A young couple admit they couldn’t have afforded their new Queenstown home if they’d not pocketed a cool $290,000 from winning a reality TV competition.
Brooke Thompson and Mitch Davies have just moved into upmarket Jack’s Point after ploughing their winnings into buying a section and building a three-bedroom home.
Late last year, the couple, both 26, picked up $100,000 for winning TV3’s The Block NZ: Villa Wars for their expertise in renovating a dilapidated old Auckland home.
They then made another $190,000 on auction night in December - the amount the villa sold over its reserve.
Soon after, the couple - who’d been living in Christchurch but used to live here - plonked down about $250,000 on a Jack’s Point section.
Thompson: “To be honest, I didn’t think we were ever going to move out to Jack’s Point.
“We just sort of stumbled across this [section] and thought ‘we need to get in quick while we can still use our contacts from The Block‘.”
Thompson says they used The Block supplier Metro Performance Glass, for example, to subsidise the cost of their windows.
“In two words, pulling strings,” Davies says.
Davies, a former plumber who now manages Queenstown’s Mico Plumbing, project-managed the house build.
Thompson, a personal banker at ASB’s Remarkables Park branch, says “our goal was to up-spec the house on the inside for as little cost as possible so it will help if we ever sell it”.
“The Block [villa] was always a spec build and it was designed for a broad market, versus here we could actually put in things that we wanted.”
While they estimate their build came to about $500,000, Davies says the price was inflated by the need to stick to Jack’s Point’s design code.
“When the cedar was bought for here, it had just gone up 20 per cent.”
Despite their substantial winnings, the couple say they’ve still got a hefty mortgage.
“We don’t have a great life now, we’ve got debt,” Thompson says.
“We still count ourselves really lucky - it’s good debt to have.”
Looking back on their experience on The Block, she says: “I really enjoyed it but I hated it at the time.
“Oh my God, social media’s out of control, it’s just ridiculous.”
Davies: “It was an amazing outcome, but it’s not a pleasant experience.
“In all honesty, [the producers] must have picked us to always be the villains.
“They never showed us lending our car to [rivals] Cat and Jeremy because it didn’t fit.”