The highs and lows of basements

This year on The Block saw a first for the show – basements! A clever way to use every part of valuable real estate in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton, the inclusion of basements helped the contestants to create some real wow factors in their respective houses.

With the teams allowed to choose what they wanted the space to be (within council guidelines), creativity ruled. Four of the teams chose to create a home theatre in the first half of the basement space, while Mitch and Mark created a luxurious day spa in their basement area.

However, basements can be difficult to fit out, as the contestants learned during their tension-filled week. The end results were all quite spectacular and had the judges raving, but there were many challenges along the way.

Block host Scott Cam briefed all the teams on some of the technical issues, explaining that there are special rules and regulations for rooms such as these, which have no natural light or ventilation. They aren’t suitable for use as a bedroom, leaving home theatres or media rooms as the most obvious use.

The basement space in all the homes was quite generous ­– each is the size of a one-bedroom apartment, the smallest area being House 2 (Mitch and Mark’s) at 44 sqm; while the biggest is House 4 (Tanya and Vito’s) at 71sqm.

The basements were constructed using AFS Rediwall formwork and most were lined with Gyprock Soundchek for the home theatres, which provides improved sound transmission qualities.

Perfect for home theatres, Soundchek features a specially formulated dense core that helps to minimise noise and allows family members to enjoy the full home cinema experience without disturbing the rest of the house.

Skilled plasterers helped each team to line the walls and ceilings, along with sound-proofing curtains for four of the houses.

The winners of the week, Kirsty and Jesse, created a coffered ceiling using Gyprock Supaceil in their basement as a design difference, an intricate piece of plasterwork that provided a contrast to their dark and moody palette in a Hollywood glamour-style cinema room.

“When someone walks down the stairs and sees this theatre it’s going to be a huge selling point,” Kirsty said, while unveiling their design.

The judges agreed. “Look at what we have come across today,” said Shanna Blaze. “The luxury of having a basement with this type of cinema experience is pretty hard to recreate.”

Block Faves, Ronnie and Georgia, designed an elegant theatre room to complement the sophisticated luxe feeling already established upstairs, which included a star-studded ceiling that lights up at the touch of a button.

“That is magical,” says Darren Palmer, about the ceiling.

“You’ve given me something I didn’t know I wanted,” adds Shaynna.

And considering all the drama that goes on each week on The Block, a building product that can turn shouts into whispers has to be a game changer…