Ready, set, renovate! The duo spill about their own home repairs
With their demanding deadlines and tricky challenges, the hosts of The Block NZ: Villa Wars strike fear into the hearts of the reality show’s renovation rookies.
But as they put the four teams through their paces at an Auckland building site, Mark Richardson and Shelley Ferguson are quietly pleased they won’t be getting their hands dirty this season, telling Woman’s Day they could never hack it as contestants on the TV3 show.
“I’ve been renovating for a very long time – what they do in eight weeks, I do in eight years,” returning host and former Black Caps cricketer Mark, 43, says of his ever-changing family home in St Heliers, Auckland. “It makes me a dreadful hypocrite. I preach about driving your tradies and how important it is to stick to your deadlines, but in reality, I’m the worst at it.”
As for Shelley, the bona fide Block-aholic once dreamed of entering the show with her hammer-handy hubby, former Olympic canoer Steven. But as Managing Editor at Your Home and Garden and Taste magazines, juggling her hectic work life with caring for the couple’s two busy boys, Flynn, nearly four, and Jett, two, is challenging enough without taking on a rundown villa too!
“My husband and I used to watch the Australian shows before the series came to New Zealand,” explains Shelley, 35, who has gone from a Block judge to challenge host. “Once upon a time, we would’ve loved to do it, but now with two kids, I don’t think so.”
However, a jam-packed schedule isn’t enough to curb Shelley’s DIY addiction for good. With years of experience working in interior design and decor, she loves nothing more than rolling up her sleeves and has planned an upgrade on her 1950s abode on Auckland’s North Shore.
“We’ve worked through all the designs and they’ve just been signed off,” says Shelley of the reno. “We’ve been living in our house for two years now, so we’ve had a chance to get a feel for our surroundings and figure out how the space works for us. What we’ve created will suit our little family so much.
“The luxury of time really makes you appreciate how hard everyone on The Block is working. I’ve been able to sit at my desk working away at the magazine and gathering information for years.”
Although Shelley can’t wait to get stuck into her renovation, Mark is happy to leave his handy work up to the professionals. Though almost a decade in the making, the old colonial home that he shares with wife Mary and their eight-year-old twins Annabel and Charlie, has been completely transformed with a new kitchen, bathrooms, a pool and the pièce de résistance – a putting green in the backyard. But the job still isn’t done!
“Don’t get me wrong – I can DIY,” Mark assures us, “but it takes me so long and, as far as I’m concerned, I want to be spending all my valuable spare time with the kids.”
Where the heart is
A stalwart of Prime’s sports show The Crowd Goes Wild and a regular on the summer cricket-commentary circuit, the workaholic rarely has much downtime. But since leaving his job on Radio Sport’s morning show last month, Mark’s lapping up quality time with his family.
“I don’t juggle my work and home responsibilities as well as I’d like. I haven’t been able to have breakfast in the same room as my children for years – it’s the simple things like that which are so important to me now.”
Like Dad, Charlie and Annabel are massive Block fans and will be glued to the TV screen each night as the DIY duos work tirelessly to get four rundown villas ready for auction. “They are currently a little dark at me, though,” Mark explains. “I got them on as guest judges once, but they’ve never been asked back.”
Meanwhile, Shelley’s concerned her tiny tots, who will be fast asleep by the time the show airs, will never know just how cool Mum is. “It’s so frustrating,” she smiles. “I lose some serious mum cred. They are never going to believe I made it to prime- time TV. I might have to keep this magazine article as proof.”
Words by: Ashleigh McEnaney. Photos by: Robert Trathen.