The Block's family home rescue mission
THIS year's series of The Block is as much a rescue mission as it is a renovation.
The long-running reality series takes on its biggest challenge to date: relocating five crumbling heritage homes from across Melbourne to new foundations in Elsternwick, where they will be gutted and made over into modern family homes.
The concept came about the day after last year's Block finale, which saw Queensland's Will and Karlie crowned the winners.
"We were at the auction of the Port Melbourne series last year and one of the agents said to me 'Are you looking for new sites? I've got a 3000sqm block of land in Elsternwick'," The Block's executive producer Julian Cress tells The Guide.
"The day after the auction I got in my car and drove over here. I walked around the site. I had the idea of putting old houses on it."
That turned out to be easier said than done.
"What sounded like a really great idea in my head turned into something that was far more challenging than anything we've ever done before," he says.
"Usually we buy a building and renovate it but we started with nothing and then we had to go out and find the houses.
"We're saving these houses from demolition and giving them a new lease on life, and by the time we finish this project these houses are going to stand here for another 100 years. I think the audience will really embrace that."
Host Scott Cam personally transported one half of one of the homes to the job site.
"I've done it twice actually, both times in the bush," he says.
"We brought the house in, put it together and put it on stumps. It's a rural thing to do and that's why this is so unique. We're doing five of them in a row in the suburbs and creating the set of the Sullivans, really.
"If someone else bought this block of land they would have put 60 town houses here. We're putting five beautiful old homes that are going to be renovated within an inch of their lives."
To bring these old beauties into the 21st century, five new teams of amateur renovators have their work cut out for them.
But don't be surprised to see multi-million dollar price tags come auction day.
"This challenge we've created here is certainly bigger than anything we've given anyone before," Julian says.
"Not only do they have to completely renovate a four-bedroom home, they also have to build two extensions on that and they've got to do a front and back garden. It's a ridiculous thing to ask anyone to do in three months. If they can pull this off, then they can potentially do better than anyone's ever done on The Block."
Season 13 of The Block premieres on Sunday at 7pm on Channel 9.