Go Inside The Block  with ‘Mr Kennards’

Sebastian Anastasi is Kennards Hire’s man on the ground for the current season of The Block. Here’s what he has to say about working with contestants on this popular renovating show. 


 

I knew I was part of The Block team when the contestants starting calling me ‘Mr Kennards’. As the Kennards Hire rep on site, a lot of what I do is about being accessible to contestants – being there to talk them through a problem, give them equipment options and then show them how to use the equipment safely.

I’ve been at the South Melbourne Kennards Hire branch for two and a half years now. I service, maintain, deliver and collect equipment we have for hire. I also help customers understand how to use the equipment and get the best out of it.

When they offered me the role on The Block, I jumped at it, because I thought it would be a challenge. I really enjoyed it. It was stressful, but incredibly rewarding.

My job on The Block was to make sure contestants got all the equipment they needed at any time of the day or night. I made it clear from day one that I was there for contestants 24/7, and sure enough I was called at all hours for all sorts of things, from earth moving equipment to space heaters.


A pressure cooker environment

Each week, the team would work on different parts of their apartments, usually working overtime to finish. In Terrace Week, for instance, Hans was working all night to finish painting, and at 3am on Saturday morning, he needed another airless sprayer. I had one ready at the branch, so by 4am he was back and painting. Speaking of painting, the space heaters are very popular with contestants. They use them to dry out a room in a couple of hours, which is much quicker than air drying over a couple of days.

Every morning I presented the teams with a list of their equipment and ask them to sign off on it. Keeping an inventory was a big part of the job. Being on The Block they had five million things going on at once, so it was my job to make sure things didn’t go missing.

It was interesting to see the contestants develop their skills. Early on they stuck to what they knew. I mean, they were out of their comfort zone: thrust into this old building with curve balls from Keith and Dan. After introducing myself in the first week, it was a case of saying, “I’m here, what do you need? Any problems?”

At first, contestants communicated with me through their builders. Bianca and Carla weren’t sure of themselves in the first couple of weeks, but soon they were using every cordless tool they could get their hands on. They were hammering, drilling and sawing away quite happily, which was just fantastic.


Going the extra mile

Sometimes I wasn’t able to get to the site, so I taught the contestants how to use the equipment over the phone. It’s a skill I picked up in my Dad’s computer store – being able to talk through problems and describe exactly what they needed to do next.

In Hallway Week, the strain was showing. Norm was keen to get a plasterboard sander, so I spent time with his partner Jess on camera, talking her through the product.

It’s a huge week with such massive walls! I kept all the contestants stocked up on our plasterboard sanding pads and gas for their space heaters so that they would be able to dry and sand the large amounts of plaster in their hallways.

Because I was constantly visiting The Block, I even got a bit of screen time. During the Challenge Room week in week one, Carla came in to the South Melbourne Kennards Hire branch for an airless sprayer. So I got my two seconds of fame – “Hi, I’m Sebastian!” And you see me demonstrating the sprayer for her, just like I would for any customer.

I loved my time on The Block and I would definitely do it again. It’s helped me get a better understanding of what you need to renovate on a difficult build. But I’ve been given a promotion, working as a project manager in western Victoria. After that, who knows – I could be back on The Block again one day! Maybe as a contestant… ;)