The Worst Developers To Ever Appear On Property Ladder, And Possibly The Entire Planet

Worst Developers On Property Ladder

Who watched last night’s (28th July 2009) Property Snakes & Ladders (Series 7 Episode 8)?

Successful entrepreneurs Nigel and Sarah have a romantic notion that they can make a quarter of a million pounds by creating a swanky LA pad in the heart of a run down bit of Rotherhithe, East London.

I usually don’t dedicate individual blog posts to episodes of Property Ladder, but fuck me sideways, it was total car crash TV, it deserves its own shrine.

It was horrible, it was hideous, truly sickening… and I loved it (in a morbidly fascinated way).

Throughout the episode I was waiting for Beeny to confess that the episode was one big sick joke.

It had all the signs of a hoax: the developers purchased an old sausage factory; they wanted to spend 10k on a fish tank for the bathroom; they wanted to incorporate a purple velvet and leopard skin theme.

Horrifyingly, it was never confirmed to be a joke, so I was left watching the darn thing in complete disbelief, with my jaw resting on the ground.

Who remembers this couple, Richard Chan and Isabelle Peno?

Richard and Isabelle, Property Ladder

A few seasons ago I nominated Richard & Isabel as being the worst developers on the entire planet.

I literally never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would say the following words: Step aside Rich & Isa.

You’ve officially got some stiff competition. Meet “successful entrepreneurs Nigel Arrib and Sarah Donahue“…

Nigel And Sarah, Property Ladder

As people, they seemed nice enough, but as developers, absolutely soul destroying individuals.

I mean, it’s not that they were stupid, it’s that they were blissfully stupid. Throughout the episode I was begging for mercy, begging for them to stop… talking, developing…moving. Just stop.

It was painful. So bloody painful.

They had this very specific vision of what they wanted from their development and had every intention of making it a reality. Sadly, their vision is what most sane people would describe as a bloody living nightmare.

They clearly didn’t understand the industry, and watching them shove over one million quid into their venture was tough watch.

I think my favourite part was when Beeny suggested splitting the property into 3 flats to minimise the inevitable losses. Of course, as per, it was a smart, sensible suggestion from the Beeny. Obviously that meant Nigel and Sarah were quick to flush the idea down the toilet, because, I quote, they wouldn’t “enjoy” developing flats.

*slaps forehead*

I’m still amazed that people go on Property Ladder and brush aside Sarah’s sage advice so effortlessly. It makes me wonder if these people have ever watched an episode before. If I went onto Property Ladder it would be a pretty mundane episode:

“What do you think I should do, Sarah?
“Yes, you’re right, let’s do that, Sarah”

Who’s the expect here? I know it’s not me.

But perhaps that’s why I wouldn’t get past the front gates, because a “yes-man” is poor for ratings.

Ordinarily I would have flicked this shit over and watched the Antiques Road Show, but it was like driving past a car accident, with a decapitated head on the floor. We should look away, but we don’t, it’s just too God damn morbidly fascinating.

Anyways, I’m not going to write a long essay on how terrible these clowns were because I’m more interested in your thoughts.

This is what they did wrong:

To summarise:

  • 1] They didn’t listen to Beeny
  • 2] They set an unrealistic budget
  • 3] They bought an overpriced property
  • 4] They bought at the peak of the property boom
  • 5] They targeted the wrong market
  • 6] They stopped development for months
  • 7] They catered for their own taste
  • 8] They spent money on unnecessary shit, which wouldn’t have added any value
  • 9] They got emotionally involved with the development

This is what they did HALF right…

Credit where credit due…

  • they eventually managed to take on board Beeny’s advice about splitting the house into flats, but… when it was too late (so they only get half a point here)

On a more positive note, it’s a perfect example of how NOT to develop property, and it should be used as teaching material for years to come.

Ultimately, this episode was a prime example of how fools and their money are soon parted.

It’s not too late to watch it

Haven’t seen the episode? No probs, here you go. Enjoy hell.

22 Join the Conversation...

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GillsMan 30th July, 2009 @ 07:51

I saw your Twitter comments about this program, but I was too late to watch the program - thanks for providing the link! I'm off to watch it now!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 30th July, 2009 @ 08:15

Excellent. Can't wait to hear everyones thoughts on it :)

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vincent hayz 31st July, 2009 @ 08:19

Thanks for link, i just watched it.

Man you wasn't kidding. That was terrible. I was thinking OMG the whole through it.

I don't have anything wity or clever to say. But I advice them never to develop again they got all the key principles wrong, even something simple like targeting the wrong market in the wrong area.

I hope they don't give up their day jobs. I suspect they can't afford to now even if they wanted to lol

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Feefee 31st July, 2009 @ 12:51

The pair did slightly remind me of Pamela Anderson and David im so cheesy Hasselhoff. Putting that aside they seemed ok people and im sure they are good at what they do! But jesus them ideas! I didnt think people like this existed. I mean who wouldnt love a mosiac of nelsons head watching you while you relax in your salt water bath... It was all VERY bizarre but made great tv.

It however seemed that they finally woke up to the idea of 3 flats when they where in the shit.... They got the flat done looking nice but secretly they still totally over spent! I mean who buys corian worktops and furniture from Harrods when you know you'll be thousands in debt! It seems utter madness. But atleast it kept to its theme.... I really hope Sarah does a re-visit to see how the other flats turned out.

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GillsMan 31st July, 2009 @ 15:25

Deary me. That really was car crash TV. Zebra print worktops? Green shagpile carpets? A poster of Nelson's face staring at you while you take a crap? Christ, how many mistakes can one couple make?

While they did seem nice, they were very Peter Andre & Jordan (before the split) and they had as much a clue about property development as Prince Charles does about Gangsta Rap.

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Ben Mangle 2nd August, 2009 @ 06:48

Nice people? I'm not wanting to write an essay bad mouthing anybody but really, were any of you watching the same programme as me? Anybody ever see the Steve Coogan programme where he played a failed, incompetent salesman who motivated hiself by looking in the mirror and shouting "I'm a tiger!! Roar!"? That was this couple. They've clearly spent the last few years watching numerous self help dvd's and believe positive belief is the sole prerequisite for success. It's possible during the boom years that they've done very well for themselves 'selling' what ever they sell to like minded gullibles but those days are gone and property development requires a lot whole lot more genuine ability. Everything they said and did, the way they dressed to their choice of design accessories showed that they were vacuous, shallow and ultimately intellectually stunted puff balls. Harsh but very, very fair. Great TV though as my wife and I willed them on to ever greater financial losses. Clearly this is going to be unpopular but it's utterly honest.

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Dave 2nd August, 2009 @ 15:04

The good folk at HPC have been disecting this one for a week. It seemed odd to me, the hammy 'reactions' the almost spoof like idiocy of the developers, the lack of relationship between the developers etc.

There is a reasonable chance it was staged. The sausage factory was registered to a 'media loactions company', its use is for commercial purposes.

Have a read of the thread, I think Beeney may have sold us a lemon :(

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Darren Singleton 3rd August, 2009 @ 14:47

An interesting episode. One thing I noticed was that Sarah was also on this weeks 'Come Dine With Me'. Much like Dave, I'm beginning to think this was staged, take a look at her personal website:
She lists herself as having worked for Granada for 7 years.

I hope you don't mind me placing links in this comment, but here was her menu from this weeks Come Dine With Me (for reference):

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Newbie09 7th August, 2009 @ 15:55

Good episode for all the wrond reasons.

They got it wrong by;
Not taking the advice of experts (Beeny),
getting too personal,
buying ridiculour toys for the penthouse,
aimed the property at the wrong market,
developed the property to enjoy the experience rather than make money...etc etc.

But most importantly, they went against one the golden rules of development by trying to build the best house in the worst area rather the buying the worst house in the best area and improving it.

I'm sure i could think of more.

Long live Property Ladder.

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Roberta Ward 8th August, 2009 @ 09:59

Hi folks
what surprised me about this whole new series is that having watched most of the previous ones that I didnt recognise or remember hardly any of the people they have featured so far-with the one exception of the guy from Brighton last week-who they left dangling with no resolution.(aaarggh!)

The trouble with telly is that a good success story is never as good as a mighty disaster.

Ive always considered developing property as the thick end of the wedge in property investing-because its where those who are serious about property earn a living.BTL is all very well but quite dull really and not very high on the job satisfaction barometer.

Dealing with moaning tenants and interest rates on a daily basis(YAWN).Whereas, renovations are way more interesting and rewarding.More of a roller coaster ride; fascinating tiring, fun, makes you want to scream (!)and then you want to go do it all over again.(Its a form of madness Im sure).

The trouble with DIY/ property programs is that we tend to forget that it is 'entertainment' and largely fiction-its also cut together to make it look however THEY want.So basically its someones opinion ( producer)-who-probably knows nothing about property.

I was recently considering going on BBC working lunch-a topical 'news' program-or so I thought. It was a couple of months ago when the media got wind of the fact that you can claim back cash on cards and loans-which Im doing personally and have promoted at my networking club.

We went through our IFA to do this and taught people how to do it properly.However, Working lunch were only interested in the negative aspect-the disasters of when it went wrong. Even though I know people who have been brought back from bankruptcy with this-and some who have claimed millions back-yes millions.True.

When I voiced my opinion the producer got all stroppy with me!

That's TV folks- la la land.


PS: #landlord- yesterdays Tweets -very amusing.

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Mark 12th August, 2009 @ 11:16

I've been (un?)lucky enough to have lived in Rotherhithe over the past decade. I know that development well as it was next-door to the tube station there - currently boarded up but due to re-open next year. It's certainly an interesting property and not in itself too good for the area. There are plenty of amazing riverside properties nearby on the peninsula and in Bermondsey. However this one ticked all the wrong boxes as has been mentioned. It overlooks the Rotherhithe road tunnel too, as well as the tube line. It has no other view and the front entrance looks unfinished, there's either no thought given to the entrance or someone else owns a derelict plot adjacent to it.

A very amusing show. I figure that the extreme developers make good TV but we never see the happy and successful ones as they're too boring.

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Adam 19th October, 2009 @ 11:08

Greetings from Australia....

Just watched the episode that aired here be honest I don't like to see hard working people getting bent over and entered BUT I haven't laughed so much in ages. With Barbie or whatever her name was talking about zebra skins interspersed with shots of her flexing her - possibly - newly aquired chest in the gym; Ken who obvioulsly knows about health food supplements but fuck all about property developing!!! Admitting he was 'boring' but wanted fish tanks, a 3 tonne spa bath and a beautiful deck overlooking....errrrr....the tube line ??? I have to agree I think when someone is interviewed for the programme I think the producers want people who 'know better', lets face it Sarah would be on commission if everyone agreed with her all of the time.....but in this instance I wish Ken and Barbie had listened for their sake but I'm glad they didn't at first anyway !!!

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Aidan 29th August, 2013 @ 23:39

Late to the party i know but i just caught a repeat of this episode and am dying to know what eventually happened? did they manage to sell all the apartments, including the pent house suite or are they still living in it, and how much money did they loose in total and the end....????

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Richard Chan 10th June, 2015 @ 06:06


We sold a number of years ago and am now in Australia. Unfortunately the programme was heavily edited. The series became more about the people than the development, I appreciate that this is fundamentally for entertainment rather than information.


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Paul 15th May, 2019 @ 07:14

Quick update for everyone: they kept hold of their property, reinstated it as a single 5,000ft2 dwelling, created their LA pad and sold it for £3.6m in late 2015, the highest price ever achieved in Rotherhithe. It took them a while, but their vision paid off.

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Norwooder 31st May, 2019 @ 13:12

Land registry doesn't show the 2015 sale. It was listed for £3.8m in 2015.

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Mick Powell 31st October, 2019 @ 20:04

Rotherhithe is not in East London, basic geography.....

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Hello Kitty 4th May, 2020 @ 21:07

The year is 2020. No one can leave their house. I discover the whole of Property Ladder is on YouTube. I watch the whole of Property Ladder. I watch this episode remembering that I first saw it when it was broadcast over a decade ago and it's just as atonishing as ever. It remains one of the greatest episodes of any television programme ever.

Streetview currently shows the site boarded off with hoardings saying 'BrunelWharf Coming Soon 2015', but with no further details, so I suspect they managed to sell the whole site to a property developer, or redeveloped themselves. Will be interesting to go and see what's there in person when I can leave the house again... I hope they did OK in the end anyway.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 5th May, 2020 @ 16:27

@Hello Kitty,
Haha, brilliant. I wonder if my sentiments will be exactly the same if I watch it again today - were they really potential candidates for the worst property developers on the planet as my blog post suggests?

I just found the episodeon YouTube (and linked it in the main blog post), thanks for the tip. I actually can't remember any of the details, so I'm going to torture myself later! I'm a little excited, I'm a little bit scared.

Did you also watch the episode with Richard Chan and Isabelle Peno? If so, how did that episode compare and age?

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TOP TRUMPS 24th October, 2020 @ 04:33

@Hello Kitty you are incorrect... BrunelWharf Coming Soon 2015 is the plot NEXT DOOR... The Sausage Factory 49 Brunel Road, SE16 4LD was sold in February 2016 for £3.6 million. The selling agent was Unique Property Company. I contacted them and they confirmed the sale. So the worst property developers ever actually made a tidy profit. Who would have ever thought this bonkers project would actually end up being a success?!!

The buyer was a French lady called Florence who after buying it ripped out the inside and returned it back to a warehouse type dwelling, and renamed it Le Cinecube... the property is back on the market for sale with asking price of £4.5 million...
The property is also being rented out for events

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MDA126 25th August, 2021 @ 00:40

Wow thanks for the info, great find! I remember looking at this property some time ago and loved it, although odd area. Always wondered what happened to it so very interesting to see what became of it with the remodel, thanks to your links

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Jfer73 27th June, 2023 @ 12:09

I know this is many years later but I been watching reruns of pl on Roku. In almost every episode most are dumb. Sarah constantly mentions “in her experience”. And every one of them but a couple have gone against any of her advice. Then at end of show when they realize they spent too much or there flipping skills turned to flop they then realize her advice. And here it’s a dozen or more years later and who had sold million dollar homes? Sarah. Lol. I’m almost every show before hearing what the plans are I make my choice of what I would do. In most all cases I agree with Sarah or would ask I wonder what she would do. Then be completely shocked by the answers. High Humidity in a basement proven by a device but the dummy still felt usable? WTH. A bathroom you have no room turned cloakroom while French doors and opening up kitchen made the most sense!! Needless to say as I look these ppl up I found only one who may of become successful but she as a designer not house flipper. Crappy work and even tho many came out looking nice I saw the details of where you could see crap. One buyer even said he change everything that was done. Waste of money. The point is to make money. Not spend. Most only made because of rise in market but there next home purchase would be that much more so no point. They lost. And how so many carelessly acted made me feel maybe none of them needed to make money and just wanted to be on tv. Clearly majority knew nothing and didn’t even take Sarah’s advice so it seemed it was drama tv to entice us. But I sure enjoyed Sarah and in awe of her achievements. I wish I had gotten into house flippin in my young years.

















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