Menu

'We quit our day jobs to renovate houses full-time'

'We quit our day jobs to renovate houses full-time'

CHRIS and Rob Cook just became the envy of thousands of Australians.

The Alstonville couple has just done what many only dream of: they've quit their day jobs to buy and renovate houses full-time.

"I hate the word flipping, but yes, we're going to buy, renovate and sell houses," Chris said.

"I'm feeling a little bit excited and apprehensive about it.

"It's been a calculated decision and we've considered it for a long time, but I now feel confident we've made the right decision."

Just hours before we spoke to the Cooks, Chris has closed the doors to her family day care for the last time and Rob had left his job as a builder. But he's obviously not hanging up his toolbelt just yet.

"We've always done renovations in our spare time but always had to work to fund it," Rob said.

"So now we've got the money and are ready to jump in and do it for ourselves - now is as good a time as any!"

Chris and Rob Cook of Alstonville have just quit thier day jobs to renovate and sell houses full-time.
Chris and Rob Cook of Alstonville have just quit thier day jobs to renovate and sell houses full-time. Georja Ryan

Their love affair with renovating started back in 1999 when the couple bought their first home in Carina, Brisbane.

"We renovated this little weatherboard cottage, made some good money on that so we bought something dearer and made more money on that so we bought another and kept going," Rob said.

They're currently up to house number four in their renovation journey, but with two young girls it hasn't always been an easy juggle, especially when most of their projects have involved living in the property they're working on.

Chris remembers using their daughters' nap time to paint walls, install vanities and at times found herself "almost feeding the girls with one hand and tiling a splashback with the other".

"It sure felt like that!" she said.

With multiple renovations under their belt, the Cooks are no stranger to some hard yakka.
With multiple renovations under their belt, the Cooks are no stranger to some hard yakka. Georja Ryan

She urged those considering a live-in renovation to prepare for a hard slog.

"Living in the property you're renovating is hard. The first house we did we didn't have a ceiling for months and went through a winter without a ceiling, but you get into a routine and you just have to make sure you clean up every day to make it liveable," she said.

"We did it room by room so we could close it off and get away from it, and just did what we had to do.

"We found with some jobs, Rob would unload all his tools, get maybe four or five hours of work done, then he's have to pack it all up again at the end of the day, so it was a much slower process," she said.

Chris and Rob's top six tips for renovating include:

1.       Buy the right property and have a good idea of the potential value you could add to it with the least amount of work. Know the price of properties in the area.

2.       Don't rush into the work. Living in a property for a while beforehand will give you a better feel for how the house flows and what makes it liveable.

3.       Work out what is important for re-sale. Don't get caught up on the little things people don't see. Focus on the things people see straight away. Also keep personal preferences minimal and stick to neutral colours to appeal to mass-market when re-selling.

4.       Work out your plan before you start. Making variations of the plan mid-way through can cost you a lot of time, money and grey hair.

5.       If you're living in it, do it room-by-room so you can shut it off and escape from the chaos.

6.       Get a good financier to help you sort the numbers and keep you on track.

The Cooks said the assistance from Andrew Virtue at Newcastle Permanent had made their experience on the finance front smooth sailing.

"We decided to refinance with Newcastle Permanent as we weren't getting what we wanted with our former financial provider so we made an appointment with Andrew and he's been awesome," Chris said.

"We can ring him up and say 'we are looking at this property can you give us the money to do it', and we know he knows us and our situation and can give us the best advice."

Rob and Chris Cook have their routine down-pat with planning, designing and building.
Rob and Chris Cook have their routine down-pat with planning, designing and building. Georja Ryan

As for what happens next, Chris and Rob hope to have their current property done and sold before Christmas when they'll do it all over again.

"I'm looking every day for the next purchase, plus we have a block of land we're going to build on so we might have a couple of projects on the go at once," Chris said, to which Rob quickly chimed in…

"I think we'll finish this one first…one at a time."

For more advice on refinancing, phone Erica at Newcastle Permanent in Coffs Harbour on 6652 6059.

For more information on planning your home renovation, visit the Newcastle Permanent website.