Tonight's Grand Designs sees retired ad man and former boxer Geoff swap Spain for an unusual self-build on the Essex coast

(Channel 4)

Retired ad man Geoff tries to sell his luxurious Spanish villa to build a £700,000 water resistant, island home in the remote, flood plains of Essex.

In tonight’s episode of Grand Designs on Channel 4, the recently-divorced, 63-year-old, with a Peter Pan complex, returns to the UK to build a spectacular three-bedroom house on steel stilts. He wants to watch his grandchildren grow up who also live in Essex.

“It’s the first time in 32 years I can do what I want to do,” says Geoff, who was raised in the East End. But will he heed the warning from presenter Kevin McCloud? “Architecture can do many things but it cannot keep you forever young,” says McCloud.

For £350,000 the Cuban cigar-smoking Geoff bought a 7.5 acre plot with views over the watery wilderness with planning permission. He doesn’t have to design the structure, he just has to follow the plans.

The cantilevered house will stand 15 ft above the ground on 30 heavy-weight concrete and steel piles that will be sunk 14 metres deep.

They will support an industrial strength steel frame comprising 560 steel girders which will transfer the load back into the earth below.

The stairs will be made of timber as will the walls which will envelop the steel. The property will be wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows with a jagged and eye-catching roof covered in solar panels.

Each of the three bedrooms will have views across the water. Running up through the centre of the house will be a glass lift.

(Channel 4)

A bund wall will protect the garden and in the event of an extraordinary 1,000-year storm the water will cover the garden and the ground floor but won’t reach the living area. The power supply and drainage system will all be protected. “In the event of such a storm, Geoff will just need a boat,” says McCloud.

The project gets underway and all the foundations dug before Geoff comes up against his first major, build-stopping stumbling block. In order to complete his island home he must first sell his villa in Spain.

The plush pad with a £1.5 million price tag has been sitting on the market for a year and Geoff refuses to accept an offer of £1.2 million.

If he cannot sell in Spain Geoff is unable to afford to build the rest of his gravity-defying dream house and will have to spend one wet winter after another in a static caravan on site as he manages the project all by himself.

Watch Grand Designs tonight at 8pm to find out what happens.

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