Pop CultureFebruary 21, 2016

“This show might as well be about me and my parents” – A bitter renovator reviews Our First Home


Madeleine Chapman has been renovating houses with her parents for many years, living out the entire premise of Our First Home NZ. So how does the show stack up to the reality?

“If boring is what you’re best at, well, you better get out of here right now.”

It was a controversial opener from Our First Home’s host Goran Paladin, given that what followed was very boring television. I am a very judgmental viewer of any show involving ‘ordinary people’ doing renovations because I am an ordinary person and I have done a lot of renovations.

Our First Home should have been the perfect show for me. It has children renovating with their parents (what I was doing until last week), it has brown people (way to go TVNZ), it has one over-confident dad and one passive-aggressive mum. This show might as well be about me and my parents. Except – even with all the fancy editing and suspenseful Bowden pauses – the three first hours of Our First Home had less entertainment and drama than my parents and I have in one day of painting a hallway.

Renovating is stressful. I have never once heard of people enjoying renovations. It doesn’t count if you’re rich and moved to an apartment while your house was being built by other people, because even then people don’t enjoy it. There’s a reason we love watching other people’s DIY, to see these poor people crumble under the pressure like gib that hasn’t been cut properly. Herein lies the problem: the three families on Our First Home get along very well. Suspiciously well.

The Roughan Family

Our First Home Roughans copy

Lyn and Pat have been married since the beginning of time. They are not too keen on being on the show (none of the parents are) and fly back to their farm in Gore any chance they get. Were these flights paid for by the show? You can’t fly a heating system so I doubt HRV covered that cost.

Looks to me like TVNZ made a big investment in the Roughans to provide the drama. Boy, do they ever. The daughter Steph has a Masters in Architecture and uses terms like “northwest side” and “south end” to describe their house, so you know she’s for real. Her boyfriend Sam – who I thought was her brother until they walked down a steep driveway holding hands – is a nice man with a beard.

The Wotton Family

Our First Home Wottons

Bex and Josh are a bright young couple who look far too young to be in charge of a $600,000 home. Josh looks and acts a lot like that teenager from The Descendants.


Parents Theresa and Henry are – get this – NOT MARRIED. TVNZ you are truly pushing the envelope here. Turns out Henry’s wife couldn’t do it (no explanation, possible investigation needed) so Theresa had to step in to reluctantly save the day. Henry is Bex’s dad and Theresa is Josh’s mum. What a true modern family.

Henry is also a tiler, which the Wotton Family seem to think is going to win them the competition. Bex suggested restructuring the entire house as being a possibility because “we have a tiler on our team.” Hate to break it to you Bex, but houses are not made entirely out of tile. Or are they?

The Pearce Family

Our First Home

BROWN PEOPLE ON TELEVISION ALERT. Not only are they a (mostly) Maori family, the Pearces say a lot of Maori words and talk a lot about Maori history. The daughter Atareta even says “youse” and laughs how all my Samoan cousins laugh (loudly).

Atareta and her boyfriend Tawera are a very loving young couple who like to say “indoor outdoor flow” a lot but don’t seem to know much else about property. Atareta’s parents Janette and Grant seem to be the only parents that actually want to be on the show, and are therefore the most interesting.

There was a tense moment of ‘who will be in charge of writing on the pad of paper’ between Janette and Atareta, but they all love each other. So much so that they are willing to dance badly together on television, something that I admire and also don’t want to see. Grant is a qualified builder. If the Pearce family don’t win, they lost a renovation competition to a tiler (or a recent Architecture graduate).

The Challenges

Their first challenge was to buy a house. Steph and Sam phoned in their auction bids, which is a rookie error. I have been to auctions with my mum. Almost every time, the starting bid was higher than our maximum bid. We didn’t care. Steph and Sam not only lost out on the house, they lost out on all the free drinks and snacks.

Our First Home Phone

The second task was to renovate a small container sleepout (they weirdly called it a Tiny House) in just over a day, with a measly budget of $1000. Thank goodness Henry is a tiler. Last December my Dad and I assembled a tiny house (literal tiny house) for my nieces. At 6pm, my brother-in-law got home just in time to sub in for me before I threw a piece of tiny roofing iron at someone (Dad).

I refuse to believe that TVNZ filmed three families working together for 30 hours, and all the drama they could squeeze out was Bex crying in the car because her parents wanted to put a TV in their Tiny House.

The one core issue I have with Our First Home, and that is that I am not on it. Not because I think I would be better at renovating (though I did see some very dodgy painting techniques going on), but because my family has endless drama without even trying. It seems like TVNZ tried really hard to find the only three families in New Zealand who can actually get along while renovating. And who wants to see that?

Let me leave you with a paint job that annoys me a lot more than it should.

Our First Home Bad Painting copy

If my Dad did that, he’d never live it down (he did do that seven years ago and I mention it approximately once a month).

Our First Home NZ airs Sunday, Monday, Tuesday at 7.30pm on One, click here to catch up on TVNZ Ondemand

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