The Block winners Chloe and Ben’s bittersweet victory

The winners of The Block’s nail-biting finale have big plans for their prize money

Auction night on The Block NZ: Redemption was an emotional rollercoaster for this season’s winners, Auckland-based pals Chloe Hes and Ben Speedy.

The teammates and former series six contestants – who bravely took on the challenge of returning to the reality reno show in a tricky housing market – battled both feelings of elation at their win and sadness for their fellow contestants.

“We were well and truly prepared that our house may not sell – we were just lucky we had a buyer,” says 29-year-old Chloe, whose property sold for just $4000 above the reserve price set by the show, earning her and Ben $104,000 thanks to the main prize of $100,000.

Celebrating with judge Shelley Ferguson.

Only one other house sold on the night of the auction – leaving People’s Choice Award winners Maree and James with only $100 profit, plus a car.

The other two teams would have left the show with nothing, but one of the show’s partners, TSB, announced it would give the three losing couples $10,000 each because the bank “didn’t want to see any teams go home home empty-handed”.

People’s Choice winners James Steele and Maree Wright drove home in a new car.

Chloe says, “Obviously, seeing the other teams was hard. I wish we could have all been celebrating together. They were all so congratulatory and that means a lot, but we would have loved to have the feeling that everyone was walking away happy – especially since the houses they all produced and the sacrifices they made were amazing.”

Ben, 28, adds, “We’d all probably still be partying now if everyone had made money. There’s obviously the desire for everybody to go into it and smash it. But for us, to have seven room reveal wins and

to go home with the Block title was also just fantastic.”

Quinn and Ben Alexandre’s house didn’t go at auction but has since sold.

Those room wins were especially sweet for Chloe, who made it through her first go on The Block without winning a single one. “It was huge,” she smiles. “I was banking on only getting one and it would have been like, redemption? Tick! So to achieve what we did is an awesome feeling.”

Chloe had initially been asked to return to The Block with former teammate Emily Blanchett, but Em had her hands full with her new baby girl, so producers asked Ben, Chloe’s season six “frenemy”, to step in as her teammate.

“It could have gone either way, but we got along like a house on fire,” smiles Chloe.

“And I don’t have a baby, so I was good to go,” Ben quips.

While he may be single, the design director admits being on The Block has definitely helped his dating life – when he’s not being match-made by well-meaning friends or family members.

“Ben’s a great guy, if anyone’s looking!” hints Chloe.

Stacy and Adam Middleton did things their way, not taking the judges’ advice, which resulted in four room reveal wins but no cash.

Chloe already has something very special in mind for her share of the prize. “My opa in Holland fell sick while I was on The Block,” she shares. “So the money’s going to allow me to take my family there to see him. We’re also moving in a couple of weeks to Tauranga, so the rest will be a big help in setting ourselves up there.”

Chloe says this kind of unexpected money boost is something she could have never saved on her own.

“I’ve stayed home with my son since he was born,” explains Chloe, who is mum to two-and-a-half-year-old Noah. “We’ve only been on one income for so long. I feel so proud to bring home the bacon for my family this time.”

As for Ben, he’s weighing his options as to how to spend his $52K. “I think I’m just going to try to sit on the money for a bit – let it stew,” he muses.

“Last time, I went overseas and didn’t come back till it was all gone. I’ve been looking at new motorbikes and new fun toys like that, but I think this time, I’m going to try to be a little bit more sensible about it and invest.”

Even after their wild ride on both seasons of The Block, Chloe and Ben say they wouldn’t turn down a third try. Ben enthuses, “I’ll go back. Take me back – I’m ready!”

“I always joke about The Block: Retirement Village,” laughs Chloe. “Never say never. Maybe in a few years, but I don’t really want to see a paintbrush any time soon!”

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