Renovation Guide 2016: Nikki Correia


Until late 2015 Nikki Correia thought renovating would be something she would do alongside her career as a chef in Sydney, but the decision to enrol in a renovation course opened her eyes to a new world that was available to her.

Renovating was nothing new to Nikki when she enrolled in the course, having renovated three houses in the past with her husband Carlos, a carpenter by trade; but the decision to seek some education in the area empowered her to make a permanent career change. 

“My husband Carlos is a builder and we would just renovate on weekends if we had any spare time,” Nikki says. 

“Once I did that seminar and joined the school I just realised I should be doing this full-time and making money out of it and not have to work for somebody else.”  

It didn’t take Nikki long to try out her newfound skills, as she and Carlos decided to carry out a full-fledged renovation of two terraced houses in inner-city Newcastle that they had purchased three years earlier. 

With missing floorboards and live-in bats, the houses were effectively derelict when the Correias purchased them, and they have so far completed renovations on one of the homes, reaping a profit of over $220,000. 

“We bought them for a steal,” Nikki says. “We spent $100,000, then we had an agent come around and asked what he would put it on the market for, and he said anywhere between $750,000 and $850,000.”  

With the Newcastle properties in such a state of decay, serious work was required, and while Nikki may not have carried out the work herself, the things she picked up from the School of Renovating allowed her to play a much more prominent role. 

“I just thought, my husband’s a builder and what do I know? I just do as am I told, and when it’s time to paint and time to pick everything for the kitchen and that sort of thing I’ll do that. I was always heavily involved in the design and the layout; I absolutely love that,” she says.

“I sort of thought I’d always play that role, but after being on this course I’ve realised that I, as a woman, can actually do it without my husband; he’s doing all the carpentry and that sort of stuff. I still wouldn’t be able to do that, but I’m working with the tradies at the moment, whereas usually my husband does that. 

“It’s helped me talk to plumbers, electricians and plasterers. Just getting quotes and stuff like that, I’m learning that you have to be really firm, especially being a female.”

The Correias are currently part way through the work on the second house and, with a similar profit in mind for that project, Nikki already has plans for how she’ll make use of the equity they have built up. 

“They’re inner-city and their value is only going to rise over the next 10 years. Our intention is to hold them as investment properties and they’ll fund us to do some flip properties.

“Because I’m going out on my own, I’ll be looking for sturdy houses that are just daggy and need a facelift. Their kitchen is probably 20 years old and the bathroom is a disaster, that’s what I’m looking for. 
“I’ll do a new kitchen, new bathroom, new flooring, paint job, maybe some new skirting and doors – all the pretty easy stuff to get in and get out and make a decent profit on.”

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