Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper got hands-on with his own Grand Design - but he soon regretted it.

"I wouldn't want to do this again. Ever," the musician declared halfway through the development of his ambitious "music box" nestled into native trees in Pt Chev.

Bridgman-Cooper and his partner, management consultant Mindy Pilbrow, planned to build a three-level home next to his parents' house in Meola Creek, Pt Chev.

His dream of more than 10 years, the home was required for dual purposes. It had to fit within the area's native trees, it needed to house a recording studio for Bridgman-Cooper's music projects, and it needn't to be able to accommodate the pair's new baby Mo.


Their plans included a home on three levels, including two performance spaces, views of Auckland City through the trees, a rooftop deck, and specially built window frames.

But the project threatened to spiral out of control when Bridgman-Cooper, a self-declared perfectionist, chose to project manage the build himself.

That led to clashes with the home's builder Dave, who told Grand Designs NZ host Chris Moller he had "lost control" of the project halfway through.

"I'm almost over it," he said. "The delays are because it's not being managed by me ... he's pedantic, it's his dream home ... he's gotta make all the decisions."

While his partner got to grips with a new baby in their temporary home next door to the site, Bridgman-Cooper admitted he'd bitten off more than he could chew.

He told Moller he'd suffered through "untold sleepless nights" trying to make all the decisions that needed to be made.

"I didn't understand how much time and what it actually involved to project manage," he said.

"The whole idea of DIY project management and how naive (I've been), it's been incredibly stressful."

Pilbrow agreed: "The stress has been unreal. Everyone said you have to be a bit crazy having a baby at the same time and we thought it would be okay - but it turns out we're a bit crazy."

But it was the $500,000 budget nearly doubling to "just under 950,000" that saw Bridgman-Cooper and his partner nearly put the project on hold.

"Every bit of scrap of money I've earned since October has been put into it," Bridgeman-Cooper told Moller.

"The house is still amazing, it will be amazing, but if it means ... having a crazy mortgage to service and be working all the time, it's not actually worth it."

By the time Moller returned, the couple had managed to get the project finished - and he loved it.

"I can't believe it... It just looks awesome, this curious black box floating in amongst the trees. It's a hidden slice of wilderness," he declared.

But the couple admitted it was finished under stressful conditions.

"There was a bit at the beginning we didn't think it would be possible," Pilbrow declared.

Bridgman-Cooper agreed: "(If it was) anyone else it probably would have fallen apart."