It’s been 11 years since Newcastle fitter and turner Brad Cranfield and his schoolteacher wife Lara made a record-setting $506,000 profit after renovating a home in Melbourne, with the windfall changing their lives forever.
With the $100,000 prize money on top, they took home $606,000 in 2012, before Brad returned to The Block two years later with former rival Dale Vine and picked up $253,625 each, despite the pair coming last in that Fans V Faves season.
Good fortune has shone on Brad and Lara ever since.
They bought a 25-hectare block of land at Bishops Bridge in the Hunter Valley for $510,000 with their first win and transformed a humble weatherboard house they trucked in from Newcastle
into a magnificent glass and wood dream home.
They also bought and renovated a pub in Newcastle before selling the Bishops Bridge farm just 18 months later for $1.375 million, and moving to Byron Bay, where they splashed out $2.25 million for a cottage five years ago – which Brad says would have now easily doubled in value!
“It was a strange turn of events that led us to where we are today,” laughs Brad, who is now a real estate agent and works closely with The Block presenter Shelley Craft’s husband Christian “Serge” Sergiacomi at Pacifico Property.
“Definitely, if we hadn’t done The Block and met Shelley and Serge, then we probably wouldn’t have ended up here.
It’s an amazing lifestyle. We’re very, very lucky.”
Even better than the incredible riches they reaped from The Block and their smart property plays, was welcoming two sports-mad and super-energetic little boys, Harry, seven, and Jimmy, five, to the family.
“Being a dad is amazing and the boys are great,” grins Brad, 42.
“They are full-on, to say the least. They are boys’ boys, and they are really active and love being outdoors and playing sport. Drive past our house on any given day and there are 38 different kinds of sporting equipment lying in our front yard!”
Brad continues, “Parenting is amazing but it’s also challenging. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do, as everybody says – but no-one warns you just how hard parenting is. They certainly keep us on our toes.”
Brad and Lara, who both grew up in country NSW, have fallen in love with the beach culture at Byron with novice surfer Brad honing his skills on the waves with Harry, Jimmy and Lara taking daily dips before heading to Byron Bay High School where she works as a PE teacher.
“I absolutely love it,” beams Lara, 41, admitting she sobbed for hours in the car driving from Bishops Bridge to Byron after parting with what she and Brad thought would be their “forever home” after four years of “blood, sweat and tears”.
“We knew it was polar opposites up here with everyone from the mega, mega rich to hippies and people in communes, but we knew what we were getting ourselves into, and we’ve made some amazing friends.”
They both reckon they probably wouldn’t make a comeback to The Block – although Brad says never say never – and Lara reveals that when they renovated their Byron beach shack, “we didn’t do any of the painting”.
“One hundred per cent I get sick of renovating,” she admits, adding that while they also are waiting on council approval to add an extension and a pool, she and Brad are definitely leaving the hard yakka to the professionals!