Welcome to Building Better with CSR, a new podcast with Australia’s leading building supplier. Every week we’ll be bringing you information about how you can build better through interviews with expert guests.  

 This season we’re talking all about Australia’s favourite renovation show The Block 

 This week’s guest is one of the team members responsible for a lot of light on The Block – Carl Swanson from Velux, which is the company behind the skylights used in the houses this year. 

About Carl Swanson  

With a background in building, Carl Swanson has worked for Velux for about 17 years. He’s one of two sales managers for the company and looks after all states except New South Wales and Queensland, which is why the Victoria-based The Block comes under his remit. He works closely with the CSR team on The Block site to incorporate Velux with the CSR products, particularly Gyprock. 

“Every year is a different year. The challenges are different, from contestants to the location of the build. This year obviously it was a lot bigger – the scale and enormity of it.” Carl

Carl Swanson of Velux

The Tree Change challenge 

Working in rural locations always creates some challenges, especially in terms of material deliveries, but Carl says that all the suppliers on The Block site managed to make it work. 

 “The Tree Change was a bit different for because a lot of our installers are Mornington Peninsula-based,” he says. “We got ourselves a little house to save commuting, but all in all, it wasn’t difficult. It was just working out logistics and being a bit more on the ball.” 

 Unlike most of the CSR products, which are used every week during construction, the demands on the Velux team members vary from week to week, says Carl. 

 “Some contestants are wanting us one week and the next week, they don’t need that use or the roof space prohibits our product,” he explains.  

 Four out of the five main bathrooms used skylights, although Carl says they are also extensively used in other spaces, yet to be revealed.  

Gisborne, Victoria

Dealing with CSR on site 

Because of the way Velux skylights are installed, the team works closely with CSR Gyprock on The Block site. 

 “It’s a wonderful system,” says Carl. “We’ve both used the same plasterers year after year, a company called Getting You Plastered. 

 “Led by Sam, he’s got a team of guys and he can increase or decrease the labour content as we require it, or as the contestants need, from week to week.”  

 Velux is guided by Sam, who prefers to work with the CSR range and Gyprock, Carl adds.  

 “They’ve got the range from battens to screws to the complete system, top hats, and clips,” he says, adding that he doesn’t know the whole Gyprock range, leaving the final decision to the plasterers, who, in turn, liaise with the CSR team on site.  

“As far as dealing with the ordering process, it was easy,” he says. “We had two CSR locations to pick up from which weren’t that far away. Overall, it was just effortless, really.” – Carl. 

Carl says he hears nothing but praise for Gyprock from his installers, and it is used underneath the roof space in plaster and finishes. Its the finish on the base coat and the top coat,” he says,and the way it all works together even from adhesives, corner cements, and whatever else Im not a plasterer, but the feedback that I get is its more than what they need. 

Looking up 

The biggest challenge, especially when dealing with the newbie renovators of The Block, is that skylights tend to show up any errors in workmanship. 

 “When you’re using natural light through our product and you look down a plaster shaft, it needs to be right, because there’s no room for error,” says Carl. “You have to get right. If you’ve got a screw sticking out or a board that’s not quite straight, it shows up immediately, and it reflects badly on all of us.” 

 Most of the team on The Block end up adding more than one skylight to their renovated rooms, a practice that Carl calls ‘banking’. “That’s the key to our product – they look better banked,” he says. “And when they’re all together and banked as one element, it adds emotional impact a statement to the room.”  


“It gets the judges when they walk into the room – they look up.” 

Safety on The Block 

Carl says that the OH & S on The Block is pretty rigid and followed by all the teams and contractors. “We all have all the appropriate documentation,” he says. The Block employs a safety officer, and often has camera crews as well as Keith and Dan walking around, checking that everything is done properly.  

 “No one has an issue raising a safety concern if we need a fall zone or a trip hazard or whatever it might be,” Carl adds. “We all speak openly and honestly about it. And it’s addressed immediately. Whilst it’s a TV show, it is a building site. And the safety is obviously always front of mind. With a high-pressure build you have to be on your safety game.”

Velux and those elusive seven stars 

This year The Block is aiming to achieve a seven-star energy rating and, like all the suppliers, Velux was part of the accreditation. “There’s a lot of things in that system taken into consideration,” says Carl, including Bradford’s wall wrap and insulation. Skylights were involved as all materials were all incorporated into the design system.  

 When you’re when you’re building a house, you’ve just got to look at it bit by bit and piece by piece and have a little juggle – insulation here, skylight there, window there,” says Carl. “It’s a system in one, and they’re all things need to be considered together.” 

 “Everyone wants a more efficient house and why not?” 

Rachel & Ryan's First Bathroom
Omar & Oz's First Bathroom

Trends in skylights 

While all teams on The Block have embraced skylights, the kitchen is the most common room that Australians generally include a skylight, says Carl. “I think the kitchen is the heart of the house and we install a lot in the kitchen, then we go to your living/dining space,” he says. “However, bedrooms are becoming more and more popular because we’ve got the ability to close out the light with solar power blockout blinds so you can put your skylight on a timer and lift the blinds to the bedrooms.” 

 The move towards including additional decorative details such as ornate cornices adds some challenges to installation, says Carl, but it is worth the effort.  

 “It’s not difficult, it’s just a challenge. And when you’re using decorative cornices such as those CSR were putting in this year, it brings our lines within the roof space closer together.” 

  A good installer can marry the lines of the plaster with the skylight, he says, allowing the natural light provided by the Velux product to enhance the decorative lines of the cornices.  

For more ideas bought to you by CSR Dwelling.

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