One of the most common questions Andy and Deb Saunders have received since news broke they were contestants on this year's season of renovation show The Block is whether they do the work in the timeframe as shown.
"You sure do! It's definitely a week," said Deb.
"Sometimes it's even shorter than a week because there were a couple of weekends with public holidays so it was tools down and you didn't get given extra time. You'll see that we struggled daily."
The Manning Valley has come out in a swell of support for the Wallabi Point couple and anticipation is building for the first episode, which airs this Sunday, August 4, at 7pm on channel Nine.
As one of five couples tasked with transforming the dilapidated The Oslo into five top-end homes, they spent four months in St Kilda for filming, admitting they didn't really know what they were getting into.
"We literally renovated twice the size in the same time frame as previous seasons. It's really hard and very real but it was an amazing experience," said Deb.
And regardless of whether they walk away as the winners at the end of the series, Deb said getting on the show was a win for them, particularly when they left their application so late.
I'm a really big fan. I've watched every series and episode and it's where my passion lies. I love renovating and decorating.Deb Saunders
"I'm a really big fan," said Deb. "I've watched every series and episode and it's where my passion lies. I love renovating and decorating.
"Many years ago a friend and I applied to be contestants but didn't get a look in. Andy was never keen to audition and there was a time when we couldn't do anything. We had little kids and had Tyler with his eczema and Luca with her eczema.
"This year I saw the promotion for applications and I said to Andy, we should really try out for it.
"He said nope, he wasn't interested. He's never watched a full episode, he's probably watched a few reveals but never sat down and watched it."
They didn't talk about it again until one night weeks later when Andy walked out of a room and said if she still wanted to do it, then they should.
"I said it was too late, the applications had closed.
"He suggested we have a look and then said, 'there's still 40 minutes to go', like that was a good thing!
"I knew the application process, you had to do a camera bit and people cruise around their house and show here and there and what they'd done.
"We just sat in front of the camera and talked to camera. We woke Luca up to edit the video, it was around 11pm.
"We thought it was good. It was raw, real and natural, but thought we wouldn't hear anything back."
They sent the application off and didn't think anything else of it.
A while later, Andy received an email from Lucky, the casting agent who has cast every season of The Block, except for the first two.
"He's an amazing person," said Deb.
"He emailed saying please get back to me if you're interested in coming to Sydney for an audition. We couldn't believe it.
"So off we went to Sydney. It was a couch interview, we were very comfortable with Lucky and another lady.
"We left not knowing if we did well. We felt like we'd connected with Lucky but didn't think anymore of it."
Later they were contacted again and asked to come to Melbourne for another audition. "So off we went to Melbourne and went against another couple, who were from Sydney. They were really cool, I'm sure you'll see them one day."
A crew consisting of a cameraman, a sound guy and a producer followed each team while they completed the challenge.
"We had half an hour to decorate and paint and I had to do the artwork from scratch. It was very foreign to us. Andy had such a good time with it.
They gave us a house, a car, money and access to incredible sponsors and just said go for it.Deb Saunders
"We didn't know if we were successful.
"We heard nothing until about December, which was quite a while."
Then they got the news they were to be Blockheads, (the name given to contestants).
From February to June, Andy and Deb were in Melbourne, for the challenge, which stretched them to their limits and challenged them in ways they weren't prepared for.
"On reflection, they gave us a house, a car, money and access to incredible sponsors and just said go for it.
"We were a part of something so amazing."
Since coming home life has got back to normal, although now, with the show about to air, Andy and Deb are about to become household names across Australia.
"I don't think any of us couples are prepared or aware of what that is going to be like," said Deb.
Andy is out of the country for the first weeks of the show, currently in Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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