REALITY renovators Brad Cranfield and Lara Welham thought it all looked pretty easy.
The NSW couple ( pictured) was helping renovate Brad’s parents’ house last year as the 2011 season of The Block unfolded.
‘‘ We thought, ‘ How hard could it be?’ ’’ Welham says, with a rueful laugh.
‘‘ We were saying ‘ Oh, they make it look so hard, and look at the help they get and surely the time restraints can’t be that bad. We can do all that, surely’.’’
But after four months of dust, jackhammers, blues with builders, tight budgets and snatched hours of sleep, The Block ’ s most popular couple says they’ve learned a lot more about renovation and way too much about sleep deprivation.
‘‘ There were no easy days, no quiet weeks, but we wouldn’t have missed a minute of it,’’ Welham says.
Tonight the pair, whose laidback style has made them viewer favourites, face- off one last time with rivals: best mates Dale and Sophie; brotherly building duo Mike and Andrew; and the team viewers love to hate, long- suffering Dan and acid- tongued Dani.
In a two- hour finale, the winner will be revealed. Auctions were held last night under a veil of secrecy that producers hope will stay lowered until tonight’s finale. In a bid to keep the results secret, only registered bidders were allowed to attend the auction, confidentiality contracts were exchanged, and the four couples were put into lockdown.
The couples were just hoping their properties sell. Last year only one house cleared at auction in a flat market. The other three sold privately. Each couple takes the profit on their houses and the winner – the couple whose property makes the most money over its reserve price – receives an extra $ 100,000.
Cranfield and Welham may have the biggest house on The Block, but Welham warns this may make winning more difficult.
‘‘ We are going to have the biggest reserve and it’s the difference between the reserve and what the house actually brings that will win it, so I think we have the biggest challenge,’’ she says.
‘‘ Hopefully someone wants the biggest house and will spend a little bit more.’’
Last year’s finale was a ratings blockbuster and signs this year point to The Block doing it all again. What began as the dilapidated shells of four South Melbourne cottages became a hit show as Channel 9 again found an appetite for reality renovation.
While The Voice has been reality TV’s mega- rating star this year, The Block has been its hardworking cousin – drawing one million- plus ratings five days a week.
The renovations were finished well before the show went to air, which Welham says has meant living the experience twice over.
‘‘ We did all the work, then we’ve watched it play out on television,’’ she says.
Cranfield and Welham are a little humbled by their popularity with viewers.
‘‘ We are just average, normal people, maybe that’s why people like us,’’ she says. THE BLOCK finale WIN, tonight, 6.30