Hear Cherie Barber talk about her latest project for the Living Room TV Show and why she told the owners not to spend $20,000 doing it up and how they achieved a better result with just $5,000 in expenditure. Cherie tells us about her 5 key improvements.
Kevin: You might recall a couple of weeks ago I was talking to Cherie Barber from RenovatingForProfit.com.au. We talked about a unit that at the time Cherie was actually working on on behalf of The Living Room. It’s a five-day project, Cherie. Is that correct?
Cherie: Yes, it is actually – a five-day project, a complete refurbishment of an apartment in five days with five key changes for just $5000. We definitely have a “five” theme going on.
Kevin: You definitely have. Tell me what those five key changes are.
Cherie: First, I’ll give you a little bit of background on the apartment so people understand why we’re doing these five key changes in five days for $5000. This apartment is valued about $560,000. A pair of first-home buyers bought the apartment. They were happy to spend $10,000 or even up to $20,000 renovating the apartment.
They applied to for the show. I got sent out, and I said to them, “You can’t spend $20,000 on this apartment because while we could get the apartment looking absolutely fantastic inside, the actual block lets it down.”
The block is a late-1960s/early-1970s apartment. There are about 30 apartments in the block. The block is actually really high on a hill. It’s almost like you need to drive Mt. Everest to get up your driveway. It has some weird little overhead bridge that goes over the front because of the steepness of the land.
You can’t even get remodeler’s trucks up the block, so everything has to come in on a van. People moving in and out of the block actually have to cart all their furniture up the driveway, so you can imagine what that would be like.
It was more about not over-capitalizing. As I said, you can do the best renovation, but if the block is not up to modern-day standards, that can drag your resale price down.
Kevin: What were the five key changes you decided on?
Cherie: The five key changes were, first of all, painting. Painting is the number one change to add value. It has huge transformation.
The second key change was changing the flooring. A lot of old apartments have carpet, and normally the carpet tends to be quite grungy. We’re ripping up the carpet, and we’ve installed some laminate flooring. That’s supplied and installed for about $37 per square meter. It’s the cheapest form of laminate painting, but it looks really good and is appropriate to the value of that apartment.
We are sprucing up the bathroom. It’s an old 1970s bathroom. The tiles are a pastel pink color with flowers on them, but they’re all structurally fine, so we’re tile painting. The bathroom looks quite small, and the reason why it looks quite small is it has an old colored glass shower screen. I grew up with one of those in my house as a kid, and you probably did, as well.
Kevin: Yes, I did.
Cherie: When you have a colored glass screen in your bathroom, it actually makes your bathroom look smaller because you can’t see through the bathroom because of the colored glass.
We’re making a couple of key little changes, like removing the glass screen. We’re putting in an off-the-shelf glass screen for about $200 that will open up that whole bathroom and changing some fixtures and fittings. That’s less than $1000 in the bathroom to make it look more modern.
Kevin: You talk about the glass screen there. I think my memory is that ours was yellow and it had the little records on it, little round circles.
Cherie: Oh, nice. You could probably sell that for a lot of money. It certainly sounds like it needs to go into a museum.
Kevin: Yes, indeed.
Cherie: Then one of the other key changes is sprucing up the kitchen, as well. Kitchens and bathrooms, as you know from previous conversations, are the two rooms that add the most value.
In this particular apartment renovation, they have some tall cabinets right in the middle of their kitchen. Those tall cabinets are visually breaking the kitchen in half and making it look small. We’ve actually just cut those cabinets in half, and we’re putting a new benchtop on. We did that change yesterday, and it made such a massive difference just by doing that alone. Then just laminate painting, benchtop, tile painting, just really simple little stuff – again, all under $1000 – to make the kitchen look more modern.
The last change is changing the window furnishings. They have really heavy, dark green drapes, and they are making the property look smaller again. I’ll come through and put some slim-line Venetians with some knit curtains from IKEA that cost about $6 each – really cheap but they look really fantastic.
I guess the moral of that story is you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a designer look on a budget.
Kevin: One of the things you mentioned there, too, was the location of the unit and how high it was and how hard it was to get to. That people would also cause a problem with getting materials there and even storing them, Cherie. Would it?
Cherie: What a nightmare. First of all, we did day one of the renovation, and we were just walking on top of each other. We had to bring saws in. We had people laying floorboards. We were trying to rip out cabinets. Yes, storing the fixtures and fittings is a real problem.
Even your waste bin, you’re not allowed to have a waste bin on the block in the apartment. It’s very rare that the strata body will allow you to do that. They’ll say, “Shove it out on the street, or get somebody to come and pick up the rubbish.”
We have actually had to put all of the rubbish in the back of a van and then drive that off site, no skip bins allowed. The waste can be an issue, but also where you store your fixtures and fittings.
Another point that a lot of people get tripped up on – and I certainly got tripped up on this about a year ago – is some of your bigger things, like your skirting boards, your architraves, and your long benchtops, getting them up the stairwell of the apartments can be mega tricky.
Kevin: Lots of difficulties there in renovating apartments. You can see that apartment being renovated on The Living Room, which is on Channel 10 on Friday nights.
Cherie Barber is our guest. Contact Cherie through her website, RenovatingForProfit.com.au. Get the free DVD while you’re there, too.
Cherie, great talking to you. We’ll look forward to seeing you on The Living Room.
Cherie: Thank you so much, Kevin.