The West

Block-buster set for return
The teams from The Block 2012 on Nine. Picture: Supplied.

The Block 2011 may have been a ratings hit for Nine but after a not-so-successful auction night, it's anyone's guess how The Block 2012's four renovated terraces will fare when they go under the hammer this weekend.

And while it is hoped each home will fetch more than $1 million, according to the show's host Scott Cam the sales could go either way.

"Sometimes the houses get passed in and sold a week later, and that is the reality of what's happening at the moment," he said.

"I have no idea what is going to happen on the day but I think the real estate market has improved in the past 12 months and, really, the buyer will determine what will happen on the night and who wins The Block."

Though buyer interest was crucial for a successful auction, Cam believed it was also a combination of "good" real estate agents and auctioneers that could make a real difference.

"It does come down to what happens on the night but also whether the real estate agents do a good enough job, and obviously it's also about having good auctioneers," he said.

In just 10 weeks the four dilapidated 19th century terraces (again in Melbourne after the show moved from NSW to Victoria last year) have undergone a blood, sweat and tears makeover at the hands of the show's four teams, newlyweds Dale and Sophie Vine, brothers Andrew and Mike Jones and couples Brad Cranfield and Lara Welham and Dan Reilly and Dani Wales.

Given what the contestants were up against - this season they had the task of renovating an entire house inside and out - it made sense that the team budgets were increased to $125,000.

Although the plethora of weekly workshops and additional money-grabbing challenges have again attracted criticism this season, Cam said it was worthwhile for the contestants in that it allowed them to boost their budgets and also added a refreshing change to the show's weekly format.

"We have the challenges in place to break up the show because we're on six nights a week," he said.

While there may have been concerns about shoddy workmanship on The Block's properties in the past, according to site foreman Keith Schleiger the overall finish of season four's houses last year paled in comparison to the quality of this year's homes.

"The tradesmen who were on board this year were very high quality and it shows in the finishes of the houses," Schleiger explained.

"This year they have lined up some really good crews to do the work for them and they've really produced some good houses."

Emerging as The Block's villains this season was scheming couple Dan and Dani, who quickly became a threat to other teams, having scored consecutive wins in the workshop challenges and room reveals.

But despite the heated drama that has played out on screen, Schleiger insisted they were all mates. "Even though we have our arguments, we're all mates," he explained. "We have our arguments but a day or two later we've all forgotten about it and we all move on. We're all on one big site and we're there for three months normally and we do clash heads at times."

It's a surprising admission from the 42-year-old, given he has had a few tiffs with teams this year, namely brothers Mike and Andrew.

"Yeah, we do butt heads at times but I'm actually a big fan of those guys," he said. "It's frustrating but I actually expect it, so I can deal with it. Personally, if I were playing for $100,000 then I'd probably get a little bit the same way and I understand they're trying to win the competition."

The contestants will be in a competition of another kind today when they compete for the chance to win a million-dollar cheque for charity on Nine's game show Hot Seat at 5.30pm.

After another year of high ratings - this season's shows were consistently in the top 10, pulling a Perth weekly viewer average of 119,735 and 1,292,338 nationally - Nine has confirmed two seasons of The Block will go to air next year and Cam and Schleiger were excited to get on board. "I'll definitely be returning," Cam said. Schleiger agreed: "Definitely, I would love to return next year."

'Really, the buyer will determine what will happen on the night and who wins The Block.' <div class="endnote">


The West Australian

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