March 2016 - Page 2 of 8 - Property Women

Monthly Archives: March 2016

Cheyanne Brae

Meet Cheyanne Brae, a Flight Attendant from Melbourne who is currently on 12 months leave from her employment, while she follows her passion and focuses on property investing full time.

Becoming a Flight Attendant was once a dream for Cheyanne, but dreams, like goals, change once they’ve been achieved, and now Cheyanne is moving onward and upward and quickly!

Cheyanne in Focus

Drowning in Debt

This might seem like a rosy beginning for any girl, but in fact, this young enthusiastic go-getter started out by accumulating $52,000 in credit card and personal debt by the time she was 22.   What would a 22 year old spend money on if it is not for Real Estate? Well Cheyanne admits, “It was for anything from shoes, shopping, pampering, nails and fake tans; you know putting on an act for everybody else”.

But life changed. In her words Cheyanne admits, “I got sick to death of being sick to death.   It was something that I wouldn’t want anybody else to feel and I know a lot of people in current circumstances probably do feel the pinch, but it was something, oh gosh, it was something that makes you ill. You’re frightened to answer the phone because you’re worried that people will be contacting you for your bad debts. Getting another bill in the mail, getting another call from a debt collector…I just hated the situation I was in. For me, at the time, it was very embarrassing and I was pretty much ashamed. But I knew it was either I did something about it, or I went bankrupt”. So Cheyanne started acting for herself.

Over the next three years she wiped off the debt by working up to five jobs including stints in cafes and finally satisfying her dream of becoming a flight attendant. Not only did her dedication and commitment help this highflying achiever pay off her debts, but it was also the beginning of a new life; a new Cheyanne!
Choosing the Right Path

By continuing with her strict budget, Cheyanne managed to start building her savings and was soon ready to start increasing her wealth through property investing. However, finding the right strategy wasn’t easy, as Cheyanne recalls, “I didn’t want to risk a lot of money. My thought process was to go and ask the experts.”   However, after finding a number of ‘experts’ online, and attending a couple of investing groups, she was disappointed, as she said, “All they wanted to do was sell me property”.

Cheyanne finally invested her time and money in some seminars and programs that gave her a number of options to consider, rather than just one strategy.  She says, “They were real people and I could actually ask questions”.  The value of this education has been invaluable for Cheyanne, who has since become an astute and passionate property investor, renovator and developer.

One of the things this ‘new’ Cheyanne pointed out was that her state of mind and choices in life had now changed too. Whereas at one time she might have chosen to go shopping all weekend, or spend her evenings watching hours of TV, now she was choosing to look for Real estate opportunities. She had realised through her education process that “… the choices you make will give you the outcome that you get.”
$100,000 profit on her first renovation

Cheyanne’s education continued outside the workshops with practical experience, including a couple of renos she did with an ex-partner. At the age of 28 Cheyanne finally overcame some ‘analysis paralysis’ and jumped into renovating on her own. This project gave her an excellent profit, but she has also learnt a lot from that experience.

She purchased the property for $240,000, using $12,000 savings as the initial deposit. She wanted to renovate, but didn’t have the cash to cover the cost of materials, so she borrowed $28,000 on a personal loan to cover it.  “It was a rundown property, although it was only 4 or 5 years old, but it had been treated very badly in the past.  I called it the lollypop house, because every room was a different fluorescent colour.  I didn’t like turning lights on in the house because I thought I would pass out,” she laughs.

Although Cheyanne can now boast completing a renovation in just 32 days, on this first deal she had originally budgeted for 90 days and with her lack of experience,  blew the entire renovation out to 180 days. The reno included losing the lollypop colours, so the whole house had to be painted, a brand new kitchen installed, and minor restoration conducted to alter the shape of the room. She also carpeted all four bedrooms, put floorboards in the back lounge room and did minor landscaping to the property.  One of the hardest things as Cheyanne recalls was, “This carpet was glued straight to the concrete and the week I decided to pull it up was between 35 and 40 degrees every day.”   She adds, “I went through 3 stanley knives just cutting the carpet into squares so I could actually pull them off the floor.”

Although the project took double the budgeted time, it was a great learning curve, and still made an impressive profit. Cheyanne sold the property for $392,000 making a whopping $100,000 profit after all her holding costs.

Just imagine what she could have made if she’d kept the reno within a shorter time frame, and kept the property!
Cheyanne joins Property Women.

Cheyanne has agreed to join our line up of Property Women at our next Brisbane workshop in March, and she has a lot to offer!   Now with 13 renos under her toolbelt and making plenty of mistakes, Cheyanne has discovered a formula she will share with you at the upcoming Property Women event.

Using this formula, she turned a reno around in only 32 days and made an impressive $65,000 profit after all expenses.  For some women, that’s a whole year’s salary!!

Debbie White

In Focus: Debbie White

Taking Her Husband On Her Property Journey

Meet Debbie White, a fulltime IT Project Manager, wife, mother and Property Princess!

Debbie’s fear was having a very average retirement which led her to make a life-changing decision: “I need a track to an easier life, sooner rather than later”. She began focussing on what she wanted in life – lots of family and friends around her, travel, having a better life and of course, purchasing lots of houses. There began her property journey.

A win-win solution for Debbie and Dean

Debbie was diligently doing research and feeling really excited.   However, Debbie’s husband Dean didn’t share her vision for their future.  He reflects, “I thought we were already happy and stable.  It wasn’t until Debbie chained me to the chair to watch DVD’s that I realised what she was saying all made sense”. Dean asked himself what’s the worst that can happen and decided that it made sense for Debbie to follow her property dream while he indulged in his passion for photography and IT.

Even so, Dean did say that it made his ‘head spin’ when she contracted to purchase the 3rd investment property in 15 months. It makes you wonder how his head will feel when their 5th property settles within the next 2 weeks and brings the estimated value of their portfolio to $2.5m.

Taking her project management skills, and combing them with Dean and his favourite power tools, Debbie has focussed on her chosen strategy of renovating and holding property for the long term.

As a project manager Debbie understands that people on your team need to be motivated, and recognised that a win-win situation for Dean, who values the present rather than the future, would be a new 42” LCD TV on completion of the reno. Happy viewing Dean!

2003 – A Momentous Year

Debbie initially read some investment books and went on to accumulate 3 investment properties by early 2003. Her first major lesson in investing came later that year when she seemed completely ‘maxed-out’ and felt compelled to sell two of her investment properties.

Undeterred, and realising where she’d gone wrong, Debbie got back on the wagon when they moved to Canberra.  She purchased a property to owner occupy with the idea that it would ultimately be an investment property.  She undertook a renovation while living in the house.  She didn’t find the experience particularly pleasant in terms of the time taken and living in the mess.  Debbie says, “I only have myself to blame”.  The kitchen alone took 18 months.

On the Right Path

Debbie had been through hard times struggling for money but she can now see light at the end of the tunnel. She sees her property investments as an alternative to superannuation.  Debbie estimates that within 20 years, based on her current portfolio, she’ll have net equity of $7m, which makes her potential $200k superannuation seem insignificant. Debbie says, “Property has absolutely changed my life.  I am working to a future where I can make choices about how much I want to work or if I want to work”.

Debbies’ Mistakes

 Debbie feels that she’s made many mistakes along the way.  According to Debbie, “I’ve skinned my knees but I’m now far more savvy”.

One of the biggest mistakes was selling the two properties. Selling seemed necessary at the time but as Debbie says, “I still can’t bring myself to drive past one of the houses that I had to sell”.  With what she knows now, she says that she has no plans for selling off any more of her portfolio.

The other major mistake was living in a reno. Washing up in a dish for that period of time has cured Debbie of ever wanting to do a live in reno again.

Debbie’s Strategy

Debbie uses a renovation strategy to build equity, in her home town of Canberra, because it’s convenient for hands-on managing the reno project and because she sees Canberra as an area with good capital growth.  She loves renovating she advises, “because you can create your own mini-boom to that property by increasing equity even in a flat market”.  She uses the equity gain as a deposit for the next property.

Although Debbie was drawn to the idea of investing in Adelaide, it didn’t match her strategy which is to oversee her own renovations in her own area.  After attending her 2nd Property Women Workshop, she went back to Canberra and purchased a property for $395,000.  A tenant was already in place, paying $380 per week.  While this may appear to be a low yield, Debbie is using the time to plan a $25,000 renovation at the end of the existing tenancy and has her finances well organised this time around. By adding a fourth bedroom and an extra toilet to the property she is confident that she will add value to the property and estimates the rent will increase to at least $450 per week. She will then have created another mini-boom for herself.

Eliminating Fear

Debbie sees education as the key to overcoming fear.  She says that she will never forget that the Property Women workshop was the real start of her education.  “I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of investing and how to do this in a safe way.  Going to the workshop showed me how to create a buffer and how to leapfrog my portfolio.  Before the workshop I thought that we’d maxed out, but rather than mark time I came along to find out for myself.  From what I learned I worked out a way to reorganise my finance to keep going”.

Debbie takes property investing so seriously that she has set up a Chill out room in her own home where she goes to think, plan out strategies and play DVD’s and CD’s to keep her focussed. She also likes helping people such as family, friends, and acquaintances create wealth through property investing.

Debbie’s philosophy is that, “People’s wealth in property is directly related to how much they invest of their time and money to become educated”.  She has learnt from her mistakes and is now well on the way to her goal of achieving ‘prosperity through property’

Debbie’s tips

  • Exchange time with your partner to educate them in Property
  • Recognise your partner’s values and take them into consideration
  • Property investing is pretty much in everyone’s reach
  • Talk to people who have done it and get them to show you ways of doing it rather than starting from scratch
  • If women can make that step it will change their life
  • Find out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at
  • Establish a strategy that suits you and stick to it

A final word from Dean

 “Trust your wife to better your life”.


Krystil Ryan

In Focus: Krystil Ryan

Meet Krystil Ryan, Chief Operations Officer, mother of two, property investor and part-time student.

After enduring a messy divorce and loss of work due to company mismanagement, Krystil has managed to support her two children, save her family home, accumulate four investment properties and study to acquire an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration Degree.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going

It took quite a while for Krystil to sort through the mess of separation and divorce in 1999. “I had two beautiful children to take care of and I wanted stability for them”. The family home was valued at $250,000 with a $200,000 mortgage. So, the split on a 50/50 basis was only $25,000. Krystil knew the value of keeping the home but her situation wasn’t looking good. Her income was too low to secure the loan she needed. Determination was the key “I was not about to give up everything I had worked for that easily”.  Krystil swallowed her pride and boldly approached her boss for a pay rise which enabled her to scrape in a bank loan for $210,000. In a desperate effort to save her home, she then offered to pay her ex husband $10,000 (from the loan) and forgo child maintenance payments for the remaining $15,000 equity. A raw deal for Krystil you may think, however this gave her and her young family the chance she needed to start over again.

Ask a Busy Woman

By 2002 Krystil had completed an accounting qualification and a Graduate Diploma in Management.  “I was still working full time. My 9 y.o. son had baseball on Saturdays and my 12 y.o. daughter did dancing, so weekends were pretty busy and the weekdays were full of work, study, homework help and housework on a continuous cycle”.

At the same time, Krystil could see that the market was moving and knew that her home had grown in value, so she tentatively asked the bank if she could borrow more. “They told me they could lend me about $250,000.  So, I started hunting”.

One Property Turns into Two

After spending several weeks searching Krystil finally found a 3 bedroom house on an 800m block in Oxenford which she bought for $160,000. Whilst negotiating on this property an enthusiastic agent rang wanting to show Krystil a unit in Labrador. Krystil wasn’t keen on units but with a 9% return, she was hooked.  She decided to add it to her portfolio at a purchase price of $102,500. A total of $273,000 was needed to cover stamp duty and costs. “Whoops! I was over budget”.

To secure the loan, Krystil convinced her boss that she needed another increase in salary. By penny pinching and even doing her own conveyancing, Krystil scraped through. All went smoothly and by May 2002 she was the proud owner of two positively geared properties.

Loss Of Income Did Not Slow Krystil Down

Not long after the purchase of her two investment properties, Krystil was suddenly out of work due to the company she worked for going into liquidation. Although a scary experience, Krystil stayed afloat using her accumulated leave pay and finding work within the month.

It was now time to move forward with investment property purchase number three, this time in Ipswich for $72,000 in late 2002. This property needed some TLC and both her parents and children pitched in to help in addition to the contract work by other suppliers at a cost of $8,000. It was all worthwhile because a year later Krystil sold the property for $150,000. Property number four was a house and land package at Narangba for $181,500, sold 12 months later for $299,000.

Lightning Strikes Twice

After enjoying a few weeks of annual leave, Krystil returned to work to find all doors locked and the place empty.   Krystil was out of work again, this time for five months. She managed to keep afloat with the profits from the two sales. Her determination never faltered despite the blow which left her feeling shaken. She moved on to other work opportunities further developing her education and skills along the way. The profit from the sales also allowed Krystil to reduce her bad debt (non tax deductible debt) even though she borrowed more to buy again (good debt). In 2007, Krystil bought her next investment property in Upper Coomera for $370,000, currently worth around $450,000.

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Things haven’t been easy for Krystil. Disaster has struck several times in the form of job losses, personal problems and more recently the classic tenant from hell who trashed her property at Oxenford and absconded without paying 3 months rent. But undaunted, Krystil and her children got straight to work, cleaning and repairing the damages and even adding a deck that increased the value of the property and the rent. The property is now worth about $400,000 and both she and her children have been empowered by the experience.

Education is the Key to Success

Krystil used her continuing education to improve skill levels, increase her earning capacity and in turn increase her borrowing capacity. She used her property education to understand the market and how to use her cash flow to service the liabilities. For Krystil “Cash flow is King”.

In only eight years Krystil has accumulated over $1million in net worth thanks to her property investing, has two degrees, has almost completed a third, and has progressed in her career from Accountant to Chief Operations Officer.

Krystil’s children are both doing well with one is in his final year of school and the other just completing a traineeship and Certificate IV in Real Estate.

For Krystil life has been full of challenges “but I have become all the stronger for them and there is no doubt that I and my family are definitely better off for all the effort”.

 Krystil’s Tips

  • Believe in your own ability and take responsibility for your outcomes. Otherwise, you are handing over control of your life to others.
  • The only limitations that exist are ones you place on yourself
  • You are stronger and smarter than you think; you are the solution to your problems.
  • Educate yourself, do your research and do the numbers. Then if it feels right just do it
  • Trust your instincts and when the “nay sayers” are around plug your ears
  • Never feel sorry for a tenant, being lenient can result in your biggest nightmare, but if the worst happens take it in your stride and move forward.
  • Never settle for less than you want, and never overlook what you already have.

Anne Donohue

In Focus – Anne Donohue

Meet Anne Donohue, a mother of 3, possibly our first 2nd generation property woman, whose interest in property investing was sparked as a teenager when at 19, Anne and her mother bought a property together.

This property was sold six years later to buy Anne’s first family home, and helped secure the loan because at the time the interest rate was 17.5%!

Financial Security Becomes The Motivator

In 1998, after separating from her husband, with no career prospects and 3 pre teen children, Anne decided that she needed a more secure future for her and her family “I was motivated to invest again in property to gain some financial security in the future”.

In 1999, Anne starting looking at property, “I was grazing in the property market in the same suburb that I lived. I went to an open house with my friend and after 20 minutes we were ready to put an offer in. Not to be seen as rash, we forced ourselves to retreat for a coffee to regroup and have a discussion about the potential of the property.  It all looked good so we did a joint venture”.

The property purchased by Anne and her friend was a 2 bedroom workers cottage in Shorncliffe bought for $128K. They made a few cosmetic changes costing $2,000 to the property. The property is now worth $400K. That’s an increase of $272K!

Hooked!  Anne Does Not Stop At One

Anne’s second property purchased in 2000 was a house that she lived in and renovated. “This house had loads of potential, a great location by the sea, but was an ugly, swan.” The renovation costs came in at around $30K and most of the work was handled in house. The street appeal was the first area to be worked on and two months after the property was purchased she was offered $40k more than what was paid for it.  “Needless to say we still own it.”

An Uncooperative Tenant Helps Snatch A Bargain

In 2001 Anne looked at a property, with a tenant that was uncooperative and the real estate agents found it difficult to show people through. Anne put forward a written offer which was rejected however two months later the agents revisited her offer and they negotiated a price only $3K more than her original offer. Property 3 was added to Anne’s growing portfolio.

Inspiration from attending Property Investment Workshops

In October 2006 Anne attended a Reno Kings workshop, “Property to the Max” and a Property Women’s workshop that gave Anne the confidence and motivation to start investing again. “The information I gained from these workshops helped me to develop and implement a strong financial plan for the future”.  “For women starting out in property the investment workshop gives you the inspiration to have a go. “It also connects you to a group energy that has a very positive affect on your confidence.”

And invest again she did, by March 2007, Anne had purchased two more properties in Ormeau, a high growth area half way between Brisbane & the Gold Coast, the first property being on 5003 m2 (good land value) with a 3 bedroom master built home.  This one had the potential to add a fourth bedroom, just by adding a set of doors at a cost of $1,000 to an otherwise unused formal dining room. And a shed was added which increased the value of the property immediately by $40K.

A Diamond In The Rough

Property number five also purchased in Ormeau.  “This 3yo house was tenanted also, but so atrociously untidy, I skipped over it several times while surfing the net for properties”.  Anne eventually went to see the house after the tenant moved out and put in a low offer that was accepted, Anne added a condition to the contract that meant she could have access to the property during the unconditional period of the settlement to give it a good clean up and some minor repairs. This property turned out to be a diamond in the rough.

Budget – a renovator’s tool

In Anne’s book a budget is important when renovating a property. “By doing as much of the hard work yourself will help keep costs down. I include in my budget what it will cost for my materials and for tradespeople to do the things I can’t do, like plumbing, electrical and some carpentry jobs”.

Anne believes it is important to obtain written quotes for all jobs and to be clear on what the job entails and allow time for the work to be carried out.

Time – a renovator’s glue

Time is of the essence for Anne  “It’s important to have a time frame to complete your renovating tasks so you can get that little beauty rented out ASAP. Ask if you can have access to the property during the unconditional settlement period to do your renovations”.

Anne’s Property Portfolio to Date

Property description Purchase date (year) Purchase price Current estimated value Weekly rent
 2 bed house 1999




 3 bed house  2000




 2 bed house  2001




 3-4 bed house  2007




 4 bed house  2007





1, 333,000



* Anne and her husband currently rent due to the transient nature of work.

How does Anne stay motivated and overcome those fears?

Goal setting and having an investment plan has turned out to be a great motivator for Anne who sets short term and long term goals. Once those goals are achieved Anne has the motivation to keep going. Anne feels happy with what she has achieved by working hard and providing a solid financial future for herself and her family “I feel a great sense of personal achievement”.

Investing in property has given Anne the freedom to do what she wants to do and her ultimate goal is to become financially free.

Having a plan and setting goals helps overcome any nagging fears. Anne advises “Make fear your friend. Stay in touch with your inner plan and have the confidence to dream the dream for yourself. One day it will become a reality”.

In 2003, Anne married again and her husband is very supportive and embraces the financial freedom goal “He sees a time in the not so distant future when he will be able to give up working and be able to enjoy financial freedom”.

What’s Next for Anne?

Anne has recently completed a real estate sales course with the REIQ, has moved to the Whitsundays in Central Qld and successfully manages all the properties herself.  She also works part time for a civil construction company overseeing safety & environmental aspects of a large development.

Anne is planning on diversifying her portfolio by investing in commercial property or even undertaking a small subdivision.

In 5 years time Anne and her husband see themselves retired and travelling the world thanks to the wonderful power of property investing.

Anne’s Tips

  • Have an investment plan
  • Set realistic goals
  • Don’t be in a rush – do your research and know your market well.
  • Look for areas with high capital growth and high rental yield
  • Look for properties where you can add value immediately i.e. buy below market value
  • Buy properties with large blocks for better leverage
  • Build a good rapport with agents
  • Safety is always the top of the list with old houses.  Electrical wiring, dry rot, faulty or old appliances need to be attended to straight away

Tanya Blackley

In Focus – Tanya Blackley

Can you make money in the current market? Just ask Tanya Blackley, who together with her partner Casey Bennett just finished the last coat of paint yesterday on a renovation project which increased the value of the property to $1Million in just 8 weeks.

How is it possible?

Tanya and Casey purchased a dilapidated 1800’s Victorian house, divided into 4 flats, in Leura (Blue Mountains) on 19th May this year. The 1950’s newspapers under the floor coverings proved that it was a “renovator’s delight” and that they were undertaking a mammoth task. The couple knew the importance of being organised. Three weeks before settlement they managed to gain just one day access to the property and in that one day arranged for 25 tradesmen to call in to give them a quote…a busy day indeed!

On the shopping list were 4 new kitchens and bathrooms, carpet, paint plus landscaping.  They only had 3 weeks to come up with a plan of attack. Luckily they had attended a previous workshop, where they learnt that the best way to keep track of a project is by using a “Gantt” chart.   Click on gantt_chart.pdf (11.5 KB) to view the Gantt chart.

Casey used his annual leave and spent the first 4 weeks living on site as project manager, while Tanya travelled from Sydney on weekends to get her hands dirty. Having no usable toilet Tanya endured using the backyard bushes in the Blue Mountains in the middle of winter.

There was no time for girlie habits for Tanya during the reno process. She let her hair go wild and had no fingernails.  She did have one break when relatives arrived two weeks ago.  They went to a resort and Tanya enjoyed a massage and a good scrub.  She was feeling fantastic until Casey reminded her that they needed to go back to finsh off the renos the next day.

You’ll be happy to know that Tanya finally went to the hairdresser yesterday.  The hairdresser found paint embedded in her hair from 5 weeks ago.

However, she now looks like her old self ready for a flight to Dubai tonight.

The results

Despite a slight blow out of time and budget, Tanya and Casey are ecstatically happy with the results. “It’s been a long 8 weeks, Casey and I have used up all of our annual leave and juggled work with the renovation, but its been well worth it!!”

We have managed to make an equity gain of $470k on the original $530k purchase price (We got the $1 million valuation) and we have more than tripled the rent to over $1000 a week…!!”

Purchase Price $530,000
Renovation Cost $85,000
Current Valuation $1,000,000
Rent at time of purchase/week $300
Current rent/week $1,080
Turnaround Time 8 weeks

One of the Kitchen’s before Renovation….

Same Kitchen’s after Renovation…

The incentive

When Tanya met Casey he already had an investment property which he’d purchased 6 years ago. They spent some time extensively travelling and came back to Australia wondering how they could fund a travelling lifestyle. Tanya reflects,“Property opened our eyes to being freer!” They decided to use property to fund their dreams, got themselves educated and got themselves into action.

They began investing in December 2007. Within 6 months they had undertaken 2 renovation projects and went on to use  the equity gains to fund the “big one”. “Our goal was to fund travelling for the rest of our lives.”

With the Reno Project being completed yesterday, Tanya and Casey are living their dream right now…they fly out to Dubai tonight. “We did it…one more renovation and then we retired!”

Tanya aged 28 and Casey aged 29 now have the rest of their lives to live their dreams.

The future

With a desirable portfolio under their wings, Tanya and Casey will explore investment options in Dubai while keeping an eye on the Australian market at the same time. They plan to travel for the rest of their lives.

Tanya’s Tips

  • Getting the first one is hard, but it gets easier from then on
  • Its scary out there but get in now, its only going to get better
  • Enjoy yourself, its so much fun its a blast
  • The hardwork you put in now will be all worthwhile
  • Get yourself educated
  • Come up with the concept to suit you
  • Gain inspiration from the right people
  • Take that first step

Sonya Matthews

In Focus – Sonya Matthews

Meet this month’s woman in focus Sonya Matthews, a young mum who manages a large portfolio with toddlers in tow.  Sonya shares her tips on “renovating with children” below:

Renovating With Children

by Sonya Matthews

Almost 6 years on, I still get fired up at the way I left my engineering career.  I was 3 weeks short of 12 months of service with my employer (and I would assume eligible for maternity leave) when I had to leave to have my first Baby.  I DID NOT get maternity leave.  I had to hand in my resignation.  My then boss, although a lovely fellow, was a hopeless communicator, and I had made assumptions that I obviously shouldn’t have made and didn’t realise I was not getting maternity leave and a job to return to.  Needless to say I was devastated.  I was forced to resign, and felt like I had been sacked – a bitter pill to swallow for a very career-focused woman who had her sights set on the glass ceiling and above.

Long and short of the story…best thing that ever happened to me!  I have had a beautiful time with my babies and a clear run to focus on my property investing.  Our portfolio has gone from 2 to 8 properties since ‘being forced to resign, heavily pregnant’, and our portfolio of around $750k-$800k at that time is now worth a few times more than that, less than 6 years later.  We purchase using equity and expend serious effort educating ourselves on how to grow our portfolio safely and successfully.

My husband and I did our first two renovations (our own homes) before the children were born, but since then, all eight or so other renovations have been carried out with young children on site. The renovations have ranged from a one-day clean up on a buy-and-hold, to a one week landscaping project to a seven week saga in the depths of a South Australian winter. In fact, both of our boys (currently 5 and 3yrs) have ‘done’ at least one renovation for each year of their life! I could write a book on what I’ve learned about renovating with children. Being a mum (or dad) at home with young children is difficult anyway, so one may as well go out and renovate a property and create some equity, I say! The standard rules apply, but so do some additional ones. I’ve summarized what I believe needs to be foremost in our minds when our precious children are helping us towards our dreams.

1. Renovating on a time-line is critical to success, but nothing is more important than the safety of the children

There is no point in executing a perfect renovation project if we’ve sacrificed a child on the way! We prefer properties with full fencing to at least a part of the yard.

Safety First !

 2. The usual rules for caring for children apply

If they are well fed, well rested, entertained or  otherwise engaged, children are relatively happy and we can get some work done. Having said that, my husband and I operate on a one ‘full-time-equivalent’ worker basis (generally around-the-clock) when renovating, because one parent renovates flat-out, while the other has primary responsibility for the safety & well-being of the children. I find that if my husband is doing a heavy job, I’d be the ‘buyer’ – Bunnings is a great place to take children (toilets, playground, café, high ceilings drown out noise and if they leave a trail of squashed sultanas up each aisle, no one seems to notice).

3. Stick to a regular time schedule for waking, meals, bedtime

It’s really hard to down tools in the middle of a job, but one person can keep going if the other keeps the children’s routine going. We all know children are much more settled if they know what’s coming up.

4. Break some rules

Have takeaway every night if it means getting through the project. I’m generally very strict on veggies at every meal etc, but dinner and the night-time routine has to be slick and quick, because once the children retire, the adults get the realwork done. We were lucky to be able to use a hammer-drill in a masonry wall to install a kitchen whilst our 18month old slept, once, but if your children won’t sleep through that, choose to paint at night instead.


 5. Polish floors first

I know the experts would advocate polishing the floors last. But when you have a crawling baby, you’re living in the house as you renovate it, and you’re squeamish at the thought of other people’s filth, it’s quite okay to get the floors polishedfirst, let the fumes subside, then move in and do the renovation. The floors will survive with a little care taken. We once renovated a house with ancient orange pile carpets that were mostly brown.  No baby needs to crawl in that!


Polish floors first.

6. Designate a ‘no go zone’

I don’t mind getting roughened knees, broken fingernails, paint in my hair, having unwaxed legs and having my daggiest clothes on, but I draw the line at sleeping dirty! When we renovate with children, at least one room is designated ‘clean’. One is only allowed to enter the room once scrubbed from head to toe, and cleanly attired (usually in PJs). Upon leaving in the morning, clean PJs are swapped for grotty work or play gear again. My children sleep in my bed more often than not so they need to be clean!

7. Assign a tool room

Renovating tools are dangerous, aren’t they? So find a shed, room with a high door handle or lock, or even the car boot to lock tins of paint, chemical, drills, hammers, saws etc in. A three year old CAN get a lid off a full 20litre tin of paint!

8.    Extra emphasis on planning ahead

A renovation always needs to be planned out as carefully as possible, using a scheduling tool such as a Gantt chart. However, with children in tow, it’s not always possible to just drop tools and go off and buy a length of timber or a tin of paint when it’s needed. If working in a twosome, one person needs to be the organizer (always me in our team) who plans, schedules, buys, and has a steady stream of jobs and materials on hand for the other person to utilize. We schedule two-people jobs for when the children are asleep. There’s even less scope for ‘winging it’ when you’re managing children as well as a time-critical renovation.

9.    Have a sense of fun

But always with a sense of safety-consciousness. Our Boys LOVE to help, as most children do. We give them a cordless drill with semi-flat battery , a Phillips-head bit and a piece of cardboard to ‘drill’ holes in; a paintbrush to paint the outside battens, fence etc (stray swipes of paint can always be wiped off or painted over), or water to paint a fence; let them mound up the carefully-spread gravel into a volcano and then jump on it – it’ll only take 10 minutes of more back-breaking work to re-spread it, but you’ll have an hours’ peace while they frolic. A pallet of fence pickets makes a sturdy and relatively safe ‘stage’ for them to stand on and sing and dance to you and interested passers-by! A ripped-out air conditioner front panel makes a great superhero control screen – take the sharp bits off and let them have it! Appliance boxes and old curtains make great cubbies. If they insist on playing in kitchen cupboards and pantries, ensure the cabinets are securely fixed to the wall, and can’t topple over.


Boys in Boxes

10. Go Camping

It’s fun! It’s like camping! We get hot and tired and grotty during the day, sleep on the floor on mattresses and airbeds and have our normal life tipped upside down. But we do have a flushing toilet and bathroom that no-one else is using, sometimes an operational kitchen and always a little bar-fridge! And making a fortune with it! That’s the real camping to me!

Before                                                       After