The Block NZ's Julia and Ali talk regrets and dog dramas
For its contestants, The Block NZ is an all-consuming beast.
Not only must they renovate houses, they have to also take part in wacky challenges and live on site. Then there is the lack of sleep, dealing with tradespeople, giving interviews and becoming used to the ever-present film crew.
Now, following months of hammering, budgeting and planning, the contestants are gearing up for the all-important live auction night.
* The Block NZ recap: The claws are out
* Block villains Julia and Ali allowed to leave to recover from bullying
* The Blocksters take on garages and the blokes nail it
* The Block do-overs: Some teams listen while others don't
If the houses sell for more than the set reserve prices, the teams are allowed to keep anything over the reserve. And the team who make the most money above their reserve price win an extra $100,000.
Twins Julia and Ali Heaney, 28, who are also known as The Blue Team, are crossing their fingers they will be victorious on the night and say if they win, they will invest the prize money in property.
For The Block NZ, the Heaneys have been renovating a home in the Auckland suburb of Northcote.
Their home sits in a row of houses where the competing teams of friends Stace and Yanita, brothers Ling and Zing, and brothers-in-law Andy and Nate have been busy working on their homes.
Like previous seasons of The Block NZ, this year has had its fair share of highs and lows. Less than two weeks into the competition, Ali received distressing news about Oscar, her West Highland Terrier.
"West Highland Terriers are known to have skin issues but the vet said he had a terrible genetic disease," says Ali. At this stage, Oscar was just four months old.
"The vet said, 'You should put Oscar down because otherwise he'll scratch himself to death'. It would have been more humane to put him down," says Ali. "But there were other options. We just decided to try everything."
Ali says her partner even contemplated taking Oscar back to the dog's breeder but couldn't do it.
"I was pretty devastated and it was a **** time on The Block as well. It was after our first week when we'd done really badly," she says. "It was horrific news. You can't do anything when you're on The Block."
Determined to keep Oscar, the couple agreed to try the dog on a special diet to see if it would improve his skin. Thankfully, it worked.
"His diet basically consisted of venison and kumara and then some special vitamins," says Ali, an installation artist with a masters degree in architecture.
Julia, a criminal lawyer, is also a dog lover and for the past 18 months she has been the proud owner of Hugo, a French bulldog. Before starting on The Block, Julia took Hugo to work with her every day.
The Auckland twins didn't grow up with pooches but were introduced to the joys of dog-owning at age 22, when their parents acquired two spoodles.
"They're brothers and sleep with my parents every night," says Julia. "They are the most spoilt dogs."
With filming almost over, the sisters are glad to be back with their pets and while they have enjoyed taking part in the series, not everything has turned out how they hoped.
"We were a little disappointed that a lot of the nice things we did didn't make it into the show," says Julia.
When asked if there was anything they wished they had done differently, Ali says: "I probably would not have said some horrible things but that was just stress and frustration. And we probably would have worn more make-up."
The twins, who some viewers believe are the show's villains, were criticised when they were caught with alcohol on The Block NZ.
"We weren't binge drinking," says Ali. "Just a couple of glasses of wine. We regret breaking the rules in that regards. But, to be honest, we probably wouldn't have regretted it if we didn't get caught."
To keep their energy levels up, the twins say they consumed far more coffee and energy drinks than they usually would.
Life on The Block NZ exceeded Julia and Ali's expectations and pushed them to their limits.
"It was much harder than we expected," says Ali, who cites the confinement and time pressure as among the more challenging aspects of the competition.
"You couldn't leave The Block whenever you wanted. When you go in there, all you're thinking about is building a house but you don't think about the cameras and the time for interviews and reshooting scenes.
"It's really frustrating when you're trying to get stuff done and have to reshoot a scene five times and thinking, 'Oh my paint is drying'."
Hopefully, for the twins' sake, all that reshooting and frustration will be worth it when it comes to auction night.
The Block NZ's live auction screens Sunday September 17, 7pm on Three.
- TV Guide