Blog: Tips for DIY renovators



Well a lot has happened since the last update – a crazy man jumped from outer space and parachuted safely back to land (Red Bull gives you…. parachutes?), Alan Jones got served with a serious dose of his own medicine and more importantly we managed to finance, settle and all but complete the renovation of investment property #5.

It’s a weird thing this property investing - sometimes you feel like you’re peacefully gliding down a calm river, waiting for finance & planning the reno, then all of a sudden you hit rapids as finance is approved, and then its “hold on tight, stuff’s about to get hectic – tools, building materials and money are flying left, right and centre!!!” Then….back to normal…. zen. We’ve just completed one of those cycles.

Back in August we were waiting for finance on our next purchase and planning the reno. The property – a 3 x bedroom terrace house, bricks and mortar, in a nice street in the beautiful suburb of Ettalong on the Central Coast of NSW. It’s in need of a cosmetic reno (80’s style kitchen and bathroom). In terms of investment we think this will give us a more mixed portfolio having an increased chance for capital growth. All the other properties in our portfolio have been about positive cashflow.

It’s hard to know if there will be massive growth in this area in the near future but being a coastal town so close to Sydney (1hr train), a lot of people are moving here for a cheaper alternative to the high mortgages of the city. I mean for the price of rental in a Sydney unit you’d have enough for mortgage payments plus a little more on a house or townhouse in the Central Coast and in 10 years you’ll be a long way to owning it! Although in saying that, some rentals in Sydney could feed and house a small village in Chad, Sudan or even Greece.

The biggest part of the reno was the kitchen (we decided the bathrooms can be done at a later stage down the track… ie: when we can afford to do it). To help show what we were hoping to achieve with the kitchen reno I needed an illustration showing a PLAN FOR RENO. Here’s one I put together earlier:

PLAN FOR RENO – As you can see we wanted to redesign the kitchen space because it was blocked off to the main Lounge/Dining area. This was mainly due to a protruding wall on one side and the other having an extra wide benchtop which left a narrow entrance. We decided to shorten the wall and move it back about a metre and a half. Also the new benchtops would be kept at the standard 600mm. This combination meant not only would the kitchen be opened up but it would also give us more bench/cupboard space to work with. New floorboards were also on the plan.

A BIG RECOMMENDATION TO ALL DIYers - Another thing I did this time which helped immensely was learning to use the 3D modelling offered by most flat pack kitchen companies (IKEA, Bunnings etc). It’s pretty cool stuff if you can get your head around it. It meant we could digitally construct the kitchen and view a 3D model of what it would look like – cabinets here, a stove top there, what about a fridge where the wall once was? Possibilities are endless.

When viewing the 3D model you really get a good idea of not only what it will look like but the general feel. If you don’t like what you see go back and move some stuff around until it feels right. Once you’re happy with the kitchen layout then you just hit order and it produces a complete list of items you need – wall and floor cabinets, doors, hinges, handles, kickboards, etc.

So enough with the boring stuff! Look over there, now back here, now at your kitchen, now back to me in my kitchen, that I’ve just renovated….

Well almost completed. It took us about 9 days to rip out the old kitchen, move the wall and install the new kitchen. Thankfully we had no major dramas, a bit of tweaking here and there. Flat pack kitchens are childsplay! If you can put an IKEA wardrobe together (Panels facing the right way) then you’ll have a good chance of DIYing a flatpack kitchen. It just takes a little longer and you have more parts left over (joking!)

During the installation we decided on creating a feature with the tile splashback. We knew the kitchen would look good, but we needed something to give it the WOW factor! After being introduced to a style of tiles/or tiling called Subway tiles (Thanks Tracy and Margaret), which is when you take normal rectangular tiles and place them in a brick like pattern, we decided to give it a crack! Sounds a bit weird but it makes sense when you see it.

Please note at this point I had to make things harder on myself than they already would be by choosing the smallest possible tiles. I knew it would look good, which it does, but mental note – the smaller the tile, the larger the task!

Currently we are about 90% complete. I’m waiting for a break in my photography work so I can spend another couple of days finishing it off and most importantly so I can post the before and after pix!! In the meantime here are a few pix from during the process (see below)

Speak soon,



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A professional photographer and now avid renovator, Duane has made fast work of starting small. His first purchases were nicknamed ‘El Cheapo’ and ‘El Dumpo’, but he’s moved on to bigger projects as he and his father/investment partner explore joint venture and development projects. From his home base in Sydney’s Maroubra, he splits his time between eyeing photos and property deals.

You can also read our profile of Duane here.

Top Suburbs : st kilda west , melton , homebush , ropes crossing , coolbellup

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  • jtkach says on 15/11/2013 09:23:02 AM


  • doo says on 15/11/2013 09:24:30 AM


  • jtkach says on 15/11/2013 11:00:19 AM

    test again

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