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.

36 – Seven Common Furfies That Can Totally Derail Your Renovating

On today’s episode,

Bernadette is going to discuss the things that  she has either experienced or have heard about that can totally bring your project undone.


Listen to Episode 36: 7 Common Furfies That Can Totally Derail Your Renovating


Bernadette covers,

  • The new member in the Janson family
  • The Future Of Leadership Conference
  • An upcoming live event this October
  • Is cheap property a good property as a project?
  • What does the term “substantial renovation” mean?
  • Builders and trades prefer to remove than to renovate and work with new materials
  • Are trades available on short notice?
  • How to make lemons into lemonade
  • Will DIY save you money on your renovations?

Episode highlights

00:54 – Our newest grandchild, Jackson.

01:55 – Future of Leadership Conference

03:52 – A live event in October

04:50 – 7 commonly held misconceptions about renovating.

06:17 – Choosing a property to buy or renovate and sell

09:06 – Substantial renovation

11:13 – Best trades at short notice

14:14 – Research the solution

15:25 – If you are doing DIY

17:04 – Learn to manage people

18:00 – Free membership


“The thing about choosing a property to buy or renovate and sell is it needs to be in an area that can support that sort of activity where you have a market of people who are going to be willing to pay a premium for a renovated property.”


Well hello it’s Bernadette back with another episode of She Renovates. And today the topic is 7 Common Furfies that can totally derail your renovating.

What I’m going to be talking about is things that I’ve either experienced myself or have heard about that can totally bring your project undone. When you’re talking about renovating and property everyone has an opinion and you often hear some pretty gross generalisations bandied around. And so I’ve picked out a few to talk about today.

But before I get into that I just want to share what’s been happening in my life in the last couple of weeks. And the most exciting news is our newest grandchild Jackson arrived last Friday afternoon. So our oldest, sorry not our oldest, number three daughter Madeleine delivered her third baby on Friday which was absolutely awesome because we had planned a family weekend together. It was very convenient to have the newest member in our family actually present and he is stunningly gorgeous and nobody can prepare you for the wonder of grand parenthood. It’s just such an amazing experience. And so as a result I have actually relocated and am operating out of Wollongong this week because Madeleine has three under three and so she’s definitely got her hands full. I can easily operate from here and be able to lend her a hand as well. So that’s very exciting. I’m on call of duty.

The other thing that’s happened in the last week is I attended the Future of Leadership Conference. Now this is a conference that is put on annually by an organisation that I am very fond of, it’s a charity. Well it’s actually called “The Hands” group but I know it is “Hands Across The Water” and we have been active in raising funds for this charity from time to time. And this conference is actually a social enterprise, a way that the organisation can fund their administration costs so that money that we raise or donate goes directly to the children that they care for which I think is a pretty incredible initiative. And of course it’s a very high quality conference and very inspirational. I spent the day listening to some incredibly inspirational and motivational stories. And what’s really great about that is that it lifts your emotional state and in order to be effective having a highly charged emotional state is very important. Not only is it informative but it’s almost essential that if you are working on goals that you do participate in these activities that not only nourish your soul but also elevate your emotions and will help you to really get to where you’re trying to go to.

And lastly some of you would know that up until Christmas last year I was doing quite regular live events and I actually stopped at Christmas time mainly because I really didn’t want to travel so much but I’ve really missed it. I just love meeting people in the flesh.

And so I was approached by a couple of other industry professionals to put on a live event together. And  I’ve agreed to that. We’re in the planning stage and that will be happening towards the end of October. I’m very excited about that, it’ll be happening in Sydney initially and if all goes well, we’ll probably take it to some of the other capital cities as well. But for a start it will be in Sydney and so far all I can tell you is the date which is the nineteenth of October. Save the date and I can promise you it’s going to be a value filled event with a variety of speakers and strategies, including me, and would be great to actually meet some of you face to face. So keep that in mind.

Let’s get into the topic today. As I said I’ve got 7 commonly held misconceptions about renovating. Now the first one, is that a cheap property is a good property as a project. And I see this quite a bit where someone might be looking for a renovation project and they will have identified their area that where there’s profit potential and then find it hard to find a property within their price range. And so then they’ll decide to pivot and move to another area that is cheaper and easier to find a property in their price range.

The problem with that is often a cheaper area doesn’t necessarily provide the opportunity for profit. And I’ve seen this time and time again. And of course if you research the area thoroughly then you will find that out before you actually get into a transaction. But often that’s not the case. Someone will be sort of becoming despondent because they’re finding it hard to find a property in their price range in the suburb they’ve chosen. And then just go off and buy one in another suburb that is cheaper and often the results are disappointing.

furfies that derail renovating

The thing about choosing a property to buy or renovate and sell is it needs to be in an area that can support that sort of activity where you have a market of people who are going to be willing to pay a premium for a renovated property. And often in a low price area, that’s not the case. Particularly in an area that’s early in the gentrification process. Often I’ve heard this a lot from buyer’s agents. They have the investor mentality, that a good property and a cheap property. As an investor will often be somewhere that’s early in the gentrification process before the suburb actually really booms.

What happens there is you have people moving into the area and starting to renovate properties but you don’t have all the things that support a more gentrified demographic that are likely to be your buyer. And so it takes a while for that particular demographic to come into the area.

And also for the cafes and the lifestyle businesses to spring up to encourage them to come into the area and the property that you bought. It’s not that it’s not a good property, it’s just that it’s too early, it’s not gentrified enough to support your profit potential.

The next one is that you don’t have to worry about a building and pest report. If you’re planning to renovate because it’s all going to go anyhow.

Now the thing is in most projects you don’t have the budget to completely gut and start from scratch again. And so you don’t want to be spending your budget on doing major repairs where you can’t show anything for your money. It’s hard to recover the money that you spent that you can’t see. Even if you are renovating you can’t afford to find that you’ve got serious structural problems or you’ve got a white ant infestation or something that’s going to be expensive to fix because that money will be coming out of your profit. And often it can eat more than your profit and you can find yourself in dire straits. The other thing to think about is that when you completely gut property and get back to bare bones and start again. Totally produce a new for old property, then you run into some gray areas tax wise.

The Australian Taxation Office has a term called a substantial renovation. And if your reno is deemed to be a substantial renovation that will mean that you have to pay one eleventh of the sale price in GST and that’s regardless of whether you make profit you could lose money in the project and still have to pay one eleventh. Sort of scrubbing out and starting again can be quite a costly exercise and can be counter-productive when you’re wanting to make a profit. Now of course if you do ever end up with a substantial renovation there are often ways to reduce the tax burden but you need to work very closely with your accountant. Firstly, to help you identify when it’s gonna be a problem and secondly if it does crop up. That you have the opportunity to minimise it.

Which brings me to the next point. Often builders and trades will remove rather than renovate, like if you’ve got a particularly rundown property. Their preference is to gut rather than to retain what they can because they prefer to work with new materials. Don’t really want to mess around with having to retain existing, often when they tell you that it has to all go. That’s not necessarily the case.

I would always suggest that you get several opinions before you make radical decisions that are going to cost you a lot of money. And the other thing is it’s in their best interests to make the job bigger than it needs to be. Like I’m not trying to be too cynical but you do need to remember that you can be at cross purposes. So be very careful when a builder or trade makes a scope bigger than you think it needs to be and get a second opinion.

furfies that derail renovating

Which brings me to the next point which is also about trades and actually I’ve said 7 common furfies but I think it’s 8. And this one is that any trade that’s any good will not be available at short notice. Now I hear this all the time and I have to tell you that some of my best trades I’ve actually got at short notice when I have been in a spot and I’ve needed to get someone in a hurry and they’ve turned out to be amazing and trustworthy and good at their job.

Now the thing is, in the building industry the life of a builder and a tradesman is about juggling schedules and programs because nothing ever goes to plan and they might get to project with our planning to start and then find it’s not ready. They’ll have a team that they actually have to employ because they’re paying them anyhow. And so what I find is often if I need someone at short notice things like you know stripped out the bathroom discovered that we needed a renderer and we didn’t think we did. And the renderer that I normally use is not available. What I do is, I go directly to an online site and I post a job for a renderer.  I’ve often done that and I would have someone turn up within the hour with the team with the mind already made because it was left over from the last job and they’ve done a fantastic job. It’s being cost effective and we’ve been really happy about it.

So don’t ever assume that if you’re caught and you need someone at short notice that you can’t find someone even good trades have scheduling issues where they have to find ways of employing their teams at short notice.

The next one is back on asbestos and white ants is that it tends to be, often properties that have asbestos or something seriously wrong with them like asbestos or white ants should be given wide berth. You should not go near it. And the reality is that often they are an opportunity to actually get a project. I know this seems counter- intuitive in view of some of the points I’ve made before. But here’s the thing. If you know that there is a problem, if you know that there is an issue in the property. Then it’s an opportunity for you to actually research the cost of the solution and actually use that in your negotiation of the property. Because the reality is the vendor almost always would know that that was a problem and would be concerned about it anyhow, would be hoping that nobody noticed that.

Rather than actually being scared off and giving wide berth consider researching the solution, go in prepared and use it as a negotiating tool to actually be able to get a property and get it at the right price. So that you’ve factored in the cost of the repairs and that’s come off the price so that you can get the property, your well covered in terms of risk and you’ve got an amazing project. While you need to be careful with those deal breakers don’t assume it is actually a deal breaker. See how you can make lemons into lemonade.

furfies that derail renovating

And the very last one is that DIY will save you money. Now that’s quite a short sighted point of view. I have to say, Stephen and I have both done our fair share of DIY. I have laid hundreds of square meters of tiles. I’ve painted, Stephen has done roof frames, like we’ve pretty much done everything. I’ve even tied Rio.

But here’s the thing, well a couple of things. Firstly, if you are doing DIY I’ll put money on the fact that you’re not factoring in the cost of your time into that project. So you will be working for nothing. That’s a very common situation. I know from experience and I know I have plenty of renovators that I’ve converted from DIY for that very reason.

The second reason is that you will never compete with a tradesman who has honed his skills doing the same activity day in day out for years. And in order to be able to make money out of renovating you need people that can produce superior quality in a time effective manner. So they need to be able to produce good quality quickly. And if you’re doing DIY that’s just not going to happen, you can’t be good at all the trades that you take on, not to the level that a trades person doing it day in and day out. And so you are far better to actually factor in paying a trade to do it. So it gets done quickly and effectively and you get in and get out.

And the other point about this is that if you know that you have to pay your trades you actually become a lot more strategic. So you need to make sure that your project can support the cost of engaging trades and make a profit. You’re much more strategic and selective about the property that you choose.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Last point is that if your earning potential is based on what you can physically do yourself, you are going to have a very short career. You’re going to burn out and that’s what happens with most DIY renovators. They burn out, they get over it and then that’s that. So my advice to you is to be more strategic. Learn to manage people, learn to find good trades and look after them so that you have a team that will support you in reaching your goals.

Okay so I hope those points have inspired some thinking around common misconceptions in renovating and help you to hone your method of operating. So before I go I’ve got just a couple more things to share with you.

And firstly, you’ll be able to go over to our website and download the show notes from this episode but shortly we will be able to provide this information, the information and resources from our episodes in a much easier way. We are setting up a free membership on our training portal so that rather than having to opt in every time you want to download a resource or the show notes from an episode you just need to sign up once and then you don’t need to do it again you have your username and your password and you can just get straight in and I’ll also be including some extra resources and material for you in that free membership.

I actually ran a poll over in the She Renovates Facebook group as to what we should call that membership. And the winner was “The Renovating Library”. So that’s what it will be called. And look out for that. That’ll be available in a couple of weeks.

The other thing is, firstly, if you’re not a member of our free Facebook group She Renovates please come over and join us. And the last thing is if I could ask you to take the time to go over to iTunes and leave us a review. I would be very grateful because that helps to spread the reno love. And on that note I will leave you 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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