Blog: Lisa Curtin's latest reno project



I settled on a unit last month and have been busy organizing its renovation before my 18 year old daughter Isabella and her 20 year old boyfriend Bryce move in. I can hear alarm bells ringing, but as a single mum with only one child, Isabella will inherit both my assets and my debts so I figure I’ll start her early to get an understanding of the property market from all angles and get an appreciation of property from a tenant’s perspective.

I gave Isabella the choice between a cheap renovation and paying cheap rent or a full kitchen/bathroom replacement and paying full market rent. Being a Gen Y, the answer was predictable so I had a bit of work to do.

To provide some background, this is the third unit I have purchased in a complex of 10. The unit is a street back from the beachfront in Rockingham WA. There is a government approved marina housing 450 boat pens and restaurants/shops planned for the future so the capital growth potential is sound.

The units were built in 1986 and all need a good renovation in order to bring in decent rents considering the area, walking distance to café strip, wine bars, restaurants etc and of course, the beachfront. If I owned all of the units and put double storey’s on them then they would all have ocean views, so there is method in my choice.

I was a bit concerned that I may be placing all of my risk in the one area but my strategy is to renovate to bring in the best possible rent so need to be close to my properties. I  have a 3x1 house more inland in walking distance to a main shopping centre, two primary schools and a high school and bus route so good cheap picks all round.

I’ll discuss the bathroom in this, my first blog. The unit is 3x1 with one carport and additional parking shared among the units. Previous owners had removed the bath (with shower overhead) and put a 2nd toilet in, which meant it was a tight squeeze if you were in the shower or sitting on the toilet with a shower curtain separating the two. I wanted to keep the toilet as a family could live in a 3x1 but untimately I decided to remove the toilet as a glass screen couldn’t be fitted in the area because your knees would bang against the glass in the shower if you were on the toilet (too much information?) and replace it with a larger walk in shower.

I shopped around for the best deals and found some white rectangular tiles (20x40) at Bunnings for $14.50 a metre so was pretty rapt. I bought 3 sheets of glass mosaic tiles (at $15.50) to be cut in lines to make the border in the shower cubicle. Compared to normal border tiles each they were a great buy.  I decided to get floor to ceiling tiling on all walls as they were in pretty bad condition and I didn’t want to have to repaint down the line. Keeping a clean white finish is timeless.

My tiler was fabulous and did a good clean job during the install. I still get a bit of a shock each time I get a quote from tradies but have learned with bad experiences that you need to pay to get the best. Previous handymen or tradies who can ‘do it all’ have taught me this valuable lesson. Of course, it depends on your budget for each reno. Working full time I don’t have the time I’d like to spend learning how to do these jobs myself so for now pay for the expertise.

I decided to use kitchen cupboards/drawers for the vanity unit and had the kitchen benchtop ‘Laminex- Ameretto Stone’ duplicated in the bathroom. I did this so that I could choose the set up as I wanted a deep drawer for products rather than piling them on a shelf which I wanted to use for towels. I had a square basin installed on top as I like the look. I chose this route rather than the all in one vanities as it was the same price and added something a bit different while keeping the neutral pallet. I wasn’t able to get an off the shelf shower screen for the size I needed so opted for a screen which had a mix of 2 fixed panels and one door. I got a 50% discount if I bought the mirror and had them both installed so went for that option.

 Before:     After: 


For lighting I chose a heater light, for the obvious heat factor but also because the bright light is great for putting on makeup.

Overall I’m really pleased with the effect, what do you think?

Do you have more than $200k in your super fund? You could use your super to buy property - Find out how

Single mum Lisa Curtin has conquered most investors’ biggest fears, going from struggling to pay her mortgages to seeing success in renovations and now claiming the ultimate prize: a portfolio that will enable her to retire at 50.

Top Suburbs : canterbury , kawana , sth toowoomba , mayfield , alexandra hills

go back
Other Blogs
  • Kelly Savin says on 09/01/2013 01:11:46 AM

    Hi Lisa
    WOW... AMAZING I am Nolas assistant Loved you blog and loved what you have done with the unit what a transformation. I look forward to following you blog.
    Thank you for allowing us to share your article on Nolas webpage we hope others are inspired by your achievements.
    And what a very lucky daughter you have

    Good Luck


  • Nicole G says on 11/01/2013 10:58:55 PM

    Hi Lisa, the new bathroom looks great. Did you get new drawings done for the bathroom or was this not needed as the facilities were being kept in same location.
    Being from northern suburbs in Perth, it's great to hear/see someone's local experience as most case studies I review are from east coast.
    Look forward to seeing future blogs!

  • Lisa Curtin says on 08/10/2013 09:46:49 AM

    Hi Nicole, I'm so sorry I missed your post asking a question. I had the toilet removed and new fittings put in by a plumber but mainly kept the same layout. There was originally a bath under the shower so the bath taps also needed to be shut off so it was lucky I was tiling the whole room as it covered the works. There was no need for plans or council approval. Good luck with your reno and all the best with your future projects.

View 2 more comment(s)

Get help with your investment property

Do you need help finding the right loan for your investment?

When investing in property, it is important to make sure that you not only have the lowest available rate that you can get, but also have the correct loan features for your needs.

Just fill in a few details below and we'll then arrange for a local Aussie Mortgage Broker to contact you and work out what features or types of loans are right for your needs. We'll even help with the paperwork. Plus and appointment is free.

How soon would you like a mortgage?
What is your Annual Household Income i $
Do you currently own any Investment Properties?
Do you own your own residence?
How much equity do you have in all your current properties?
First Name
Last Name
Where do you live?
What number can we reach you on?
E-mail address
We value your privacy and treat all your information seriously - you can check out our privacy policy here