Rub­ble rouser

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - DEB­BIE SCHIPP and DAVID POUGHER

WITH zero build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, they thought it was a mir­a­cle when they made the cut.

Then ren­o­va­tion rook­ies Polly, 24, and Waz, 28, dis­cov­ered they’d have to sur­vive the first week to earn build­ing rights on The Block.

It’s one of the first twists in WIN’s home ren­o­va­tion show.

For starters, the cou­ple ( pic­tured) from the Syd­ney sub­urb of Coogee is among eight couples vy­ing for the right to ren­o­vate four houses.

Four will be cut in sud­den­death chal­lenges from to­mor­row night when the show starts air­ing in its stripped fivenights-a-week style.

And then there’s the scale of the ren­o­va­tions the four suc­cess­ful couples will have to per­form. This time it’s houses, not apart­ments; with gar­dens, fa­cades and no run­ning wa­ter.

As builder-turned-pre­sen­ter and The Block host Scott Cam says: ‘‘ It’s not a ren­o­va­tor’s dream, it’s a ren­o­va­tor’s night­mare.’’

But Polly and Waz, one of eight couples se­lected from thou­sands of ap­pli­cants, just want a shot at the di­lap­i­dated work­ers’ cot­tages, which sit side by side in the in­ner Mel­bourne sub­urb of Rich­mond.

The cou­ple en­tered at the in­sis­tence of Polly, who’s a fan of the show. They couldn’t high­light their ren­o­va­tion skills in the fiveminute au­di­tion tape, ‘‘ ba­si­cally be­cause we don’t have any’’, she laughs. ‘‘ We painted our apart­ment and it was prob­a­bly the worst 48 hours of my life.’’

In­stead, they high­lighted their love of life and will­ing­ness to do any­thing: Waz is op­er­a­tions man­ager for an ATM com­pany and was pre­par­ing for an iron­man event when The Block came call­ing; while Polly, a pro­mo­tional staffer, com­pleted a cou­ple of triathlons this year, de­spite protest­ing she only pre­tends to be fit.

Now all that re­mains is for the cou­ple to sur­vive this week’s elim­i­na­tions and the con­stant re­minders from Cam that time is al­ways run­ning out.

Af­ter elim­i­na­tion week, Cam will con­duct a se­ries of chal­lenges both on and off site. Some will take them away from their cot­tages but give them skills and prizes to use back at The Block.

Cam and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ju­lian Cress started look­ing for suit­able prop­er­ties last year and even­tu­ally found what they wanted: four cot­tages in a row and in a dis­mal state. Cam says de­spite the four couples not hav­ing to do their day jobs around ren­o­va­tions this se­ries, there’s plenty to keep them away from their piles of rub­ble.

‘‘ There are chal­lenges to be met each week and the ren­o­va­tions have new el­e­ments,’’ he says.

‘‘ The floor plans are much big­ger than be­fore and you have to re­mem­ber that ev­ery house has a front yard and a back yard.’’

But while some things have changed for this se­ries, Cam says that some as­pects will al­ways re­main the same.

‘‘ I think in all the shows, there’s the same qual­ity of work that’s needed, so you need the same level of ex­per­tise. We’ve had that right from the start,’’ he says.

‘‘ The bath­rooms aren’t get­ting more elab­o­rate – they’ve still got a dunny and bath and shower – it’s just how you style them and there are prob­a­bly some new prod­ucts on the mar­ket.

‘‘ But our teams still have to get in their trades­men, their qual­i­fied peo­ple, to do the cor­rect qual­ity of work. That’s how we’re play­ing it again.’’ The Block, WIN, week­nights, 7pm

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