What are the Block houses really like?
The scaffolding's gone, along with the white plastic sheeting, but The Block site in Potter Avenue, Northcote, is still a hive of activity when we visit for a tour through the houses.
The contestants have also retreated, but the Wolf is still on site supervising a major crane lift and driveway works – and offering a steadying arm on a tricky pathway. Nice man. He's actually working.
But this is our first look at the houses in their near-finished state, and their sheer bulk is impressive. These townhouses are massive. The stained cedar walls soar up four storeys, and there are little balconies popping out all over the place – there are 54 stairs in each house, and hopefully by Sunday night there will also be handrails.
At a glance, it's easy to see these houses are a lot more expensive than the neighbouring properties. It's most definitely a case of the best house in the street, not that we're saying it's the worst street by any means. Can you overcapitalise in the current market? Sunday night's live auction will provide the answer to that one.
A quick look at the stats shows sales in the street ranging from around $750,000 to $1.1 million. But they'll be wanting a lot more than that on Sunday night.
A Mediaworks spokesperson says interest from potential buyers has been strong, with numerous groups coming back for second and third looks. And there are still four days to go with more open homes for people who have registered an interest with Ray White.
But what about inside? Again, it's the size that impresses. The living areas are vast. Ling and Zing's house, on the end, has the benefit of extra windows where the morning sun pours through. This house also get the most expansive views, but some privacy is sacrificed, being the front house on the road.
The views will be a key selling point. All units can see the city and the Sky Tower from the higher levels – some can even see it from the living room.
But it is clear you can't predict the winner from the show favourites. They are only favourites because they won the most room reveals, which doesn't mean much.
Speaking of favourites, let's talk about Andy and Nate's house. They have the best back garden, and we love their black kitchen and bright red front door. But they get marks off for a tiny wardrobe in the master bedroom, and having only one towel rack (actually a pole thing) in the bathroom. If there are two of you, do you have to share?
Guys, it's that storage thing again. And we did warn you right at the start, about the need for good storage, especially wardrobe storage in the master suite. Ling and ZIng have a similar problem. Not really enough storage in the master suite for one person, let alone two. No such problem with the girls' master suites, however.
We don't much like Andy and Nate's angled tiled floor that cuts the living room in two, but even worse is that bathroom that one of the judges said looked like a "Spanish public toilet".The reality is that it IS truly awful – much worse than it appears on TV. And it's not so much about the colour, but more the bumpy, uneven texture of the tiles.
But these two dads get top marks for their guest suite with its kitchenette. That will appeal to buyers big time. Another downer though, is the view into the house next door from the living room. It's all a bit close. Oh, and that gym mat headboard that the judges raved about is gross – other people's blood, sweat and tears have stained the leather and it's butt ugly and out of place. Won't affect the price though, because it's easily removed.
Surprise of the day is Stace and Yanita's house, which is lovely. That much-panned media room upstairs actually looks like the perfect place for a couple of teenagers to hang out. Or a partner who wants to watch the match of the day. If the sliding doors were closed, it might feel a bit squashed, but I doubt anyone would even bother to close them.
They, too, have privacy issues with their clear glass splashback window, which overlooks a neighbouring house. And we can see their painting skills never really cut it. Pretty average job.
But they have produced lovely bathrooms. The feature glass wall in the family bathroom is absolutely stunning, and again TV doesn't do it justice.
Twins Julia and Ali have done a great job, also. Full marks for their window treatments, which are by far the best. They combine stunning linen sheer curtains and luxurious velvet drapes. Their living room is magical and they have some fantastic artwork in there.
Upstairs, they've lost the forest wallpaper in the master suite, which is a shame. But they took the judges' words to heart and toned it down. Still, it's a beautiful room.
The twins' bathrooms are pretty good, except for the gold tapware, which looks like it might tarnish quickly. Let's hope not. These two have also put some effort into the utility room off the roof deck, adding a fridge, sink and storage.
Brothers Ling and Zing could be looking at the biggest price on the night, thanks to those extra windows and the views. Despite their pranks and youth, they've delivered, well, apart from that master suite, which has no room for bedside tables.
All the roof decks seem OK, but we wonder just how much use they will get. They will be very hot in summer, even with awnings that cover about a third of the area. And the wind will often be an issue, not to mention privacy. All the neighbourhood will get to see your party, but of course, that may be your thing.
So in summary, every house has some wow features. And we think buyers will have their own favourites, but will probably also have a go at a second or third if they miss out on their first choice. To be honest, there's not a lot in it.
And as for colour blocking – we've seen enough. The only place it works a treat is in Andy and Nate's young girl's room, which has a soft millennial pink band around the top of the room. And if we never see a mustard throw again, it will be too soon.
One final note: TradeMe stats of the numbers viewing the ads show these figures today:
Stace and Yanita's house 28,874 views
Julia and Ali's house: 28,613
Andy and Nate's house: 30,466
Ling and Zing's house: 34,211
And TradeMe says, historically, the team with the most views never wins. Will this be the time to prove them wrong, Ling and Zing?
Or will the results follow last year. when the team with the lowest number of views won on the night – there you go Julia and Ali.
The Block: Side x Side live auction screens on THREE on Sunday, September 17 at 7pm