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.

30 – Kathleen Friedrich Diary Of A TV Renovator

On today’s episode,

Bernadette interviews Kathleen Friedrich, who has 2 professions: A professional renovator and a property stylist. She and her husband have been involved in property flipping for 8 years now.

They have a keen eye for a property that is worth the effort in about 10 min of walking through. Her husband a licensed builder and a structural engineer who is highly talented that loves the challenge and never get tired of feeling complete when the projects are done.

They are 100% hands-on and hardly outsource, their style is on trend and very contemporary and enjoys sourcing off items for their renos from their traveling to Bali and the islands of Indonesia.

They have become a reno celebrity by participating in a television show on Channel 7 that is a competition/documentary of professional property flippers in Australia.

Kathleen sheds light on how being on a television show can affect your renovating life.

Listen to Episode 30: Diary Of A TV Renovator


Bernadette covers,

  • What’s it like to be a TV Renovator?
  • Reasons why you’d want to go on The Block or House Rules, reasons why you won’t
  • Is going on television a career suicide?
  • How being on television can fully disrupt your personal and business life
  • Why you should give it serious consideration to go on television with your reno projects
  • Acknowledging and being realistic on what you really want out of your TV participation
  • Why being self-funded is a must if you decide to be on a television show
  • How the show can make you question your goals and reno standards
  • Is being on a television show all it’s cracked up to be?
  • The best part of being on a television show

Episode highlights

00:45 – What it’s like to be a TV renovator?

02:18 – Would you go on The Block?

02:51 – You’re being paid

03:50 – Good fun

04:54 – Putting life out there

05:37 – 10 weeks without an income

06:44 – Photogenic

07:36 – Time consuming

08:10 – An argument

10:38 – Self-funded

11:50 – Everyone has their mojo

12:59 – Good relationships with real estate agents

13:45 – Good rapport with people

14:30 – It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

16:24 – Go forward


“Would I recommend applying for House Rules, any renovation show, The Block? I suppose if that’s what you want to do. Give it a go. But I can definitely tell you that it’s not fun and games. They do want a lot out of you. And remember you’re not being paid for that. You really have to be able to self fund yourself because they’re not paying you much.”

Bernadette: Hello it’s Bernadette Janson. And welcome back to She Renovates the podcast for women who want to create an income and a life they love through renovating. Now today I have a guest in Kathleen Friedrich. And Kathleen I guess has two occupations is that what we call it?

Kathleen: Yeah, I would say so.

Bernadette: So Kathleen and her husband are full time renovators, it’s professional renovators. And Kathleen also has a styling business.

Kathleen: Yes I am staging style in people’s homes when they’re selling. And assist people in freshening up their homes as well.

Bernadette: Thanks for that. And so her work is beautiful and that she has quite a different way of operating. We’re not going to talk about that in this episode. We’ll address that in another episode. In this episode we’re going to be talking about what it’s like to be a TV renovator? Because Kathleen and her husband have been contestants on the television show.

Kathleen: Yes we were. It was more of a biography. Sorry not a biography it was more of a competition but they generally just did a documentary and followed groups of people around Australia that were professional property flippers or had flipped at least 5 homes. So yes they did. They followed us some Channel 7 followed us around for about a year. And in the beginning it’s really fresh and fun. But the time they would take up a good 10% of your day, every day. Even though it was a documentary nobody finds watching renovating exciting. I mean it’s really quite boring.

Bernadette: Exactly. It’s all the drama at the same time.

Kathleen: So they would capture that and ask you to sort of do a bit of role playing where you don’t really have the time for role playing. Especially if you’ve found a problem you’ve got to fix it and you’ve got a specific trade coming the next day to do that. They don’t really care about that. So they just want that drama, no matter what they’re filming I think.

Bernadette: Okay. And I think the reason why I wanted to bring you on is because I notice in our community a lot of our students aspire to be on The Block or House Rules and few of them have actually even put in applications. And sometimes think, oh I don’t know. Would you go on The Block?

Kathleen: We’ve been approached to do something a little bit different for The Block for 2020.

Bernadette: Oh, that’s exciting!

Kathleen: But I don’t know if I can actually speak to you about that.

Bernadette: Oh that’s fine.

Kathleen: Although, would I recommend applying for House Rules, any renovation show, The Block? I suppose if that’s what you want to do. Give it a go. But I can definitely tell you that it’s not fun and games. They do want a lot out of you. And remember you’re not being paid for that. You really have to be able to self fund yourself because they’re not paying you much. If you think “Oh I think I might go on The Block and I’ll see what that’s like”. I believe you have a daily allowance of $56 per person. And that’s it. Until you win.

And they want blood and they want to see tears and I think they really want to make sure that you look good in a bum single top as well.

My bum sags, so I probably won’t be going on The Block.

Bernadette: I don’t know. I think you’ll be okay Kathleen.

Kathleen: But you know I’m over 50 as well so I don’t know if that’s..

Bernadette: Oh! You are at your 50’s? I think you would still qualify!

Kathleen: Yeah. I think it would be good fun though. We have applied for The Block 5 times, I’ll be honest. And you know what’s really good fun? That’s doing your application because you must include an under 3 minute video. And it’s really creative. So put your thinking cap on, at least you can have some fun if you’re going to think about doing it.

But we made some great friends out of Aussie property flippers. That was Channel 7. We still stay in contact with a lot of the film crew. The producer of Aussie property flippers is now working for The Block.

Bernadette: Okay. So with that, you’re in for your piece there.

Kathleen: He’s the producer, editing producer and.. he’s asked us to do a few things and see where that goes. So watch this space. I don’t know where it’s going to go but it sounds interesting anyway.

Bernadette: We’re going to see your name up in lights somewhere along the line.

Kathleen: I don’t know what to say Bernadette. I don’t know if I’ve dug a hole for myself or what. But I mean, I just don’t. I watched The Block like everyone else and I question whether or not I really want to put my life out there for millions of people to criticise. I mean look at all these other shows that people want to go on such as “Married At First Sight”.

They really do want to see drama I think. But if that’s what you think. Probably think to be realistic about what you really want out of it. Because I mean do you think if you go on it you go and you get fame and fortune. Is that what you’re after? Or if you win I suppose or if you don’t win you’re probably guaranteed to get at least $20K but you have to give them 6 weeks potentially 10. And you have to be supporting yourself for 10 weeks, so I suppose if you thought about it that way. Can you survive for 10 weeks without in income?

Bernadette: I always thought because people have always said to me, “Why don’t you apply for The Block?” And I say there is no way in a month of Sundays I would apply for The Block. I think it would be career suicide.

Kathleen: I agree with you.

Bernadette: And you don’t really have control over the outcome.

Kathleen: No. And social media can kill you.

Bernadette: Yeah, exactly.

Kathleen: And it can be nasty and I think people don’t think of that. I mean, have a good look at what you see and keep in mind those people on The Block or on House Rules or on any social media program that they have, reality TV program that they have, are only in your face for that program and then they go on again aren’t they?

Bernadette: Yes. And there’s the occasional one that picks up a good one. Like the twins from Adelaide? They’ve done quite well.

Kathleen: Yes. And the designer boys? But that’s going back sort of 10 years, isn’t it? So they’ve done quite well out of that but I suppose there are a few but..

Bernadette: And the couple that had work for bacon or they don’t work for them to pay..

Kathleen: Oh yeah, they do a lot of advertising for that. So I suppose that’s a matter of whether they find you photogenic, and if you pull a good Instagram watch. If you can get yourself up there with that half a million I suppose they want you on TV too, don’t they? But for us, I think some Aussie property flippers were some, more of it is a highly time consuming. I mean they followed us around though on set with us for onsite with us for at least 5 days of the week for just over a year.

Bernadette: Oh! Really. Oh my God.

Kathleen: So they filmed. Five of our renos in that year, The 5th one we hadn’t finished. No sorry we’d finish but we hadn’t sold. So they filmed the whole lot of that and didn’t take it to air. I think it’s very time consuming.

I will come back to that because it’s highly time consuming and it caused a lot of stress between my husband and I. When normally we have our set goals and our set rules about who does what. And that constantly wanted me to cross the line every time sort of – “Kath, do you really think that Chris should have you do this?” It took a while to sort of get where they were going, let’s say, “Why? What’s your problem? I always do this.” “No no no no. That’s not really fair Chris. I mean look at him he’s not doing anything right now. I want to go and approach him and talk to him about that.”

And they would want us to have an argument. In the end, we would sort of play it out that we were and if there was a structural issue which we thought was going to cost a bit, they would double it.

We were the only ones on the program that agreed and admitted when we made up with everyone else that was on the program from all around Australia. I probably had a conflict of interest with one of them. Within 15 minutes of meeting each other at Channel 7 here in Sydney and they were doing our hair and makeup for the promos that you see in the beginning of the show and this couple was in Coolangatta and they only purchased unit blocks. And I said to them, “Oh, I don’t think I’d be interested in doing something like that.” Number 1, what about the strata? Number 2, what about all the noise that you make and your time restraints?

And I said, we make far too much noise. We work any hours we want to work and I knock on every single door of every 3 houses up, 3 houses back and across whenever we purchase a home. I introduce myself to them and give them a little gift and I say to them if we’re causing too much racket just come down let us know and we’ll sort something out. But you can’t really do that in a block of units. And then I found out that they were very happy to make $20K a share.

Bernadette: I remember the couple. They worked for it too.

Kathleen: They did. They did indeed. And I said up front I said, “You’re crazy,” I said, “I wouldn’t get out of bed for 20k.” And that didn’t go down very well.

Bernadette: Tell them like it is.

Kathleen: Well, I mean some people are happy to do that but they sort of said, “Yes, but you know we make $20K in four weeks.” Okay, then that’s great. They didn’t. And it took longer to sell. And in the end they pulled it off the market and they didn’t sell it.

Everyone’s different, she also had a job as well and he was working part time as a jet broker as well. So when you full time and you work with your husband full time. There is no income coming in. Nobody puts or deposits any money into your account fortnightly or monthly. It’s just does not happen.

It takes time to be self-funded and by the time you finished each reno you’re far from self-funded. I mean that was probably my feedback to this young girl that I was conversing with sort of she was saying, well “Look at you! You’re making like a quarter of a million dollars on each house that you do, you’re loaded!”

And I was like, well that’s not the case. Because they’re just tallying up as what you pay. What you sell it for. They don’t include everything else. But yes, we do put a goal of what we want to make as well. And Sydney’s market was different to a unit up in Coolangatta for a $300K unit paying a $1M or $900K for a house that needs a $100K+ spent on it just to get you there.

Bernadette: It’s interesting. Well it’s not really surprising but everyone has their mojo for how they do it. And it’s funny I was in, I was in Brisbane on our job and I was talking to this old guy that was quoting on the floor ceiling or the floor sanding and ceiling. And it turned out that he and his family do a reno every 5 weeks. So they buy, renovate and sell. They’ve been doing it for a long time. They pay cash for the house so they don’t have a loan settlement and they make about $40K or $50K on it and every 5th one they keep.

And I thought, it’s just there are so many ways to get to where you want to go. They just threw it as a sideline. They don’t do DIY. They get trades in. I thought yeah, that’s okay. Because of course you have to adjust depending on where you are, you have to adjust your strategy to the type of properties and to the market.

Kathleen: That is so true. I mean everyone is different. I mean we tend to try and do 2 a year potentially 3 and in the meantime my husband is a structural engineer and also a licensed builder. So if things aren’t doing that well from a financial perspective and we’ve gone over for a bunch of it in renovating a house. I mean we always seem to land on our feet but it doesn’t just happen.

I’ve built up good relationships with real estate agents as well. So I am assisting them with staging and styling houses that they’re selling. It was in the good times, it was great. When the property market went down, nobody wanted to spend any money in staging and styling their house. Because they knew that they were selling their house at a loss anyway, so why would they want to spend another $5K on doing that?

So that sort of dissipated and went away and it became seasonal, when people only wanted to sell their house in spring. And so you couldn’t really rely on a business that way, although there are businesses out there that stage and style full time and are quite large. And they do other things other than that, they would do commercial work as well.

But over time that build up a really good rapport with people that have asked us to do all different things like just freshen up their homes. They might have say $100K to $200K to spend. It might be pulling down a boiler and rebuilding it and adding a deck for them where they normally had half a deck. Putting in a new kitchen, bringing the inside outside. A lot of the key cookie cutter add ons that we add to every single reno that people like and they want in their home as well.

Bernadette: So we better sign off on the whole telly piece. Let’s draw some comments on it. Firstly, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Kathleen: No. It’s definitely not all it’s cracked up to be. And think about it like this. I mean everyday that they were filming us. In the beginning I was quite paranoid and so I was thinking, I come to work and I’ve got work here on I’ve steel cap boots on. I don’t have any makeup on.

For the guys I don’t think it really matters. But there’s something about, I don’t know generally you sort of think “Gosh! You can put me on TV I don’t know if I want to look like that!” So that was a bit of a concern in the beginning.

And within about 3 weeks I got over that. It was funny how Channel 7 pitched it as well to everyone they were like “Get yourself ready guys, this is just gonna be awesome! You’re gonna go through the roof make sure you’ve got a social media account make sure you’re ready to go.” It went it went as far as what Channel 7 wanted it to go. And that was it.

Bernadette: And would you say that there were spin offs from it for you? Like in terms of your business?

Kathleen: Yeah I would. I would say that out of that, in the beginning when it first went to air we had lots of hits and lots of follows. And I don’t know how, I have a business name as well and I don’t know how, I suppose people are savvy, they linked my name to the business within that night of it going to air.

So people were contacting us on a regular basis asking questions like “How do you flip houses? How do you support yourself? You know what type of councils do you work with?” They had an abundance of questions. They also had nasty comments as well. So if you’re able to flip those aside because there are a lot of people out there going, “I don’t know how your husband stays with you, you know, no wonder you’re off budget.”

Lots of different drama things but.. If that’s what you want, go forward with it but take it for what it is really. Because they will manipulate you into what they want you to be, to put their story together to make it interesting.

Bernadette: Yeah exactly.

Kathleen: Because guys you think about it. How boring is renovating to watch? I mean some days you feel like all you’ve done is be a laborer, sweep, pick up, knock out a wall. Big deal! It’s not really exciting. But it is if they can throw some drama into play.

Bernadette: Okay, well thanks for that. So we’re going to sign off now and if you would like to follow Kathleen she has an Instagram page called “twisted_ lime”

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bernadette: Is that your handle?

Kathleen: twisted_lime. Yeah.

Bernadette: And also a Facebook page?

Kathleen: I do have a Facebook page and I do have to get more active on it I’m just not as active as what I should be.

Bernadette: Oh, that’s okay. Beautiful.

Kathleen: Just “twisted_lime”. Just ask me any questions and I’m happy to answer them.

Bernadette: Head over and check it out. And most importantly check out Kathleen’s work because it is awesome!

Kathleen: Thanks, Bernadette!

Bernadette: Later on we’re going to have another episode where we go into detail about Kathleen’s point of difference. So look out for that because I think you’ll really enjoy it. For anyone that hasn’t been over and given us a review I’d really appreciate it if you did. Because it will let other women know that we’re around. And so that they can come over and learn some amazing things with our amazing guests as well. So thank you for that.

And we’ll see you next week!

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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.”
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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!”
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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”
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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) 😉”
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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 !”

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    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.

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    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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