UK’s most expensive bungalow comes with £13.5m price tag - and issues including ‘death trap’ swimming pool
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An entrepreneur who snapped up the “world’s most expensive bungalow” has revealed what it’s like inside - including a "death trap" swimming pool and a leaking roof. The £13.5million home on Millionaire’s Row in Dorset’s exclusive Sandbanks resort was bought by recruitment boss Tom Glanfield in March 2023.
The businessman faced criticism when he revealed his plans to demolish the original home. But the 44-year-old has responded by revealing what it’s really like on the inside.
He says it "relies on obscene amounts of oil" and is in need of serious investment - including a new sea defence which he says could cost up to £1million. While his neighbours have huge garages, electric gates and hot tubs, Tom says his dated pad has a leaking roof, mould and mildew and cracked concrete driveway.
The self-made multimillionaire has now revealed his plans to replace the property with a sustainable family eco home, complete with renewable power and a desalination facility. Opening his house up for the first time, he also revealed how he earned his fortune - using his £9,000 student loan to start a recruitment business in his friend’s attic.
Dad-of-two Tom, from Poole, said: “Despite the property appearing in reasonable shape from a distance, it was clear on inspection that years of exposure had taken its toll. Although it clearly hasn’t been updated for some time, unfortunately, the problems run much deeper.
"The current house has nothing in the way of insulation and relies on obscene amounts of oil to heat it.I’m keen to create something that is completely efficient and passive.
“My dream is to build a family home that will not only retain the modest beauty of the plot but will stand the test of time. Some people have said it would be a shame to replace the property, but they probably haven’t inspected it too closely.
“Some people have told me they are glad it has been purchased by a local person and not a developer. I think most developers would put at least two houses on this plot.
The property comes complete with a Formica kitchen and cork ceiling tiles. It has been billed as a bungalow but has stairs to a second floor room.
Outside there is a rickety five-bar gate and a tumbledown garage, as well as a "death trap" concrete swimming pool. Tom, who also works as a business consultant, revealed he will replace the existing bungalow with a low-rise family home, which will be his main residence.
With a floor space of 2,909 sqft, the price works out at £4,640 per sqft - the most expensive anywhere in the world, beating New York, London, and Hong Kong. As well as knocking down the bungalow and replacing it, he also plans to build the dilapidated tidal wall which protects the home.
Tom added: “As a long-term resident of Poole, I certainly do not want to build anything that detracts from the natural beauty of the area, or that negatively impacts any of my friends and neighbours. Unfortunately, the current house is extremely inefficient and does not meet modern building standards.
"As with all seafront properties, years of exposure has taken a huge toll. Furthermore, the existing property is at increased risk from tidal storm surges. My dream is to build a permanent family home that will stand the test of time, using sustainable building methods, locally sourced materials, and calling on local tradesmen to carry out the building work.
"Importantly, any property here needs to be futureproofed against flooding too. Of course, I’ll be led by the council’s requirements and expertise. The most important thing to me is to respect and protect the natural surroundings of the property, including the stunning mature trees."
After graduating in 2002, Tom borrowed £9,000 on credit cards and student loan, to start a recruitment business in his friend’s attic. He said initially potential clients struggled to take him seriously.
“I realised I needed to give the impression that my company was well established, so I began playing a cassette recorder of loud office noise on loop in the background," he said. "I renamed my company LHi Group to make it sound more familiar and perhaps give the illusion that it was larger than it actually was."
Clients started to come bit by bit, and in time Tom moved out of the attic and rented a small office share in London, employing his first full-time members of staff. Tom reveals that he was sleeping rough on the office floor for years.
Rolling up and hiding his sleeping bag each morning before staff arrived at the office, and washing in the small toilet cubicle sink. His company now has 450 employees and operates across the US, Europe and the UK.
Tom, who also works as a business consultant said: “My goal was to always be the dumbest guy in the boardroom. That may sound strange, but it means surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do.
"Too many bosses are ego driven and like to call the shots. Quite often they are covering up their own insecurities. A good boss can recognise his own weaknesses. More importantly he can spot talent in other people and utilise that talent to its full potential."