If you haven’t already seen DIY SOS: The Big Build then the episode that aired last night (Wednesday, February 19th) was the perfect introduction. Emotional, inspiring, heartwarming; some viewers even say that DIY SOS is the only reason they’re happy to pay their TV licence!

Episode 2 of season 29 aired again last night for those who hadn’t seen it. The Big Build episode originally aired on October 3rd, 2018 and introduced viewers to the Wernham family from Avening in the Cotswolds.

So, who is Ben Wernham at the heart of the DIY SOS: The Big Build story? Find out what went down in the episode and with Ben’s accident here.

Screenshot: DIY SOS: The Big Build S29.4 Avening – iPlayer

Ben Wernham’s accident explained

Back in 2016, Ben (who was then 33 years old) had an accident while on holiday in Cyprus which changed his life forever.

While playing in the pool with his two daughters Olivia, 7, and Iris, 2, Ben slipped and broke his neck in three places.

But the trouble didn’t end there, as during the flight home, the pilot had to make an emergency landing in Germany after Ben went into septic shock as a result of pneumonia. He spent the next 10 days in intensive care at a hospital near Munich.

Next, Ben spent two and a half months in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Intensive Care Unit before he was transferred to the Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury District Hospital. The Big Build was intended to transform the Wernham’s Avening home, so Ben could move back in.

The accident was even reported in British newspapers such as The Daily Mail!

The Big Build transform Ben’s house

This was one of the biggest accessible homes DIY SOS had built to date and the project was overseen by designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

To comfortably move Ben from the hospital to his home for good, they needed to build an extension and include functions such as a lift to get between floors. They also tackled areas such as the bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms so Ben could move around and use them properly.

They also needed to build a ramp going from the bottom of the property to the door, as in typical Cotswolds style, it is based on a hill.

Screenshot: DIY SOS: The Big Build S29.4 Avening – iPlayer

What did Ben Wernham say about The Big Build?

The whole Wernham family were gobsmacked with the DIY SOS results.

When touring the house completely independently, Ben said: “I’m in total shock, I cannot believe this is what you have done.”


Things took a turn for the emotional, when the gravity of moving back home hit Ben. Speaking to Nick Knowles, he said: “It was so hard after the accident but you’ve made it possible to be back.”

Finally, the whole Wernham family addressed The Big Build helpers to say:

Everything you guys have done has made it possible for me to be back in their lives, I honestly can’t thank you enough. You’ve made this family’s life possible again. There’s no words that can express how much I feel at the moment. You’ve made my life worth living again. 

Are there any updates on Ben?

Unfortunately we have not been able to find out any updates about the Wernham family in 2020.

Ben’s family created a Facebook and Twitter account to raise funds for the build and Ben’s continuing support. On the Facebook page, the last update came on September 23rd, 2018.

It said:

Ben was able to move back home in June of last year. Since then Ben, Ella, Olivia & Iris have settled into their new lives in their fabulous ‘new’ home & Ben is back at work.
It’s difficult to put into words what this all means to them…we hope DIY SOS on Wed 3rd Oct (BBC1 8pm) will show some of the journey & work that people put in to making this all possible.

We found Ben’s Facebook profile pre-DIY SOS and the last thing he shared was the above post.




Have something to tell us about this article?