There’s no doubt that a large part of the appeal of The Block is the swift pace in which viewers get to see pretty spectacular transformations take place. But it’s easy to forget that it’s a TV show, and not real life. According to many trades, it has created unrealistic expectations of the renovation process; especially when it comes to timelines and budgets.
Matt Menichelli is the hipages tradie that worked with Tess and Luke on their winning home on The Block this year and he was also the builder behind Josh and Elyse’s winning home in 2017. We caught up with him to get his take on yet another ‘Block-effect.’
“I think viewers definitely get caught up in the glamourous side of renovating and forget about the amount of time and hard work that goes into a project of that kind of scale,” says Matt who nonetheless thinks it’s up to the viewer to be mindful of the editing process and to remember that ultimately the show is a piece of entertainment.
“The onus is on the viewer to understand that it is TV and the production team aren’t going to show all the ins and outs of the renovation process. Their priority is keeping people interested and maintaining an enjoyable and engaging storyline,” says Matt.
The Block vs real-life
According to Matt, the main difference between renovating in real life, as compared to renovating on The Block, is that trades are willing to work around the clock to get the job done, and suppliers provide materials on-time and within short timeframes.
“On your average project, this isn’t always the case. In reality, trades are often juggling multiple jobs and suppliers, but the majority will try to manage your expectations and work with you on a realistic timeline,” says Matt.
Budget vs expectation
Another key area in which Matt has noticed a rather massive disconnect between The Block and real-life is when it comes to budgets.
“We see a $250k cash budget on The Block, and think that covers the entire build! In reality, that’s solely for trade labour, and a few bells and whistles. Time and time again the ‘budget versus expectation’ conversation is the first one that needs to be had when new clients reach out to me,” says Matt.
Matt’s top tips for renovating with reasonable expectations
- Have a budget set and from there create a look book of inspiration and styles you’ve taken a liking too.
- Prior to pouring money into the design process, it’s important to find a registered builder that can help in the preliminary stages of the renovation, rather than engaging a draftsman or architect who might design a project that isn’t within your budget.
- Be aware that the design and preliminary stages are arduous – from working and structural drawings, to satisfying council requirements. Plan for this in your timeline.
- Don’t be naive about the multiple hoops you’ll need to jump through to get the project off the ground.
- Learn what the planning process is in your area, so you can be mentally prepared and not be disheartened when six months passes, and your project is yet to start.