The Block 2015: How to effectively manage tradies on site during a renovation

Information verified correct on October 27th, 2016

If we’ve learnt anything from The New Block 2015 recruits, it’s that renovations can easily go pear-shaped -- and fast. Here’s some tips about how you can effectively manage tradies on site during a home renovation.

Luke eb guest room challenge

The unnerving scene where Suzi and Voni’s tiler left them in the lurch and stormed off site just hours before room reveal highlighted the importance of project management and communication skills when managing tradies on site.

When undergoing a renovation project and managing several different tradies, how can you ensure a smooth process?

Tips for managing tradies on site

  • Work scope. When managing a renovation project, you should create a project plan which is a run sheet of when you’re tradies start and when they finish. There are many project management software programs and apps, such as Asana and Snapguide, that you can use to keep tabs on your tradies hours and work flow. In the project plan, you should clearly identify the scope of works to be carried out by each tradesmen. For instance, if you need to tile your ensuite you will need to itemise each individual task, such as area clean-up, waterproofing, grouting and tiling.
  • Budget. Depending on the scope of your renovation, you shouldn’t be spending more than 10% of the property value on a cosmetic renovation to avoid over-capitalisation. For example, if your property is $650,000, then you should set aside around $65,000. There are many apps available that can help you budget, such as HomeZada.
  • Safe work site. As the homeowner or "manager", it’s your responsibility to ensure that the area is clean, tidy and free of any hazardous materials, such as lead or asbestos. Adequate site preparation can prevent the exposure of hazardous substances, such as using plastic sheeting to avoid dust being circulated through the space.
  • Random acts of kindness. While we may have cringed a little when Suzi said “On The Block, you’ve got to use what skills you have, whether that’s hammering a nail or fluttering your eyelashes”, there is some method to her madness. Just as she flatters her tradesmen with coffees and compliments, showing some respect and kindness to your tradies could keep them motivated and productive.

ALSO READ: Are you paying too much for trades?

ALSO READ: Will low auction clearance rates translate to less desirable auction outcomes?

ALSO READ: How to nail time management for your renovation

Common apartment room reveal (Week 1)

There’s one week until auction day and the contestants are mid-way the communal challenge to complete the apartment on the lower floor in just two weeks. The stakes couldn’t be higher this week as three teams will win the game-changing $15,000, $10,000 or $5,000 prize with the liberty to either take it off their reserve, or throw it back into their apartment to get it in perfect condition for auction.

Not only do the contestants have to finish their nominated rooms for the communal challenge, they also have to complete the rooftop area and Cafe Zen downstairs, and let’s face it, teamwork isn’t exactly their strong suit.

Without knowing which contestants were responsible for which room, the judges look for clues to guess which contestants were paired to the rooms.

Find out which contestants were lucky enough to impress the judges this week.

Dean and shay guest en suite challenge

Room: Ensuite

Total Score29/30(winners- $15,000 cash prize)

Having scooped up the grand prize of $10,000 three times throughout the competition, Dean and Shay have been stand-outs on The New Block 2015.

Teaming up with their formidable foes- Kingi and Caro- Dean and Shay tackled the ensuite for the common challenge this week.

The judges agreed that Dean and Shay had great attention to detail and they particularly liked the tapware: “The taps are beautiful...there’s brass everywhere”, Darren said.

Neale commented on the luxury feel and the harmonious nature between both rooms: “This has been beautifully done...seeing their luxury touches...even the black toilet paper.. whoever has done this has done this beautifully”, he said.

The judges felt that the underfloor heating, storage under the bench and downlight over the basin were all good features of the ensuite, “I’d be a very happy guest staying there and using this bathroom”, Neale said.

The only drawback was that all judges believed that a proper towel rail would have been a better choice: “A towel falling on the ground isn’t a luxury...if you can’t hang your wet towel, that would drive me nuts”, Shaynna said.

Kingi caro guest challenge

Room: Guest bedroom

Total Score28.5/30(second- $10,000 cash prize) 

Also referred to as “Kingi and Queen” of The Block, Kingi and Caro have cruised through the competition thus far. For the group challenge, Kingi and Caro were nominated the guest bedroom with Caro acting as the “Treasurer” or budget-keeper.

Upon walking into the guest bedroom, Shaynna described it as being “serene” and the judges claimed that there were “clues” pointing to Kingi and Caro as the ghost renovators.

Darren thought the styling on the bed was stunning and commended the use of the chair: “It’s a beautiful choice, it works with the colour scheme and it functions”, he said.

Shaynna said that the paintwork was “spot on”, yet she was not thrilled about the bedside table which lacked storage space.

luke eb challenge guest

Room: Guest bedroom

Total Score25.5/30 (third- $5,000 cash prize)  

For the communal challenge, Luke and Ebony were granted the bedroom next to Andrew and Whitney’s ensuite.

Despite Caro accusing Ebony of being a “copycat” for using similar baskets, the pair received positive feedback from the judging panel.

Darren appreciated the acute detail in which the line of side tables lined up with the feature: “That line that frames the timber that lines up directly with the side tables… they’ve thought that through on both sides…”, he said.

The judges believed that the execution of the guest bedroom was superb apart from a “few brush strokes” here and there.

Additionally, the judges didn’t think the styling of the wardrobe was consistent: “I’m just going to hypothesise that whoever did this room thought ‘okay we’ve got exactly the same room, I’m gonna pop next door’, had a good look at the other room and decided to copy it, but while the other one looks effortless and perfect, this one doesn’t have the same finesse”, he said.

A final comment from the judges was that the pendant lights were in the wrong position, as they should have been set below eye level.

Andrew and whitney ensuite

Room: Ensuite

Total Score24/30(fourth)   

This week Andrew and Whitney “thought outside the box” and decided to enlarge their ensuite by squaring off an internal wall.

Despite the odds, the pair managed to deliver their finished ensuite on time.

Shyanna loved the choice of tapware: “I do love this rose gold with the black, I think it’s beautiful, I love the colour palette of that”, she said. Further, she went on to praise the lighting plan, storage, and underfloor heating, I think those basic functionalities are there, they’re ticking the boxes”, she said.

Neale thought the bathroom didn’t feel as high-end or as expensive as some of the other rooms, “There was consideration in the other bathroom there was finesse here that’s lacking here”, he said.

Although Shaynna thought the styling was “a bit last minute”, they believed that the room was finished to the highest standard of any other room for this reveal.

Suzi Connie en Suite Main Challenge

Room: Master ensuite

Total Score22.5/30(fifth)    

Suzi and Voni didn’t get off to a great start this week without their builders. Having changed the architect’s plans and running out of tiles (and tilers), they were unable to finish this week.

Despite this, they managed to please the judges to some extent. Neale felt the herringbone tile was the hero of the ensuite and Darren commended the storage and layout of the space.

Shaynna wasn’t sold on the feature lights, “I’m just not liking the feature lights, if you can’t afford an amazing light, then don’t have one”, she said.

Darren also noted that the position of the light wasn’t practical. “One of the problems with the lights is if you’re all blissed out in the bath there, and you get up and bang your head, wouldn’t be blissed out anymore”, he said.

However, Neale felt that the space had a “day spa vibe” that will have a broad appeal to the market.

The finishes and execution of the ensuite was an issue for the judges, “Those little things that chip away at that feeling of glamour”, Darren said.

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Next week the judges will return to score rooms from first place to last place. The winning couple will get the first choice of auction order for their apartment, the second will get second choice, and so on. There will be no more “lottery draws” from Scott Cam’s hat. Instead, the rooms will decide the fate of auction day.

The teams each have one final room to deliver, as well as completing the rooftop and cafe downstairs the stakes are high, and we all know that they don’t exactly get along like a house on fire.

The next episode of The New Block 2015 airs tonight ‘after the cricket’, and The Block auction airs November 25 at 7:30pm on Nine.

Belinda Punshon

Belinda is a journalist here at Specialising in the home loans and property sections, she is passionate about helping Australians improve their financial wellbeing.

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2 Responses to The Block 2015: How to effectively manage tradies on site during a renovation

  1. Default Gravatar
    Kate | November 18, 2015

    There was an issue on one of the bathroom weeks where the waterproofing didn’t comply as the shower screen wasn’t fully enclosed and the 1500 radius fell outside the enclosed shower – which episode or who’s shower was this as I am interested in watching it again.

    • Staff
      Belinda | November 18, 2015

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks for your enquiry.

      I’ve sent you an email to follow up with this.


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