Australia’s renovation queen shares her tips for making millions

Cherie Barber.
Cherie Barber.

MORE: Five Perth properties ripe for renovation

TURNING a $950,000 property into a $3.06 million goldmine is just another day on the job for Renovating for Profit’s Cherie Barber, who released her first book this month, with tips for replicating her success.

That residence in inner-west Sydney suburb Leichhardt, which was sold in 2015, remains one of the TV personality’s favourite projects in her 27 years of renovating and is just one of her many record-breaking sales.

The Leichhardt property at 93 Hill Street underwent a massive transformation.

More recently, she bought a home in Sydney’s north-west for $1.4 million, injected just under $63,000 worth of renovations in nine days, and then sold it for $1.6 million a week-and-a-half after that.

The courtyard, pre-renovation.

The 47-year-old self-made multimillionaire, who regularly appears on Channel Ten’s The Living Room, has revamped more than 100 properties in her career and developed a formula that goes against the direction of popular renovating TV shows.

The Leichhardt residence before reno.

“Renovation shows are good and bad – they’re good for inspiration and motivation, but they’re terrible for the way they make people think they should be renovating,” Barber said.

“Most of the shows have the people DIY-ing all the work themselves and that’s not how your renovation project should be; you probably should be outsourcing 90 per cent of your work to licensed tradies and maybe doing about 10 per cent of the work yourself.

“If you do that, your project will be of better quality which affects your sale price, your rental price and all sorts of things.”

Barber said her book – “the first of many” – is chock full of similar other tips she has gathered while working on her numerous projects.

Another ‘before’ pic.

“It’s largely a picture book particularly of my work over the last five years; I’ve renovated about 50 houses for The Living Room and a lot of it came from there,” she said.

“All of the little pointers in the book are things that I’ve learnt over the years renovating; every renovation that I did, I learnt something new, I made mistakes.

The transformation has been stunning.
The residence sold for $3.06 million
Another pic, post renovation.
The entire character of the home has been transformed.

“With all the tips and tricks that I’m sharing in the book, they’re ways that people can renovate their house on a budget without necessarily having to outlay the cash.

“And a lot of the tips just come from being on site and some of them have been tradespeople’s tips and suggestions.

“I’m sharing a lot of those little things that people will never ever find at any seminar, any university program; it’s really just little things that you can do that you learn through nothing but hardcore experience.”

Barber said although Perth homes were a little different to those in the eastern states, her tips worked across the board.

“I’ve been to a few sites in Perth and, definitely, WA’s construction of houses is a little bit different to most other states in Australia,” she said.

“You have a lot of concrete housing and steel architraves and stuff like that but the fundamentals of renovating still stay the same.

The auction drew considerable interest.

“You’ve just got to get something from A to B and while it differs slightly construction-wise, it’s all the same stuff right across the country, the same changes – what you do on the inside or outside still stays the same.”

With her book in stores now, Barber already has her next project in her sights.

“I’m working on my tan at the moment (laughs) but really I’m just about to start project Number 108,” she said.

“It’s my own personal property; it’s your average Sydney three-bedroom, really ugly house from the ’60s and ’70s and I’ll be completely overhauling that inside and out.

“We’ll probably transform it in 10 days and that starts next month – I’m in the midst of planning now to make that happen.”

Boffins Books will be hosting an evening with Cherie Barber at Home Base in Subiaco on Wednesday, November 8, which will feature a Q&A session to answer reader questions on renovating and flipping homes

Tickets are available at www.trybooking.com/318486.

For more, call Boffins Books on 9321 5755 or email info@boffinsbooks.com.au.

CHERIE BARBER’S TOP TIPS FOR RENOVATING FOR PROFIT

KEY THINGS YOU NEED

1. An unrenovated property

When you buy a place to renovate, you need to do your due diligence, which means you need to study the market and buy a property that genuinely has good potential for the value of the property to be increased. Where and what type of property you buy makes all the difference.

2. A solid plan of attack

You know the saying, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. Enough said.

3. A black book of great tradespeople

Knowing who to ask for help is going to make your life so much easier. Communicating clearly with tradespeople is key.

TOP 5 MISTAKES

1. Getting ripped off by tradespeople

Get quotes. Always get three quotes so you can benchmark a price when you don’t know the true value of something.

2. Being disorganised

You need to sit down and plan out your reno. Winging it won’t be good for your bank balance.

3. Paying too much for stuff and not knowing where to shop

You have to do your research because you can always get things for a better price if you shop around.

4. Not knowing how to solve disputes with tradespeople

Sometimes you need to back yourself and stand your ground, even if you’re tiny in stature, like me!

5. No end goal in sight

If you’re renovating to sell or rent, you need to keep that in your mind’s eye throughout the project. Start with the end in mind!

** This is an edited extract from Renovating for Profit by Cherie Barber published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $39.99, and available in stores now.