131 – How To Succeed With Remote Renovations And Travel As A Lifestyle

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remote renovations

Remote renovations of homes can be an ideal lifestyle if you like to travel too. Find out how to overcome the challenges of long-distant renovating

Listen to Episode 131 : How To Succeed With Renovating And Travel As A Lifestyle Business

 

Podcast: Download (Duration 38:20 — 35.09MB)

How To Succeed With Remote Renovations And Travel As A Lifestyle

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: 

  • [02:34] The importance of surrounding yourself with people who can help you
  • [04:20] How to know if you have a passion for property investment
  • (10:26] Is it hard to do your first Reno?
  • [12:48] Having basic tools and essentials when traveling can make a difference in renovating a property
  • [14:55] How do couple work together as a team
  • [17:42]  It’s important to know the role of the actual building that you’re going to be working
  • [20:53] Upcycling can save you money
  • [23:53] The people and the places you meet along the way are the most rewarding thing in your journeys as a remote renovator
  • [29:46] When the market changes, you adjust your strategy
  • [30:30] Two reno is doable if you are doing it as a full-time job
  • [32:19] The recipe for getting your kids very interested in renovating
remote renovations

“Learning about remote renovations helped us enormously in building our own business. It’s really important to get together with people who can really help you improve your life.” 

-Lise Browning

Lise Browning travelled all over Australia along with her husband, Richard doing renovations and building projects in remote locations. Lise says that they are bringing The Block to the outback!

So there’s a lot more to Lise than meets the eye.

remote renovations
Lise Browning…

My husband, Richard and I usually spend around nine to ten months of the year travelling all over Australia and doing building and renovation projects in really remote locations.

If we’ve done really well and we’ve organised ourselves properly, then we can have two or three months off around the Christmas period. So we get to be with our kids and family and catch up with everybody. I’ve got a daughter who’s 23 and I’ve got a son who’s 20.  So we come home to the east coast in Queensland for that. 

Do You Also Help Business Owners Improve Their Work-life Balance? 

Lise shares to Bernadette Janson…

Yes. What we’ve found is we’ve done an incredible amount of mentoring for our own business. During the past, learning about renovations, it’s helped us enormously in building our own business and how to run our business. 

We tend to help other people do the same because the difference it can make to your home-life balance and your home-work balance can be absolutely enormous.

We’re living the benefits of what we’ve been taught. And now we get three months off a year and pretty much get to choose what we do. So we’re very lucky and that’s been largely due to what we’ve been taught and the people who we’ve mentored with.

“It’s really important to get together with people who can really help you improve your life”

Lise Browning

Bernadette Janson to Lise

I absolutely agree I have a big budget that I spend on training, coaching and mentoring because it’s what makes a difference. 

Lise: Absolutely! The return is so much more than what you put out.

We’ve found in every situation we’ve ever been in, even when we’ve had to start out really small is to be very careful with who we’ve had to help us, who filled in the gaps of what we’ve needed at the time.

How Did You Get Started With Your Remote Renovations And Travels? 

Lise shares to Bernadette Janson…

I guess the passion for property investment came from in my early twenties. I was really keen to learn about money and investing.

I come from a household of very creative people who were probably not brilliant with money, and I didn’t want to be the same. So I absorbed as many books as I could on budget and renovating, and not renovating so much as just budget and money.

Back then, the popular thing was to encourage you to go into shares or bonds and things like that. Then I had this sectional property, and I really knew very quickly that was what I felt I had an affinity for. 

“I think a lot of us women do have an affinity for property and it just felt very safe and tangible.” 

-Lise Browning 

From then on, I just absorbed as much as I could, on property, reading property and investor magazines, buying books, and property and lending and different kinds of property, investment, and pretty quickly learnt that. I love the whole thing. 

We went into property investment and bought rental properties. We’ve flipped properties. We’ve done Airbnb with properties, we’ve done all sorts of stuff. And then we fell into what we’re doing now. 

It’s just a wonderful experience, so that takes us to what we’re doing now, remotely that started off as a trip around Australia with the kids.

“One of the biggest things, I guess we wanted to bring with children’s education was we wanted to bring as much of the world to our children as we can possibly afford, rather than reading about it in books going out and experiencing the world.”

-Lise Browning

We’d done a fair bit of travelling and lived overseas, but one of the bucket list items was that we wanted to travel around Australia with the kids.

So around 2008, I think we had two rental properties at the time one was empty for, I think five months, one was empty for seven months.

We had to drop the rent by quite an enormous amount and property values were pretty ordinary at the time. Plus my husband was working in the building industry and that sort of wasn’t doing crash hot at the time, too. So we had to work interstate and had our stuff in storage. 

I think we tried to save up for three years. My husband and I had a meeting every Christmas and said, “ look, we’re going to head out this year.” We went on a wing and a prayer and we planned to leave. It was March or April and we headed out on the road. 

I don’t know whether it was on the internet or on a paper or something that said “Work on a cattle station in the Kimberley for six weeks, renovating a house.” And I thought so fast, I rang some people that were in charge of that.

And he said, “look, I’m really sorry. We haven’t taken that ad down. We’ve already got a builder on the way. I’m terribly sorry about that.” And then instead of hopping off the phone, he had a little chat with us and found out all of the things we’ve been doing in property and renovating and flipping, and that we’ve written a book about property investing.

And he said “look, sorry. I do have to go. So just give me 10 minutes. I’ll give you a ring back.” And I thought someone must have found him on the other side. And he was just being polite. So I got off the phone and thought, “oh, that would have been wonderful. What a shame.”

I got a phone call two minutes later and he said, “we’ve decided that the builders are not coming anymore. You’ve got the job.” 

We did the tourist thing on the way and had a great time. Then that six to eight weeks worth of renovating turned into nine months. That was a 1.8 million acre cattle station in the Kimberleys in Western Australia.

Did You Find It Hard To Get Supplies For Your Remote Renovations?

Lise to Bernadette Janson…

Yes. One of the reasons why our business is so successful is because we’ve had that background in renovation and remote renovations, and my husband is a registered builder and he was a chippie before he was a builder.

We can do just about every trade, except when obviously we’re not allowed to do electrical. And we’re not allowed to do plumbing. You can do basic plumbing, but not proper infrastructure plumbing. From that point of view, it was fine. And people love that because in working remotely, what people don’t realise is that, they charge travel for each trade.

If you’re doing a renovation and, whether it’s plastering, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, each person that comes on-site, a tiler, whoever a painter, they charge travel. They can charge up to $2.80 per kilometre to come out to the site plus 80 cents per tradesman in the car with them.

And if they’re coming for a job, that’s taking them away because they’re driving home every day. You can imagine that can make a job thousands and thousands of dollars, more for each component of a renovation so it can have that many thousands of dollars added.  

“In terms of logistics, getting materials and supplies, you have to be super, super organised.”

-Lise Browning

Do You Keep Stock For Most Things?

Lise shares to Bernadette Janson…

Yes. We have our little basic hardware. When we first started and we were travelling around Australia, Richard made up two drawers in the back of our four-wheel drive. And he had the barest essentials of tools that he had in there.

remote renovations

Just in case he got carpentry work and we had our old 1979 caravan with a little rooftop tent. So it was a really old sort of situation that we had going on there. And then once we got around, we found everyone was travelling with two cars, one with the old van and one with a tow trailer.

Renovating As A Couple 

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

I can’t quite wrap my head around it, to be honest, but tell me how do you work together? Because we’ve got another friend who is married to a builder and they do big DIY renovations. They have very specific jobs that each person does. Or do you work the same way?

Lise…

Luckily, Richard and I really work together well. It’s more in terms of working in really remote places like cattle stations, or sometimes we’ve worked in places like very remote missions, there’s a very small cluster of people working and living together 24 hours a day and doing these remote renovations.

That can set up some really strange social situations. You do have to be exactly how you say, quite clear on what roles that you do have. So there are skills Richard has that I don’t have. A narrow set of skills I have that Richard doesn’t have so we tend to defer to each other for those things.

But we really worked together well as a team. And you are right, it does help if you do have areas that you do specialise in. 

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

I was going to say, I think you would have had a pretty tight-knit team to be able to do that because you’re spending so much time together and not that well-resourced, I would imagine that would put a strain on some relationships. It’s awesome that you are able to do that and continue to enjoy it. 

Lise…

I will say too, Bernadette that I think with mentoring and encouraging really helps you too because it teaches you to communicate a lot more clearly on perhaps where things are not working so well, or whether there are procedures or systems that you have in place that are a bit counterproductive.

“When we do fall into a spot where things are getting a bit niggly or nasty, you do sit down and you can figure out, where is this going wrong? And what’s happening? And then you can figure out some sort of system or procedure too because we’re not perfect.”

-Lise Browning 

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

You couldn’t be the only couple that are not perfect. That’s for sure. I’m curious about the people that you work for. 

Are You Presented With Home Interior Design Books With Ideas?

Lise…

That depends on the project. Luckily, we have a handful of people who hold us close. They’re some of the wealthiest people in Australia and the biggest landowners in Australia and are really wonderful, very generous, amazing people and great to learn from.

What Is The Role Of The Building We’re Going To Be Working On?

They own so many different properties and varying properties there are different roles that each property has. One of the first questions we always ask before we take on a new project or wherever we’re going next is, “what is the role of the actual building that we’re going to be working on or what project we’re going to be doing next?”. 

If it’s for the owners and it’s their own homestead or homesteads, or maybe a town base that they may have in a town near their kids going to boarding school or something like that. That’s a totally different project than when you’re looking at say ringers and their staff quarters, or perhaps a station camp kitchen, that sort of thing.

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

I guess we know that most women have a passion for their home. I was just really curious to know how someone stuck out in these thousands of acres express that. 

That’s what we do, which is draw over the beautiful interior design books and imagine how our home would look if we use those ideas. And I thought obviously if someone’s coming to work on their home, I would imagine that they would have had some ideas that they might want you to try.

Lise…

Absolutely. The very next project that we’re finishing up here on the little fiddly bit end of where we are at the moment on this homestead. Big, beautiful, rambling homestead we’re working on at the moment, but we’re about to go to another homestead for the owners, which is a really exciting project.

They’ve just got to the point where the kids have just finished all their expenses, schooling. And so it’s time to spend some money on the family home. And you’re right, we’ve got pictures from Pinterest from all sorts of different magazines or from houz, that sort of thing.

Working On The Creative State With Engineers

We’re going through the creative stage at the moment of discussing the role of things we’ve got engineers involved with, we can’t just casually remove an external wall of a massive Queenslander without some serious engineering going on. So we’re at the moment liaising with engineers about how we’re going to do this.

It’s a beautiful kitchen that they’re going to be putting into the house and changing that into a big entertainment area. So it’s going to be really lovely. 

Upcycling Is A Part Of Remote Renovations

Lise to Bernadette Janson…

We do a lot of upcycling. I’m very lucky to have a very clever husband. He’s extremely resourceful and can think of ways of using what is on site. One of the things we do when we turn up is go for a little scavenger hunt and have a look at what’s around, where all the spare stuff they have is, tins of paint and screws, and God knows what else and sheds and bits and bobs, so that we’re not necessarily bringing in materials that they possibly already have stashes of – and saving money that way.

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Or 10 Years?

Lise shares..

At the moment, we’re in a consolidating phase. We’re always learning at the moment. We’re hopping into a new area of property investment, which is one area that we’ve not really explored before. I’ve always been a massive fan of property investment, more to do with the domestic.

Home or units, that sort of thing but we’re at the moment doing mentoring on our commercial property. We’re learning about that. Seeing how we can tie in renovation, that kind of thing. So I guess we’re moving into a new sort of phase. We were looking at investing and perhaps combining business, commercial and renovation altogether.

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

I notice is there is a potential project just around every corner. Once you are in that mindset, you’re just seeing them all over the place. And often it’s about filtering out what you shouldn’t be doing. 

Tell me what’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in your journeys with remote renovations?

Lise shares…

That’s a really good question. I guess it’s the people and the places that we’ve met along the way and the way that we’re welcomed into their families and being made a part of their lives and their businesses and the things that we’ve managed to do and get invited and be a part of that would never have been part of an everyday life that we had back as townies. Yeah, I think I’m a little bit obsessed with renovating houses and all those kind of things. Every location we go to and each new project is pretty exciting for us. And we’ve got to the stage now in our business because of all of the business mentoring we’ve had and how we run our business.

How Often Would You Do A Remote Renovation And Flip?

Lise shares to Bernadette Janson…

When we were doing flips, that was in South Australia and I found that it was actually great because there is a  really good property group down there. Like it’s actually really tight-knit or was at the time when we were there with people who are into property investing. They go out and meet each other and they do talk to each other and help out each other.

It was just a really great environment down there to learn. We’re from the east coast and we did live down in South Australia during that global financial crisis because it wasn’t so badly hit down there. Everything’s carried on fairly much as normal down in Adelaide 

But it was wonderful in terms of, you’d be going out every weekend, looking for properties and you’d mapped out on Google maps, to the best route of what you were going to look at and opening times for properties and really targeting the ones that you’re trying to hone in on for what you’re going to flip.

And, you’d see your same old crowd of your friends doing the same thing and it’s great. Now you can get together out, outside in the cars and talk about what you thought were the positive parts of properties and not positive parts of the properties. And, maybe depending on how close you were, someone says, oh I’ve managed to tick off the real estate agent I gave too cheeky an offer.

But if I think you gave them this, I think you’d get that sort of thing. And so we’re all really helped each other. It was great, but yeah all in all to answer your question, I found the whole process between doing your research going out every weekend, find a property, and then securing the right property at the right price getting all your ducks in alignment basically the whole process would take around six months, even if our renovations for as short as three weeks. In terms of buyers looking for properties, honing it in it, it is a big project. So we were doing that sort of once every six months or so, but at that stage, that was when the global financial crisis was actually reaching Adelaide.

And things were slowing down, not as bad as everywhere else. And then that’s when we took off for our trip around Australia. That’s when that came to a bit of an end, but it’s not over. It’s just, we moved on to other things that were more beneficial for our time.

Remote renovations

Were You Only Doing Remote Renovations For Clients?

Lise shares to Bernadette Janson…

Yes, but we still have in mind doing our own projects on the side, but we haven’t honed in exactly where or how are we going to do that. I think that we’ve done enough renovations now to know that we’ve got complete clarity on what it is that we’re wanting to achieve in terms of what it’s going to do for us.

So having that wider, broader, bigger horizon of what’s going on financially in the bigger world is helpful. I can see why people are really swapping and jumping into property at the moment from that point of view, but it’s not necessarily the best environment to be doing renovating. And there’s not a lot of fat in the sandwich necessarily, depending on what you’re looking at.

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

I think it depends on where you are because I just found some amazing deals recently. But of course it’s like anything you’ve got to really know your market well. And to be able to identify them, but, I always think, I feel that there’s always a market for renovating like I’ve been doing it for 35 years.

I think that when the market changes, you adjust your strategy. There’s no doubt about that. Just for instance, the next project we’re doing in Newcastle, because we wanted to do a house. And in Sydney, the price of houses has just gone off the charts. And what do you do if you can’t find what you want you to just go to where you can find it.

I agree with you about the two per year. I always think that it doesn’t matter how fast you are by the time you’ve had secured the property. You’ve renovated it. You’ve sold it. You’ve waited for it to settle. Two a year is the limit unless you can buy more than one at once. And that’s a bit of a restriction, I personally think two a year is enough.

Renovating With Your Family

Lise to Bernadette Janson…

It’s a big ask of your time. And if you’re a family and you’re a mum and you’ve got kids, as well as, I guess if you’re doing it full time as a job and you don’t have another job. Then, perhaps you can manage the two, but if you are working and you’re trying to make that bridge between replacing your everyday job income and becoming a full-time renovator, you’re juggling a lot of balls in the air.

Definitely doable. We’re all doing it, but sometimes the price can be very high with losing time with the people you love. And that’s very important too. 

I totally agree.   

And I guess you’ve probably dragged your children around and had them, while you’re in the middle of renovating and had them set up with their own little table and chairs.

Colouring and stuff and watching movies and whatever, have you in a room where they are allowed to do their thing while you’re still madly painting in another. 

It’s actually interesting at the moment. I have sent a few deals through, with the kids on links from realestate.com.au that I used this last week. And I did get quite a lot of interest back, which I thought was great. I’ve got that I’m quite happy about that. I don’t want to foist my interest on my children.

My parents tried to do that with me and it backfired. So I really tried to be very casual about it, but it’d be interesting to see how they go, whether they run to the hills or whether yeah. come into the fold, so to speak. 

A Secret Recipe For Getting Your Kids Very Interested In Renovating

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

Well, you know what, Lise I’ll let you in on a secret. I have found the recipe for getting your kids very interested in renovating.

My daughter has a career in finance. And she was not one little bit interested in renovating because she was all about shares. And we started doing projects with our kids. So when they can get a job, we team up with them, they get the loan, we put in the cash for the project and we do a flip. And so each of them is getting a hundred thousand out of one of those projects we’ve got, we’ve done two, our third one’s almost ready.

No kidding. Once Hannah realised the impact, she is right there. So she’s bought, then they, she and her husband bought a house for themselves, which they’re renovating. Now. They’ve just bought a beach house, which they’re renovating. They’ve just done a major renovation over three weeks and a lot of DIY. So the way to do it is show them the money.

You Put In The Cash To Do The Project

Lise to Bernadette Janson

So when you’re saying you put in the cash to do a pile of materials, do you do all of the work with the trades?  Is that what you’re saying? 

Bernadette Janson…

So basically the idea was we’d run the project together. We don’t do, we do almost no DIY so the idea was they get the loan and you need about 40% of the value of the property in cash.

So we put the cash in, we do the project together, we manage it together, we sell it and then we split the profit and they get the first hundred thousand. So we get our money and some extra profit back. So that’s how it works. Does that make sense? 

Lise to Bernadette Janson…

I think you’ve got absolutely formula there a hundred per cent. If they know they’re going to be getting a hundred grand out of it, they’ll be there with bells on, wouldn’t they? 

Then they’ve got to have skin in the game too, in order to understand the value of what they’re doing, to understand the risk, to understand their responsibility in the whole thing.

So definitely I have found that if you try and do everything for the kids, then there’s no lesson out of any of it. There’s nothing, no value out of it. 

I didn’t see the reward of giving money for doing nothing really. And I didn’t feel that giving little paltry chores. That it contributes to the household, generally speaking, that they would have to do anyway, how that was of any way beneficial to them.

Bernadette Janson to Lise…

Me too. We make a good team.

And also we did something similar and I think memories that we wouldn’t have been able to do had we not been renovating. So I think that is a really great sort of byproduct of renovating – the ability to do things you remember for life.  

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Wonder Women Renovators Program

You may like to consider The School of Renovating Wonder Women Renovators program which provides training, mentoring, community, and joint venture opportunities for creative women, wanting to replace their income with renovating and Airbnb either now or at retirement.

If you want to know more about our Wonder Women program, you can download our Wonder Women magazine at www.theschoolofrenovating.com/wonderwomen 

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