The Block NZ 2012 winner Ben Crawford and his fiancé Kylie are building their dream home. Share their proud moments and pitfalls here every week.

Dream home. We have a problem. Some frustrating delays have pushed our move-in date back at least a month. We've been waiting six weeks for some materials to be manufactured and installed onsite, the only pieces left to render the house fully watertight.

Since the house isn't watertight, we can't line, plaster or paint the living pod - which means our flooring can't be laid and our kitchen can't be installed.

The builders can't begin working on our garage and driveway while they wait because the scaffolding is in the way. They can't drop the scaffolding because they need it to finish the cladding. But they can't finish the cladding until our overdue materials are fitted. It's all very infuriating.

But every cloud has a silver lining. Our attention has now switched from finishing the house to finishing the landscaping.


We're lucky because we inherited a unique and mature setting. It's these natural assets that attracted us to the section in the first place. They're also the reason we needed a landscape architect to complete our resource consent application.

The details of Lance Millward, owner of landscaping business Verdant Green, were on the original subdivision documents for our section, so we contacted him to see if he could help us bring our vision to life.

Lance jumped at the invitation and designed a way to rejuvenate the stream using a supporting planting plan.

Our plans sailed through council and we've been slowly implementing his blueprint. The labour of love included 30 tonnes of rock placed by hand to line the stream channel, but it's been immensely rewarding to watch our bubbling brook transform from a dirty ditch into a natural waterway. We're especially fond of the grasses, flaxes and other natives cascading down the lower banks planted by the Verdant Green team last year.

I've been champing at the bit to finish the rest of the planting, but the site has become clear enough to enable this to happen only been the past couple of weeks. My thumbs aren't the greenest, so once again we called on Lance's skills to help us navigate the complexities of the botanical realm.

We worked through a new plant order, taking into account the species that had already flourished along the stream and choosing some new flora that would be better-suited to the more shady areas. We decided on a mix of 200 natives from Kauri Park Nurseries and arranged for them to be delivered to site.

Before planting, Lance prescribed a healthy dose of ground preparation.

First, we dug up the compacted earth then mixed some blood and bone and gypsum through to help recondition our clay-based soil. Then we called in Kylie and her family to help us spread 12cu m of mulch around the section.

Eventually after two days of groundwork, we were able to start on the fun bit. Before we dug any holes, Lance suggested we keep each plant in its pot and place them along the stream so we could visualise the layout. I definitely recommend doing that as you can swap the layout around until you find a combination that you like, plus ensure you optimise the coverage from the plants you've bought.

It didn't take long to plant everything, adding a scoop of garden mix around the roots of each shrub. And wow, what a transformation.

The previously unfinished upper reaches of the stream now look complete and blend seamlessly into the bush. It will only get better as everything grows and fills out.

We haven't quite finished all of our landscaping, but we're almost there. I'm planning on laying some ready lawn shortly and, once the scaffolding has been taken down, we'll be able to complete the planting around our entranceway and bedroom pod. Here's hoping that happens sooner than later.

• Find out more about Ben and Kylie's dream home at

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