In this episode, I will share my experience on the latest project that we have just completed and put in the market. I will share some tips that you as a renovator should be mindful about in order to be better with your next projects and in order to avoid the same mistakes. Renovating for profit means you do your own business, in your own pace and time but it’s very important to evaluate yourself if you wish to grow in the world of renovating.
Listen to Episode 101: Become A Better Renovator By Reviewing These 5 Aspects Of Your Renovation
Podcast: Download (Duration 20:31— 28MB)
- [00:00:32] Doona Day
- [00:01:42] “An unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
- [00:02:49] The first thing to look at is your trades
- [00:03:44] Why I decided to change my stone mason
- [00:04:39] The downside of having a new stone mason
- [00:05:55] Reviewing the materials that we chose
- [00:06:44] Key selections I’m not happy about
- [00:08:26] The design
- [00:09:46] Taking the reno out of the realm of being ordinary
- [00:11:24] Review your process
- [00:13:47] Doing our own styling
- [00:15:07] Renovation is similar to pregnancy
- [00:17:13] A cracker review
- [00:18:03] A family that renovates together, stays together
- [00:18:57] Renovation Bootcamp intake
“Going over your project with a fine tooth comb, working out what went well, what didn’t, what could you have done better, is a very powerful thing to do.”
Well, hello, hello, it’s Bernadette, back with another episode of She Renovates. Now we have just got the Chalmers Street project on the market. I’ve got a little secret to let you in on that I haven’t even got out of bed yet today. Something that I do after I have a big weekend, as in a work weekend or I complete a demanding piece of work is I have a doona day and I haven’t been able to do that. Now that the project is on the market, I’m having a doona half day because I just find that I need to recharge the batteries and yes, that’s my secret.
Bernadette: But of course, the show must go on so I am recording this episode from my doona half day and I’m going to be talking about the importance of reviewing your project or reviewing every aspect of your project. The reason that this is important is that you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t so you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.
Going over your project with a fine toothed comb, working out what went well, what didn’t, what could you have done better is a very powerful thing to do. There’s a saying by I think this was attributed to Plato, but it was actually Socrates that said it that “An unexamined life is not worth living”. I feel that the same applies to your projects. If you just keep doing the same old, same old, there is no room for improvement and you can be beating the path of the same mistakes and we don’t want to do that. That’s what I’m going to be talking about today. The areas that you need to assess when you are reviewing your project. I won’t be talking about budget in this episode, mainly because it’s still on the market. I’m using the project as an example and we don’t have our sale price yet, so I can’t assess that but we’ll talk about everything else.
The first place to look is your trades. Now, I’m a firm believer that if you are renovating for an income, then you are running your own business and you are in full control of who you work with. If you’re working with someone that you do not enjoy working with, then it’s up to you to do something about it. Making sure that you work with trades that you get on with what you need them to do and when you need them to do it is an important part of the process.
Today I’m looking at the trades that I’ve used over this project, some I’ve used, most I’ve used repeatedly time and time again for quite a few years. And the first place to look is really, is it still working? Are they delivering a good quality job cost effectively or do I need to find replacements?
One of the trades that I changed this time was our stonemason. I’ve used the same stonemason for years and the main reason I’ve used him is because he will turn around the stone in about three days, which is epic. However, I made the decision to use a different stonemason because I saw the stone in one of our students’ projects and I really liked it. I thought “OK, so we’ll give this a go”. To be honest with you, he was a champion. The stone is a marble look alike. It’s very similar to one of the scissors stone marbles and I was just blown away with how cost effective it was. I’m pretty sure that it would have saved a couple of thousand dollars on my original stonemason and our budget is quite small, so it really didn’t cost much at all.
The downside was that they require ten days turnaround, ten days for measuring, and that is quite a long time. The problem with that is you can’t bring in finishing trades in like your tallest flash backs, get the kitchen appliances live electrically and finish the plumbing until those bench tops have gone in. That’s the downside, however, I was able to apply a bit of pressure and get my turnaround back to six, which was a lot better. At a six day turnaround, I think that the saving and the quality of the finish really justifies those extra few days in turnaround. I’ll definitely be using that stonemason again.
One of the other trades that I’ve been working with for years and I always grumble about, I think it’s time that I found a replacement, mainly because I find I really do not enjoy going to work when this particular trade is on site. I’ve decided that’s not a good way to be approaching your work and I need to take action.
The next aspect of the project to review is the materials that we chose, the selections. Just going through what we chose; polyurethane kitchen, I’ve already talked about the stone, which I’m really happy with. The floating floor didn’t use my usual supply because I had to wait too long for him to come so I used a different supplier. I’m really happy with the colour of the floor. I would have preferred a different board format, but that’s probably nit picking but on the whole, I was happy with that. Paint colour, really in hindsight, probably would have gone for slightly warmer white. I went white on white and I think maybe natural white might have been a better choice.
I guess one of the key selections that I’m not overly happy with is the tile I chose for the bathroom floor. It’s a porcelain terrazzo tile. It has a non-slip surface, which is great because of the safety aspect of it, but it is at much higher risk of a thing called grout haze. That smear of grout that you get over the tiles when the tile is finished, normally, a couple of washes and it’s off. This floor has been washed at least 10 times. I have been down on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor, and it’s still not off. It requires treatment with an acidic product and a neutraliser to remove that haze. It’s not a fault. It’s quite a normal occurrence with that type of tile but from my point of view, I’m looking at that thinking that’s a costly exercise. So we did our own builders clean, which is something else I want to review, but if I had a cleaner doing that, it would have cost a serious amount of money to get that resolved. I need to factor that in. If I use that tile again, then I’m going to have that same issue. There’s a cost consideration to it but then there’s also the nuisance value. You should be able to just wash the floor and it looks great. I do find that a little bit challenging and I would probably avoid using that tile again.
The next thing to talk about is the design, does the design work? One of the things that we did was put in a home office cum study area in the main living room, mainly to respond to the post Covid requirements of homes these days. We screen that off with a slatted screen that really looks epic. I’m really happy with that decision. I was concerned when we first started styling that had eaten into the room and made it look small but when the photographer arrived, we played around with the furniture to get it set up and it looked a lot better, no longer looked as though it was space challenged. We also removed a piece of furniture. Often you get so carried away with your styling that you end up with just too much furniture in the room. You use things because you think you should, because it was in your plan and when you realised that they’re compromising the overall effect of the project, in this case, making it look small. I’m talking about a sort of console table we had in the dining room area. We pulled that out and that made a big difference to how big the room looks.
The configuration that David actually put together for the kitchen, I really love that. We went from a U-shaped kitchen to a galley kitchen with an island bench. I’ll include the floor plan so you can see the before and after’s. We widened the risers so that the kitchen bench basically matched up with the width of the riser so you can walk through the kitchen to the dining area. It’s quite a nice wide thoroughfare and it’s just got really good flow. I’m really happy with it.
A little tweak that I made to David’s design is I actually put a radius on the corner of the island bench, so it’s got one rounded corner and I actually mirrored the slashing that I put on the riser walls. So I put slats around that corner, I couldn’t use the same paneling that we used on the riser because the paneling came in panels obviously, and wouldn’t go around the bend. I got the carpenter to mirror that with slats of timber, the same thickness. I think that that is a big plus. It just takes the reno out of the realm of being an ordinary run of the mill apartment renovation and just takes it up a notch. It stands out from other kitchens because when people are scrolling through the real estate pages, they’re a little bit the same and ours would be too because it’s all white. Everything is white on white, however, by having that radius and that slating detail just really sets it apart. So I think that that was quite a good move.
Now, the next thing to review is your processes, how you do things. I’m going to do this from a team level. We have a Joint Venture team. One of the things that really worked with this project is the person who took on paying the bills. If you want the best out of your trades, you need to pay them quickly because it just makes a big difference to them if they don’t have to worry about whether they’re getting their money or not. Karen is one of our Joint Venture people. She took on paying the bills and seriously, she is like lightning. The minute that bill hits her desk, it is paid, which is absolutely awesome.
You can see it in the attitude of your trades. They’re happy to turn up because they know that that money will be in their bank as soon as the bill hits the desk. That definitely works really well. I hope she’s up for it next project, because in the past, if I have to pay the bills, I do them one day a week, which I still think is fine. I think that’s definitely made a difference.
The other process that I really want to review, and I don’t think in my mind I haven’t resolved this completely and I think I will be heading to my team to workshop. It is those final couple of weeks getting the job finished. I’ve always had a tendency to bring the painter into early. I had committed to getting the painter in as late as possible, but because I had my project was dragging on because of the tiler strung it out who I will use again. Incidentally, I think this has been an isolated incident. He had a new baby, plus he’s just been under the pump with work. However, I still think I brought the painter in too early so I brought them back for touch-ups once or twice, but still more touch-ups right towards the end.It would be really nice to be able to bring that painter in very last but that means that I need to add some time, some more time to the project, which I think I probably need to do.
The other thing is doing our own styling. While I love to do it, in some ways it adds more work than just the styling. I ordered most of the furniture new, but then that means that I have to be there for deliveries and particularly like with my Temple and Webster order. In one order, I ordered a sofa, a dining table and four dining chairs. That order came in four separate deliveries, which I found very frustrating because I have to be on site to receive them.
In a day I had to travel to and from site about seven times to accept deliveries, not just styling deliveries, deliveries for the actual project. I really want to review that with the team, whether that really is worth it. Of course, then the furniture also needs to be made up, not that that really was the big issue. It didn’t really take too long to do, but that’s something that we need to revisit and decide what we’re going to do about it moving forward, because it’s a huge labour drain, just travelling even though I’m only ten minutes from site, you do that six or seven times a day, it’s a massive hole in your day.
The last thing to review, which I think a lot of people forget, it’s reviewing themselves, how they performed or how I performed on the project. All in all, I am pretty happy with how I have managed the project. One thing that I’ve done that I do every time and I really wish I could get this sorted out, is underestimating the amount of time and effort it takes to finish off. I did a live inside our close community recently and a renovation is very similar to pregnancy. You go along, it’s sort of a bit of a drawn out process, some stuff works, some doesn’t work, but when you get to the end, the end part of the work is very high energy. When you’re in the thick of it, you’re thinking, why am I doing this? It’s so full on but the minute it’s over and you’ve got that beautiful renovation, you completely forget about it.
Now, keep in mind that the last project I finished was in November last year. So it’s almost a year between projects and it is easy to forget. That’s something I want to really maintain that memory and really workshop making that less problematic, making it more smoother flowing and easier, less stressful. That requires some thought and consideration for me. On the whole, I am happy with how I’ve managed the project. I think I’ve got a quality outcome, well I know I’ve got a quality outcome for a cost effective price, which is what we’re all about. Our timing wouldn’t want to have been any later. We’ve made the market for this year. All in all, I’m really happy with the outcome.
This week we’ve had a cracker review and I want to share with you because I feel so proud. What it says is,
I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your podcast and have now listened to everyone, even binge listening while doing other, less interesting things. A couple of years back, we helped our daughter renovate a stuck in the 60s Bondi unit and oh my God, we learnt the hard way. Everything from concrete cancer to the dreaded side draining toilet. If only I had listened to your podcast before then any way she is ready to sell and move onto the next renovators delight. So thanks to you, we will be so much more prepared. Keep up the great work. Your generous spirit is much appreciated.
Lorraine, that just makes it all worthwhile. Thank you for taking the time to write that review. It does really fuel my motivation and I just love that I’ve been able to impact your experience of renovating. We know that a family that renovates together stays together. I say that a bit tongue in cheek, but it really is an amazing family thing to do. I’m so pleased that you are getting to enjoy the magic, so thank you very much.
If you’re listening and you haven’t left us a review, I would really love it if you would go over to iTunes and give us your honest feedback. If there are things that I need to improve, please tell me so that we give you the best that we possibly can.
If you are thinking about moving into the world of renovating, I want to let you know that our reno bootcamp is going to be open for registration for our December intake. It’s basically a ten week programme where you have eight weekly modules, online modules, but also I love tutorials where we meet up with you on Zoom so that the learnings are applied to your personal situation so that you can ask the questions you need to fully understand the material and to implement it. There’s a break in the middle because there’s quite a lot of materials so that you can catch up.
The next intake is in December. We will have probably two tutorials before Christmas, then we’ll have a break over Christmas and then start back in the New Year. So if you’re thinking about taking your renovating to the next level in 2021, it would be a really good idea to get a head start via the renovation bootcamp.
That’s it for me for today. Take care and I will see you next week.