The Block NZ: S03E25

blocknz300Day one of kitchen, dining room and external painting week saw strategy come into play and bitterness and resentment set in among the teams.


Mark welcomed us to day 40 on The Block, with the promise that the room he was about to give the teams was one of the most of the important in the house, so they would have to be at the top of their game.

At the challenge warehouse, Mark told the teams it was kitchen and dining room week. At the end of the week the teams would be kissing goodbye to the communal dining room tent, and the houses would start to feel like homes, so it would be important to get the right kitchen, he told them. The judges had requested function and flow, and as the kitchen was the most used room in the house, the lighting would be crucial. There would be $4,000 up for grabs for the couple who best met the brief.

“One more thing,” Mark teased, “the scaffolding and shrink wrap is about to start coming down, so it’s best that this week is also exterior painting week.” Mark told the teams they’d need to use the scaffolding to get up and access the higher parts of the house, and the shrink wrap to keep everything dry.

Mark reminded everyone that as the winners of ‘Dinner Wars’, Quinn and Ben would have a team of professional painters coming to paint their house, without them having to lift a finger.


While the teams were heading back to The Block, Mark reminded us that things were looking bleak for Jo and Damo, and Quinn and Ben, who were about to start work on the most expensive room in their houses with no wins to date under their belts.

Mark hinted to us that these two teams might feel tempted to adopt a strategic alliance when scoring the other teams’ rooms from last week.


Back at The Block, it was time for the teams to judge each other’s efforts for last week, with a prize of $1,000 for the highest scorers.

Maree and James’ Child’s Room –
Comments from Alex and Corban: They liked that the wardrobe had been made to fit around the bed; they thought the room had the wow factor and had been done very well.
Comments from Ben and Quinn: They were impressed that the light above the bed changed colour and they thought Maree and James did a really good job; but they weren’t impressed with there being no gap between the top of the stool and the bottom of the desk.
Comments from Jo and Damo: They liked the bed.

Maree and James’ Teen’s Room –
Comments from Jo and Damo: They liked the curtains.
Comments from Alex and Corban: They were quite shocked that they (Alex and Corban) won the teen’s room, based on the amount of effort that Maree and James had put into this room, and said Maree and James had raised the bar.

Alex and Corban’s Teen’s Room –
Comments from Maree and James: They thought this was different, and loved the shelf above the bed; but they were disappointed overall as they expected to walk in and be blown away – they felt that they had the better room in terms of taking risks and using colour.
Comments from Jo and Damo: They thought the room was cute; and said Alex and Corban had done some clever things.

Alex and Corban’s Child’s Room –
Comments from Quinn and Ben: Ben picked up on the fact that Corban had made the bed and shelving himself.
Comments from Maree and James: They thought the room was really cool, with a dedicated space for kids to play in; the room was very well staged.

Quinn and Ben’s Child’s Room –
Comments from Alex and Corban: They thought the tree was scary.
Comments from Jo and Damo: They didn’t like the tree.

Quinn and Ben’s Teen’s Room –
Comments from Alex and Corban: They liked the wallpaper and colour [navy], and thought overall that the room was elegant; they thought that Quinn and Ben under-estimated their abilities as the room was not as bad as they were making it out to be.
Comments from Jo and Damo: They liked that the room could be turned into any other space [due to the way it was decorated] – even a nursery.

Jo and Damo’s Child’s Room –
Comments from Alex and Corban: They thought it was cool and were impressed with the tree; they said it was an interesting decision to put the bed in the middle of the room as this meant there wasn’t much space for kids to play.
Comments from Maree and James: They understood what the judges meant by there being no space for children to play, but thought it looked cool.

Jo and Damo’s Teen’s Room –
Comments from Quinn and Ben: They thought it screamed Jo’s design and said it was cool.
Comments from Maree and James: They were impressed with the jungle, and said they could now see that the sacrifice they made with their own laundry was worthwhile, as they [Maree and James] ended up with larger rooms; they thought that these rooms [the child’s and teen’s] were some of the best that the teams have done.

Quinn told us that when she thought of what the two houses [Maree and James; and Alex and Corban] had won to date, it made her feel sick as it was over $100,000 [in cash and upgrades].

Jo told us that $1,000 would be a pittance for them [the teams from the front houses] compared to what they’d won, whereas it would be massive for them [Jo and Damo, and Quinn and Ben].


We saw Alex and Corban at Peter Hay Kitchens, supplier of all The Block kitchens.

Alex told us this was the week they [Alex and Corban] didn’t want to screw up – it was the one that they’d both been looking forward to and dreading the most.

Alex said they would be using navy, marble and brass (as a minimal feature) in their kitchen, striving for a high-end look.

Kitchen Plan:
* An oak dining table with a booth seat, wall art and hanging lamp on the left side of the room.
* Marble bench and tiled splash backs.
* Scullery brass inlay and a wine chiller on the right side of the room.

~ ~ ~

Next up, we saw Quinn and Ben sitting in a park planning their week ahead.

“We’re gonna pick ourselves up and we’re gonna smash it this week,” Quinn told us.

In discussing their ideas, Quinn told Ben that she likes living herb walls. Ben responded that he likes the idea of a black sink.

Kitchen Plan:
* An island with a massive amount of bench space and a black sink, and overhead pendant lights.
* Floorboards to ensure indoor-outdoor flow to the deck.
* A dining table for the whole family, with a bench seat on one side and chairs on the other.
* A scullery with another sink and dishwasher, to ensure that all mess could be hidden away.

~ ~ ~

Maree and James were next in line to visit Peter Hay Kitchens, with Property Valuer James knowing only too well how important kitchens are [when it comes to a house’s value].

James told us their kitchen was especially important as it is located in the centre of their open plan house.

Maree told us they wanted a clean, practical kitchen into which they would introduce natural elements.

Kitchen Plan:
* A custom-made dining table [made by their builder], with eight chairs and an overhead pendant light, positioned on the left.
* Timber flooring – the same as that used in the family room.
* Glossy white cabinetry and a Caesar stone bench top with a marble finish (using a stone that’s never been used in New Zealand previously [it was new to Peter Hay Kitchens that day]).
* An island bench positioned in such a way that both sides could be accessed for walking around.
* A butler’s pantry with storage, and in which the microwave would be stored.

~ ~ ~

Jo and Damo were feeling down in the dumps as a result of having to do all their exterior painting and somehow pull off a first-class kitchen with limited funds. Mark told us that Jo and Damo will have to nail it on the design front this week if they are to beat the others.

Kitchen Plan:
* Natural colours.
* Concrete stone bench top.
* Splash back in white with a nice texture.
* Artwork and floating shelves in Rimu.
* Wooden barstools.
* Shelving and a separate sink in the scullery.
* Vertical Rimu beams in the dining room.
* A large table with metal chairs and an overhead lamp in the dining room.
* Wine cellar under the stairs.


Maree told us that her and James’ $4,000 win from last week was already spent as their bathroom in the week before had gone $4,000 over budget; hence the money had just gone towards those bills.

Maree said she wished they’d won $8,000 [for two rooms] now.


We saw the teams frantically rush to get their insulation and plasterboard done before the Peter Hay cabinetry was due to arrive the next day; Mark reminded us that the teams would also be rushing to paint the exteriors of their houses before the shrink wrap and scaffolding came down.


Jo and Damo were getting the lowdown from Peter (Site Foreman). Jo told us that kitchen week was important so they’d be putting as much time as possible in, but they now had the added pressure of painting the exterior of the house, which would be a huge job. “Massive,” Damo chimed.

Maree and James’ builder was as stumped as they were with the week ahead. Maree told us that the prospect of everything was so scary that every time she thought about it she got knots in her stomach. Maree said the biggest thing she was worried about was time, as she wanted to get everything done but needed to work out what was more important. Mondays were always tough, she said, but today was “super, ultra ultra manic.”

Alex told us this was the “stupidest week on The Block so far.” Corban said they had a ridiculous half day (five hours) to prepare the kitchen, dining room and scullery.

With Quinn and Ben having the least to do this week and turning over a new leaf, they told us that instead of their builder making all the decisions (as he did in bathroom week), they were going to be in control of everything. “We’re going to take hold of our project and be in charge,” Quinn promised. Ben said they would be using a whiteboard to manage their tradies’ comings and goings.

Maree and James were deliberating over what colour they should paint the exterior of their house – brown, which would be too different to the neighbours, or grey, which would blend in. Looking at the tones of grey in the exterior brick used on their house for inspiration, Maree told us that it was a big decision to make as theirs would be the first house people see. James was nonplussed, but seemed to prefer the brown. Maree explained that she and James were on an emotional rollercoaster, having had some moments where they were completely on the same page and going straight the whole way, but then they would hit a speed bump and go back down.

We saw Ben getting advice from Peter about house colour. Ben told us that there was a deadline for ordering the paint and he “freaked out” as he hadn’t chosen his yet. Hence Ben made some “calls and a decision,” and Peter said he would sort it out for him.


Next, we saw Jo and Damo, and Ben and Quinn visiting Peter Hay Kitchens.

Ben and Quinn told their consultant they would like a dark bench top with nice white cupboards, making it slick and sophisticated. Quinn said she felt like white-on-white had been overdone so they were going for something different.

Jo told their consultant she wanted a white kitchen as that’s what she’s always wanted, telling us that they would be adding elements of colours with accessories.


Back at The Block, Alex told us that the back wall was meant to be gibbed by 2:00pm [in time for Council inspection], but they [she and Corban] were doing different things with their design, and adding a whole lot of features that would require a lot of work. Alex needed to go out to collect some things, and confirm arrangements for the kitchen and dining room, but instead stayed behind to work, explaining that the priority was to get the insulation and gib up.


Jo and Damo said that they thought they had just the thing to give their zone the wow factor, where in between the dining room and entry, they would be fitting vertical posts / pillars which would be see-through from the entry, yet provide a barrier. Jo said she liked the idea of using recycled wood as it had a previous life beforehand. The salesperson at the recycled timber yard suggested they use Kauri, and provided them with a sample to take back to The Block to see what it looked like. “Put some varnish on it and see what you think,” he instructed.


Back onsite, the Council Inspector paid Alex and Corban a visit; not ready, he issued them a fail and said he would return the next morning.

To celebrate passing all their inspections on time, Maree and James served up a good old Kiwi delicacy for their workers– cocktail sausages / cheerios and tomato sauce. Their Scottish builder was somewhat confused at what these were, likening them to “wee willy winkies,” and suggested that haggis (sheep’s intestine) might be a better way to celebrate.

We got a glimpse into the type of special features that Alex and Corban are installing in their zone, when we saw Corban fitting a lever for their table, enabling it to be moved around.


Next, we saw Quinn and Ben at Bunnings buying the paint for their exterior.

Confused about the salesperson’s question as to whether they would like flat, low sheen, semi-gloss or gloss, Ben said they would have a think about it and started to walk away. But thankfully Quinn leapt in and told the salesperson they’d like ‘Narrow Neck’ in low-sheen.

Maree and James were still going through a testing time in choosing their wood stain, painting planks of wood to see which looked the best. Maree told us that James kept going back to the ‘Light Sand’, which they agreed not to get, reiterating that this was a big decision. Corban came along … “It’s a tough decision, eh?” he offered. Maree asked him what he would do; “Probably go dark, eh?” he responded.


Mark suggested Jo was feeling resentful; in crossing to Jo, she told us she wasn’t jealous of the other teams, but they’d obviously had a great start, with the ones in front [Alex and Corban, and Maree and James], having just won $4,000 each, and Quinn and Ben having won the prize of their house being painted; yet she and Damo had nothing in the bank and were in a position of having to do all the work.

Jo told us that they had won $1,000 so far, but by way of comparison they [the teams in the front house] had probably won about $15,000 each.

Damo said he was sick of having to work his guts out to keep hearing “Maree and James”, “Alex and Corban”, “Maree and James”, “Alex and Corban”, “Maree and James”, “Alex and Corban”, “Maree and James”, “Alex and Corban” [winning all the challenges and room reveals]. Damo then told us that Ben visited him and Jo this morning to ask if they’d like to form an alliance.

Quinn told us that the front two houses had won enough money so far, so if they [she and Ben, and Jo and Damo], could do anything about then they would.

To further justify the newly-formed strategic alliance, Jo told us the other teams had won upgrades and “heaps of cash – this is $1k – like emptying their piggy bank.”

Quinn explained their strategy would be to score each other 10/10 for their rooms and score the others fairly.

Jo and Damo told us this was being done with a tinge of guilt, that as soon as the alliance had been set, Damo said “Oh no, we can’t do that.” In sharp contrast, Quinn told us she didn’t feel guilty one single bit about what they were doing.


All teams were now insulated with gib going up; but so far Maree and James were the only ones to pass inspection


We saw Jo out shopping at Warwick Fabrics, one of Freedom’s suppliers, for curtains for their kitchen and dining room. Jo told us that she had to find something in stock as they didn’t have the time to order something in (due to installation needing to be done on Friday). In trying to find a sheer linen fabric she liked, Jo kept selecting the ones with red dots which were the most expensive. Eventually settling on a choice, the salesperson advised that chalk would be a safer choice over white.


Shannon arrived at The Block with results of the teams’ judging of each other’s rooms, explaining that the maximum score they could achieve was 60.

Maree told us that after looking at all the other rooms, she felt confident that she and James had the chance to earn some extra cash.


Maree and James: 44

Alex and Corban: 43.5

At this point, Maree told us her heart had started to race and she thought everyone else was on the same page as the judges this week.

Quinn and Ben: 45.5

“Wow!” said Alex. “Strategy is coming in to play,” mused Corban.

Jo and Damo: 48

“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Jo, telling us that she and Damo both felt really bad and could feel Maree’s eyes burning into them.

Corban made some quip about Jo and Damo not even meeting brief, yet they achieved the highest score – “Good playing guys!” he sarcastically chimed. [Note: who knows what he was referring to – Jo and Damo met brief perfectly. I suspect this was just sour grapes on his part].

James told us that it [the strategic voting] made it hard on them [he and Maree, and Alex and Corban], when they were trying to give honest opinions.

Ben and Quinn told us that they were losing everything so it was like a game – “… they [the other teams] can’t win everything.”

“Mondays are a very cold day – the vibe on site is very cold,” Maree told us.


Mark told us that as the sun set on a frantic day, there was no time for Maree to dwell on the double-cross from the back houses.

At Bunnings, Maree managed to get a smile from James by greeting him with a child-sized trolley, complete with flag, and the brick from their house carefully positioned in its basket.

Maree speculated that as they had gone to Bunnings for browns, but were now getting darks, she may have won this argument.


That night, the teams were starting to bear the fruits of their labour.

Ben and Quinn were doing their plastering on the Monday (unheard of, and all thanks to the new plan they were working to, they told us).

Alex and Corban said they had completed heaps that day, so “were stoked.”

Jo was enjoying a relaxing bath in her and Damo’s luxurious bathroom.


The next day, Alex and Corban told us that yesterday had felt like an uphill climb they would never finish, but they were now thinking everything was quite doable.

Quinn told us that she could feel it in her bones that everything was going to work in their [her and Ben’s] favour this week, due to the fact that they didn’t have to paint the exterior of their house, putting them above everyone else.

~ ~ ~

Mark told us everyone was now on track, except for Jo and Damo, who were short of gib board as Peter had said they had more than enough, and gave two sheets to other teams. Damo explained to Jo that they would have to cut up small pieces to compensate for this, which would put them behind.

~ ~ ~

Maree would not back down on her choice of grey, telling us that it worked well with the brick as that was “bluey black.” James told us the confusion the whole time was down to him saying brown when he really meant grey.

~ ~ ~

Just as Alex and Corban passed their Council inspection, and Ben was waiting for his plaster to dry, we saw Peter Hay Kitchens turn up with the cabinetry. Mark explained that the team from Peter Hay had to have the cabinetry installed in all the houses by the end of today in order for the templates for the bench tops to be made; any houses that missed having their cabinetry installed today might not have a bench top come judging day.

Damo told us that they [he and Jo] usually got to where they needed to be every week, except for this one. With desperate times calling for desperate measures, Damo decided to steal a three quarter-sized gib offcut from Corban’s house and quickly rush it back to his house. We saw Corban scratching his head, asking his tradies if they had seen it.

The episode closed with Jo and Damo passing Council inspection.


To see the teams’ house listings on Trade Me, copy and paste the links below into your browser:

Alex and Corban’s house:

Jo and Damo’s house:

Maree and James’ house:

Quinn and Ben’s house:


To find out where to buy the items used in the rooms, head over to:


“The Block NZ” airs 7:30pm-8:40pm (approx.) on TV3, Tuesday-Friday inclusive.

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  • x

    Fantastic recap. I literally feel like I just watched the show. Except I didn’t have to watch Alex and Corbin (the reason I don’t watch the show).

    • Tania

      Thank you! I went into a lot more detail with this recap as it was setting the scene for the week ahead which is going to be a bumpy one 🙂

  • Guest

    Why are they putting so much pressure on the contestants like that? I hope these houses are going to be worth what they’re sold for at the end cos it sounds like they’re being rushed. I bet the producers told the couples who aren’t doing any good to rally together and kick it to the ones who are.

    • Tania

      I think what they have to do is perfectly achievable – have you seen all the tradespeople they have on site? If they were all better organised (by doing simple things like making up a shopping list and only going out shopping once), then it wouldn’t be such an issue.

      The only things they have to do in reality are plan their zones and meet with the kitchen people (done); paint their zones and house exteriors; help with a bit of the building stuff (insulation and gib); manage their budgets, and shop for furniture, window treatments, floor coverings and staging supplies for the rooms – with two of them to do all that, it should be more than achievable (and if the likes of Jo and Quinn spent more time working on their houses and less time whining to the camera about the other teams winning everything, then maybe they’d be able to get everything done quicker – haha!!).