How to be a star customer

Builders (and other trades) cop a lot of flack – people complain that they’re late, they’re untidy, they’re slow and they’re too expensive. I’m married to a builder and, while he might not be the world’s best bed maker, he’s an excellent tradesman who takes great pride in his profession and the professionalism of the entire 5to50 team. So I was heartened to see a story in Domain (across the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) last week that asked customers to consider whether they might be the problem.


renovate for profit

5 things I learned from my favourite TV renovator

Do you love property developer Sarah Beeney’s show Property Ladder? I do! Each week Sarah visits people who are determined to renovate for profit and equally determined to ignore any and all advice that Sarah (a successful, professional developer) has to give them. It’s one of those shows that literally has me howling at the TV! I’m not sure if it’s still being made but there are always re-runs on Foxtel. Ask me how I know!


Over many years of, ahem, research, here’s what I’ve learned about how to renovate for profit from Sarah Beeney.



Do you speak fluent builder?


When you start working on a renovation or building project, you realise fairly quickly that a builder sometimes seem to speak their own private language. It can be a bit intimidating to stop them mid flow to ask what they’re talking about so, I thought I’d provide a handy guide to some commonly used building phrases. Rosetta Stone isn’t offering a course yet, but I think they should!



Easter projects? Hop into it!


The Easter long weekend is my favourite weekend of the year – four whole days off work and no pressure to host big lunches or spend time with family. I love getting projects done over Easter – cooking, sewing and jobs around the house. Here are three awesome projects, that don’t take too much planning that you could get done this Easter long weekend and that would really make a big impact on your home.


Repaint the grout

7 things you can do today to love your home

If you’re anything like me you’ve got a long list of things you’d like to do to your house one day. These could be anything from replacing the carpet (I didn’t get the right underlay and it irritates me every day) to renovating the kitchen to adding a second storey. These are all great changes, but they can get pretty exxy and sometimes those big changes just have to stay in the “one day” pile for now. However, there are definitely some simple things you can do this weekend to help you love your home in the present, which after all, is where you’re living.


Is Sydney colder than Siberia?

Remember last winter when that polar vortex thing hit and suddenly it was like 4 degrees in the Sydney CBD at 11am? Freaky. Well, the cab driver I had that day was from Russia and he said he’s never been colder in his life than since he moved to Sydney. “In Russia,” he told me, as I enjoyed a shot of vodka in the back seat (ha, ha), “when you shut the front door, it’s shut. In Sydney, you shut the front door and a wind keeps blowing through it.” Da to that, brother!

If you go down to the woods today…

JD recently received an email from a customer who was not happy that there had been a “massive cost blowout” on their project.  While the cost of the project was now larger than originally anticipated, this was because there had actually been a “massive scope of works blowout”.  That is, as the job had gone one, they’d asked for more work to be done.


It's time we had a serious talk


Warning: please be aware that this post discusses depression and suicide


I wasn’t expecting this. Sitting up in bed last Saturday morning with a cup of tea and a freshly buttered hot cross bun, I was flicking through the paper when I came across the lead story in Good Weekend (the magazine insert). It was about the tragically high suicide rate among tradesmen in Australia. Every second day, a Australian tradie commits suicide and they are six times more likely to die by their own hand than through a workplace accident. I turned to my own tradie – enjoying his morning coffee – and gave him a big hug.

dream design

When a dream design becomes a real-life nightmare


Let me tell you a story. It’s a cautionary tale and one you should pay attention to if you’re thinking about a renovation. Especially a big renovation. 


Once upon a time, we were watching Grand Designs (well, just the other night) when we suddenly realised the featured house was currently for sale, in fact, my sister had pointed it out to me a couple of months ago. You see, in addition to cooking, sewing and reading my other hobby is looking at real estate – usually in Hobart, where we have vague dreams of retiring one day. One of my sisters lives down there and she occasionally flicks me houses I might be interested in. This one was listed at $5million plus, putting it not only in “total fantasy” territory for us but also at the top of the range for Tasmanian real estate in general.

lovely links

Lovely links


Hello world! Summer lingers on in Sydney – as does the humidity. I’m sure it’s even stickier in Brisbane! I’ve been trying to keep cool and here are some lovely links from this week’s internet trawling.


How to add personality to a white kitchen. Plus, the fabulous Emily Henderson is coming to Australia!


This fan makes me think of sipping on a G&T (for the malaria!) in the tropics.


Very cool modular terrace housing in Manchester.


Can’t wait to see this film.