Property television programme review


Beeny's Restoration Nightmare

and a property challenge for a surveyor


As Surveyors we note that there are many television programmes covering the property market aired on terrestrial and satellite television stations which we review in this section of our website. Our television review is our light hearted opinion of the television programme and gives a breakdown of the programmes content. In no way are we advertising the television programme or receiving remuneration for promoting it on our website we are simply giving general information.

If you need help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, dilapidations or any other property matters please free phone 0800 298 5424.

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Beeny's Restoration Nightmare was first aired on Channel Four in November 2010 produced by Renegade Pictures (UK) Ltd. The programme shows the viewer the almost derelict Georgian mansion in East Yorkshire that Sarah Beeny and her husband Graham Swift have purchased and are in the process of restoring back to its former glory.

The programme is informative with almost every element of property problems found within Rise Hall from wet rot to woodworm to poor plumbing and drainage issues. The challenge is an enormous task with what at the time of purchase at £430,000 must have seemed a bargain the restoration work needs a bottomless pit of money to save it from collapsing.


Two series, at the time of writing this article, have been filmed with forty seven minute episodes interspersed with advertisements. Series One had just three episodes introducing the viewer to the project and then there were six episodes in series two focusing on different areas of the restoration. A series whether you are a Surveyor or home owner a must to watch.


Presenter not a surveyor!

Sarah Beeny

Sarah Beeny who hosts Beeny's Restoration Nightmare is the daughter of an architect and was born in Reading in Berkshire . After aspirations to follow a drama career and travelling the world solo she settled back in the UK to a variety of jobs. She decided to study the property market and with her brother and husband set up her own property developing business and not looked back since.

Sarah has not only presented Beeny's Restoration Nightmare but several spin off property programmes including Streets Ahead, Help! My house is falling down, Property Ladder and Property Snakes and Ladders. and Britain 's Best Homes as well as writing a weekly column for the Mail on Sunday and several books including Property Ladder: How to Make Pounds from Property and Sarah Beeny's Price the Job.

Sarah's business life has developed further with an online singles dating site and property website Tepilo together with a venture of renovating Rise Hall a Grade II Listed historic house in Yorkshire featured in Beeny's Restoration Nightmare series.

Sarah is a Mum of four and lives in London and Yorkshire .

Beeny's extensive knowledge of the property market makes her an ideal presenter for Beeny's Restoration Nightmare as she has a frank, no nonsense approach and years of experience in this sector.


Programme format

Beeny's Restoration Nightmare for Channel Four is a must view television programme as the viewer is captivated by the challenges ahead for Sarah Beeny and her husband Graham Swift.

In series one the viewer is introduced to the enormous Georgian mansion house in East Yorkshire built in1815. The house was firstly a family home then in WWII it was used as a hospital and then later converted to become a Covent School for Girls. After the school ceased the property was then left to rot until in the queen of property television Sarah Beeny and her husband took on the property to restore back to a family home and also develop for a prestigious wedding venue.

We are frequently in East Yorkshire and over the years have conducted many residential and commercial structural building surveys in this beautiful part of England.

Rise Hall is huge with ninety seven rooms, a third of a mile of corridors, one hundred and forty nine windows set in thirty acres of gardens (originally designed by Capability Brown) and beautiful countryside.

For ten/eleven years Sarah Beeny and her husband, not to mention her expanding family (they have four young boys) have fallen in love with Rise Hall, got married there and planned to restore it to its former glory. Sarah Beeny has a solid and professional reputation as a property expert and is putting herself on the line both professionally and personally by taking on this venture. With a limited budget and so much work to do from dealing with an acre of roofs that leak, crumbling bedrooms and bathrooms, much of the timber suffering from wet rot and dry rot, significant woodworm this certainly is a major, major project and Sarah Beeny has a limited time frame to accomplish her dream.

If the project of restoring such a stately home as Rise Hall was taken on by for example The National Trust millions of pounds would be invested and a much longer time frame would be planned in its renovation. Sarah Beeny and her husband do not have the luxury of a bottomless pit of money nor time to spare so engaging the help of local tradesmen and using all Sarah's knowledge of properties each week the viewer has an insight into an area of restoration within the rambling property.

The Local Authority have to be kept happy with their plans to conduct weddings at Rise Hall so not only does Sarah Beeny and Graham have the challenge of restoration but also the prospect of satisfying the Planning Department with their new venture plans, building work and alterations to the property.

As Surveyors we find ourselves frequently outlining to clients in our structural building surveys when alterations and additions have been made to properties it is essential that Local Authority Approvals have been gained.

The programme has many sweeping aerial shots of the stately home, gardens and surrounding countryside and is interspersed with graphics showing the layout of the property and the improvements planned.



Sarah Beeny's Restoration Nightmare title sequence shows Rise Hall with some stunning sweeping and aerial shots together with Sarah Beeny, her husband Graham Swift and children at the mansion house. Different areas of the huge house are shown with close ups of the poor condition the house has deteriorated to such as the leaking roofs or terrible dry rot setting the scene for each episodes focus of restoration work.

The local team of tradesmen and craftsmen are shown working on the property as well as a taster of their plans to open Rise Hall as a wedding venue for the future to bring in revenue to maintain the mansion.

Text is overlaid onto the various sections of the property indicating the sheer scale of this project, which could easily swallow us whole with dry rot, wet rot, woodworm, mould sadly they have got the lot and also outlines the scale of the project with 149 windows, 97 rooms it is terrifyingly huge then freeze frame to Sarah Beeny at the front of the property and the show's title.

The text is dramatic and as with our structural building surveys in our Executive Summaries the points divided into good, bad and ugly on a property must be carefully read and re-read.


Asking property experts' advice


In each episode Sarah Beeny when faced with a challenge seeks the advice of an expert whether that is a gold plating company that can help with turning some old chrome bathroom taps to a more appropriate golden finish or visiting a reproduction bathroom specialist. This element of the programme adds further interest to the show with an insight into trades and crafts that cannot only be used in large stately home restorations but also in a smaller scale if for example living in a Victorian house and wishing to restore sash windows.



The gentle and sometimes dramatic classical music is perfect to accompany the series depicting the challenge of restoring the enormous Georgian property to its former glory composed by Phase Music.


Programme example a must view show for a Surveyor

Series Two episode 4

The viewer is introduced to the programme outlining the passion and obsession on a grand scale Sarah Beeny, property expert and husband Graham Swift, artist have with a nearly 200 year old Georgian country house in distress Rise Hall. The couple got engaged at Rise Hall, and married at Rise Hall this is where their dream happened. Sarah and Graham have owned the house for over eleven years taking on the challenge of the restoration project employing local tradesmen and craftsmen a team effort.

The work is carried out in phrases with the dining room, entertaining spaces and newly created family room however now their dream has turned into a nightmare. East Riding of Yorkshire Council have served an enforcement action notice with Sarah Beeny and Graham needing to tell the council that they have not had any parties or weddings taking place at Rise Hall! Sarah and Graham are embroiled in a dispute with their Local Authority over building works and the planning status of Rise Hall.

When conducted commercial structural surveys for our clients we always point out that the legalities of a property and its usage are key elements to consider when purchasing premises for business use.


Should Sarah Beeny and Graham sell Rise Hall?

Sarah and Graham are at the end of their tethers and succumbed to the idea of selling as the project is no longer tenable to own Rise Hall as it takes more energy than they have.

A buyer is interested thinking the restoration that the couple and their local team have carried out is fantastic.

Has their love affair with Rise Hall come to an end? Will Sarah Beeny and her husband sell the property or pick themselves up and continue with their quest to restore the house? As Sarah says the house has such a rich history this to them makes it more important to keep it alive.

The sheer scale of this project could easily shallow Sarah Beeny and Graham whole what with dry rot, wet rot, woodworm, mould etc sadly they have got the lot! The property has one hundred and forty nine windows and ninety seven rooms and is a terrifyingly huge undertaking.

The buyer is due to visit Rise Hall with Sarah anticipating an angel about to fly down from the sky! Could the house become an addition to the potential buyer's portfolio of luxury rental properties? Sarah Beeny, Graham and their four young sons wait in anticipation of the prospective buyer's arrival. A helicopter comes into sight with the potential purchaser aboard landing on the front lawn. The potential purchaser encouraged by his acquisition controller's feedback is making a second viewing of Rise Hall with his entire management team. The plan the prospective purchaser has is to retain the original character of the Listed building renovating all the building as an exclusive venue and holiday let. When looking for property they can renovate Rise Hall certainly fits the bill. All bathrooms Sarah confirms have been plumbed, there is no gas on site, oil is used instead with the first question on list is about Conservation and Building Regulations.

Rumours are rife with the local helpers that Sarah Beeny and her husband are going to sell Rise Hall although many feel it is evitable.

We are not only asked to conduct full structural surveys on properties but can also advise on valuations as we are Building Surveyors and Valuers.

A few days later they get a response from their potential buyer with Sarah and Graham wondering could all the issues with the Local Authority and restoration costs become a thing of the past. The prospective could see how much work is still to be carried out and with the price level offered to Sarah and Graham lower than they felt Rise Hall was worth they now do not want to sell the property. Sarah and Graham discuss that it was perhaps a petulant moment that made them look at selling and now with an offer this gives them an opportunity to revaluate their love/hate relationship with Rise Hall. Graham wants to get stuck into renovation work remembering all the reasons why they bought the property in the first place with Sarah Beeny saying that the reality of someone staring her in the face possibly wishing to buy Rise Hall made her realise how much she loves it.

Often as Surveyors we can point out issues in our structural building surveys but emotions and a dream can sway a purchaser to purchase a property or not whatever challenges lay ahead.


Decision not to sell

If Rise Hall is to survive it must generate its own income to earn its keep but before Graham and Sarah Beeny can continue with their restoration they need to round up their local team of helpers to keep them up to speed with their intention to keep Rise Hall. Sarah Beeny and Graham after thanking their amazing team announce their intention to keep Rise Hall with their team delighted they are going to continue with the restoration of the house.

In this episode it is back to basics restoring three bathrooms each with their own challenges with funds having to be spread more carefully

The first bathroom to be restored is on north side of the hall with work to be carried out on a tight budget.

The smallest room in house is to have a nautical theme prior to the new plan this was a tiny shower room. Sarah Beeny and Graham like baths and feel that if a luxury yacht can have an amazing bathroom in a small space why can't they install something similar in Rise Hall's smallest room; the challenge for this tiny space is set.

The third bathroom is the largest and potentially grandest bathroom at the front of the house and is currently their family bathroom. The bathroom is large with two side by side baths and a shower that they hardly use until children came along! This is a relaxing peaceful bathroom but with cream carpet and young children not so practical and now has a rather stained carpet. The plan is now to renovate the bathroom in a romantic and authentic theme to allow people that in the future will rent the house use their bedroom and bathroom.

The plan is set for an authentic, period look for all three bathrooms

When conducting structural building surveys for our clients we can help and advice on design issues and are happy to talk these through prior to your decision to purchase a property.


Visiting the experts

For inspiration for romantic bathroom they visit Catchpole and Rye bathroom specialists who are manufacturers of Victorian, Edwardian and Art Nouveau reproductions. Currently the company are shown working on renovating one of the best examples the company has ever seen of a canopy Victorian bath for a castle in Scotland.

When Rise Hall was built in 1815 the owners had to wait until the turn off the century for their first plumbed in showers by then canopy baths such as the one in Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum became highly popular with the owners of country houses but were beyond reach for the average household.

Finishes go in and out of fashion; in the past posh fittings would have been nickel plated not just brass, brass was not for this end of the market.

For the larger romantic bathroom Sarah Beeny wishes to have a Victorian reproduction cistern in a brass finish and discovers that the name of the house can be embossed on the toiler cistern or, as suggested, Swift and Beeny sanitary engineers!


For the budget bathroom on north side of house the make shift water heating solution has to go which was from earlier years when a temporary heating system was installed within an hour of Sarah and Graham moving in. The couple moved in the winter of 2000 and the long system of pipes was a measure to bring water to the bathroom!

The fire surround in this bathroom is painted then when Sarah carefully strips off some paint it reveals it is marble!

In the tiny nautical bathroom the idea is to install a bath, sink and loo. When the plasterboard is taken away it reveals that it is making a small room even smaller as there is a wall behind it as every inch is precious in a small space by stripping back they can utilise this extra space.


Another expert visit

Sarah Beeny and Graham travel to London to visit a yacht moored by The Tower of London in St Katherines Dock which is a custom built yacht. The yacht has a masculine feel and has no door handles as the doors have touch sensitive motorised devices however they can be temperamental and do not work every time they are touched! The area in the yacht is 2 x 1.7m and like in the smallest bathroom in Rise Hall in a boat the key thing is space. A standard bath would not fit so the bath on the yacht has had curved sides and was made to order being cut down to fit the space.


Back in Rise Hall

The romantic bathroom already has taps and wherever possible recycling is key so the chrome taps from their vanity unit Sarah decides to have plated as gold coloured taps are more in keeping with their restoration plans.

When surveying properties from many different eras it is always good practise when carrying out renovation work to restore to a finish that is in keeping with the age, type and style of the property.


An expert on plating

A mobile brass and gold plating service arrives in the form of a gentleman and his specialist equipment. The taps are stripped of chrome with a solution revealing nickel underneath which is quite time consuming and then 24 ct gold plate is added. The final result is a perfect recycled set of taps for the romantic bathroom.


More work to the bathrooms

The romantic bathroom has its walls covered with MDF to create a wood panelling effect giving a clean finish and when painted will give a period feel to the room.

In the nautical bathroom the walls have wood panelling.

Joiners, builders and plumbers are all on site but, as we understand over the years as Chartered Surveyors, things do not always run to plan and the wood order has not all arrived. Without the nosing it will hold up the work and it is eventually realised that the wood had not ordered correctly!!!

Another hiccup is that the wrong baths have been delivered as the top needs to be a true curve!

Joiner and plumber find their work grins to a halt.


Rise Hall to be accessed by local clubs

Sarah Beeny and Graham realise that they are not the only people fortunate enough to enjoy Rise Hall and wish the local community to be able to see their work and enjoy the house and grounds too. A local vintage car club have therefore been invited to the house in a week's time so work need to continue at a pace to be ready for their visitors.


Local collector

Sarah Beeny meets with a local collector who unearths objects of Hall's past including a newspaper cutting in 2000 when Sarah and Graham purchased the Hall and a toilet which is a Victorian thunder box which he decides to lend to them!


The History of Rise Hall

Nearby Hull was heavily bombed in WWII and Rise Hall was used by Auxiliary Territorial Forces. Sarah invites two ladies meet again at Rise Hall to share their memories of Rise Hall during their time there from 1942 to 1944. The ladies are given a tour of the mansion and tell Sarah that the operations room in one of the bedrooms was where they worked helping to alert British defences of imminent air attacks. The ladies recall how the large bath was so big they only filled it with 5 of water with Sarah finding their recollections of their time in Rise Hall fascinating bringing the houses rich history to life.

Sarah Beeny is in love with Rise Hall and feels that if the house is lost so too would the social history of our country let alone our architectural history.

We are asked to conduct structural building surveys as Surveyors on properties of all ages, types and styles with some being class as Listed buildings and some in Conservation areas which all have their own issues and concerns.


Budget bathroom

The Victorian thunder box loo returns and is put in place. Action is moving at a pace with the baths, the correct ones, now delivered and being installed and the new taps being connected.


Vintage Car Club rally

Sadly due to a storm with heavy rain the Vintage Car Rally abandoned for another time!


Restoration continues

The floor in the romantic bathroom needs to be replaced with new floorboards this would be costly so a thin ply covering is laid over the old floorboards.

Painting the panelling time consuming and a bespoke vanity unit for smallest bathroom is delivered; all hands on deck to complete the three bathrooms.



Recycled and restored.

There is a sumptuous and expensive feel to the largest bathroom with its reclaimed parquet flooring and personalised cistern! The tiny bathroom has a bath and like the yacht has been perfectly designed for the small space.


Vintage Car Rally

There no rain this time so the event can take place Sarah Beeny and Graham love events to take place at Rise Hall bringing it alive which is what the great house was built for and why they want to restore it to be around for future generations to enjoy.

A taster for the next episode shows the underground in cellar, the Council with Sarah Beeny wondering what are they checking up on now!


In summary

Rise Hall is a mammoth project with Sarah Beeny and her husband Graham Swift taking on such an enormous challenge. Sarah Beeny is a well known and respected property expert and to take on the restoration of such a large and dilapidated stately home not only is a personal challenge but also puts her reputation on the line not to mention being a huge financial risk.

Sarah is the project manager for Rise Hall and with a modest budget has huge plans for the mansion house which she fell in love with and was proposed to and married there too. The challenge it to rid the property of such problems as wet rot, dry rot, woodworm, leaking roofs restoring it to its former glory is mammoth but with the help of local tradesmen and craftsmen and with Sarah and her husband's devotion this is a must see programme to watch as the restoration work takes place.

Beeny's Restoration Nightmare not only shows the viewer how such a large mansion house can suffer from problems such as wet rot or dry rot and how to solve these issues but is informative for smaller scale restoration work such as restoring a sash window for example.

As Surveyors we advise on structural building surveys areas of concern and no doubt a structural survey of Rise Hall would have almost all building issues listed as areas requiring attention.




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If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a Surveyor with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, dilapidations or any other property matters please contact
0800 298 5424 for a Surveyor to give you a call back.


Independent commercial property surveyors

If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site


We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

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We would refer you to other interest articles on our website:


Homes Under The Hammer

Build, Buy or Restore?

Help! My Victorian House is Falling Down

Property Ladder and Property Snakes and Ladders


building engineers

Home Buyers Reports Property Surveys - why we're the best. Engineers Reports
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