112 – A Day In A Renovator Life

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a day in the life of a renovator

In this episode, I thought it might be useful to share about what happens in my renovator life and a businesswoman. I will share the challenges and commitments that I set for myself in order to be more motivated and productive. Also, you’ll hear a bit about the status of my projects and the people I mingle with within the day and how I handle some challenges along the way.

Listen to Episode 112: A Day In A Renovator Life

Podcast: Download (Duration 21:23 — 20MB)

A Day In A Renovator Life

Episode Highlights

  • [00:00:37] Progress is better than perfection 
  • [00:02:00] Renovating is business 
  • [00:02:30] 75 hard 
  • [00:03:59] Women getting what they want in business, life and love
  • [00:06:03] Chalmers Street and Darley Street projects
  • [00:06:52] The communication circuit
  • [00:07:52] What’s inside the owner’s handover manual 
  • [00:09:21] Appointment with a joiner 
  • [00:11:47] The vanity
  • [00:12:34] The property that’s going to the market
  • [00:14:00] What I notice with the joiner 
  • [00:14:59] Putting a wood grain like timber veneer 
  • [00:15:49] A message from one of our Wonder Women
  • [00:16:30] Checking the budget 
  • [00:17:09] Podcasting 
  • [00:17:44] Committed to doing one video a day
  • [00:19:03] I love my new set up 
  • [00:19:25] Doing some quotes for Darley Street project 
  • [00:20:11] Sit on the roof with a bottle of wine
  • [00:20:33] Hitting of to the renovators lolly shop, IKEA.
The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Chalmers Street Project. More photos in the show notes.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson
The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson


“I love the fact that I have the freedom to carve out my own destiny. I love the fact that I get to work with some really beautiful women. And I love the fact that I can basically articulate my passion every single day.”


If you’ve ever wondered what your life will be like once you make that big switch from where you are now to renovating full time, then hang around because I’m going to share with you a day in my life.

Bernadette: Well, hello everyone! It’s Bernadette back with another episode of She Renovates. I’m having a bit of imposter syndrome here. My little voice in the back of my head is saying, “nobody’s going to be interested in hearing what your day is, “but you know what? I’m just going to say, “thank you for sharing, ” and I’m going to proceed regardless.

I absolutely love my life. I love the fact that I have the freedom to carve out my own destiny. I love the fact that I get to work with some really beautiful women. And I love the fact that I can basically articulate my passion every single day. So I thought it might be useful to really share about what happens in my day and today has actually not been too frantic. It’s been pretty easy going. It’s Wednesday. The other thing that I want to share with you is that I don’t just renovate, I also run a business. Sometimes not very well, but I’m out there and doing it. Progress is better than perfection.

I know we have many entrepreneurs in our audience because seriously, I think that renovating actually attracts people with an entrepreneurial spirit because it’s a way of carving out your own future and your way of earning a living. So most of the skills that you use as a business owner, you also use in renovating, because guess what? Renovating is a business.

 So my day started with a brisk walk. I mentioned in an earlier episode that I’m currently doing a challenge called 75 hard. For 75 days, there’s a series of things that I am doing  that can be quite challenging. One of them is I have to exercise twice a day so, the first thing I do in the morning is get up and walk.

I actually really love that because it gives me time to think through the day, to plan out the day and to collect my thoughts. So I walk around a park nearby us called Moore Park, and it’s an opportunity to breathe in some fresh air, open up my lungs and feel alive.

Our oldest daughter, Hannah, is staying with us at the moment. She’s staying in the factory floor, which has our Airbnb downstairs. She and I are both on fasting plans. I’m doing the 6 and 8, she’s doing the 5 and 2. Where we would normally all have breakfast together, there’s no, breakfasting. Poor Stephen, he has to eat breakfast on his own because he’s the only one that gets to eat until lunchtime. So I have to be happy with a bottle of water until I break my fast, which is usually around 11 o’clock.

My first task this morning was actually a meeting with Georgiana and she has been my coach for many years. Georgiana is a performance coach. When you start a business in your fifties, you need all the help you can get and she has been amazing. I have graduated from performance coaching. Now, we meet once a fortnight just to connect and Georgiana is based in Oregon in the US. Today, we decided that we are going to start a show in Club House. For those of you who don’t know, Club House is a new social media platform, like we needed another one, but this one’s a bit different because it’s based entirely on audio. So there’s no text or video, it’s just all on audio.

Some people spend a lot of time in it, which I don’t, but we are going to start a show once a week just to see where it takes us. And it’s really just for a bit of fun, really.  We are going to call it  Women Getting What They Want In Business, Life And Love. I thought the title would just be women getting what they want in business and life, but Georgiana felt that it needed a third thing so the love resonated and flowed.

We’re going to be doing that every Thursday Eastern standard time at 11:00 AM until 12. So if you’re on Club House, I would love you to come over and join us at 11 o’clock on a Thursday.

Next thing I did was checked in on my brother who’s been in hospital because he was bitten by a spider. Then checked into the family WhatsApp channel to just make sure that all was well with our four children and their families. And then, it was on to the rest of the day.

Now the Chalmers street project is settling on Monday. I’m still tying up a few loose ends on that before we settle and tomorrow. The  new owner is coming for a pre settlement inspection and one of the things that we’ve needed to do is organise a final claim.

The other thing is, we had a problem with our floorboards in the kitchen leaving the floating floor. I’d had some work done on those and as a result, the skirting board was taken up and so I needed to organise getting it painted.

So that was the first thing this morning. I’m organising the cleaning and the painting. Lots of to-ing and fro-ing.

When we do I project, we have a WhatsApp channel between the teams. So every project, I have a channel it to communicate with that team. There was a communication circuit happening on that to finalise what was happening around the site and make sure that happened.

So the other thing that I have taken responsibility for is preparing the handover manual. I really like to set the new buyer up powerfully so, I put together a manual that has all the warranty information. It has some receipts to some large ticket items so that if they have any issues, they’re able to claim on that warranty. Also a lot of information about the property, just really basic things. Like only one of the key fobs is coded to open the garage door.

One of the things that I found when we first bought the property is I kept thinking this fob is broken until I actually managed to connect with the building manager to find that it’s not that at all. That they only program one for the garage door.

Also, the other thing I found out, I think it was at the end of the project is that there are a heap of visitor car parks. So we’d been really struggling with car parks. I’d even looked at seeing if I could rent a car park, only to find that there were at least a dozen visitor car parks on a lower floor and the car park that I had been unaware of.

So I put that all out,  into a handover manual so that the buyer feels supported when they take over the property. All the information that you need to know when you first move into a new property and a new area. So I’ve done that and later tonight, I’ll go off to office works and get it printed and put in a nice display folder. So that it’s something that our agent can hand over to them.

I know that he likes it. I think it makes him feel that he’s handing over a quality product as well. And what he does is he goes off and photocopies that and keeps a copy of it on file in case it ever goes west, if the property’s rented or whatever. That was the other thing I needed to organise.

Then I had an appointment with a joiner to firstly, to go and look at the new project that we’re doing in Arncliffe. So that’s an apartment that we are renovating for our investor, and then to bring him over to Darley street.

The quoted on Darley street and he was significantly cheaper than the other two quotes, which would be nice, except I need to make sure that the quality of his work is up to scratch.

If you’re just doing an investment property, pretty straight forward kitchen, it’s pretty hard to get that wrong, but because that kitchen has a lot of detail, I do not want it to be a disaster. So firstly, I went to Arncliffe to meet with him and so that kitchen is pretty ugly. I think it’s probably been put in the eighties and it’s got beveled doors and gloss sort of a creamy gloss. It must’ve been watched at some stage. We were tossing up whether to paint the doors or whether to replace them. I got a quote from him to replace them and of course, replacing the panels as well. It wasn’t a lot more than the painting quote so I thought, “okay, so we’re definitely going to replace them,” and also some other joinery. 

In the laundry, there is a cupboard that’s not really a cupboard,  it’s just that shell fracking system that goes on the wall and you put in shelves and it has curtains on it. It’s pretty agricultural. So I’ve got him to quote on putting a proper linen prints in there.

The other thing was the vanity.  Existing vanity goes to the floor, which I hate because if the bathroom ever gets wet, the bottom of the vanity gets pretty much ruined. It’s always a bit of an issue of the waste pot goes through the floor because if it’s  an apartment. Often, you can’t move the waste pipe. You’re stuck with where it is.

What I’ve been doing lately, which seems to be working is getting them to do a wall hang one. But taking it down quite low. If the waste pot is back towards the wall, you won’t be able to see it because it’s so far back. So I got him to quote on that as well.

The reason I brought him in is because one of the other cabinet bankers, quoted on all out work and from the outset, it looked quite reasonable. I’m not sure if we got so I must admit one of my students is running this project, but she got, I think she only had one quote. It didn’t look too bad but when I went through it, things like the vanity was $900 and which is just a ridiculous amount of money on a pretty basic vanity.

Normally I would not pay any more than $500 and I’d try and get it for less if I could. If it was any more than $500, I would go and get one off the shelf because I know I could do that. In that price point. So I thought, “you know what, I’m going to get a check quote.” And when I got him over today, his process we’re a lot more reasonable.

This property is going to market. We need to make sure that we do a good job, however, it’s on the top floor of a walk-up, so there’s no lift and it’s right down the back of the building. It does have a couple of challenges so I want to be really careful that we don’t overcapitalise on it. What we’ve agreed with the owner is that we’ve agreed on a budget of $35,000.

Initially, we were going to go with virtual styling, but I’ve had a bit of a rethink with that. I had a conversation with the seller’s advocate, which is Jo Vadillo. She was of the opinion that we could have quite a market for an occupier. If that’s the case, I think it’s probably worth going for styling rather than virtual styling , but I want to get it out of the renovation budget. So I’m really putting the screws on that to put it mildly. That probably took about an hour with him and then we both headed over to the Darlinghurst project.

I don’t own a car so I drive a go get if I have to go any distance, but I decided to drop it off home and grab a cab to go over there because the parking’s terrible and I would get a walk-in on the way back. But unfortunately it went a bit pear shaped. I had to white a while for cab. I took a wrong turn and yeah, so that was interesting.

Once I grabbed the cab and headed over there and we looked at the joinery in Darlinghurst . I’m still not convinced that this joiner has the capacity to be able to deal with the detail of this project. I’m noticing he was measuring up, I felt that his eye for detail wasn’t there. What I decided to do was to get him to do shop drawings so that I could look at the drawings and see if they’ve picked up all the detail. And if they have, then I think I would feel reasonably confident to progress. I’ll certainly be looking at the sample.

One of the things that we’re doing in that project is putting wood grain like a timber veneer paneling on some of the cabinetries. So I’d want to see a sample of that before he went ahead with it and also go and look at some of his work. So that’s my next step.

It’s worth the effort because at the moment, we’re talking about a difference of say $15,000. I think it will go up a bit because I don’t think he’s included some of the details, but even if it’s $10,000,  it’s worth pursuing. I’ll keep you posted on whether it pays off or not, and whether he is up to the job, but we will wait and see.

Then I walked home, which is from Darlinghurst to Redfern about a 30 minute walk. I got some exercise in and picked up some groceries on the way.

When I got back, I noticed I had a message from one of our Wonder Women who had a crisis with one of her Airbnb’s. If it’s urgent I would normally set up a call straight away. But normally I only do calls on Tuesday and Thursday. But tomorrow, I’m at a conference all day so I couldn’t call her then so I set it up this afternoon and and got it done.

Basically she’d had a conversation with a planner who had pretty much dashed her plans on what she could do with them property, which is in a bushfire zone. We needed to just strategise what her next step was.

Then I needed to sit down and look at the budget for Arncliffe. We’ve got a whole lot of quotes and bits and pieces, and I need to really look at it in its entirety.

One of the things that I decided this morning is, I need a new spreadsheet for investment properties because the tool that we use for buy reno and sell is just too complex for a simple reno. I’ve decided that I need to put together a simpler version for this type of renovation. It’s quite fortuitous that Hannah’s actually here because Hannah started her working career as a commodities analyst. So she is the queen of Excel. I’m not too bad, but she absolutely trumps me. So it will be good to get that done while she was here so that she can give me a hand.

I’m currently recording this episode, as you can tell. An episode usually takes me around about an hour while it’s only 20 to 30 minutes of audio by the time have sat down and worked out what I’m going to say, written out a little script for the beginning and actually got it done. Usually I have a few interruptions that’s another hour out of the day.

This is the third episode I’ve recorded this week. I like to keep a bit of a backlog so that we’ve got a steady supply of them.

The next thing I will do is record some videos because I committed to doing one video a day. I’ve already actually done that. Today I did two videos on site, one at Darley street and one at Arncliffe. Now I’m going to do a few more little videos for YouTube. So that’s with my business hat on.

That’s pretty much my working day done. I hope you notice the quality of the sound because  Stephen, I have to say, thanks stephen has spent quite a lot of time, effort and money getting my new office set up. I have acoustic paneling in my office. I’ve got all this whizzbang equipment and in a couple of weeks, I’m actually going to do a podcast episode with David, who is our architect and James Burgin, who is one of my students and he’s also my office set up advisor on a setting up a broadcasting from home office because with more people working from home, there is a need to actually get a set up that makes your work better for one of a better word. So that’s coming shortly.

I love my new setup. It just makes it so much easier. One of the big, best things is I now have my microphone on a boom arm so that I can push it out of the way if I don’t need it. I’ve got the ceiling fan going on behind me, so I hope you can’t hear that. It’s quite warm so I like to have the fan moving.

My working day is almost done. Just to have one more thing to do, I got some quotes on the lighting for Darley street, so I need to place that order because they may take a while to come. We’ve ordered bright green lights.  There are really good quality light. They have a high CRI, which basically means that it makes the colour of things really true. If you put fruit under it, it looks really natural and clear. So I need to get that order in.  I’ve got the quote that I need, and then the next thing I’ll do is I’ll actually go and prepare some dinner.

Hannah and Stephen will take the top off a bottle of wine and I will not be partaking because I am not drinking as part of my 75 day challenge.  What we’ll usually do is sit on the roof because often it’s on a clear evening, it’s just really beautiful at the end of the day to sit up there and share the events of the day.

Once dinner is done, Hannah and I are hitting off to IKEA. I am doing a little creative project at the moment. And so we’ll be picking up the supplies for that plus, who doesn’t love a trip to IKEA it’s a, like a renovators lolly shop. And so that’s it, that’s my day early to bed. Early for me. I’m a night owl so if I get into bed by 10 o’clock, I’m doing well.

So that’s it from me. If you haven’t already, I’d really love it if you go over and leave us a review. So if you head over to Apple iTunes and write a review we read them all and it really gives us wings. Gives us the motivation to keep going. If there’s a topic that you would particularly like me to cover, then add it to your review and I will do my best.

That’s it for today. See you next week! 

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Bernadette Janson

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