Small won­ders

Big isn’t al­ways best, says Tiny House Aus­tralia’s An­drew Win­ter

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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.

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