Simon says

By Melinda Collins

simon_b_30Apr13-29DIY is in our DNA in this little corner of the South Pacific. So it’s not surprising then that one of the few things we can put down our tools for is a weekly schedule of DIY reality television.

For its 2013 season, TVNZ has brought the construction to Canterbury and its new host Simon Barnett couldn’t be
more excited.

“This particular season of Mitre 10 Dream Home will not only be about building with bricks and mortar, but building into the lives of a family that has suffered a huge emotional toll in the last 24 months. I am enormously excited about being involved as this series will tell a story of rebuilding – not just building a house but a home and all that encompasses,” Simon says.

He talks to Build and Renovate Today about bleeding hearts, urban geysers and naked mole rats.

Why did you decide to host Mitre 10 Dream Home?

When they mentioned that the new series was going to be in Christchurch and that a family would win a brand new home built from scratch, my enthusiasm soared! It is a privilege to be involved in a small way in  changing a family’s life. I am not overstating that; the winning family will be mortgage free in a brand new home!

Why was it important to film the show in Canterbury this time around?

It is tapping into a well of upheaval, devastation, anxiety, but huge hope as well! Hope for a brighter tomorrow, hope in the future for this tremendous city and hope in a new beginning.

Are there any exciting changes viewers can expect from previous years?

Absolutely! The key difference being in previous series’ the families have renovated homes and restored properties; in 2013 literally the homes have begun from a pile of soil in an empty subdivision. The winning family will walk away with a stunning brand new dream home, the value of the prize goes from being around $75,000 to over half a million!

More FM listeners will be familiar with your DIY “skills”… the host selection process obviously wasn’t a practical test?

(Laughs) Obviously… I mean it is the height of irony that I am hosting a DIY show! Having said that the funny thing is I try to do everything, but have the ability of a naked mole rat. I once tried to chop a tree down with an axe, truly, missed the tree and plunged the axe into the ground bursting a water main. I had a 20ft high geyser in my front lawn, embarrassing!

Has your latest hosting gig given you any opportunity to upskill in that arena?

No! My wife won’t let me have a chainsaw and now is thinking about withdrawing my axe privileges, I have tool envy.

Is there a renovation project you have been involved in which you are most proud of?

I once laid stereo cables under the carpet and mounted speakers on the wall. Unfortunately when I cut the carpet I expected to lay the cables and join the carpet back up. I didn’t realise carpet stretched so much… we ended selling the house with a two inch gap in the carpet… the speakers looked fabulous though.

Let’s be honest, you’re the bleeding heart of the show against Gary’s cold, cold heart – how are you going to handle telling one family they didn’t win?

I know, I’m the guy that cried when Nemo the clown fish found his father, but honestly I found that part of the job dreadfully difficult. I am extremely mindful of the contestants’ situations.

I have met the kids, shared a lot of time with our families and my heart went out to them. It is just television for you and I watching, but for our families it’s their life, their children’s lives and futures, I tried to respect that.

How much are you looking forward to the future of Christchurch?

Immensely! Having spoken with the Mayor, developers and leaders in our community, I firmly believe Christchurch is going to be a world class city with innovative design and infrastructure whilst maintaining everything we love about our Garden City.

This is a city that our children are going to be enormously proud to call home and a city that will be the envy of many around the globe. The new Christchurch will rightly honour those that lost so much and we should never lose sight of that!

Say something!