The Block hosts Shelley Craft and Scott Cam on the construction site at The Oslo.
The Block hosts Shelley Craft and Scott Cam on the construction site at The Oslo. Channel 9

The Block host: Have we gone too far?

THE Oslo may not be as infamous as The Gatwick, but it serves up an even bigger challenges to this year's Block teams.

Made up of five terraces, or terrace mansions as co-host Shelley Craft likes to call them, The Oslo houses are twice as big as last season's Gatwick apartments.

"They've got the square metre-age of an enormous family house in the suburbs. They're 460sqm, which is bigger than any house I've ever lived in," Craft says.

 

The Oslo in St Kilda has been named as the new building contestants will renovate in this year’s season of The Block. Picture: Nicole Cleary
The Oslo in St Kilda has been named as the new building contestants will renovate in this year’s season of The Block. Picture: Nicole Cleary

"They're spread over the three levels. I would call them terrace mansions."

Built more than 150 years ago on the back of the Victorian gold rush, The Oslo was one of Australia's premier addresses.

Located just around the corner from The Gatwick on Grey Street, the property was once the jewel in bayside St Kilda's crown. But after decades of neglect, it's now ripe for a Block makeover.

"I lived in Melbourne for six years or so. I cut through Grey Street plenty of times and would look up at this enormous hell hole," says Craft, who now calls Byron Bay home with husband Christian and daughters Milla and Eadie.

The Block co-host Shelley Craft on site at The Oslo.
The Block co-host Shelley Craft on site at The Oslo. Channel 9

"I wondered who on earth would ever stay there. Knowing it was a $20-a-night backpackers hostel summed up the clientele. Pretty much all The Oslo was, was a roof over their heads."

By the time the reality show's five new teams of renovators are done, it will be returned to its former glory as five luxury houses complete with internal lifts, period features and water views.

It's an opportunity to mine some real estate gold, but host Scott Cam admits that even he wondered if they'd bitten off more than they could chew this year.

Just as the contestants were due to arrive on site for filming, the show's building team discovered that all of The Oslo's original flooring had to be replaced because the building had no footings.

"We had to play catch-up with the contestants. We were talking about building a space over there in two weeks' time and there was nothing there," he says.

"It was tough on (foreman) Keith and (his right-hand man) Dan and our building team and it was tough on the contestants.

The Block's site foremen Dan Reilly and Keith Schleiger have their work cut out for them this year at The Oslo in St Kilda.
The Block's site foremen Dan Reilly and Keith Schleiger have their work cut out for them this year at The Oslo in St Kilda. Channel 9

"About week three or four we thought maybe we've gone a bit too big. We try to push the contestants all the time but maybe we'd gone too far. I only needed one team to finish, though, to prove it was possible.

"I don't know if we'll do one this big ever again."

Craft says the renovators will be up against it to make their budgets stretch to cover every last metre.

"I always said I believed the strongest team would be an accounts manager and a human resources manager, so you can manage money and trades," she says.

"The budgets are very tight. If they don't watch their money from even day one, then they're going to get unstuck very early in the game. Normally we get through to week eight before people start winging about cash. I think that will start from week two or three this year."

This year's Block teams, from left, Mitch and Mark, Jesse and Mel, Tess and Luke, Andy and Deb and Elise and Matt with host Scott Cam, centre.
This year's Block teams, from left, Mitch and Mark, Jesse and Mel, Tess and Luke, Andy and Deb and Elise and Matt with host Scott Cam, centre. Effi Cohen

This year's teams include a loved-up pair of Cairns newlyweds, a cocky real estate agent, two tradies, a stand-up comedian and two 'stylish' granddads.

"It's a really even playing field this year," Craft says.

"The demolition is just as hard as the construction. They've got to get all that rubble out down three flights of stairs. If that doesn't break you, then you have the actual build itself... no matter what skills you have, it's never enough.

"It is a roller coaster from the minute they walk in the door."

The new season of The Block premieres on Sunday at 7pm on Nine.