Reno Diva Vivienne Halliday
On today’s episode,
Bernadette is with Vivienne Halliday, our Reno Rockstar who has been featured in the Courier Mail and in the media. Vivienne, 56, has flipped 10 properties and plans to do two more a year for the next three years before “semi-retirement”.
Vivienne always loved property and have been doing it ever since she bought her first property with her mum at 20, which was just before the recession. Since then she has always looked for something with better return and tend to buy or make dual income property.
Now she’s looking more for Renovations with an option to subdivide or maybe rent by the room.
Listen to Episode 32: Reno Diva Vivienne Halliday
Podcast: Download (Duration: 34:52 — 63.84 MB)
- How Vivienne started her renovating and property journey
- What are the challenges that she had to face while doing her renovation projects
- How she is outsourcing some important aspects of her work
- How she finds the Queensland market
- Vivienne's "Big Hairy Audacious Goal"
- How her normal reno day goes
- Why she's the queen of negotiating and recently owned Renosave
- News on her most recent reno project and valuable tips on increasing property value
- Her favourite suppliers for her projects
- Vivienne's 3 top tips for renovators
00:28 - A lot of commitment
01:31 - It's quite exciting
01:51 - Extra income with Airbnb
03:48 - Brisbane market
05:04 - Assess trades
07:16 - Automate an SMS and email
10:38 - Keep the paperwork up
13:25 - The most important part of renovating
17:51 - A flat pack from IKEA and Bunnings
20:12 - A trick to Bunnings stores in Brisbane
22:29 - Getting good tradies is always tricky
28:36 - My VA
33:00 - My number one tip, get educated.
33:20 - Change those wants to musts.
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“Make fast decisions. You know what you are wanting to what the end result is. And really try and stick to that budget. Every decision you make has an effect on the budget. It will have a knock on effect."
Hello everyone it's Bernadette back with the podcast She Renovates. And today I have a special guest in Vivienne Halliday. Now Vivienne is a veteran in terms of property and she has recently been featured in all the media outlets where one of her jobs was featured. So Vivienne is living the dream. And I know this is where you want to be.
So I thought it would be really good for you to hear how someone else has got to this point because I think Vivienne would agree it's not all roses. It takes a lot of commitment to get to a point where you've got a process that actually produces you reliable income. And I think that's what we would like to flesh out today. So welcome Vivienne!
Vivienne: Hi Bernadette how are you? I love your podcast.
Bernadette: So we've known one another for quite a while now. So we met through property women.
Vivienne: Yeah I think you were doing a presentation for us at property women.
Bernadette: And you came and did our workshop. How long ago was that? That was a few years ago wasn't it?
Vivienne: Three or four years ago I think, in Sydney.
Bernadette: And also you've been quite an avid Airbnb'er which I also do that.
Vivienne: It was such a good thing to do and it's quite exciting and the money is great as well. Is it like that.
Bernadette: That helps doesn't it?
Bernadette: So before we would start with maybe if you could share a bit about your journey. So from your first reno and to where you are today.
Vivienne: My journey was a little bit accidental to start with. Back in the time where we had when the banks are the only place you could go. My mom tried to buy a property and she couldn't buy one. So I decided to help her because I was younger. That was the thing that went on and I mean I wasn't earning that much but take the books to the bank. And we bought this little high set house it was set in nothing much but we had to put carpets and all that stuff in it. So that was my first part of reno and then the recession that we had to have hit and we had a ridiculous interest rates. They doubled 18% or something. And so we were going how can we hold onto this house? And I was working at a hardware at the time so we decided we'd build an underneath and rent out underneath. We actually ended up renting the top because that was more and my mom moved downstairs. And so that was really big introduction to renovating so from there on in.
When I got married and bought houses we'd buy them and update kitchens and bathrooms and then end up selling that and moving on which wasn't really the smartest thing but it was what I knew at the time. So with a bit of education I learned how to renovate and hold that I always like that dual income. So that's what I tend to look for, was just how can I get that extra income which is Airbnb is a great way of doing that as well. So I'm still learning as I go.
Bernadette: Awesome. And so now at the moment you're flipping?
Vivienne: Yes.I'm on the road to get a little bit more cash so that I can buy a pick up, buy whole properties. So I'm doing some flips so that I can get a good amount.
Bernadette: Yeah. Awesome. And you're doing that in Brisbane.
Vivienne: Yeah I like the Brisbane market. I'm familiar with it. Therefore I actually live on the Gold Coast but I find it fluctuates too fast. So I like the Brisbane market.
Bernadette: Yeah the Gold Coast has been a bit of a basket case for a long time hasn't it?
Vivienne: And you never know when it's going to go up or go down or when it's a hit and miss for a renovation.
Bernadette: Yeah I absolutely agree. And as I mentioned it's not all plain sailing. What have been some of the rocky bits for you?
Vivienne: When you don't know the market and yet you've gone to a different market and everything costs more than what you thought. You think it's only a couple of hours away so all your tradies should be the same. So you cost it up on that and you find out that's not the case.
Bernadette: Oh that is true because often people say to me, what will I pay for a plumber or whatever. I say, I can't tell you what you pay for a plumber because what I paid for plumber is completely different. That is something that I've really noticed because I've used a few of your trades. They are incredibly cheap.
Vivienne: I still like to assess them at a fair bit and I do have. Well I've given them a fair bit of work so they know what I expect and their prices are good. But it's not always the case if you don't look around you can pay too much.
Bernadette: I definitely know that. But what we're the same in Sydney our trades are pretty good too. But then with your guys because a lot of them come from country Queensland.
Vivienne: Yeah my kind of does. So he's brilliant. He actually comes down and he will sleep in the house. You would have him sleep in the house and paint a house. When I've got a house that I'm doing flip. It's usually empty. So that works fine for me and I get a great price for my painting and he does a good finish. So it's a win win.
Bernadette: Awesome. Yeah. So I think he's mentioned the other day you're doing 3 flips a year?
Vivienne: Yeah. That's my aim so I'm in the middle of one at the moment and one in September. So I'm madly juggling to try and still look for the next one, I'm starting this one but that's a little bit of an art and I haven't quite got there yet. But I've got a VA on board to help me with that.
Bernadette: Well done!
Vivienne: Yeah I just figured I can't do everything so it's all about learning how to outsource stuff.
Bernadette: So what aspects of the work are you outsourcing to your VA?
Vivienne: She's going through all my spreadsheets for me updating it because I did actually have some already done. She's updating the sales so I won't send out to anyone that's just purchased a property. Because obviously they're not going to sell it for a reasonable price.
Well a lot of the times I've just purchased. The purchased price is above what I actually want to buy that suburb, I've got a dollar price for that suburb. So if their recent purchase is above that I won't bother sending out a letter or anything to them.
Bernadette: So you’re sourcing your properties through letterbox dropping basically.
Vivienne: Yeah. That and also real estate. So I'm trying to automate an SMS and an email out to the real estate agents that I deal with just so that they remember me. It's just a way of getting them to call me, getting my face in front of them so that when they find a deal they give me a call because a lot of it they off market stuff.
Bernadette: Yeah. Awesome. And how have you found the Queensland market? Like what's happening in the market?
Vivienne: Different pockets actually in Brisbane. I find some a bit slack and slow and some of the premium pockets are still going along nicely though you know the inner ring is still good. You know this base has pockets that are always popular. You know the base ones and that's still doing okay. But those ones that lower priced ones tend to select, fluctuate a lot more. And ones that get higher rentals tend to fluctuate a lot more. So sticking with those ones that people want to live in the better ones.
Bernadette: Yeah. What I think a lot of renovators do is that they tend to get really focused on the actual renovating and lose sight of the big goal, the big range. And so I'm curious to know what your big picture is? What's the life that you're working towards.
Vivienne: My Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I plan in the next couple of years to get my husband home from fly in fly out but not 100% home because I think he'd probably miss the contact and that was the voice. But he's on a 2 on 2 off roster and he can go part time which means he'll be home for 6 weeks and away for 2 and that was a vast income for the banks and give him more time at home. So that's number one.
But I'd actually like to travel a lot more and I have an idea of renovating a little property in Tuscany or something like that. So maybe Airbnb it or go and collect some Airbnb's around the world.
Bernadette: Awesome. And so what does your day look like at the moment. So on a daily basis, how does your day run? Because I know that a lot of our listeners this is their dream.
Vivienne: Okay when I'm the early stage of renovation and I've got to be on site it's pretty full on so I live an hour away and on Queensland roads that usually takes an hour and a half. So if I don't leave like I'm trying to get on site for say 6:30 start I'm going to leave at 5. It's an early morning for me but I don't mind getting up to it and I prefer to get up there a little bit earlier actually just so can set on my mind and we know where we're at, where we're going and what needs to be done. I consider check work from home, nobody's asking me questions.
Yes getting up on site setting up the boys for the day going and picking up stuff shopping which is great in between stuff like if I'm going past. I'm going to the hardware and I'll go past a tile shop or I'll get past a lighting shop that's got specials on that. I might just still detouring and then a lot of the time I finish early so I can get back missed the traffic and do a little bit of planning and that for the next day. Because you've got to keep the paperwork up. Those first few weeks are a blur and you still like it. I think the 3rd week can a friend of mine said, "You're looking tired!" and I go "Yeah" But then after a few months you get past that you know.
Like at the moment the painters are on site, the tilers are on site. It's just going up there taking on and making sure that everything's good. And now finding those little bits and pieces that I want, the finishes the lots of things. That's the fun bit. And I like getting all those fancy bits that you want going through Gumtree and see where you can find a deal somewhere or using the cards and that to get this discount on some things like that. So it's good.
Bernadette: And of course yes you're the queen of negotiating because you up until recently owned Renosave!
Vivienne: Yeah that's right. I still have all those contacts. It is a matter of “Okay, I'll just go in and use it normally.” But then I ended up, they quite often ring me and say, "Oh, Viv! What are you after? But I'm still coming and finding deals and going home. That's a really good deal, we should get out on the car.” And I'll go, "Oh actually I might save it to somebody else now!" Yeah, but I've used it for heaps on the reno. So it's definitely worthwhile using that if you're doing renos.
Bernadette: Exactly. And I have to. Thanks to you. And one of the best ones is National Tiles. I have got thousands of dollars off my tile order through them.
Vivienne: Yeah absolutely. You get the premium ones that are $50 and you're paying about $26 or $28.
Bernadette: The ones that we put in our one job were the $90 a square meter. Massive amount off. It was amazing. So that's definitely a little cut for Renosave.
Vivienne: Yeah it definitely is.
Bernadette: The most recent reno that you've done and you've sold - do you want to tell us about that?
Vivienne: That was an auction actually. And I actually bought it for $10,000 over the land value and that was in Clayfield. So that's probably the most important part of renovating is buying well. And I could see the potential in it but you had to sign a disclaimer to walk through the door. There were holes in it. They've been wide ends. There was a few structural things that you had to fix on it. But I walk through it and I could see that the bones were all good. Yes, the back had been eaten out by white ants and the floors in spots but not all the floors. And they have beautiful ceilings and so much character that I could say that it would come up beautifully.
So I purchased that and renovated it, did cost me quite a bit to reno. It was about a $100-$120K to renovate that I had to put a new roof on it. Like I said the back was all eaten out with white ants, in fact they're not really strong because I can rip off all these bjs from my bare hands because they were just shells. And then moved it around in a little bit, I put a new kitchen in, new bathroom on suede open road. That made it what people are looking for in today's market. And when I went to put it back to the market at that stage, I'd made just on $100K out of it but I decided to keep it and rent it for a little while because it was in a really high growth area. So by doing that I got probably an extra $70K or $80K.
Vivienne: Yeah. And the plus thing too, it did actually have units around it which was a little bit off putting. So I had, mind you, I ripped out a million trees so I suppose that was giving back and putting some more trees in. But I like lying to the back yard with really nice fast growing trees. And so by the time I did sell it those trees had grown up and you didn't feel like it was being looked at as much. It was definitely worthwhile doing that.
Bernadette: We always talk about not just relying on cosmetic renovation. You need to do a bit more than that. What would you say the main tweak you did to the function of the property to increase the value?
Vivienne: I actually ripped out a wall, so when you come in and there was a lounge room and it was boxed off and then there was the dining room and that was boxed off and the kitchen was in another area. So very boxy I opened the wall between the old lounge and dining and made that kitchen. And I moved the dining into where the old bathroom was so that it was an open plan kitchen, dining-living and the dining went out onto a deck. So I built a little deck.
But just for functionality. It just meant that everything flowed and you could see through to the deck the little seep out on those Queenslanders. It’s just awesome because they just let themselves to adding in an en suite and walking right into. The master ended up with that. And I think even the little room at the back that was the kitchen that ended up having a nice little walk-in room. And the toilet which was the toilet. So the front part of the toilet. I actually put in a laundry, just a tiny basically a laundry and a cupboard. And nice old Queenslanders you usually got to go downstairs to go to the laundry. You know with the old concrete tops and everything and nobody wants to do that, like under a house to their laundry, like they come home late at night. And so basically having that laundry in the cupboard was a great little feature. Just bringing it up to modern and opening it up. Yeah.
Bernadette: Awesome. So we've got some photos of that project, haven't we?
Bernadette: I'll put those in the show notes so everyone can go and have a look at it because we always love a good before and after.
Vivienne: Oh yeah. Some of those are pretty stunning.
Bernadette: Well that's good. Have you got any favourite supplies or what you do for kitchen? Do you use the same provider each time?
Vivienne: I used to use a little company. I've been kind of can't remember the name now. I might let you know I'm not too sure whether that's still going. But I couldn't get hold of them this time so I've just used a flat pack from Ikea and I've used the Bunnings one I've used symbol and I think that they're all pretty much alike. Simple skripe because it actually delivers to site. You don't have to do that. I chose IKEA at this time because they had $100 off per $1K that you spent which was handy so just keep an eye out for that special and their stone is quite reasonably priced as well.
So I could actually get the wardrobes in the same draw a pattern as the kitchen which made it a bit more of a fly through. It's certainly easier. I've got a really good guy that puts kitchens together for me. So that's the other thing I think if you've got to do it yourself. It's a little bit tricky.
Bernadette: I've actually done an episode on flat pack kitchens because I believe that the quality of the kitchen is pretty dependent on the installer. A poorly built kitchen just really looks terrible.
Vivienne: Yeah. I love my kitchen guy and he just came and I was putting the caucuses together for him the other day and he said, "No, you haven't measured it right. You've got to cross to make sure. He weaves it and puts it in fast I don't think if I didn't have that I don't think it will go down that right. Getting it installed is definitely essential.
Bernadette: I actually, I love your kitchen guy, too. He just recently put our kitchen into and I got that offer as well. And that just blew me away because I go to kitchen and laundry and bench tops because I didn't do stone for and the sinks, you know the nice spotless sinks in the laundry, in the kitchen for $4,800K.
Vivienne: That's pretty amazing isn't it?
Bernadette: It sure is. I have to say I wanted to try Bunnings once because I've never done Bunnings but seriously 4 to 6 weeks wait on anything I've been glossed white. I thought that's ridiculous, the whole idea of a flat pack kitchen is to go in and pick it up.
Vivienne: Yeah I think I've got about 4 colours that you can go and get. I think there is a trick to that Bunnings on different stores have different colours but you don't know until you ask the question. So this chain stores in Brisbane they'll be the one that will stock a different colour. You can get it but it's a matter of knowing that the tricky questions.
Bernadette: And the other difference that I've discovered is that the Bunnings have the sixteen no backs whereas Ikea don't. You know if it's installed properly that shouldn't be an issue and I tend to think that IKEA have slightly more better designs as in better looking designs.
Vivienne: A little bit more modern these get the shake a look for a little bit less so I went that way with mine, too. We probably got mirror image. And I take all the appliances from there they're actually all Whirlpool which I didn't know.
Bernadette: I know I've never gone there. Actually I think we went appliances online and I was really impressed with the prices.
Vivienne: Yeah they're very good. And I think when searched and got a package with well it's appliances online that they've got that $1K and you get everything, dishware, oven and cooktop and main to it.
Bernadette: Wow that's amazing. Yeah. That's a good one in the 2nds world. Harvey Norman bought out 2nds world.
Vivienne: Is that what happens?
Bernadette: Yeah. I know. So I'm really curious to see because I have to say 2nds world has been my favourite go to for appliances. So it'll be really interesting to see their website was down but I know them advertising on the radio today so hopefully the website's back up so we can get back in there and watch that space.
Vivienne: I think they're probably trying to compete.
Bernadette: So yeah appliances online I think there's competition there.
Vivienne: A little bit of competition makes for good prices so we'll have to look at that.
Bernadette: Okay. So what would you say would be your biggest challenges with your projects. What do you find the hardest?
Vivienne: Getting good tradies is always tricky and getting them to work together well. I suppose the hardest thing I find is actually finding the deal, that's a lot of work. But on site I love the actual juggling. That's my thing. I'm not somebody that has to have a rethink going line and ticket. I win everything goes crazy on a Reno site which it does do. I'm in my element thing so I don't know what that says about my head but I do know for renovating if you like everything to go to plan and schedule. It's not necessarily going to happen.
Bernadette: So far as to say it almost never happens. And that's part of the challenge. But the thing is that really weeds out the sheep from the goats, doesn't it?
Vivienne: Yeah. I think you've got to go with whatever's happening at the moment and make fast decisions. You know what you are wanting to what the end result is and to really try and stick to that budget. Every decision you make has an effect on the budget. It's not necessarily that decision is but it's the decision that that decision has caused. It will have a knock on effect. So changing one wall is going to change this, is going to change the electricity, is going to maybe things where you can put the plumbing all that stuff. So I was thinking a step ahead.
Bernadette: The other thing that I find interesting is the difference between states. I've renovated in now 5 states. And I found it really curious with Queensland because it's really the first job I've ever done there. Because you have so much timber frame like the Queenslanders, the trades really freak out about double brick because the house we bought was, is double brick and solid. Seriously some of them, particularly the electricians, were doing my head in my home making a song and dance about the fact that they had to chase the walls and that was reflected in the price. Get a grip. Like seriously.
Vivienne: Yeah I think with that, like what I've found with a lot of Queenslanders isn't enough. I also found with a lot of tradies. If you get the guys that come over from England are brilliant because they are used to houses that are not straight, that are brick. They always have problems that they've got to adjust at a nearby straight and they can adjust it. Whereas a lot of the tradies here are used to new houses and when a wall is out of line. Still puts everything out for them. Always have big drama and I guess you know as a Queenslander it's not going to be straight.
Bernadette: Well actually you're right because the electrician I ended up getting was Irish. Yeah, it was great. Nothing was a problem and he was very organised like where there were variations. He followed up, you didn't have to struggle to get the documentation out of him and things like that. So yeah that was good. So he's obviously used to working with properties that don't fall into line.
Vivienne: Yeah. But not the kid home style thing but that's what I've found. I've found the guys are not. And I mean there's some of them, like the guy that I've got on that moment. Brilliant. He's an Aussie guy, so it's cool. But you know the kitchen guys, ex-UK.
Bernadette: Yeah he's awesome.
Vivienne: Plumbers. Yeah. And they are brilliant just because they're just more adaptable and used to seeing houses and working on houses that are not brand new straight. And they don't mind brick because they're used to it.
Bernadette: Yeah. Awesome. And so just coming back to your VA. Is your VA Australian based or?
Vivienne: No, she's Philippine based.
Bernadette: Awesome. Well done.
Vivienne: And I actually chose her. Actually a friend of mine had a VA and was saying how she chose hers and she said she was looking for a mama that had to work around kids and be a little bit more flexible and that's what I actually wanted. I wanted somebody because I'm all over the place with the reno. I'm not necessarily at a desk all day so I didn't actually want somebody. Well I didn't need anyone that was gonna work from 8:00 to 5:00.
I actually looked for somebody that had a family that could come maybe set up in the morning which their time is it's 6 o'clock there here is at 8 o'clock. So get up before everything crazy time starts and touch base with me and then go and look after the kids and then come back in the meantime. And that's what I ended up getting. She was actually, she was lovely. Her husband works away for 9 months of the year and she was working in town but with him going away she wanted to be home with the kids and try and find some work. So that's actually what seemed to be happening. Like I've said, look you've got something on kids just let me know, go for it and we'll catch up to any day so she still does all of the work. But in her time. Yeah and I feel like I'm actually helping.
Because I know how hard it is with little kids and you're trying to make an income and you want to be there for your family and I was there at one stage so it's like giving something back.
Bernadette: Yeah. I'm the same. I've got 3 VA's at the moment and one of them in particular. You know she's full time but she'll say and I'm seeing it and say “I'll pick my son from school”. This gives them the freedom that I know that they like to work like that. They don't want to be in a regimented. Yeah. And it's also been a give and take. But an awesome resource for what we're doing.
Vivienne: Absolutely. You know just checking things out. Just saving. Looking for the maps. If I'm looking for a development property just looking for the maps, you can go through. I've actually got a little profile for her to do, if I'm looking for a property that she just fills in and searches before you dig and all that stuff for me and gives me the photos to look at it all. I just get a one page and I can see and it saves me a lot of time.
Bernadette: Well done.
Vivienne: Yeah. I've been working at it so pretty hard sitting in in-between stuff so it's all coming together now which is just really great.
Bernadette: Awesome. Okay. We're just about ready to wind up. Yes we are definitely ready to wind up. But just before we go I just wanted to recap on a few things that you have mentioned.
Firstly, in terms of getting the right property is critical. So just to reinforce that. Managing your budget. Definitely, pretty cool. Getting trades that can work price wise and can work together. Having a big picture. So having a vision. Would you say that's motivated you more? Like having that?
Vivienne: Absolutely. I think I've been doing the property thing for a while and I had this idea of what I wanted but I never had a concrete goal with the timeframe. And this is something that I really want so I get up in the morning and I'm excited to go and I have that vision in my head all the time. Yeah it moves it to another level.
Bernadette: Yeah. Awesome. And of course automating a lot of what you're doing in terms of sourcing properties. And that's another area that you've developed so I guess what I'm trying to do is flesh out that you work it out and then that's it. It's a path of continual improvement.
Vivienne: Absolutely. I've changed what I've done along the way and I've learnt stuff, I can't stress how much education has been part of my journey and a lot of people think, "Oh, you know it costs money!" And I'm going it costs a lot more to make a mistake and learn from that. So it gives you different ideas. It gives you contacts, the contacts that I've met through a lot of the education places that I've been through. Yours is amazing. I still use your little shakes for doing a renovation. I go through and I fill them all out when I go through the house.
Vivienne: Yeah. That's probably my number one tip going in blind can cost you an awful lot of money.
Bernadette: I absolutely agree. And to be honest with you we did it ourselves. Trial and error for many years. And I would not recommend that and education's cheap.
Vivienne: Well it is. It is really. You can blow a $6K, $7K or a $100K house or more.
Bernadette: Yeah. It's one of the things that I have done. This is a bit off on a tangent but one of the things that I talk to the people that we work with all the time is about the whole house and land thing.
What a bad idea it is particularly when you're in your 50s because it's going to take so many years to even get up to what you paid for it.
And it really blows me away because I speak to people that are considering our training on a daily basis and every single day I talk to someone who has gone and bought one of those flipping things.
Vivienne: And that would be so far behind the eight ball when I start when I got used to catch up.
Bernadette: Then I'll be saying to them, “This is costing you I don't know how much a year. You didn't have to spend too much to get yourself a bit educated before you went and bought that and now you are committed to a lifetime of grief.” So yeah. I couldn't agree more. So what is your top 3 tips?
Vivienne: Well number 1, get educated. Number 2 have that goal and make it more important than anything. It's got to be a must. So change those wants to musts and I don't know. I love what I do. Be flexible and enjoy it and enjoy the ride and not dwell on the little things. Always keep the big picture in mind.
Well listen thank you for that Vivienne. It's really been great talking to you because I think this podcast will play a part in some of the people listening to it actually making a decision about really going for their dreams. And it's good to let people know that it is. It is a journey. It's not just flick a switch and it doesn't happen overnight. Definitely. There are no overnight successes although if you are committed to it you can make good headway.
Vivienne: That's right. You've just got to be committed and this really make that your number 1 goal and concentrate.
Bernadette: Yeah. Congratulations! You're a powerful woman and I've really loved having you on.
Vivienne: Thanks Bernadette. Now I absolutely love your podcast and I get so much out of them all the time. So thank you!
Bernadette: Take care.