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.

124 – How To Resource Your Project While Keeping Your Kitchen Renovation Cost Down

On today’s episode,

In every renovation we do, we’re always balancing the cost against the outcome. So, in this 2nd kitchen renovation series, Bernadette Janson shares her experiences and expertise about producing a stunning kitchen while keeping your budget to an absolute minimum cost. 

Listen to Episode 124: How To Resource Your Project While Keeping Your Kitchen Renovation Cost Down

How To Resource Your Project While Keeping Your Kitchen Renovation Cost Down

Episode Highlights

  • [00:00:31] How To Replace Your Income With Renovating
  • [00:03:04] Resourcing your kitchen renovation project
  • [00:05:13] The difference between made to order and flat pack kitchen 
  • [00:06:07] Why ordering from a kitchen company will cost you more 
  • [00:06:30] Getting the rock bottom price for kitchen renovation 
  • [00:07:43] The beauty of going directly to the cabinet maker 
  • [00:08:25] The best way to get a custom kitchen 
  • [00:09:11] Why I love the flat pack kitchen 
  • [00:10:28] How to install flat pack kitchen 
  • [00:11:23] Renovating a low-budget kitchen 
  • [00:12:52] Get a really good quality kitchen with a $500 budget 
  • [00:14:17] Don’t involve a 3rd party in renovating your kitchen
  • [00:15:19] Where to source your kitchen appliances
  • [00:18:10] Choosing a dishwasher that suits your kitchen style 
  • [00:19:26] Why it’s best to buy wholesale kitchen appliances 
  • [00:20:27] A wine fridge can add value to your kitchen reno 
  • [00:21:12] Install a double sink in your kitchen 
  • [00:23:19] Why I don’t use natural stone for kitchen benchtops


Okay, so we’re talking about resourcing your kitchen renovation project, and as with everything we do, we’re always balancing the cost against the outcome. So basically, we’re looking for that Nirvana where you can produce a stunning outcome while keeping your budget to an absolute minimum.

Cabinetry is the biggest expense in kitchens and we’re going to start with a renovation where you’re doing a premium renovation for profit or you’re renovating your family homes.

The finish and the detail of cabinetry are very important because this is where you really want a tip-top project.

1. Do Not Go To A Full Service Kitchen Company

You will get a good outcome when you go to the full service kitchen company but if you’re being a savvy renovator, you can often save 50%less of the cost for the same result. The secret ingredient is, go to a custom joiner.

You’re paying for a lot of overheads and markup.

Generally, they will have third parties. So they’ll have a joiner, they’ll have the trades, they’ll have the suppliers. They’ll also have a full-time designer plus have a showroom. So you’re paying for the overhead of a showroom and we’ll put a markup on to everything.

This is fine for people who do not have the time or the bandwidth to manage it themselves to do it by the various components.

2. Go to a Custom Joiner

You’ll get a better finish and with a flat pack you have to match the components to the measurements in your room and they will never be perfect.

For a really premium look, you don’t want fillers and so that’s why we would recommend a custom cabinet maker. You have the advantage of having custom dimensions.

You also get a choice of finishes. So when we’re doing a custom kitchen, we’ll actually select the veneer we want and send the link to the joiner and I’ll ask them to source their materials. So that way we’re getting a really premium product.

There are heaps of joiners or cabinet makers around. So it really is just a matter of keeping at it until you get the right one.

I use the custom kitchen for my projects as well, because I find that often they are a very similar price to a flat pack. And if I have got the time to do it, I think it’s an easier road.

In preparing your kitchen, you can have a flat pack kitchen or get a made to order or customised kitchen.

I love the idea of going to a kitchen cabinetry supermarket and picking out what you want and so on. Just like a custom kitchen, it does need to be designed. Before going to IKEA or Bunnings, engage first with your installer to make sure the details will be properly addressed. Also, an experienced flat pack installer is different from a builder because most of the builders with no experience in installing the flat pack kitchen have no patience for details.

One of the things that I really love about IKEA is they think through everything. They’ve got really good quality hardware, but it requires adjustment and it requires to be set up properly. I had one situation… actually this was the day I decided I’m never letting a builder near a flat pack again.

I had an IKEA kitchen and I bought the really big panels for either side of the fridge and down the sides of the cabinetry. I think there are about $200 each and this guy I could tell he was really not happy about the fact that a flat pack was going in. He was very impatient. He just talked to one of those panels with his saw and then said, “oops, sorry shouldn’t have done that.”

And so of course that $200 panel has to get tossed out. I have to go and buy another one. And you just don’t want to be working with that attitude. You want someone who’s really inspired and excited by the attention to detail with that product and is going to do a good job.

If the existing kitchen is in reasonable condition, just get new doors

If you get new doors and drawer fronts you will also need to get new side panels and new kickers.

On our Arncliffe project the overheads were changed because there was an indent where the rangehood went and the lines weren’t clean. New overheads in new side panels, new drawer fronts, new doors, and new kickers. And it came to 4,900 with a pretty good outcome.

Arncliffe Project Bernadette Janson


It’s not hard to get a really good quality kitchen for around $500 and often that will include the appliances as well. The costs don’t finish at $500 though because you need to pay someone to remove it, transport it and to re-install it. And of course, you need to make the cabinets work with your scenario. But it is absolutely doable.

3. Make Sure You Don’t Have A Third Party Involved

By having a third party involved, you’re basically working with the middleman and they’re putting their mark up on it. If you’ve got no time or very little time, then a flat pack is always a good option provided it’s well installed and the last scenario is if you’ve got an absolutely tiny budget, then go for replacing door fronts and kickers, et cetera, or go for a second-hand kitchen, where you might also get your appliances as well.

As a professional renovator, you’re able to buy your appliances wholesale. And we buy our appliances from Harvey Norman Commercial, which is where all the builders and developers also source their appliances.

Gas cooktop or an electric? Generally with electric, if you’ve got the budget, go for an induction cooktop because they’re flipping amazing.

4. Check With Your Electrician If You’re Putting An Induction Cooktop

Your electrician will know if you have the power capability to carry it. The electrician will have to put a separate power source in for the stove because they do draw a lot of power.

5. With Range Hoods, Check The Noise Level

We’ve all experienced the jet engine starting up in the kitchen when the range hood gets turned on. So go for the one with the lowest DB level at the most reasonable price.

6. Make Sure The Range Hood Is Exactly The Same Width As The Cooktop And The Oven

Make sure that they all lined up and they’re exactly the same size. Sometimes you will find that you can say get a 700 wide cooktop and you can’t get a 700 wide 700 millimetres that is wide range hood, in that scenario, we’d go for a wider range hood go for the 900 wide range hood and oven and the 700 cooktop.

7. Give The Dimension Of The Dishwasher To Your Cabinet Maker

The kicker on the dishwasher doesn’t have a lot of adjustment. So that really sets the style for your kitchen. If you want clean lines, you want to have that chosen before your cabinet maker starts so you’re able to give that dimension to the cabinet maker.

I do like to integrate but only if the dishwasher is highly visible because otherwise, you’re spending a couple of hundred dollars for nothing. If you can’t see it, if it’s behind the breakfast bar, don’t worry.

So with Arncliffe, we put a dishwasher in where there wasn’t one, which was quite easy to do. Just cut out the cabinet and put it as close as possible to the kitchen so you can access the water source and the drainage that was done through flex pipes and also power. And so all we did was popped a little extension cord in that enabled the dishwasher to reach the back wall for the power. And Bob’s your uncle, quite an easy and cost-effective process.

Now, in terms of other appliances, you can go to town, you can get double ovens, you can get steam ovens, blast chillers, you name it.

8. Putting A Wine Fridge Is A Plus

I think it’s a nice value add. We usually put a couple of bottles of wine in, and generally, it doesn’t cost a lot more than a cabinet. So that’s a bit of a no-brainer.

9. Take Time To Replace Your Plumbing

Please make sure that it is more than a single sink. If you don’t, one and a quarter is fine.

You just need to have something to be able to empty out things while you’ve got a sink full. My preference is high-quality stainless steel. High quality, so that you can get a good shine on it and sparkles. Low-quality stainless steel doesn’t sparkle, no matter how much you scrub.

Unless of course, it’s a flip in which case I would consider a colour because we want to have that really on-trend look.

10. The Gooseneck Tap Is Reasonably Popular At The Moment

It’s important to know that when you are putting a kitchen sink on an island bench, that the tap is going to be highly visible. So you want it to look really beautiful. And of course, both those items come from the wholesaler.

11. Consider Laminate Benchtops

Now, if you are on a tiny budget with a flat pack kitchen, then you might consider laminate benchtops. They are dirt cheap from Bunnings or IKEA. However, if you can stretch your budget to composite stone, it will pay you back in droves.

If you are careful about who you order it through and how you layout your kitchen. For instance, with the recent Arncliffe project, we had the resurfacing guy quote us on resurfacing the kitchen bench, and it was around, I think it was $4,050. And so then we had the stonemason also quote on it and he quoted me $1,900. And this was for composite stone. So of course it was a no-brainer. We went with the stone.

Natural stone is always much more expensive and has high maintenance because it stains and so on has gotta be sealed.

It’s important to note that all stones, most of the stones that are referred to a stone are actually composite stone, which is crushed up stone mixed up with resin to look like stone.

If you’re just going 20 mill, you just need the area of the benchtops. If you’re going 40 mill, they need that extra stone to thicken the edges. So it’s not actually 40 mill, but the edge is the thicken to look like 40, 60, whatever you’ve got.

12. Have a Good Relationship with Your Stonemason

If you have one, you can ring him and ask him to send you photos of your liking then get the quote.

I would never go to the Caesarstone catalogue and select a Caesarstone and say, “That’s what I want!” because I know that it would cost me significantly more. And Caesarstone is just a composite stone that’s done a really good marketing job.

And so you can find equally beautiful stones just by having a relationship with your stonemason so there is more than one way to get the outcome that you want.

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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.”
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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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    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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