rental property

5 simple ways to renovate a rental property

If you live in one of Australia’s capital cities you’ve probably noticed that real estate has been a little out of control lately (Sydney, I’m looking at you!). Prices have gone through the roof and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get onto that first rung of the property ladder unless you’ve got generous parents or win the lottery (if you’re looking in Sydney you’ll probably need both!). Which leaves you with staying at home (not my bag and not an option for a lot of people) or renting.


builders quotes

What's the story with builders' quotes?

Congratulations – you’ve decided to renovate! If it’s a decent-size job you’ll have plans drawn up, your DA approved and you’ll probably be getting a couple of builders quotes. Ideally, these will be builders that friends or colleagues or maybe your designer has recommended. As you’re navigating your way through this strange new world you’ll be coming across lots of new words and phrases that you may not of used before. Two that you’ll definitely be hearing are “fixed price” and “cost plus” and they’re to do with how the builder charges for his work.


So, what’s the difference?


Cool as a (very expensive) cucumber

“How much does a kitchen renovation cost?” is a question that JD hears pretty frequently. And the answer, as with many things in building is, “it depends.” It depends on how much you want to spend – do you want a flat pack kitchen or custom joinery? Do you want a laminate benchtop or natural stone? Do you want European appliances or are you happy with cheaper, Chinese-made varieties? And these days, there’s really no end of things to spend your money on in kitchens – steam ovens, warming drawers, built-in coffee machines and very, very expensive fridges.


kitchen benchtops

7 kitchen benchtops that I think are tops!

When I was growing up, kitchen benchtops came in one variety – Laminex. If you were fancy you had bull-nosed edges (we didn’t) and if your house was from the 50s it probably had a groovy metal edge to it. Oh, those were simple times! These days there are a ton of kitchen bench materials to choose from across every price point and application. Here are seven to consider.


council approval

Do I need approval for that?


Some days, it can feel like you need official approval for everything – parking, pets, parties and of course, building works. For a larger project that’s a bit out of the box, obtaining council approval can take up a considerable amount of time and money. However, the good news is that there are now a number of projects for which you do not need approval – these are called exempt developments. Yippee!


You can get the full lowdown here, but here are some highlights for those of you living in NSW.


renovate to sell

How to renovate to sell

Not surprisingly, I love watching real estate and renovating shows – really, it’s the only reason we’ve kept Foxtel (well, that and the golf). Give me a marathon viewing session involving Andrew, Charlie and Shayna from Selling Houses Australia and I am one happy Builderette. Time and again they show us what you can achieve if you make some sensible decisions about what to renovate to sell your house quickly and for the right price (step one – tidy up FFS!).


wood-burning stove

Would you consider a wood-burning stove? Well, wood you?

Staying at my Dad’s gorgeous house in southern Tasmania is always a treat. The nights are crystal clear and perfect for star and nature spotting, the days are spent sailing, walking or snoozing reading in the sunny spot in the library. And at every meal my stepmother Judi produces the most amazing food – much of it based around local produce and influencers (like Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans, who lives in the vicinity) – and all cooked on her wood-burning stove.

Christmas renovation

Why you won't be in by Christmas

No matter what time of year you start your project, a major goal is pretty much always “we want to be in by Christmas”, or words to that effect. We hear you! Everyone wants to be in their own home for Christmas Day – especially if it’s a home that’s got a shiny kitchen and a new ensuite or some new doors and windows and a nice deck.


As I’ve said before (and no doubt you’ll hear it again), building is all about scheduling and logistics – getting the right people and products to the right place at the right time while coordinating with a number of other people who are trying to do the same thing at other people’s houses at the same time.

diy, renovating, building

Why doing it yourself might not save you money

If you’re looking to do a renovation or building project, at some stage in the process I bet you’ll think to yourself, “Hmmm, where can I save some money?” You might read a few magazines, watch a few renovating shows on TV and then think, “I know! I’ll do some of the work myself!”


Are flatpack kitchens worth the savings?

Search the net and there’s no shortage of beautifully photographed Ikea kitchens with rave reviews extolling their ease of assembly, installation and longevity. They’re so seductive, with their nonsensical names, their smooth Scandi style and their practically impossible-to-beat price. There’s no denying that Ikea kitchens look fabulous in the warehouse and that their ingenious layouts are as attractive as the price however, having installed a few in his time, JD tells me that those undertaking a kitchen renovation using Ikea (or any other flat pack system) components should be wary.