The dream home that went £3m over budget
Couple sue developers after grand design ends up costing £5million
THIS custom-built curved home was supposed to be built in less than a year and only cost £2million to construct.
Instead it took nearly ten years to build – and an eye-watering £5million in construction costs.
Property financier Stuart Russell and his wife Naomi are now suing the husband and wife developer team for £1.8million plus interest after the plans for their dream home ended up costing £3million more than they had hoped.
They claim Peter and his wife Linda Stone, who advised them on the build in Highgate, North London, were to blame.
However, the Stones, who worked for the Russells as project manager and quantity surveyor between 2008 and 2012, insist the owners were to blame.
They say the Russells wasted money and caused delays by dithering over door handles, lavatory roll holders and other interior details – and are making a counter-claim for around £20,000 in ‘unpaid fees’.
Mr Russell, 62, defended the time he and his wife took choosing interiors, telling the judge at the High Court in London: ‘If you’d seen the house you’d understand this is not some Barratt home. Dealing with curves in this way is so complex. It’s very difficult to fit it together.
‘What we wanted was our house to be our house with everything we wanted.’
He added: ‘ We started this project with a very clear brief.
‘It’s the detail in a room which decides whether it’s good or bad design and we were trying to put that together.
‘Explain to me why you need to know what colour the walls are six months before they are finished? Some of the information seemed
to be needed quite early. I didn’t need to provide a toilet roll holder decision for a wall that didn’t exist.’ The house at the centre of the legal battle is on one of London’s most desirable streets. The Russells bought a home on the street for £ 3.65million in August 2006 and demolished it to make way for their dream home. The new detached house built by the Russells has four bedrooms, a swimming pool and landscaped grounds. It is estimated by property website Zoopla to be worth £8million. The Stones, who live in a £1.2million flat in Kensington, West London, worked on the Russells’ project through their business, PSP Consultants, for three and a half years. 2012 They PSP after is couple, a a professional walkout both by 61, builders. practice quit in with high-end 29 years residential of experience and commercial in property projects. The Russells’ complaints focus on events surrounding the builders’ ‘withdrawal’ from the job. Mr Russell said he and his wife should have been warned more clearly by PSP that the project was facing meltdown. ‘It was one of the most unpleasant circumstances of my life when my home, which I had hoped would be finished by July 2011, was not finished at all except for the concrete,’ he added.
‘I was paying all sorts of things while trying to recover the situation. I’m not a professional.
‘It’s the professionals who should have the forethought.’
Lynne McCafferty QC, for the Stones, said the blame for the delay, the walkout and the overspend lay with the Russells.
‘Late design decisions bedevilled this project,’ she said, condemning the Russells’ attitude as ‘unrealistic and impractical’.
She said the Stones ‘consistently advised and warned Mr and Mrs Russell that it was imperative that they make design decisions to enable the building works to progress and of the dangers should they fail to do so’.
She added: ‘They chose to ignore that advice at the time and, all these years on, still seem unable to understand those consequences.’
She also told the court that the Stones have suffered personally and professionally with this dispute hanging over them.
The hearing continues.
Before: Previous home was demolished Sleek: Dispute over the interiors Delays: The unique home is on one of London’s most desirable streets
Counter-suing: Peter Stone and his wife Linda
Suing: Stuart Russell and his wife Naomi