Simple number horrifies Block stars
Joy quickly turned to horror for The Block's latest crop of contestants during the show's season premiere, as they realised the enormity of the renovating task ahead.
The five couples chosen for this year's Block met with host Scott Cam outside St Kilda's Oslo Hostel, where they were given a quick reality check about just how much work it would take turn the dilapidated property into five luxury houses.
Cam broke it down for them in numbers: "The average square metreage of The Block over 14 seasons is 160 square metres. Last year at the Gatwick our contestants renovated, on average, 230 square metres. It was hard, wasn't it?"
And then, the kicker: "This year your task is to renovate 460 square metres. That is double the size of the Gatwick."
Double the size means double the money, right? Wrong. Last year each team was given $220,000 for their renovation - this year they get just $30,000 extra to renovate the massive disused hostel.
"First off it sounds an enormous amount of money," says contestant Mark, a professional renovator with his partner Mitch. "However, when you start to renovate an old building - lots of labour, lots of work - that money can go really quickly."
Not only that, but each couple will have to deliver a finished bedroom and ensuite in their first week - Cam calls it "the toughest first-week challenge I have ever set".
The team that delivers the best bedroom will win the prized Suncorp safe, a mystery box filled with cash and homewares vouchers that gives them a huge advantage in the competition.
That is, if anyone even finishes. The couples are stunned by what they see as they step inside the Oslo. Rubble and debris are piled everywhere. The floor underneath them is dirt.
"OK, so we have to deliver a bedroom and a bathroom … somewhere in this?" asks contestant Tess. "This is going to be the hardest, hardest time of our lives."
"What sort of situation would I call this? It's extremely dire," says Tess's husband Luke.
As the episode goes on, and every single team falls further and further behind the schedule for their first room reveal, Scott Cam starts to realise that perhaps he's handed the teams an impossible task.
In the episode's final moments, contestant Deb is shown quietly sobbing in her car.
"It was at this moment, I had to ask myself the question: Have I gone too far?" asks Cam via voiceover.
"And even if they make it through the week, are they going to be to broken to carry on?"
The Block continues 7:30pm Monday on Nine.