The McPake family tugged on the nation’s heartstrings on Sunday’s episode of House Rules when they revealed how their newly-renovated home was devastated by a fire.
And homeowner Graeme said he couldn’t believe his eyes when a Channel Seven producer asked him if he wanted his house renovated by this year’s contestants.
‘I didn’t have any [house] insurance. At the time I was down and out and I got a message out of obscurity – it was someone from Seven,’ he told New Idea.
The story behind House Rules’ most emotional renovation: Father-of-four Graeme McPake (pictured with his wife, two of his children, and Joh Griggs) ‘couldn’t believe it’ when producers asked him if they could transform his home after it was destroyed by a fire in November 2018
‘You don’t know whether to believe it, because of what you’re going through. You don’t know if you’re allowed to,’ he added.
‘To hand over my keys with the hope of getting even just a little bit was amazing.’
Graeme had spent three years renovating his home in Campbelltown for his partner Mary and their blended family before it was destroyed by a fire in November 2018.
Glimmer of hope: Graeme said he couldn’t believe it when somebody from Channel Seven contacted him out of the blue and asked him if he’d like the House Rules team to renovate his property. Pictured: Graeme’s wife Mary inspecting the fire damage in the kitchen
After the fire, the gutted home was targeted by burglars and, in a further tragic twist, Graeme’s family was forced to live separately.
His two daughters from a previous relationship, Lily and Sky, went to live with their mother, while his two children with Mary, Cole and Jade, were forced to live in a cramped room at Mary’s parents’ home.
Speaking to TV Week, Graeme explained that his family being separated and the mammoth clean-up task took an emotional toll on him.
Heartbreaking: After the fire, the gutted home was targeted by burglars and, in a further tragic twist, Graeme’s family was forced to live separately
‘During that period I was trying to do everything I could. I’d be [at the house] sweeping the floors. I felt like a stranger in my own family,’ he said.
‘I felt responsible because we didn’t have insurance.’
Graeme added he couldn’t get a big enough loan from the bank because of the added scrutiny they were under from the ongoing Royal Commission.
A helping hand: Graeme and Mary began the knock-down and rebuild process themselves, but their saving grace was the message from a Channel Seven producer
He and Mary began the knock-down and rebuild process themselves, but their saving grace was the message from a Channel Seven producer.
On Sunday’s episode of House Rules, viewers were introduced to Graeme and Mary, who wept as they recalled how a fire had destroyed their dream home.
Upon meeting the teams who will renovate their home this week, Graeme spoke of his family’s heartbreaking loss.
‘We lost all our possessions’: Upon meeting the House Rules teams who will renovate their home this week, Graeme spoke of his family’s heartbreaking loss
‘We lost all our possessions. Anything we didn’t lose in the fire we lost to water damage, anything we didn’t lose to water damage, we lost to exposure,’ he said.
Explaining why he didn’t invest in home insurance, Graeme added: ‘You try to do the best you can. You weigh up the odds and think, “What are the chances?” Well the chances really struck us. We paid the price.’
He continued: ‘Whatever we had remaining [after the fire] thieves came in and took.’
Cramped: Graeme and Mary are now living at her parents’ house, while his two eldest children from a previous relationship are living with their mother
‘We’ve got the two youngest ones and we are all staying in one room over at Mary’s parents house,’ Graeme went on to say.
‘It’s disrupted everything. It’s pulled us all apart. We’ve missed Christmas. We’ve missed birthdays. All these little things that we have had planned.
‘So bringing this house back together will bring us back together.’
House Rules continues Monday at 7.30pm on Channel Seven
Upset: The House Rules contestants got visibly upset while hearing Graeme’s heartbreaking story. Pictured: Shayn and Carly