Auc­tion sta­tions

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - DEB­BIE SCHIPP

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

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