Big isn’t always best, says Tiny House Australia’s Andrew Winter
Size, says Andrew Winter, really does matter.
The Queensland-based property expert, who moved to Australia from England with his family 11 years ago, reckons his new show Tiny House Australia is a barometer of a changing Australian property market.
“If you’re a house addict, it’s fascinating. We all wanted three bedrooms, one bathroom, a quarter of an acre. Now we want four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 600 square metres and a double garage.
“But this is the start of something else ... it’s the start of Australia considering more compact housing, basically.”
Tiny House Australia also serves as a barometer of the demand to see more of the stars of Foxtel’s highest-rating series, Selling Houses Australia.
Add Winter’s new effort to gardener Charlie Albone’s Chelsea Gardens specials and designer Shaynna Blaze’s World of Design specials and makeover series Deadline Design (which will premiere in 2016), and all three of the team have now had solo TV shows.
“Let’s be honest, they’d be nothing without me,” Winter jokes. “But really, real estate is not as sexy as design, so I’m delighted to have done this. Because in fact this (tiny homes) is one element of the market I know quite a lot about.
“I’m just hoping lots of people watch so that we get a chance to do it again and I get a bit more involvement. I don’t think anybody realised I was that interested in it.”
Winter is referring to the fact that, though filmed by a local crew, the stories in Tiny House Australia were actually made by US network A&E for their series Tiny House Nation.
Winter was a late addition to give THA some local flavour and expertise.
Winter laughs that he and the Lifestyle team “completely ignored” the US script that was sent with the footage: “Because people didn’t live ‘ beside the bush’ they lived ‘in the woods’.”
Besides, whoever the host of the US version is, there’s no way he’d be able to out-quip our Winty. (Although, says Winter, “he’s probably much better looking. Possibly not browner, but certainly more toned”.)
Sample Winty quote over footage of a tree-change couple milking a cow: “I prefer my milk from plastic bottles.”
The series follows people looking to buy small, alternative housing for reasons that are many and varied.
One young couple spent years travelling Australia in a bus and wants to recreate that vibe in their first tiny — possibly still portable — home together.
“Literally mobile,” marvels Winter. “That’s taking it a bit too far for me. I like to come home, not have it moving around the country. And did you see the one where they don’t have a kitchen and bathroom? No. That’s not for me. That’s why I wish I’d met them, because I’d have said, ‘Stop it!’”
In another episode, a wife wants to have less impact on the environment while her husband just wants to save cash.
“People automatically think living tiny will save money, but it also very clearly emerges that it’s very much a lifestyle choice,” says Winter.
Indeed, there are as many choices in the tiny sector (bush shacks to shipping containers) as there are reasons to go small. For young people, it might be the only affordable option in our high-priced cities. Others don’t want the commitment. For older couples, it could be about leaving something behind for the kids.
“There’s possibly an element of guilt these days as well,” adds Winter. “You’re in a great big house and you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I’ve got five bedrooms and four bathrooms ... is there any point?’ ”
Winter’s wife Caroline has recently been making noises that she’d love to simplify the Winter family’s life. But one look at Winter’s schedule suggests there’s little chance of that happening any time soon.
Serendipitously, he is w working with colleagues to build a development of 10 small homes (“Not on w wheels!” he confirms) in Br Brisbane. He’s also got a ne new property TV concept in the works (“Exciting ... bu but nothing’s confirmed”) an and starts filming season ni nine of Selling Houses Au Australia in February.
Now that Winter, Blaze an and Albone are bona fide so solo stars, is there a chance th the beloved Selling Houses ba band might break up?
“Like One Direction?” as asks Winter. “God I hope no not. No. Well, let’s put it th this way: I would make su sure I was the last man standin standing and if you know a good designer and a gardener I’d be getting ’em in quick!
“Look, it’s such fun. But who knows what the future holds? We have a regular cameraman who I’m the same age as — he and I reckon we’ve got another 12 years until early retirement so all we need is 12 more seasons of Selling Houses Australia then we’re happy to give it up.
“Oh, I’ll have another 12 seasons of Tiny House if you like, too. I’d be quite happy with that, as long as I can get more involved.”
“It also very clearly emerges that it’s very much a lifestyle choice”
ANDREW WINTER ON DOWNSIZING
TINY HOUSE AUSTRALIA, LIFESTYLE HOME, MONDAY, 9.30PM
Andrew Winter withi h hishi SellingS lli Houses Australia co-hosts Charlie Albone and Shaynna Blaze.