Getting permission to build your own house is no easy task in the UK – especially if an ancient abbey is next to your plot.
This was the challenge facing golf coach Chris and ex-figure skater Kayo, who wanted to create their dream home in leafy south Hertfordshire.
A recent one-off episode of Grand Designs showcased the amazing new property, which has finally been completed after 10 years of wrangling with local authorities, construction challenges and funding problems.
Kevin McLeod, host of the Channel 4 show, was clearly astonished by the new property, which has been built in a zig-zag shape.
The Roman-inspired family home is a single story property that sprawls 557 square metres - several times the area of the average UK home.
The Roman look was largely chosen so the property wouldn't jar with the ancient cathedral nearby.
It took Chris and Kayo four years to secure planning permission for the house and took them a further six years to complete the project.
The land near the abbey had been vacant for 30 years, with local authorities reluctant to allow construction on a plot so close to such a stunning historic building.
While the abbey in question was not named, it is likely to be the Cathedral of St Albans, founded in the 8th Century. Its present form features 11th Century Norman or Romanesque architecture.
The abbey’s new neighbouring property features a large garden and a mini putting green, but is otherwise respectful of the heritage next door.
This stunning home did not come cheap. The initial budget of £600,000 was soon breached, but the owners remain tight-lipped about the final cost. Kevin McLeod, however, estimated it would have cost between £1.5m - £2m to complete.
McCloud said of the unique property, the roof of which is blanketed in sedum: 'It's a really unusual project, a fantastic house, beautifully crafted in a tradition that goes back to the middle of the twentieth century, to [the late Welsh-American architect] Frank Lloyd Wright for example.'
He continued: 'It's built in the shadows of a great cathedral, on a site of great archaeological importance, both Roman and medieval. Both these things affected the design.'
Securing planning permission on sites such as this is understandably difficult, but Chris and Kaya’s incredible Roman-inspired home is a blueprint for those with similar ‘grand designs’.