A Grand Designs star who built a $1.5 million island sanctuary says he'll never do it again - and he doesn't advise others do it either.

Property developer Sky Mason says people told him he was "mad" to follow his dream of building a nautically-themed getaway on a deserted island close to his home in Tairua.

"Everyone says, 'It's going to be bloody hard'," he told Grand Designs host Chris Moller.

"Even the builders have been saying, 'He's mad - what's he doing?"


His reply was: "Good things don't happen because they're easy."

Sky Mason shows off his Slipper Island home to Grand Designs host Chris Moller.
Sky Mason shows off his Slipper Island home to Grand Designs host Chris Moller.

Mason, a father-of-two, planned to spend $600,000 on his dream home on Slipper Island, a remote spot off Tairua that consists of 268 hectares of farmland, has no electricity, shops, roads or running water.

He told Moller it had been his dream "ever since I was a kid" to build a unique family getaway on the island.

"I couldn't access the island when I was younger [but] I was looking out, going, 'I want to go there'."

Mason had already spent $500,000 on a 5000-square metre site with stunning views, and planned to spend six months building a 390-square metre multi-level home over winter.

There was just one problem: Skipper Island is a 20-minute boat ride from Tairua - "on a good day" - that includes crossing the "treacherously shallow Tairua sand bar".

Every single item needed for the build had to be shipped to the island, including diggers, tractors, building materials, solar panels and furnishings.

When it came to roofing, the panels were so big they had to be helicoptered in during high winds - leading to some risky moments as builders tried to guide them into place.

Mason estimated his home would take six months to complete, but it ended up taking 18 months, with builders sharing a two-bedroom chalet as they worked on the property.

After completing his home, Moller visited Mason's home and was swept away by the layout, views and open spaces, saying it was like "stepping into a boat".

He asked Mason if he'd ever think about building a home like this again.

Mason's reply didn't need any thought.

"No, not on an island, ever," he said. "I wouldn't recommend it."

But Mason didn't regret going through with his dream, despite spending $400,000 over his $1.1 million budget.

"I don't regret anything about this house. I don't regret the cost either. The money that was overspent went into important places," Mason said.

"This is a home I will never sell in my life ... I'm content."

* Grand Designs screens on Three every Tuesday night.