The Dome House in Bowness - what happened next with the Grand Designs property?
- Credit: Archant
It started off as a masterpiece of modern design but turned into a money-pit. However, there was a happy ending for Dome House
It was an architectural dream that turned into a nightmare played out in front of millions of television viewers.
The intention was that it would be a state-of-the-art eco-house with a striking curved roof. Sadly, it turned into a money pit.
This beautifully designed house captured the imagination of Kevin McCloud and the team from Channel 4's Grand Designs but it ended in tears until it was rescued by a supporter who had watched the programme with growing horror at the plight of the family who owned the site.
Their plan was to demolish 80 per of the 1980s property and replace it was something four times the size.
Retired business woman Yvonne Malley, from Rossendale, watched events unfold from her holiday home in France, her heart strings tugged by the family struggling to keep going in one of the coldest winters on record.
When the cash ran out, the family of two adults and two small children were seen by millions selling their possessions to survive. The prospect of losing everything became a stark reality as they fell three months behind with their mortgage. Eventually, they were forced to move into a mobile home. It was at this point that Yvonne made contact. Her amazingly generous offer to total strangers was the answer to the family's prayers but it was to rebound on her. She became drawn into the nightmare.
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'It was heartbreaking to see the family struggle, especially the children and, as I had some cash which wasn't really making any interest, I offered a loan,' said Yvonne. 'But then I began to pour more and more money into the project and, at the risk of sounding foolish, I ended up being owed £650,000. I began to hate the place.
'Building continued but costs spiralled and the place was abandoned, falling into disrepair for years. I was late in applying to the courts for repayment and so went down the list. I decided to buy the building which meant I had to satisfy all the debt on the place and the original owner.
'At one point builders refused to continue to work on the building unless I assumed responsibility for the costs.'
Before buying the property in its abandoned state, the one condition Yvonne insisted on was that her son, Philip, and his wife, Joyce, agreed to to become managers of what was to be a very upmarket guest house.
'I disliked the house intensely because I felt so foolish for getting in such a predicament - all from trying to do a kindness,' added Yvonne.
'I'm still improving the place - it needs a new roof and the electrics are currently being upgraded and now, I must confess, I am gradually looking on it more fondly.'
Dome House is open for business as a unique B & B and has guests booking weekend or midweek stays. Apart from the stunning views and the imaginative decor, it is just a five minute walk to the centre of Bowness and the Lake.
Dome House also sports a fabulous swimming pool and a huge lounge/kitchen/dining area where guests can cook for themselves. A massive log burning fire actually heats pipes in the 18ft central wall during the day, and this releases heat into the house during the night.
This common lounge and all the guests rooms command magnificent views across Windermere, the Langdales and beyond. Manager Joyce said: 'Even though Yvonne has had problems with it, we absolutely adore the place. Our guests enjoy the finest views in Britain and we've met some lovely people from all over the world who come and stay time after time.'
'Some of the craftsmen that come to work on the place insist on staying here.' It looks like a happy ending for Dome House.