House turns up heat
Johanna Griggs. Picture: Supplied

This time last year, House Rules was only just finding its feet after a sluggish debut. But after ending its inaugural season on a high with a strong grand final, Seven's renovation series has carried that momentum well into its second season and will return for a third next year.

Despite airing against Nine's reality singing juggernaut The Voice Australia, House Rules has held its own in the reality ratings war.

Nationally, the show has consistently made TV's top 10 most-watched shows, with last Monday's house reveal episode attracting its biggest audience for season two with 1.793 million metro viewers, according to OzTAM overnight figures.

For host Johanna Griggs, watching the show go from strength to strength fills her with pride.

"It's really wonderful because there are hundreds of people that are involved in the show in each State," Griggs says. "The teams of tradies that we've used over in WA, in South Australia and Tassie, those guys work like absolute dynamos for a whole week.

"It's just lovely to be involved in a show that people are enjoying and stopping to talk about in the street. And it's not just adults; young kids are also getting into it as well."

Reflecting on how far the show has come since its first season, Griggs says it has not only found its stride in the ratings but has taken a more personal route with the contestants this year.

"The first series was a lot more concerned with maintaining the integrity of the competition, so no one was allowed to talk and no one was allowed to share stories or anything like that," Griggs recalls. "Whereas this year, the teams have really connected. We've allowed them to relax a bit more and I think what you're seeing on air is that they actually have invested in each other a lot more and it's played out in a great way."

With Tasmanians Brooke Strong and Grant Lovekin and Adelaide duo Mel Chatfield and Michael "Bomber" Bamford out of the running to become House Rules' next victors - last year's inaugural winners were South Australians Carly Schulz and Leighton Brow - the pressure is mounting on the remaining four teams.

This week WA's Carole and Russell Bramston, NSW lovebirds Candy Stuart and Ryan Pusic, Townsville couple Maddi Carter and Lloyd Wright and Melbournians Lisa Lamond and Adam Dovile may have to put their friendships aside as they battle it out for a spot in the grand final.

Leading the pack with the highest combined score from the unit makeover and the 24-hour fix-up are Sydneysiders Stuart and Pusic followed by the Bramstons, while QLD and Victoria sit in equal third.

Griggs admits she picked the grand finalists early on during filming but she couldn't predict who would win the life-changing prize of being mortgage-free.

"When it got to the final four, I found that really hard because they were the four teams that I'd be happy to win," she says. "They were just all incredibly likeable, easygoing, and generous on site with other teams."

Griggs says her "heart broke" to see Tassie parents-of- seven Strong and Lovekin get a bad rap from viewers but she showered praise on the Bramstons.

"I love Carole and Russell," Griggs gushes. "Even though they have moments where they blow up at each other, there's so much affection and adoration between them.

"They've got a great sense of humour and are very laid-back, generous people.

"But that's the key with this show, people are seeing a bit of themselves with all the contestants because they're really relatable. I can't tell you how much people stop me on the street and go 'Carole and Russell are just like us'."

Kicking off the countdown to the grand final, tonight's episode sees the last four teams move on to the exterior zones.

Having seen first hand the blood, sweat and tears teams have poured into their renovations each week, Griggs says the garden and outdoor makeovers will be the ultimate test for all teams.

"They are living and breathing with each other 24/7 and I think that in itself puts any relationship under an enormous amount of pressure. It's going to be tough; I have a lot of admiration for them.

"But there aren't many opportunities in life where you can be involved in something where everyone gets at least a $250,000 renovation. They work hard for it and they give up a lot for six months, but I tell you what, it's a pretty amazing trade-off."

The West Australian

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