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.

54 – 2020

On today’s episode,

Bernadette is going to talk about setting goals for 2020, and what we’ve got in store for the new year.


Listen to Episode 54: 2020


Bernadette covers,

  • The Game Changer Mastermind event
  • Holiday at Black Forest Germany with family
  • Her retirement plan project
  • Strategies for the retirement plan
  • The entity that you purchase the property in
  • Using a discretionary trust for asset protection
  • The affordable housing path
  • New generation boarding house legislation
  • The Affordable Housing King
  • Risk reduction strategy
  • Incorporating low energy into the design and power source
  • The building costs of new-gen townhouses

Episode highlights

01:02 – The Game Changer Mastermind

03:03 – Part of our retirement plan

05:30 -The strategies

07:40 – Positive cash flow

10:15 – New generation boarding house

12:29 – A risk reduction strategy

14:13 – A caretaker is not required

16:01 – Affordable housing

17:53 – In terms of finance


“That’s the great thing about renovating and property. There is no ageism. You’re free to live the life you want and to work as much or as little as you want. And so I guess what I want to say is seize the opportunity



This episode is sponsored by our brand new one-day training. The Game Changer Mastermind. Years come and go and dreams of making significant changes to your income with renovating can fade if you don’t breathe life into them. A new year is always an opportunity to take stock and start with renewed energy and focus. Now we are into a new decade, so let’s change the game completely. If 2020 might draw the line in the sand for you to transform your working life or your retirement with renovating. This event is for you. Join a group of ambitious women and couples for an entire day under the guidance of me and my team. You’ll adjust your mindset. You’ll learn our top strategies that are working right now. You’ll also build out and complete execution plan to get you going on delivering on that story that’s been going on in the back of your mind. You will leave with a clarity you’ve been craving on a comprehensive step by step plan. All there will be left to do is to press Go. The Game Changer Mastermind is a live event to be held in Sydney on Saturday, the 18th of January, and you will find more details in our show notes.

renovation tips for 2020

The Game Changer Mastermind

I’m recording this episode in our Airbnb in the Black Forest in Germany. So we’re currently staying in a medieval castle that sits on top of a hill in the heart of the Black Forest in an area called Baden-Baden. And it’s fascinating.

The walls of the building are around a metre thick and we have expansive views for miles so we can see at least 100 miles out from where we are staying. Interestingly, the castle is owned by a chef and he and his son operate a restaurant and they Airbnb one floor of it. So that’s where we’re staying.

Parts of it are quite very original like very basic but of course where we’re staying is quite nicely renovated and we find it quite fascinating.The other interesting thing is that when the chef and his son go home at night, they leave us here. We’re the only ones in the whole building and we have the only key. The instructions are to make sure that we’re there when they arrive in the morning to open up the restaurant, otherwise, they can’t get in which strikes me as being very odd. But anyhow, that’s what we’re up to.

retirement plan and setting goals

Black Forest Germany

Today I’m going to talk about what we’ve got in store for 2020, and I’m going to do this in two sections.

The first section is a project that’s part of our retirement plan. And so that’s what I will be drilling down into today.

Now, before I get into it on the way over I sat next to a world expert in musculo-skeletal medicine and we were talking about his projects. He’s done some property projects, a small development and so on. We were also talking about retirement. He was saying that when he’s retired but he didn’t retire through choice. I guess the general feeling is in his industry is that once you hit 60 that you need to move aside and retire to let the younger people come through. And he doesn’t want to be retired but he’s just been forced into that position.

And that’s something that we do not have to deal with. That’s the great thing about renovating and property. There is no ageism. You’re free to live the life you want and to work as much or as little as you want. And so I guess what I want to say is seize the opportunity.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Now, of course, you may have some challenges in terms of getting finance. But then the flip side of that is, generally speaking, you are much more established than younger generations so you have some assets that you can leverage from.

If this is the path that you choose for your retirement years I guess I’m an avid supporter because I just know that it’s an awesome way to live your life. It’s full of inspiration and creativity and I guess it’s no secret I absolutely love it.

But now I want to talk about this project, which is part of our retirement plan. We bought this block in 2015 with the intention of developing in two townhouses. It’s 1100 square metres in the west of Sydney. For the last 4 years, it’s been on Airbnb and has been covering its costs reasonably well. It currently has a house and a granny flat on the property, which ultimately will be demolished and replaced with townhouses.

retirement plan and setting goals

First I want to talk about the strategies. A lot of people like when they’re investing for retirement get quite hung up on how they’re going to pay off the loan. Like how they buy double the amount of properties so you can sell half and pay down the debt.

I actually tend to look at cash flow. And the reason being that I believe that when you retire you should definitely have your family home paid off. You should not have any debt on your principal place of residence. But in terms of your investment properties, I don’t think it matters like there’s no line in the sand that says that you need to have this all paid off. And I think it’s quite I guess not all that smart to be selling property where you will pay a large percentage of the profit to the government in tax. You’ll pay agents fees for selling it. So what you end up with in your hand is considerably less than it’s worth. Why do that? As long as it’s sufficiently cash flow positive that it covers the loan and it also produces cash flow for the purpose that it was intended then I don’t see the problem.

And in fact, I learnt this from my mentor, who I’m sure I’ve mentioned her in previous years. She didn’t start investing until she was in her 50’s and she died just last year at 93. By which time she had amassed a massive portfolio. But she was still investing and developing and in fact, she had a loan that expired in 2043.

There are definite advantages to remaining active with your investing as you get older. There’s no cutoff point where the minute you hit 60 all of a sudden you’re not capable of making sound decisions. The one thing you do need to make sure of is that the properties that you invest in have the capacity to produce positive cash flow from day one.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

And that’s where I think a lot of people come undone. They buy property and that initially is negatively geared and rely on organic growth only. And that’s a long, slow burn over which you have very little control. Make sure that it is cash-flow positive from day one.

The other thing about this and the actual debt is over time that debt will pale into insignificance. If you hold it for 10 years the value of the property should be around double what you paid for it. In 20 years, you know, triple or quadruple provided you bought in the right areas. That’s my view on it. And that’s certainly the view I’ve taken with this project.

Now the second thing I want to talk about is the entity that you purchase the property in. In this scenario, we’ve used a discretionary trust and the reason for that is for asset protection but also to be able to have some control over how we distribute the income. So with a discretionary trust you can use discretion in distributing the profit or the income. And so we are able to funnel that to the person with the lowest tax rate.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

And the third thing that I want to share about this project is that the plan has evolved. Originally we thought we would do a townhouse development but when we looked at the area, everyone was doing four-bedroom townhouses in that street. The zoning changed around about the time we purchased the property. And so all the common thinking is to get as much building on to the land as possible and that’s four-bedroom townhouses.

Now, I don’t know that that really works with the way the nuclear family is changing. It just must be the contrarian in me I just didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. And so as time has gone on we’ve made the decision to go the affordable housing path and build a new-generation boarding house. Now, “boarding house” is a word that generates fear in most people’s hearts. And in this scenario we’re really just talking about the name of the legislation that we’re going to use to get the outcome we want. By using new generation boarding house legislation we’re able to build modern-day studios. Brand new studio apartments. They are fully self-contained.

There are some benefits to building using this legislation. The first one is that there is no land tax, which is an incredible bonus. You’re also allowed to build 20% more FSR. So that means that you can put 20 percent more building onto your land. You’re required to only have one car park per two dwellings and there are also some grants available. However, I wouldn’t hang my hat on those because they are subject to availability and that seems to be quite catchy.

retirement plan and setting goals

Now, technically, the land is big enough to be able to build 20 of these studios on the block. However, we’ve decided to add a twist to our implementation of the new-gen boarding house strategy and that’s to actually subdivide the land into townhouses. And each of the townhouses would be for new-gen boarding house dwellings.

This was a strategy that I learned from Ian Ugarte, “The Affordable Housing King”. And it came about when we were looking at doing the numbers on it and there were a few things that just weren’t really working in terms of what we wanted as an outcome. Firstly, we didn’t want this to be like a boarding house we wanted it to be individual high-quality dwellings. And so doing them in one big block wasn’t going to work.

The other thing is it was a risk reduction strategy. So if at some point in time we wanted or needed to sell part of the dwelling off, you can’t separate out each of the studios, they’re in one lot. So it’s a bit like when you put a granny flat onto a house, you can’t subdivide off the granny flat. That legislation requires that they stay together and the same with this. So what we thought we would do is if we would subdivide into townhouse lots and put a block of four new-gen boarding houses on each of those lots. Then if we wanted to sell off one or two at some point, then we could and we would have a bigger pool of buyers because the pool of buyers for a lot of 20 is quite small. You’re probably limited to self-managed super funds and the like. However, the pool of buyers for a lot of four would be much bigger so a lot less risk

retirement plan and setting goals

The other reason is because of reduced building costs. If you build a new-gen boarding house that’s over 299 square metres you’re required to build it to cut class 3 standard. This is a building code requirement and so it’s just like building a set of apartment blocks. You have to have all that fire safety measures in place. And so by keeping the square meter each under 299, then we are only required to build to 1b standard which still has fire safety requirements but they are less financially onerous.

And the other advantage of doing them in lots of four is that a caretaker is not required. So you might be wondering who is going to live in these properties. The west of Sydney has experienced huge growth in recent years, so the Badgerys Creek Airport is quite close by to our block. And there’s also a massive amount of industry in the area.

It’s become an employment hop and many people need to be in the area in order to work, may be leaving homes in another location and have to spend the week in that location and need somewhere to stay. There are also people leaving marriages, young people saving for their own home. So no shortage of tenants.

retirement plan and setting goals

At the moment, our thinking is that we will build three lots of four dwelling new-gen boarding houses and the other two we will do as traditional townhouses. At least one of them will be four-bedroom. The reason being is that we have run the house and granny flat as an Airbnb for the four years that we’ve owned the property. And that has been a drawcard because it’s able to accommodate 9 people and there are lots of sporting venues and the like in that area that bring teams of people to stay. So I definitely think there’s an advantage in keeping an Airbnb in the area. And so I can tell you a new house will be much, much easier to maintain than one that we’re about to bulldoze.

Important to note that the blocks that are not going to be used for affordable housing don’t get the same benefits as I mentioned in the beginning – no land tax, the increasing deficit and so on. They will have to be built to traditional standards, which is fine. The other thing that we’re quite keen about is to make all of the dwellings as low energy as possible because we will be holding on to those, we’ll be paying the energy bills. And also just because it’s better for the planet then we’ll be incorporating low energy into the design and also the power source.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Each of the new-gen townhouses will have one disabled dwelling on the ground floor. That’s the planning requirement. So one will be disabled and there will be two car parks, one disabled car park, which is really one and a half and one standard. And then on the top, there will be 3 single dwellings. They’ll be just the studio they’ll have a kitchenette, they will have a bathroom and also a balcony.

The next step for us is to work with the town planner and architect. The architect will be David (Janson). He has done some new-gen boarding housework, that we’re keen for him to develop his expertise in this area. And also we’ll need to start working on finance. So finance for any development can be quite challenging. We anticipate it’ll probably take us most of the year to get going on this to actually get the plans done, to get council approval, to get it financing and get set to go. I’d like to be turning the first sod by next Christmas.

And in terms of finance, the building costs of this type of development are between $70K and $100K per dwelling. It’s slightly higher than traditional dwellings but of course, all those kitchens and bathrooms give you really amazing depreciation value. That’s going to be the first thing that we start working on this year.

And so I will give you updates as we go along, as most of that work is going to be planning and preparation for the actual development. There’s not going to be a lot to show for it. And of course, I need to have a renovation because that’s what I love to do.

In the next episode, I’ll share with you the plans for renovating in 2020. So that’s it for this episode. If you haven’t already done so, please go over to iTunes and leave us a review so that we can share the love because that’s how people find out about the podcast. And also we have a free Facebook group called She Renovates and you are welcome to come over and join that, too. And if you do, share what your retirement plans are. Have you got any retirement projects that you’re working on? We’d love to hear about them!

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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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    “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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