From ‘mums next door’ to reno queens

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Lana Taylor, one third of Threebirds Renovations explains how three average Australian women with no renovation experience began flipping ugly duckling houses and teaching others how to do the same.

LifeStyleQ: How do three best friends with no background in renovating or styling start a business in making over some really hideous houses into real estate gems?

Lana Taylor: We absolutely don’t have any formal qualifications or training or even that much experience before we got into renovating.. but I think that is the charm about us. We’re the self-taught mums from next door who are now teaching the mums next door how to get their dream home. We just started by buying one house, seeing what we could do in six weeks, we renovated it and put it back on the market, sold it at auction above the reserve which is great and it all just rolled from there. We enjoyed it and thought, let’s try and make a living out of this.. but then we didn’t realise that everyone else was so interested in our journey (and due to social media you can share that journey) and before you knew it, everyone was interested in what we were doing. We’re all about inspiring and empowering other women with no formal qualifications to make changes and ultimately get their dream home.

LQ: What are some of the basic tips you’d give to someone who is looking to renovate their first home?

LT: You absolutely have to plan, it’s never too early to plan your renovation. It can take years to really plan a winning reno. There are a lot of big decisions you need to have made before the first tradesperson arrives at your house to do the work. For example your tile choice impacts your floor height and vice versa and you need to have thought of all these things and make these major decisions well in advance.

The other tip I like to give is that if you can live in the home before you renovate it for quite a while, that is helpful. You’d be amazed what you can learn from living in a property for just six months about things like where the sun moves and what areas you naturally gravitate towards.
In regards to budget, there isn’t any hard or fast rule on how much you should spend on your home except if it’s a home you’re going to stay in, you can spend a little bit more than if you’re renovating it just to sell. That’s where you need to be ruthless with your budget.
You have to look at your budget weekly and you need to set aside a contigency – “my reno came under budget”, said nobody, ever!

LQ: Where should first time renovaters go for inspiration and how to learn things like not getting ripped off by tradies?

LT: They should do the Reno School, our online renovating school. We teach them every single step from not letting tradies rip you off to how to get your right inspiration, how to create a vision board.. there isn’t one universal place people can go to get this information, which is why we felt a responsibility to create this learning platform. For sure, you need to get inspiration sources from the very beginning for your home and we get a lot of our inspiration from Pinterest. You need to look at what sort of property you have and understand the architectural style of it before you choose what theme you go with.

LQ: If renovators only have money to re-do one part of the home, what should they choose?

LT: It’s really hard to nominate one specific room. Your house might have a specific room crying out for a renovation, but I can certainly say if your kitchen is outdated and old and you’re renovating to sell, it’s a great room to renovate because it is the hub of the home. Having a nice kitchen is certainly money well spent. The other area I would suggest is to look at the exterior of the home because it’s the first thing everyone sees. One trick we love to use is spraying your old red bricks.. you don’t have to go to the trouble or expense of rendering or cladding it, you can just spray the bricks. Get a spray gun, which is almost like a gurney and it sprays the paint straight out of the tin and your bricks go from an ugly red to a more modern colour.. it looks so different.

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GOOD LUCK!