MY TIME ON THE BLOCK
News and Updates on what I got up to on The Block will be uploaded as the episodes go to air.
Guest bedroom & ensuite
Walking into the Block on day one, I was both excited and nervous as I had no idea what to expect. We got there early to meet our contestants as we had never met each other, just a few phone calls a couple of weeks in advance. We arrived thinking we could not start work on the Saturday but after our induction in the morning it was straight into it.
We walked in and there was crap everywhere!!! It was actually insane how much there was to do. The only thing to do was to get straight into the demo. Ripping plaster down and walls out took up all of Saturday.
We went into the week thinking both the ensuite and the bedroom was due on Sunday, as it has always been on the block. Andy came to me on the Tuesday at midday and asked how likely we would be to have the bedroom done by Thursday. I just laughed; he had completely forgot to tell any of his trades that the room was due on Thursday. We had been focusing on the ensuite first - as you need to have time to waterproof everything and for it to dry completely. So this was a bit of a shock to hear, and meant that we had a hard decision to make.
That’s when we made the call to continue to focus more on the ensuite and complete the room 100% - this was better than trying do both and risking not finishing either completely. Anyway, on the Block, you have to move on and keep going.
It was a big call, but with every other house focusing on the bedroom to win the safe - it gave us a much better shot at winning the ensuite and completing the room to the highest standard. With bathrooms you cannot cut corners and make up time.
We met all the other trades during the week and what a bunch of legends they all are. The hours were extreme right from the get go. I used to be a viewer that looked at the deadlines that were set and thought it is impossible and cannot be done in that timeframe. But when you throw a huge amount of tradies at the job and end up working 12 to 16 hour days a lot more can be achieved than on a standard building site.
Having the best contestants also helps your productivity. We just wanted to go above and beyond to help these people we had only just met. We had Andy heating up lite n easy’s for us and smashing them down in the 2 seconds we took for lunch. Andy and Deb are just the most amazing people. We felt super lucky to be working with these guys. Deb and I created a great relationship straight up bouncing ideas off one another and she really did value both mine and sean’s opinions on if things would work and more importantly could be completed in the time frame.
Stay tuned for next week to see what we get up to.
We got the message off Andy and Deb around 8pm on the Sunday night that we were the winners. It was such a good feeling after a very very long week. This is also when we find out what room we will be completing next. As we suspected, it was the formal lounge. You can generally see where the block builders are working ahead of you, getting things ready - so it gives you a little extra time to work out what materials are needed on the Saturday, for delivery Monday morning. After seeing the boys in house 1 pull the trigger without being 100% certain it was the formal lounge, we tried to get our order in asap. Both Sean and I have never done The Block, so we didn’t know the rules around ordering materials early - but now we did.
When we walked into the formal lounge, it was just a dirt floor with a fireplace on the far wall. The stumps had been put in the week before for us, so we just got started on the subfloor. That went down really easily, however we did have to wait for the underfloor insulation to arrive before we could start sheeting.
Our plasterer boys arrived early in the week to get started on the ceiling while we built the walls. We did not want a repeat of the previous bedroom not drying in time to sand and paint, but with the extra 3 days up our sleeve for reveal - we would get there easy.
As we started to clean the old render off the fireplace, we found the beautiful old red bricks underneath. After having a chat with Deb, we decided to keep them and just clean them up a touch. We saw features like this all through the Espy, after the judges suggested Andy and Deb go and see what the St Kilda style can look like. With the judges saying we should go more St Kilda, I gave Jason and Andy a call at Just Eco to see what beautiful timber we could get our hands on. They told me they just had some timbers from the old Kerford Road pier come in and could make me up a special piece for the mantle - Kerford Road pier is only 3km up the road. The boys did a beautiful raw finish on the timber with just some steel wool.
Andy went out to get some tiles for the hearth, but personally I think he just went up to one of the other houses and pinched a few tiles because they were a completely different style to what they had been going. But who knows what goes on in Andy’s head, I still have no idea. We got them in quickly, so the boys from Tait’s Timber could finish off the floorboards.
It took some convincing for Deb to change the walls from white to green. But as soon as Andy started painting the green, it just looked incredible - especially with the artwork just popping off the wall the way it was.
By Saturday afternoon, us tradies were pretty much done. We left it to Andy and Deb to bring it home with the styling.
What we walked into this week was crazy - two rooms split down the middle, with an existing wall. The ceilings were a lot lower up on the third floor, which made life a little easier. The room had so much work to do before we could even start our renovation – there was still all the original things left behind by the Oslo backpackers. We had curdled milk sitting on the mantle - from god knows when, and there were clothes still in drawers and food still in a bar fridge. It was disgusting! Day one of the week was a public holiday, but no rest for us as we were on site at 6:30, ready to start work at 7am. We heard Jesse saying contestants must have been spending over a hundred dollars an hour on trades because of double time wages. I’m proud to say that we never charged Andy & Deb anymore than our agreed upon rate at the beginning of the block. Didn’t matter if it was a public holiday, Saturday or Sunday morning at 3am.
The demo work was actually insane. Being up three flights of scaffold, and having over a hundred tradies trying to get rubbish down and materials up - it was chaos. I was coming home absolutely filthy, covered head to toe in so much black dust that came raining down as we pulled down the ceiling plaster.
Deb was very certain how she wanted the layout this week. So we got cracking straight into the frame on Tuesday afternoon, which gave us a good little head start from the other teams. This week - like week 2 - we decided to just build entirely new timber walls inside the brick external walls. It made running wires and hanging plaster so much easier. Frame was up and done late Wednesday, so the plaster boys came in and put in a late night to get ahead. It was hard for Trent and the gang from CPG Plastering group to get a clean run at things, because during the day 20 other tradies needed to be in there. Once the Freedom boys rocked up, it delays every trade massively as they took up a lot of space and took quite a while to install our robes.
On Friday after 5pm, it was time to install our floor to ceiling mirror wall. It came in 3 pieces about a metre wide each. They weren’t overly heavy but one knock on the scaffold and it would shatter in your hands. To say Sean and I were crapping the pants a bit is an understatement. But we made it! Although we were so focused on not breaking mirrors that Sean forgot to move his ute from the clearway and was towed, costing him roughly $500. This was another thing we had to worry about - moving cars. You had a 3 to 5 minute window at 9am to move your car. If you didn’t get it done than you had to set an alarm for 4pm as that’s when the clearway began. Luckily, I never got towed.
Saturday for us was just a clean up day and finish the fix off. A few skirtings, architraves and installing door handles and that was us done and dusted for another week! All down to Andy and Deb to get the painting done and bring home the win with the styling.
Wow. There was some controversial judging for the master bedroom week. I understand changing the plans and layout of the house, but to go on and win that week when you have completed an entirely different space confuses me slightly. But the boys got the win and you have to move on - no time to worry about what anyone else is doing. Feedback on our bedroom made complete sense. We did have a lack of storage space in the robe itself, but Deb did include a chest of drawers in the actual bedroom and because the entire floor is the master suite, who’s to say there won’t be storage elsewhere on this level…
Anyway, main bathroom is up this week and we had to get cracking straight away. When you first walked into this section of the build, there was no floor, no walls and no ceiling structure - and it was all up on the second level. We had to get scaffold in ASAP and start on the floor structure. Pretty simple set up. Wailer plates dynabolted and chemset into the brickwork either end, and a double main beam going through the middle which also acted as the future opening for the stairwell. The only issue was the double brick wall right in the middle of bathroom which we couldn’t move – this played a role in how the bathroom was laid out. Also, the new floor joists that had been put in before us needed to be redone because they fell right where the shower waste wanted to come out, which was not ideal but just another thing to do.
We as builders didn’t like the whole concept of having a bathroom where old meets new. Having an area where two different materials meet is not always great in terms of movement of the house in the future hotter and then colder months. Movement is not ideal, especially in a bathroom where tiles and waterproofing can crack. We have tried our best to counteract that by battening out our floor in the opposite direction the floor beams. We ended up gluing and screwing down 90x35 pine battens. This should tie the whole lot of new timber floor joists and the new metal floor joists together. Once the floor structure was done, things got a little confusing.
Keith and Dan handed out paperwork on how they wanted the flooring to go down with these little plastic 90 degree angles. Everyone had a clear picture in the paperwork, so we were all good to go ahead. Once we start, however, the plans changed and clearly not everybody was informed. For some reason we were then told not to do like the picture, and to put the plastic angle underneath the flooring - which to all the builders made zero sense. With a bathroom you try to create a waterproof container, so that essentially if any water does get through the tiles it stays in that one area of the house. But what we were told to do now was completely different. All the builders argued with both Keith and Dan, but you generally get nowhere - those guys are the ones approving everything so if it’s okay for them, then it’s what we have to do.
With flooring all down and walls started, Deb threw a spanner in the works by changing the floor layout on the Wednesday morning. It wasn’t a major concern, as we had only started on the internal plates - so not much to pull up and move and we are glad she made the call. The original layout of the bathroom did not have enough room as you walk in directly in front of the vanity, and I feel that most people like a separate toilet for a main bathroom.
This meant a quick few changes, but we still managed to get waterproofing done on Wednesday afternoon, even though we had no ceiling or roof. The plaster boys came in the next day and built the ceiling using lightweight metal studs and the builders for the block had to cover us with a tarp until the third level was built on top. We had three tilers come in and they absolutely smashed it out. We had to keep a close eye on two particular measurements. One was the height of the nib wall as we had a standard size glass panel and we really needed it to fit between ceiling and top of tile. The other was the vanity width as that was already custom made and on its way down from northern NSW.
Come Saturday afternoon, we were all done with just the sparky to finish off a few things and Deb and Andy to style. We believe we created a gorgeous bathroom that will fit perfectly in the home Deb and Andy are creating. It feels really calm, relaxing and peaceful. I love that we are the only team using natural materials like the absolutely stunning timber vanity - it can just make a room feel so unique and homely.
2nd Guest Bedroom
I can’t believe the feedback for our bathroom. We created a beautiful space with separate zones. In my opinion (and a lot of other people agree), a toilet should be separate from the main bathroom. Anyway, I have read some great feedback from others in the know - which is fantastic.
On to the guest bedroom this week and for us tradies it’s a nice cruisy week, as all the walls are framed up in Truecore steel. The walls were straight already and the ceiling was flat so we built a pelmet for the blinds and drapes and then got out of there and leave it to the other boys. Keith and Dan threw us the stairwell this week as well, so we got cracking on that. We started from the ground floor and worked our way up with scaffolding.
On Thursday, we got to meet the All Stars - Josh and Jenna. They were amazing people that came up with some really clever and different ideas for future weeks.
It was nice to use the gnome and get the win in the big 20k week. We had to move on from all the drama and get into our master ensuite up this week. We are back up on the top level again - soooo many stairs to look forward to. Deb had a very clear plan this week. Brad at How’s That House already had the vanity, shaving cabinets and wall unit built for us - so we built the space around them. We ran into a bit of a dilemma with the position of the bath - there was no room between the window and the bath to place a spout to fill the bath. Deb really didn’t want a floor mounted tap so Justin the plumber came up with the idea of a ceiling filler. All of us had never seen or heard of them before, but the issue was it only came in chrome. Deb had to sand it back and paint it white, so it fit in seamlessly with the white ceiling.
We managed to get our plaster all finished in time for Waterproof Wednesday. Bobby and the boys came in and smashed out the tiling. They do such an amazing job on such a tight timeframe! We had to borrow them for a few minutes while our shower screen was delivered. The crane dropped it up on level 3 for us but because we didn’t have a door to the rooftop, we had to carry it through the boys down in House 1’s party floor. We needed all the hands we could get, as the glass weighed over 100kg and can be very delicate to carry. We had 4-5 people carrying and 2 clearing the path for us. It was a big operation, but we pulled it off!
While we were working on the bathroom, we also had to prepare our lift shaft so it would be ready for the following week’s install. Trying to get the walls perfectly straight was a fair challenge - almost 12 metres in height makes it quite difficult. We got it all perfect and ready for plaster. We planned on having Grafico wallpaper the entire way up, so those boys came in for install on Saturday and the end result was amazing.
We installed the shower screen late on Saturday and it was just a little terrifying. Such a big piece of glass that we had to try and rotate and stand up in place without knocking any of the corners (where they are extremely weak). Once it was up and in place, we all breathed a sigh of relief. All that was left for us was to throw the door handles on and leave the styling up to the amazing Deb.
This is the big one - kitchen week! To be honest I felt we got a little robbed last week to get beaten by a small bathroom and a kitchenette, but it is what it is. We had to get over it quickly as this week for us was a few weeks in the planning and was absolutely huge. We had a meeting to make the call of pulling the Hipages lever as soon as we could. Only one team can use it per week, so we had to get in first in case any other teams had plans as grand as ours.
We got the okay to start removing the 2nd storey floor joists from the engineer at about midday, however that was not our first job to do. We figured it would be best to start on level 2 and finish off the skylight and void area completely before removing the floor first thing Wednesday morning. We stayed till about 10pm on the Tuesday - which was crazy - because we normally do the long hours later in the week, but this week was not a normal week.
Andy and Deb smashed out the painting before Wednesday, so when we arrived in the morning we got straight into it. We planned to have Mighty working with us this morning which was a great help. Once the floor was fully out and the void exposed, the Kinsman kitchen guys came straight in and worked really well with us. So far this week everything was running super smoothly. We kept waiting for something to go wrong - but when Andy walked in holding the sign that won us 10 grand from the lucky dip, we knew it was our week.
The rest of the week was great. My knee ended up super sore and painful by the end of the week. It became swollen and sore rapidly, to the point I ended up in emergency at the Austin for a night. It turned out I had gotten a severe infection in a small cut in my knee the previous week up in the master ensuite. It must have been the horrible old dust that was everywhere in the original section of the building.
All of that fun stuff aside, we went into judging this week pretty confident of coming away with the win. We have strung together some really amazing rooms that are all linking together nicely and creating a beautiful inviting home.