The Biggest Obstacle for Women Renovators

The podcast for women who want to create income and a life they love through renovating

Join serial renovator Bernadette Janson as she explores the ins and outs of renovating for profit!

Bernadette has over 30 years of experience in the renovating for profit business. She’s a registered nurse, a renovator, a mum, and a teacher.

104 – 10 Ways To Make Your Renovating Easier And More Profitable

On today’s episode,

In this episode, I will share some tips on how to make your renovating easier while making more money out of it. For me, knowing the basic in renovating and some trade skills are good but learning how you do your own projects with back ups and knowing what strings to pull when needed to are even better.

Listen to Episode 104 – 10 Ways To Make Your Renovating Easier And More Profitable


Episode Highlights

  • [00:00:43] Online Renovation Bootcamp
  • [00:01:49] The flipping and amazing renovator
  • [00:02:43] Get organised
  • [00:05:58] Keep good records
  • [00:06:50] Build a strong relationship
  • [00:08:14] Take responsibility
  • [00:10:19] You can’t please everyone
  • [00:10:54] Have good listening skills
  • [00:12:03] Risk management
  • [00:13:23] Commit to continual improvement
  • [00:14:15] Know your limits
  • [00:14:43] Self awareness
  • [00:15:12] What’s happening in our lives
  • [00:15:48] A real Christmas tree
  • [00:16:36] Projects for an investor
  • [00:17:14] Chalmers Street project is up for auction


“If you’re thinking you should build your handyman or trade skills to become a better renovator, then think again. Those skills are nice to have but are not going to bring you prosperity. In this episode, I’m going to share with you 10 Ways To Make Your Renovating Easier And More Profitable.”


This episode is sponsored by The Renovation Bootcamp, it’s the renovation fast track for replacing your income now or at retirement. It’s a core training and the prerequisite for our Wonder Women programme. It’s the perfect mix of online and live training. There are eight modules delivered online that you can complete at your own pace. Alongside that, we run eight live Zoom tutorials where you can connect with me and our resident experts to help you apply the training to your personal circumstances. It includes our signature system, the one that we use to produce an average of AU$100, 000 profit from cosmetic plus renovations, plus a repertoire of strategies to make sure that you can progress regardless of what’s happening in the market.

Bernadette: Well, hello everyone, it’s Bernadette. I am really excited that the year is winding down. Our projects are going to market this week so I’m really in a reflection mode. I recorded a podcast this morning where the renovator is very hands on, like she’s flipping amazing. That’s going to be coming next week. But what occurred to me is that while the way she goes about the renovation is completely different she is very hands on, the principles are the same. That’s what I want to talk about today. Some people make the job just so much harder and these tweaks can really make an epic difference so I’m going to get into it now. At the end of the podcast, I’ll share what’s been going on in The School Of Renovating.

Get organised

Okay, so the number one or the first way to make your renovating much easier is get organised. Organisation is the top skill for renovators. The amount of time you spend in that planning and preparation stage and how well you do that will predict how smoothly and how quickly the renovation flows.

Now, by being organised, you need to think through all the activities that have to happen in the renovation and do the things that you need to do long before you need to do them. You should really think through the details and have actioned or done the things that you should do in good time if you’re having to operate on the top that will cost you time, money and grief. Of course getting your trades and your materials organised is part of the process. I am pretty good problem-solving  but occasionally I slip up and for someone who really likes to be spontaneous, I really had to work at this planning process.

As an example of where I got caught out on the most recent project, I had to stop the demolition because the tile glue on the kitchen floor was problematic and they were getting it up with a jackhammer and it was shaking the whole building to bits. It was not coming up smoothly so, I told them to stop and decided to solve that problem another way. I thought or pondered it for quite a while before I came up with the solution. Interestingly, the solution came from YouTube. I had to hire a specific piece of equipment and get a labourer for a morning to operate the piece of equipment. It was called a concrete mower.

On that day when I whipped down, I picked it up, they said to me, “Do you want a vacuum cleaner to go with it, to exhaust it”? I said, “What’s in a vacuum cleaner?” and then they said, “Oh, you know, an industrial vacuum cleaner” then I was like, “Oh, no, I’ve got one of those. I can use that”. In there, lay the problem because my vacuum cleaner didn’t attach well to it. Of course, it had a very specific fitting, and as a result, it didn’t do a great job of capturing all the dust and dirt. It was a filthy, disgusting job. There was dust and rubbish going everywhere but of course, we had already started it and what I didn’t want was to pay someone an early rate to stand there while I went back to their high place and got the right vacuum cleaner. So we completed the job, but it was by no means easy. The job itself was easy, but the mess it made was massive. It almost set off the smoke detectors. In hindsight, I should have spent a bit more time on the planning of that equipment and made sure that my vacuum did fit it instead of presuming and so on. So, being organised and having attention to detail is epic.

Keep good records

Number two is to keep good records. This starts with bookkeeping or your tender process, you want that really well documented and your daily journal. Keeping really good records of every aspect of your renovation will help you, especially down the track when you have any disputes over costs, if you have variations that weren’t documented, your life will become misery. Make sure that everything is documented and you keep good records. For the bookkeeping, you need to make sure that that’s up to date. When the projects are completed and  finalised and  if you’re ever audited by the tax department, you have the records to support your side of the argument.

Build strong relationship

The third way is to build strong relationships that relate to every single stakeholder. I’ve spoken a lot about the conversations that you have with strata managers, building managers, council, trades and some of the things that I think are important and having  good relationship and leadership skills are important.

I like to really help my trades as much as I can and it’s not like I get in there way and do their job for them, but I let them know that nothing is beneath me. So if I’ve got someone moving things around, I keep the site tidy so their jobs are easy for one thing. Also, if someone’s unloading materials, I will help them do it. Stephen and I often have the conversation and he says to me, “That’s what they’re paid to do, you probably shouldn’t be doing that.” but I personally think that the input that I have on the job is minimal. It’s the whole thing about a burden shared or a load shared is a load lightened. It’s really like showing my support for them. Then when you need them to go the extra mile for you, you will find that they are usually more than willing to go over and above. So, relationships absolutely matter.

Take responsibility

The next one is take responsibility for your project. Now, of course, you would say “Of course, I take responsibility for my project”, but some people, when they’re renovating, it’s all about their project and whatever’s going on for everyone around, like their neighbours and so on, it’s just too bad because they probably do the bare minimum. I personally think that is a highway to the hard way because, you will find that while neighbours and the people you’re working with will be much more tolerant if they feel that you are taking their interests into account.

To give you an example of that, I think I’ve mentioned on demolition day we had a neighbour on the floor below who let us know that his wall was cracking. It sounded like the place was falling down but when we actually went and investigated, there was a hairline crack along the expansion joint in the wall. A lot of people were saying to me, “Oh, you can’t even see it”, which you couldn’t. You can’t even see it and I could have stood on my ground and said “That’s what an expansion joint is for and blah, blah, blah” but I know he had renovated his property two years ago. It mattered to him and I didn’t think it was fair that even though it seemed extremely minor in the scheme of things to me, it wasn’t in his mind and that I needed to take responsibility for what our project had done to his property.

So I organised the painter to go and quote on doing the job and then do the job. And even the painter said to me, “I think he’s taking you for a ride”. But then again, I feel really strongly about the fact that we need to leave the property better than we started. And I think that comes back to you in spades. If renovators did take this on, it would mean that we didn’t come up against so much resistance when we are requesting for permission to renovate and so on.

You can’t please everyone

The next thing is to know that there are some people that you just cannot please. Otherwise you can turn yourself inside out trying to keep everyone happy. There are times when some people just can’t be kept happy. We certainly had that situation with one neighbour, I could have become very worried about her reactions to the renovation, but I just came to the decision that there was nothing more I could do for her. She was going to complain no matter what we did so we just needed to move on.

Have good listening skills

The other thing that you really need to have is good listening skills. Really listening, like giving the person that you’re listening to your full attention when we’re running and I have to say, I am guilty of this when we are having busy lives and we are, you know, packing a lot in often we feel like we don’t have the time to commit to listening to an in-depth description. But particularly with trades, you do need to listen well and give them the time, because for one reason you will build your skills in understanding the process.

A little trick that I learnt is if you’re having trouble understanding what a trade is trying to tell you, get them to draw a picture or write it down for you, because often that helps them to break it down in such a way that you can understand. Some of us are more visual learners than auditory so often that is the secret to actually getting your head around it.

Risk management

The next one is a really big one, and that’s managing risk. As you know, there are just a multitude of risks associated with renovating. Anything from losing money to personal injury and once again, there’s that old question of where does the responsibility lie. Particularly with safety,  I think that as a renovator, regardless of whether you have a main contractor who technically has the responsibility or not, you are best to act as if the risk is yours so that you minimise the risk of anyone being hurt on your project after a person is injured. The conversation about who is responsible really doesn’t matter onnce they’re injured, there’s nothing you can do about it. So preventing personal injury on your site is incredibly important. Being aware, picking up on things that aren’t safe. Do the risk management in terms of getting the right property and do your due diligence so you don’t buy something that becomes a money pit. All those very critical skills to build in order to be a really effective and prosperous renovator.

Commit to continual improvement

As part of my commitment to continual improvement, what we do at the end of a project is review it so that we ca look at what we did well,  what we didn’t do well and what we could do differently. One of the things that’s been a highlight of this last project is things falling into the waste pipes. While protecting the waste pipes is something that we do as a precaution and require our trades to do, I really don’t know why we had such a problem, but I had to have a plumber clear out all of the waste pipes before the tiler could fit off the hallways. So that’s something that we will be workshopping in our review of the project to create a system that’s going to prevent that from happening again.

Knowing your limits

The second to the last one which I think is probably incredibly important as well, is to know your limits. If there’s something that you’re not good at and you’re not really that interested in improving at it, outsource it. As I mentioned, the thing that I really don’t like doing is bookkeeping. I can do it. I’m actually quite good at Math, but I just don’t like doing it,  so that’s definitely something that I like to outsource.

Self awareness

If knowing your limits is knowing what you can’t do or not interested to do, self awareness is knowing what you can. If there’s something that you don’t like doing or you might not like managing trades, well, just bring someone in to be a site manager. If there’s something that you are capable of and you think it would help improve your projects, don’t hesitate to try it. Anything is possible, provided that you’re aware of your needs and capabilities. That’s the main thing that I think is important. Self-awareness is probably the thing that’s going to enable you to really grow your skills and be incredibly effective and profitable.

That’s it for ten ways to make your renovating easier and more profitable. Before I go, I want to share what’s been happening in our lives. As we wind down for Christmas, we’re getting very excited because we get together with our family and in particular our grandchildren. I normally roar into Christmas at the last minute, feeling absolutely exhausted and really not having the bandwidth for it but, this year, I have made a conscious effort to make sure I block out time to actually prepare and get present.

I also went and bought the Christmas tree. Usually I’m buying a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve virtually but I actually went and bought the Christmas tree last weekend. Unfortunately, our children insisted on the tree being real, which drove me crazy because then I’ve got those pine needles to deal with for the weeks following. But no, it’s up and ready to be decorated so I’m very proud of myself for doing that.

We had our last big event in the school yesterday where I had the Wonder Women in to do their planning for 2021 and it was just such a high energy event. Basically they’re pulling together to do a whole lot of projects next year and it’s just really exciting, so watch this space.

I and Odette are working on two projects for our investor. One’s almost finished, the other one was about to start, but that one has to be renovated to sell so that’s probably a bigger, not a bigger project, but a bigger commitment in terms of bandwidth. We’re heading out to look at that tomorrow to put together the plan. I’m also working with another student, the delightful James Burgin. He’s about to kick off a renovation on his own home. They’re the best renos to do because I don’t have to do the work, but I get to be in my genius zone, which is pulling it all together.

This Saturday is our auction of Chalmers Street and next week we’ll be reviewing and then it’ll be onto the next project, so it’s all very exciting. We’ve got ten contracts out. We have one person that registered at the beginning of the week, which I thought was quite keen, and we have had contract changes requested by prospective bidders. So it all seems quite positive but I’ve never gone into an auction feeling really positive about it. I always have this sense of nervous anticipation because you really don’t know what’s going to happen on the day. One thing I do know though is it will be sold by Saturday night so it’ll be very exciting.

And just to let you know, Damien Cooley, who’s the auctioneer, is actually going to stream the auction. So I’ll place the link on our Facebook page, that’s The School of Renovating Facebook page. If you’d like to watch, you’ll be able to watch it there. It’s at nine forty five on Saturday morning, Sydney time.

OK, well, that’s it for me today. I hope that you are having a great lead up to Christmas and I know it’s not always a happy time, so for those who are not having a great time, hanging there.

If you haven’t already left us a review, please do so because it helps to spread the message of our podcast. It makes us happy that you felt motivated sufficiently to go off and write about it, and we just love reading them. Thanks very much and I’ll see you next week when we’re interviewing the delightful Charmaine.

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    Amazing Free Content!LeaLea707 via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 05/22/22
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    “I have been listening to this Podcast for a few years now. I love how Bernadette freely shares her experiences and knowledge of renovating and how to create wealth through property. There are many people out there doing a similar things but Bernadette is the real deal. Her down to earth approach reasonates with me and I’ve learned lots from her. I’d highly recommend She Renovates!”
    Just brilliant!fbegeng via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 03/16/22
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    “I've been binge-listening to this podcast for the past week and it's absolutely brilliant. Bernadette has amassed so much knowledge and wisdom about renovating and she shares it generously and in a really easy to understand way that's inspired me to give it a go. Her advice is practical and I love that she approaches renovating in a really ethical and open-hearted way. Every episode honestly is gold. I also love that each episode is quite short and addresses a specific topic without any waffle. Thank you so much for this podcast!”
    Practical and honest adviceLuke Marland via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 05/12/21
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    “Hands down best renovation podcast there is. There’s no scams or tricks here and Bernadette provides honest and practical advice that you can actually apply to your life. There’s also great insights into the property industry (not just renovating) and Bernadette’s simple approach gives you tools to mitigate risk and fuels confidence to start your own projects.”
    Amazing insights and adviceJennaBrad via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 03/22/21
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    “Bernadette is an inspiration. Warm, open and a fountain of wisdom and advice. I’ve learned so much about everything from renovating to selling to creating an independent future from this podcast. Look forward to every episode!”
    Practical Magic For All RenovatorsJames’ Inspiration via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 12/15/20
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    “If you need to break through any of your limitations to find the joy and success in renovation, Bernadette is your inspiration and advisor with decades of experience. Her down to earth, practical style of sharing what works and how to keep control of any renovating project is worth tuning in for - week after week. I have done a few renovations in the (distant) past and now feel motivated to go again, this time for a change of pace and new horizons. This podcast shows the way. Thanks Bernadette, James Burgin”
    My Guilty Pleasure..Tanned Greek via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 10/26/20
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    “Just dropping by to show my support for your podcast Bernadette. I look forward to each episode and I am never disappointed with the content. It’s such a generous offering and compared to many of the other property podcasts I subscribe to, yours is the clear winner. Perfectly suited to people embarking on a new renovator journey but equally suited to more experienced folk like myself - there’s something for everyone. Keep up the great work. Your honesty is so refreshing! I look forward to future learning and hearing more student success stories. Best, David Michos (And yes... a bloke) 😉”
    You would have to be crazy to miss this !!Lifestylepp via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 10/15/20
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    “If you have any interest at all in renovating, you would be crazy not to listen to every episode! As someone who has done many courses and a project manager by trade, i learn something every time. Bernadette is so genuine and generous and totally relatable. Do yourself a favour and subscribe now !”

    Want more?

    If you want to meet up with a group of savvy renovators. I would say come over and join She Renovates Facebook Group. It’s a completely FREE Facebook group and it is growing at the rate of knots. We hit over a thousand members just recently, and now it seems to have picked up momentum. They are all savvy renovating women and men working their little hearts out to live a better life through renovating.

    The only membership you need to grow your renovation business…

    Wonder Women is a combination of live sessions and pre-recorded content to help you get what you need, when you need it. I know that you’re the expert and you’ve got all of your subject knowledge nailed – now it’s time to build the business behind your renovation projects and stop being the worlds best kept secret. 

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