Couple blamed for their luxury home overspend after dithering over choice of

Millionaire couple Stuart and Naomi Russell outside London’s High CourtCredit:Richard Gittins/Champion News Peter and Linda Stone, who managed the bespoke project, arriving at courtCredit:Richard Gittins/Champion News 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. But they were unable or unwilling to heed that advice and these are the very dangers which befell this project,” Ms McCafferty told the judge. “They chose to ignore that advice at the time and, all these years on, still seem unable to understand those consequences.”Ms McCafferty added: “This is all the more distressing for Mr and Mrs Stone because they strongly believed that they did a very good job in very challenging circumstances on this difficult project.In the witness box, Mr Russell, 62, defended the time he and his wife took in making a decision over their choice of interior fittings, telling Mrs Justice Jefford: “If you’d seen the house you’d understand this is not some Barratt home.”He added: “Dealing with curves in this way is so complex. It’s very difficult to fit it together. Take our television room; I don’t think there’s a word to describe something that has one straight line and three curves.”Mr Russell, a director at more than 20 property and finance companies in London, said it was perfectly reasonable to be concerned over the interior details. But he rejected accusations he and his wife had procrastinated over their choices..”What we wanted was our house to be our house with everything we wanted. If you are building your own home, you want the design to be what you want and the quality to be what you want,” he said. “I think where we live has a certain expectation of level of standard.” Millionaire couple Stuart and Naomi Russell outside London's High Court A photograph showing one of the rooms of Stuart and Naomi Russell’s Highgate homeCredit:Champion News Service  Jennifer Jones, representing the Russells, told the High Court yesterday: “These are losses that have been caused by PSP’s failure to carry out its project manager, contract administrator and quantity surveying role.”PSP caused them to spend significantly more on their property than they would have had to had the project management, contract administration and quantity surveying role been properly performed.”.But Lynne McCafferty QC, for the Stones – who are counterclaiming against the Russells for around £20,000 in unpaid fees – said the blame for the delay, the walkout by the builders and the significant overspend lay with the Russells.She described their attitude as “unrealistic and impractical” and said “late design decisions bedeviled this project,” adding: “The problems on this project were not of PSP’s making.” When it was eventually completed the house, now estimated to be worth at least £8m, was described as a “bespoke modern residential property . . . covering three stories with four bedrooms and a swimming pool on the lower ground floor, together with substantial landscaped grounds to the front and back.” The hearing continues. A photograph showing one of the rooms of Stuart and Naomi Russell's Highgate home Peter and Linda Stone, who managed the bespoke project, arriving at court A couple who commissioned the building of a dream home have been accused of driving up its cost to £5 million after dithering over their choice of toilet roll holders and door handles.Stuart Russell, a property financier, and his wife Naomi, had hoped to spend less than a year on building the bespoke luxury house at a cost of just £2m, saying it would be “everything we wanted”.But the project eventually went £3m over budget and it took nearly a decade for the home, near Hampstead Heath in north London, to be completed.Incensed at the delays and overspend Mr and Mrs Russell decided to sue Peter and Linda Stone, the husband and wife team they had originally hired to manage the project, for £1.8m plus interest.For their part the Stones, both 61, have accused the Russells of being to blame for the debacle themselves, saying they wasted money and caused delays by agonising over choosing the interior details, including door handles, toilet roll holders and ironmongery. The property nightmare began in August 2006 when the Russells spent £3.65m on an existing house in Highgate, on one of London’s most exclusive streets, and demolished it to make way for their new home.The Stones, who live in a £1.2m flat in Kensington, worked on the scheme through their project management and quantity surveying firm PSP Consultants, for nearly four years before quitting in 2012, in the wake of a walkout by builders. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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