We’ve reached the end of our Mother Flipper series. There were laughs. There were tears. And there were plenty of regrets.
To recap, mother-daughter duo Noela Coffey and Carla Barton purchased a home in Sydney’s Leichhardt for $1.2 million, fixing it up with the intention to sell. But when they found the market had turned, they had no choice but to consider renting it out instead.
Want to avoid making the same mistakes Coffey and Barton made? We asked them to share. But not only are they sharing their home flip faux-pas, they’re also revealing the reno choices they did right.
Here’s what they said:
100% no regrets…
Installing quality fixtures and finishes
BEFORE: The bathroom was in a dire state.
With both women working as interior designers, they understood the value of installing quality fixtures and finishes from the very start. “I think we picked really good stuff including Intrim Mouldings so I’m really happy with all of that,” says Barton.
“We picked products quite effectively and I think they will be a massive positive when we’re looking for tenants or if we do decide to sell. People will really appreciate the finishes we’ve selected.”
AFTER: Intrim mouldings were used throughout to carry on the original mouldings detailing. Picture: Caroline McCredie
Having a Plan B
The plan was always to sell. But when the market turned and Barton and Coffey realised they’d be making a loss if they sold, they had to default to Plan B: renting until the selling market improved.
“Once you’ve bought it at the top of the market and renovated it, you’ve got to continue down that path and just rent it out,” says Coffey. “Luckily, we had that Plan B.”
Finding tradesmen on a referral basis
BEFORE: The outdoor area needed the attention of professionals.
While renovating, Coffey and Barton aimed to only use tradesmen who’d come recommended. “We learnt the hard way obviously, getting trades out of the Yellow Pages and them not doing the right job,” says Barton.
“But since we made sure they all came from a referral, all our trades have been great – we’ve had no issues.”
AFTER: The sunny space is now barbecue-ready.
A tinge of regret…
Buying a house in a conservation area
Easily the biggest regret of all? Buying in a conservation area, say both Coffey and Barton.
BEFORE: The laundry was chock full of appliances and in need of a declutter.
“If you have a conservation home, what you submit to council and what’s approved is what you have to build,” says Barton. “If you want to change it, you have to lodge a request to council which can mean more money and more time.”
Taking on the project management
Coffey and Barton had a builder on site until the lock-up part of the renovation. Being at the near end of the renovation and wanting to save money, they then decided to project manage themselves.
AFTER: Keeping the old details, like these door handles, was a conscious decision from the pair.
Not necessarily the wisest decision, says Barton.
“We’ve saved money [ditching their builder] but unfortunately it’s meant everything’s dragged out on the timeline which then means more mortgage repayments,” she says. “A builder would’ve pushed to have things done quicker.”
Choosing a house that needed a lot of work
BEFORE: The house had beautiful bones, but called for a lot of changes.
Lastly, Barton says she wishes they’d picked a home that needed only a cosmetic renovation. “I would have bought a house that needed interior renovations with no structural work so just a new kitchen, bathroom, paint and flooring,” she says.
AFTER: With both structural and cosmetic makeovers, the house is now living to its full potential.
Barton says she wished she hadn’t added an extension to their property, which had proved tricky to install because of soil levels. “It was a huge stab in the money bank,” says Barton.
All pictures by Caroline McCredie.
This article was originally published on
18 Oct 2019 at 12:05pm
but has been regularly updated to keep the information current.