate for Flint, but we can't get one off the shelf - everything is bespoke, it can take forever.'

And although for the purposes of Grand Designs the house was finished more than a year ago, Monty is constantly finishing and adding new features. On the day of The Observer's visit a mural was being painted on the dance studio's ceiling, and three other workmen were busy with lathes, spotlights and landscaping.

Needless to say, the build has gone over budget. Monty reckons they've now spent around £210,000, but the banks will lend him money now and his father's house is safe. Financial control comes in the form of a rodent: 'We have a little mouse,' says Clare, 'who always crawls out when we're sitting here poring over our statements, talking about money. I think the mouse will go when our finances are more sorted.'

The building is a monument to Monty and Claire's innovation and determination. 'There were lots of battles to get this where it is. A lot of people have helped make it happen. In some ways it's not worth it - all I get at the end is a house. Whereas if I can help stop unblock the log jam of regulations and encourage others, then great,' says Monty. With this in mind, they are welcoming people into their home as part of the Open House weekend.

Ultimately, Monty has no doubts it was worth the struggle. 'We ended up with such a amazing place to live in. We come back to it and think it's still here, we're still allowed to live in it. We lie in bed and think "We did this."'

Saturday 9th April, 2005By: AdminClose

How the Fool Monty Became a Hero of DIY Drama

The Telegraph by

Anyone who has watched any of the emotional rollercoaster genre of property programmes must have wondered what goes on behind closed doors in the producers' meetings. Not everyone planning to build or renovate a house can be a soggy no-hoper or a foolhardy rookie. Surely some of the televised trauma must be a little fanciful, the result of tireless hours of clever editing and doom-laden voice-overs? So imagine the relief when a genuinely feckless novice contacted Channel 4's Grand Designs office and outlined his plans to build a house on the tightest of budgets, on the narrowest of plots, employing revolutionary, never-before-used technology and no professional labour.

It seems Monty Ravenscroft had two reasons to undertake this horrific build: he lives in London and he's an actor. The thespian thirst for success, it turns out, may have little to do with the prospect of sweeping past the paparazzi outside the Ivy and a lot to do with the fact that no one will give actors a mortgage.

Monty had spent seven desperate years trying to buy a home until he came across an unprepossessing slither of land in Peckham, in south-east London. It says a great deal about the London property market that, given this combination of God-awful plot in an unappealing neighbourhood, he still had to pay £40,000 for what is essentially a driveway.

On this skinny, snivelling excuse of a piece of land, he planned to spend a further £110,000 building a cross between a garage and a tunnel - a long, thin, low house that will incorporate his girlfriend's dance studio and sprout two curved "bedroom pods" on its roof. The only place he can have windows will be the back wall; the rest of the house will be lit by skylights. Presenter Kevin McCloud's eyebrows almost disappear under the brim of his trademark hard hat as he relates the scheme on screen.

And it gets worse - or better, depending on which side of the production office door you sit - for Monty cannot raise even these relatively small funds and his father has to remortgage his own home to get the project going. A visit to pa's house shows that Monty has a bit of a history of taking on madcap schemes and quickly moving on. The garden is littered with odd-looking cars, the flotsam of his bursts of inventiveness, and, ho-hum, a rotating summerhouse.

It all spells disaster in letters several storeys higher than Monty's permitted build. Yet, despite the temptation to sit back and snigger, Monty's charm and sheer empire-building sense of can-do infect McCloud with enthusiasm. With just £110,000 - a budget so meagre he ends up hoisting in the steel framework without the benefit of a crane - Monty really can't afford architectural statements, yet he manages to persuade one architect to design and another to oversee the build. Friends help him with the construction. (Quite where do you find friends who are willing to dig in footings over a British winter? Is there a website or something?) He even makes his own bolts.

Should I say what happens next? Well, unfortunately I can't. Disaster in a way really did strike when it turned out that the preview I saw was an unfinished rough cut missing the crucial part four. Monty's finish date and the Grand Designs broadcast date had come so close that the team were still working on the final edit. This was not explained to me at the time and a lot of curses were hurled in the direction of the Channel 4 press office. And I promise that the programme-makers and Monty should take that as a compliment.

Wed. 13th April, 2005

Building your own home in London

Building your own home in London could be tricky at the best of times ...

Wednesday 13th April, 2005By: AdminClose

Building your own home in London

Evening Standard (Property) by

Building your own home in London could be tricky at the best of times. But Monty Ravenscroft and Claire Loewe start off with two big handicaps: they have no land and they have no money.

Which would be enough to put off most people. But, as we know, the people featured on Grand Designs are made of sterner stuff than most (although some might say "madder stuff ").

When Kevin McCloud catches up with them at the start of this programme, they have just ended a four-year search for a piece of land, by buying the tiniest sliver between two houses in Peckham. The planners won't let them build higher than one storey. The land is so narrow they can't have windows on the side of the building because light won't reach them. Monty plans to build the house with his bare hands. And no mortgage company will support their project, so they have borrowed £110,000 from Monty's dad.

It's a dazzlingly ambitious plan to build what Monty likes to call "a mono-dimensional contemporary space of a light and airy nature". Or, alternatively: a bungalow.

The idea is to have impressive roof glazing, allowing rooms in the centre of the house to be flooded with light from above. And to incorporate a glass ceiling, which can slide back to turn a room into an internal courtyard.

It is hard not to be impressed by Monty's ambition, his ever- optimistic cheeriness and, frankly, his occasional lunatic ideas (plywood for the flat roof sounds plain wrong and so it turns out). But as, inevitably, things go wrong and the project slips further behind schedule, part-time actor Monty gets a little rueful.

"Next time, stick to my career. Get my career right and earn enough money to pay someone else to sort out this stuff who actually enjoys doing it."

Even when he's saying that, he manages a smile.

But can he keep smiling till the house is built?

Make Me Beautiful, Please

Wed. 13th April, 2005

Open House London

15 and a half Consort Road shortlisted for the RIBA Awards 2006 ...

Wednesday 13th April, 2005By: AdminClose

Open House London

TIME OUT Magazine by

15 and a half Consort Road Shortlisted for the RIBA Awards 2006 and featured on 'Grand Designs', this private home (Richard Paxton Architects/ MOOARC/ Flower Michelin 2005) with an opening roof and a sliding bath demonstrates the pluses and minuses of a tight budget and an 'unusable' brownfield site. The whole house is open to view and the architects will be available to discuss their work. Expect to queue. 15 and a half Consort Rd, SE15 2PH. Peckham Rye or Queens Rd rail. Sat & Sun 10am-5pm (last entry 4.45pm).

April, 2005By: AdminClose

Open House London

Open House by

The aim of Open House London is to encourage us all to recognize good architectural design and to explore buildings and be able to appreciate what good design means. For 2006 particularly, I'd recommend:
15 and a half Consort Road An amazing home with an opening roof and a sliding bath!

Sun. 13th November, 2005

Peckham House, Dream Design

...Remember the inspirational property developer, Monty. ...

Sunday 13th November, 2005By: AdminClose

Peckham House, Dream Design by Monty Ravenscroft

JuggleFrogs (Property) by

We met the avid property developers, Monty Ravenscroft and his partner Claire, 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 Claire 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!

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!

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!

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 the Peckham House DVD.

peckham house press media image for monty 1
peckham house press media image for monty 2
peckham house press media image for monty 3