Grand Designs Church Redevelopment Led To Divorce And Two Heart Attacks

A gentleman, who appeared on Grand Designs when his church renovation was featured, has had two heart attacks and divorced since commencing the build, but he insists that it was all worth it. Dean Marks felt that the upset in his personal life was a small price to pay for the completion of his dream home. The dilapidated 18th century St Martin’s Church in Tipton, West Midlands is now a modern residential home and the presenter Kevin McCloud has called his efforts in achieving his dream “inspiring”.

Mr Marks wanted to convert the Grade II listed former church and turn it into a luxury home for him and his family, but the stress of the project led to him and his wife divorcing and suffered two heart attacks. He felt that the project exhausted him so much that this was the likelihood of both heart attacks. Mr Marks also had to endure a few operations to repair bone and ligament damage to his shoulder all caused through the work involved and is battling testicular cancer. He also had the added stress of having to install CCTV cameras around the building whilst work was being carried out due to repeated attacks from thieves and vandals.

Mr Marks bought the church 1999 for £12,750 but it is now worth an amazing £1.3million. Mr Marks has no regrets about the personal traumas suffered as he has completed his dream home. Mr Marks used to live in a three bedroom semi-detached home in Halesowen and even though he did not class himself as being obsessed with the build, but he did concentrate a great deal on getting his ambition achieved.

Once he had bought the church he spent four and half years trying to persuade Sandwell Council to grant planning permission to renovate it. He finally achieved this in 2005 and was able to begin work. He installed 11 miles of cabling for the electrics and over three and a half miles of pipes for the heating. However the renovation bill came to a grand total of just £110,000. The house boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, gym, library and even an indoor swimming pool. He used the old church pews left in the church and created units in the kitchen and has also incorporated the original stained glass windows into the design. The top of the property has a glass observatory which allows views of Lichfield Cathedral, over 14 miles away, if it is a clear day.

The producers of the show asked Mr Marks twice if he would appear on the programme. The first time he refused because he did not want to feel intruded upon. The second time they asked he accepted as he felt that they would give him more motivation towards the build. Filming took place over 21 months and aired in April 2007, this was when he had his first attack. Later that year Mr Marks was runner up in Grand Designs national awards and speaks regularly at their Live shows at the NEC in Birmingham.

It just goes to show that if you have dream then with enough motivation you can achieve it. Even if there is some challenges along the way. The equity in the home though is quite astounding.