From Kevin McCloud

kevin Screen-shot-2012-12-11

The editor-at-large for Grand Designs Magazine writes an exclusive column every month.

‘The design phase of a project is there to save you money’

from kevin

here’s a phrase that sticks in my mind as a particularly useful piece of advice in construction. It’s about preparation and design and planning, and it dogs my own life as it does that of every single self-builder I’ve met: fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. It’s a truism, of course. Probably military in origin. And it particularly applies when you’re building a house where it’s crucial that you enter the building phase with as much as possible tied up, designed, detailed, costed and consented. Of course, the design phase of a project is there to save you money and produce the best possible ideas by using pencils instead of bricks to try things out. The building bit is when it gets scarily expensive to experiment. However, I can’t ever bring myself to use the phrase. It demands perfection in all things and therefore predisposes 99.9 per cent of us to inevitable failure. It’s just a bit cocky know-all. And it smacks of a pre-conceived 1,000-year plan.

My new love interest

Last month I wrote about my doomed relationship with the twitworld and how my account twitched for the last time nearly a year ago. In case you were fretting for my lonely virtual bachelordom, let me tell you that I have found a new love. Pinterest. Pinterest is a bit kookier and certainly prettier than Twitter. It’s not as widely adopted, so you don’t get fake, hyper-slang tweets from the likes of Starbucks or Easyjet. And it appeals to anybody with a developed visual mind or a back catalogue of photos. In this respect it’s similar to the Scrapbook I’ve put together on Channel 4’s website (

You can also build your own scrapbook on Pinterest, borrow, repin and comment on other people’s postings. You can even use it to try out marketing ideas on a potential consumer group. If, however, you want a pinboard that is more interactive and televisual, Channel 4’s Scrapbook page plugs straight into the TV world of Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home and Grand Designs – which are fully fleshed-out with links to design guidance and information about every project and episode to watch on 4oD.

The search for more Green Heroes

Grand Designs Live London is almost upon us (4-12 May, ExCeL London), so you won’t be receiving a tweet from me saying: ‘Hey guys, check out the cool solar panels/Code 6 renewables strategy/pronged thing for de-fluffing back trouser pockets, etc’. You might get a pink Pinterest pin though. I’ve started to put together a pinboard of some of the Green Heroes over the years. And there’s brand-new Kevin’s Green Heroes for 2013, including recycled furniture from the likes of Paul Firbank (see right), who put together the fabulous armchair for my shed TV series last year. Its objective is to showcase the best of new green ideas and products in design and construction (although sometimes they’re old ideas and products that deserve to be enjoyed again). There are only three criteria, really: one, that the concept ought to be under-valued or new; two, that it should be available in the market to buy; and three, that it has to demonstrate more than one sustainability cleverness. It isn’t good enough that a product be just recycled, it ought to be recyclable (or even better, upcyclable) and/or have an impact on our behaviour. A piece of furniture made out of old bits of furniture ought not to be just a piece of reinvention, it ought to be beautiful, too. There are, as always, extra marks for elegance. If you know of a maker whose product really deserves exposure at Kevin’s Green Heroes, in front of 100,000 people, then write to me at the GDM address.

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