Podcast 97: Renovation – best-laid plans (and tiles)


Elsewhere in this post

It’s renovations all the way in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap as we chat about a Forum post asking what can be done about a disastrous and unauthorised renovation, now that the owner is planning to sell, bodgy renos included.

That’s one end of the spectrum where a major and mostly illegal renovation has been allowed to continue without so much as a “by your leave” let alone a by-law.

At the other end of the reno rainbow, an old chum has called up to ask about the work she wants to do in her flat where the committee has had the plans for weeks but have only now decided they need to have a general meeting to approve them.

Not only that but they want another 17 days to give notice to owners while she has tradies all set with their Makitas revved up and ready to go. Do they really need a general meeting (she doesn’t need any by-laws)? And if so, how could it have been avoided?

Listen here

And finally we talk to our own project manager for our bathroom renos, Chris Triantis of CBT Projects, and ask him all the truly searching questions like:

  • What’s the price range for an average bathroom reno?
  • How long does an average bathroom reno take?
  • What are the biggest challenges for the home owner (especially in apartments)?
  • What is the deal with waterproofing and why is it so hard to get it right?
  • Tiles, paint, plaster or glass – what’s the best wall covering?
  • Is light better than dark for wall colours?
  • What’s the appeal of Venetian plaster?
  • Do you tell people if you think they’re making a design error?
  • When it comes to fixtures and fittings, do you get what you pay for or are you just paying for the brand name?
  • With wall-hung WCs, why can’t you just replace an old WC with a new model from the same company?
  • Niche or no-niche?
  • Underfloor heating?
  • Have you ever had to go in and fix someone else’s bad reno?

All that and more in the Flat Chat Wrap.

Transcription in full.

The following transcription is a bit patchy. Our various accents almost defeated our transcription service, hence the delay … anyway, here’s a picture of them at work … enjoy.

Jimmy  00:00

I got a call this afternoon from a blast from the past. Remember Louise who used to do Urban Cinefile.

Sue  00:08

Oh , I certainly do.

Jimmy  00:09

So guess what? She’s doing a renovation.

Sue  00:12

Oh, good luck to her.

Jimmy  00:16

And we’re going to be talking about renovations this this week. But I thought it was ironic. She’s in a situation where she put through all her plans weeks ago. But then there’s been a change of membership and the committee and there’s been a new strata manager come in. And they’ve just told her I think that work is supposed to start this week. And I’ve just told her now we need to have 17 days notice for a general meeting to approve,


Oh, no. And Strictly speaking, they don’t need a general meeting, but they’re going by the absolute letter of the law because their strata scheme, their Owners Corporation has never done the thing that most owners corporations do at their AGM, which is to say, the committee can take decisions on behalf of the general meeting.




They can’t do bylaws or special resolutions or anything else. They say most buildings like ours and 95% of the buildings in NSW. They say the committee can make decisions on behalf of a general meeting. They’ve never done that formally. And so they’re saying they have to have a general meeting even though the law doesn’t require by-laws

Sue  01:27

Well,   because that that little thing is on most AGM notices I’ve seen, you kind of think I never really take any notice of it. But it shows how crucial it is.

Jimmy  01:38

Well, it can be if somebody gets a bit nitpicky anyway, later on, we’ll be talking to somebody whose business it is to do renovations in apartments and in houses. That’s ChrisTtiantis. I’m Jimmy Thomson.


And I’m Sue Williams.


And this is the Flat Chat Wrap.



Every time I hear the word renovation, it makes me want to sing.


Why? It makes me want to  want to cry.


Songs popping in my mind like, Celebrate good times.

Sue  02:24

So obscure, ridiculous.

Jimmy  02:26

How about Tracy Chapman talking about a renovation?

Sue  02:33

I think that really pollutes a wonderful song.

Jimmy  02:38

The Beatles?


Move on Jimmy.


Okay. So we, as anybody who’s been following my stuff on the website will know that we’re about to have bathroom renovations done. And then I had a post to the website this week about renovations that were done without permission. And just to let   listeners, our renovations are permitted to the eyeball We have signed so many documents. I’m sure at some point that somebody so much as drops a hammer, we have to hand our apartment over to the Owners Corporation. But it’s good to have bylaws, it’s good to have rules, because there are so many people who break them, especially the people who just don’t bother with the rules at all.


And are there people like that around?


Apparently there are! There was a post to the website where somebody had done a renovation in their building – a quite a major renovation – and had done it to the letter of the law and by-laws and special work that they got done. So they complied with the strata rules and all the rest of it, costing them $60,000. And then somebody else went in and just did an even bigger renovation without any bylaws and any permissions or anything like that. And apparently there are people who are still living in the building from when that was going on who kind of “didn’t notice it was happening”. And then this guy bodged up his renovation so badly that the bathroom started flooding into the next door neighbor’s unit. And when it happened, the guy who’d done the renovation said, Oh, that bathroom wall is common property. So you have to fix it. And they refused and they just sent him the bill to fix it all and he paid it fair enough. But now he’s selling the place and there are no bylaws covering any of the stuff that he did.

Sue  04:39

Wow, it’s pretty dangerous.

Jimmy  04:41

Well, it is because the next person to come in,   we can assume that the bathroom wall wasn’t the only big thing that was done badly and when things start falling apart, the new owner will say it’s common property you’ve got to fix it. And they will be right because because the Owners Corporation failed to get this person to agree to by-laws so then it falls back on them. It’s their responsibility.

Sue  05:07

Wow. So what can they do now?

Jimmy  05:09

What I’ve suggested is that the get an interim order to NCAT. You take an action through Fair Trading, ask for mediation. And while that is in process, you can then ask for an interim order at NCAT, which is like an emergency order to stop the sale of the apartment. Okay, until they have signed the appropriate by-laws, the effect of that is that this goes on the record, for anybody who’s looking to purchase the apartment will immediately see they’ve got this thing hanging over them unresolved. And that gives the vendor the incentive to do what they should have done in the first place. But people are doing this. It’s something I’ve been saying for years,   people go, Oh, I want to renovate my bathroom. And the jolly chairperson says, Oh, that’s fine. You go ahead. , we all do it.

Sue  06:09

And you don’t realize the repercussions that can last for years and years and years,

Jimmy  06:11

And years and years and years. And, and all it takes is just follow the rules, follow the bylaws,   people say, “Oh, we don’t bother with bylaws in our building, and then somebody buys in, then their apartment starts falling apart. And suddenly all the other owners have to contribute to fixing it.


, but we’re not doing it that way?


It’s good. It’s good. I like the fact that there are clear and sensible rules for people to follow. And,   the our friend Louise, she, she’s just moved into a new apartment. She wants to get the kitchen done. And, as I said before, there are new people on the committee, and there’s a new strata manager, quite a young and inexperienced strata manager, I believe.

And she put in all the details about a new kitchen and putting in a timber floor. And they’ve come back and said, you need a bylaw, which needs a general meeting. And we have to give 17 days notice.

Now, two things there. She doesn’t need a bylaw. Under the strata act, it is a non major renovation. And it specifically says putting a floor does not require a by-law. But it does require the approval of the Owners Corporation at a general meeting. And since they haven’t done that thing that we were talking about before, of saying at their AGM, we give you the permission to act as if there had been a general meeting. She is now being told she has to pay for a general meeting..

Sue  07:56

Wow! And and how much is that going to be?

Jimmy  07:59

Well, I don’t know. But they’re saying they need 17 days notice. Now, from what I can see, you’ve got to give seven days notice of a general meeting. And you’ve got to allow six days for snail mail to get into people. And so that’s 13 days. Really, they’re saying 17 days. But she’s ready. The workmen are turning up.


What is your advice to her?


She needs to get a letter drawn up saying that she is seeking retrospective permission from the next general meeting. And provided that approval is not unreasonably withheld. She will abide by that. And if they don’t give approval, then she’ll undo the work.

Sue  08:50

That’s a really good idea.

Jimmy  08:51

. But   basically, that’s what we signed up to, because we have a catch all by law in our building, because they don’t want to keep having general meetings to approve people’s renovations. That’s the basis of what we signed up for. We agreed to abide by a bylaw. They agreed that they will accept our renovations provided,   we stick by what we said we’re gonna do.

Sue  09:16

Now that sounds excellent advice. And if they come and say, No, we don’t agree to your work later on. . And they say she has to undo it. Or she could actually then go to NCAT. , under the new law on pets and the ruling from the Court of Appeal

Jimmy  09:35

Harsh and unconscionable. Yes, and discriminatory and evil.

Sue  09:41

Interfering with what the freedom to do what she wants in her unit.

Jimmy  09:45

Absolutely. So she’ll be fine.   she’s just a bit nervous. She’s just moved into the building and she doesn’t want to upset people and she says the people in the committee are fine and the strata managers are inexperienced and trying to do everything by the letter of the law.

Sue  10:05

That’s the problem when people don’t really know. And then it’s become safer for them to say no rather than interpret the legislation in a way that is sensible.

Jimmy  10:15

But I think if she gets a letter drawn up, and she knows plenty of people who are lawyers who can draw something like that, getting witnessed and notarized or whateve. And then everybody can feel comfortable about moving on, and she’s not going to have workmen sitting in the carpark for three weeks waiting for approval that she really doesn’t need. Okay. Now, when we come back, we’re going to be talking to our project manager and builder, Chris Triantis about renovating in apartments


And houses, and how difficult it can be and how challenging but how …

Jimmy  10:5H

How incredibly easy it is when you use him.

That’s after this.



And we’re back. Well, this week, we have a guest and unusually for us. It’s not on zoom – he’s actually sitting here. So welcome, Chris Triantis. Hello, Chris.

Chris  11:17

How are you going, Jimmy and Sue?

Jimmy  11:19

Hi. So for anybody who’s not aware, for the past five weeks … and  I’ve got a feeling Chris’s unaware because he’s sitting here … I’ve been writing about bathroom adventures, our bathroom renovation, and we today we have the gentleman who is in charge of making it all happen. So Chris, your company is CBT developments?


That’s right.


And you actually build houses from scratch, don’t you?

Chris  11:47

, we do everything.

Jimmy  11:48

But in the in the middle of all that you will do little one off jobs.

Chris  11:53

. Anything? renovation extensions? New builds? Yep. All the above, sir.

Sue  11:59

And lots of apartments.

Chris  12:02

, done a few. I think now, because of COVID. I think people are home and just looking for something to do. Yes, I think a lot of renovations are coming up.

Jimmy  12:12

And eventually, there’s only so many shelves you can put up and you can. So you get in a professional

Chris  12:19

so just very basic stuff.


What’s the average price of a bathroom renovation? I know it will be a range depending on what , roughly.


Depends how high spec but usually about, like for one bathroom be about 20 grand. Right. But obviously, as you do multiple, sort of the price comes down because you’ve got trade too. , they’re going to be doing both at the same time.   what I mean? , rather than if I count for one, they just start off, they will still charge you for the full day.

Jimmy  12:44

So 20 grand will get you the reno, the tiling, plumbing, plumbing and all that stuff.

Chris  12:53

And then it’s only got the vanities and that which will be on top of that.

Jimmy  12:54

. Which is pretty much up to the customer then. Basically how fancy they want to go.,

Chris  13:01

generally, I’ll leave that stuff out in more quotes. It’s too hard. There’s so many items you can choose from. It’s hard to get an exact pricing.

Jimmy  13:09

I’ve started to have dreams about wandering through Cass Brothers choosing bathrooms. Purchasing baths. .

Sue  13:16

So what’s the cost of the tapware and vanities? About $5000?

Jimmy  13:27

Depends what you bought. If you go for the fancy fancy stuff. . I somebody wrote to that website the other day, and said my advice when it comes to taps. Buy the best you can afford? , because it really does the price you get what you paid here.

Chris  13:43

That’s true. There’s a lot of Chinese like, ripoffs that sort of wreck after like six months? . So you don’t want to be putting,   in your bath, and you put that in and see cost? Oh, you got to change the tap or?

Jimmy  13:54

, so we don’t want that. No. Okay.

Sue  13:58

And how long does an average bathroom Reno take?

Chris  14:01

Depends on the size, but usually three to four weeks? Generally, depending how many one wants two bathrooms generally same timeline? Because,   there’s not that much more work when he can sort of do it in a similar timeframe, but generally about a month.

Jimmy  14:18

. And what’s the biggest challenge for the homeowner? Especially in apartments, because, that’s what we’re talking about.

Chris  14:24

Obviously, bathroom sealing. You have no toilet, no shower for a time. So that’s probably the most challenging for the owner and the noise as well … demolition issues. You could plan to go out for a beer while the noisy works happen. That’s generally the hardest part.

Sue  14:48

But in the old days, I guess they’d go overseas for a holiday.

Jimmy  14:50

Now. , I go across the road. And I guess with  apartments you’ve got to make sure you’ve got all your permissions in place. Have you ever been on a working on a bathroom when the chairman of the committee is going along and going? Oh?

Chris  15:08

, not along those lines. But there is sometimes a bit of miscommunication. Some, most people don’t actually know what’s involved to get approval and actually realize they have to get approval. Right. They just think it’s their unit,   they can do whatever they want. , but the actual waterproofing in that in your bathrooms is common property. Right. So that’s, , a lot of people don’t know that. Yes.   sometimes gets me in trouble. But generally, they sorted out.

Jimmy  15:32

And what is the big deal with waterproofing? I mean ever since we’ve been writing about apartments, the one thing that consistently comes up in old buildings, new buildings, brand new buildings, is the waterproofing in the bathroom. What’s the problem? I mean, it’s the 21st century.

Chris  15:52

A lot of the old buildings don’t have waterproofing. Right. So a lot of old houses out West do not waterproof is basically because they’re all single storey homes, right? They just thought they’d let the water run down, right. But now, it’s not hard to do just you got to use the right product. Right? Some people try use cheaper products, and then it’s not fit for purpose

Jimmy  16:14

And that’s the story about just about anything in building, isn’t it? , the cheaper product, you’re gonna end up in grief, or you’re more likely to end up in strife.

Chris  16:22

Some of the tradies cut corners, obviously, like some people tried to buy from one source. They just hire tradies off those hire pages. I don’t know who they are these guys. These can try rip off the owner. Because,   then at the end of the day, you don’t know much about all the specifics. And so I’ve seen jobs where they’ve had to rip out the whole bathroom, because the waterproofing wasn’t thick enough and there’s no drains on the tiles and water is just going everywhere. You’re just basically gonna start again, right?

It’s not a quick fix. It has to dry properly as well, doesn’t it?   rushing to get it done? Waterproof generally takes it out for a couple days. Because you got to the primer, first coat, let it dry. But with a unit especially there’s as not much sunlight or much airflow. So it can take even two days to dry it out,  . So that’s why you got to use the right product as well…but they cost more.

Jimmy  17:22

But if you rush it, that’s when you get into trouble.

Chris  17:25

Rush it or step on it, or you try too quickly or tile too quick and then you get in trouble

Sue  17:32

I think one of the things with our bathroom renovation I’m most nervous about is coming back and finding a cat stuck to the membrane. Hopefully they won’t go in there.

Jimmy  17:43

Just tell them to tile round the cat.

Sue  17:48

And then I guess the thing is about wall coverings. Now people say some people say tiles are better. Some people say paint, plaster or glass. Do you have any opinion about that?.

Chris  17:59

Um, for me, it doesn’t really change much to be honest. Like, I just organize the tradies, they do the job and that’s it. Now the good thing about the plaster is no grout, there’s no joints, right? It’s all like a seamless finishing. The grout generally gets moldy over time and gets dirty. And you don’t get that. Some people like tiles … big tiles, they can get different patterns. . Just depends on your tastes. Really.

Jimmy  18:33

So when you’re talking about plaster, you’re talking about Venetian plaster, which is something I’d never heard of, in fact, something our building manager had never heard of until we said we were doing it,  ? And he was a bit alarmed. He said, can we have a chat about this plaster?

Chris  18:55

Because in his mind it’s like gyprock. It’s fairly new, like, not many people were doing it like, say five years ago. Right. But now everyone’s starting to,   get on board more.

Sue  19:04

I think in The Block one of the contestants …

Chris  19:09

I have been watching it. I was getting ideas.

Jimmy  19:16

It’s funny because one of the constant things we get in apartments is the hobby renovator. , like in this block, as   there’s a very strict time limits in which you’re allowed to work. And the weekend is completely out.   nobody can do noisy work in the apartments and the weekend in this block.

And I hear about these blocks where they have the only restriction is you’re not allowed to work before nine o’clock on a Sunday morning. That’s it. So you get these people watching The Block and they’re down at Bunnings getting tooled up and then they come back and start, ripping out the bathrooms and the neighbors are getting driven nuts and then of course because of doing it themselves they screw up.

Chris  20:04

It is hard with units like you have to make noises.   the job in Bondi I’m sure half the unit hate me but what I’m supposed to do? I’ve got to do a job. , jackhammering some days,   for five hours, um, and like half the building you echoes through is concrete. And some people like work from home.

Sue  20:30

During COVID , difficult.

Chris  20:32

It’s but like, somebody will come down like, Look, what do you want me to do? I have to finish … I can do it at night. If that works any better for ya.

Sue  20:44

Because in Victoria where they’ve had a really tight lockdown. There’s been lots of cases of people doing renovation. . And I think the government there has said you can’t you shouldn’t be able to do renovations which aren’t absolutely necessary. But obviously in Sydney, it’s much different. , it’s much easier. . But it’s still pretty hard for people working from home.

Jimmy  21:01

Do you ever tell people that they’re making a design error?


Always, always, always. Because every day I’m on sites, I see plenty of things. And for people doing their first or second, whatever it is, renovation. It’s hard for them to visualize what the finished product is gonna be , but I know, before we even start, we’re gonna look at the end. I know what’s gonna look good, what’s not gonna look so good? I’ll tell you, I gotta be honest, it’s, um, straightforward. Basically, everything I do. Just got to be honest.

Jimmy  21:41

And it was funny, because when we decided we weren’t gonna have a corner bath. You said you weren’t gonna let us have one. So,   it’s just like, very quietly, , diplomatically, sort of steering people in the right direction.

Sue  21:57

That’s a great gift, being able to visualize what it’s gonna look like, I have no idea whatsoever. And there is a company Well, there, I think a few companies now they have virtual reality glasses, and they designed the program. So you can actually see, I think that’s a fantastic idea. But it does probably add an awful lot of money on to the procedure,

Jimmy  22:15

Pretty much you’ve got to sign up with them first. And then let them do the design. And then they let you walk through. And if you say, Oh, no, I hate this. I want the bath here. And , I just I wonder if they go, Oh, that’s gonna be another cost. Because now you want us to redesign?

Sue  22:33

Presumably, you have to you have to design the program, don’t you? Really, you kind of have to put in everything. So that would be a lot of time and effort.

Chris  22:43

When I’m doing the house, I have to set everything up for like the end product, basically. Right? So you got to allow for pipe to go here or wiring? I mean, make sure this team is not in the way of a light fixture or stuff like that. So like, I got to think what the hell’s gonna look finished the whole house before it’s even started. Right. Right. And they want to make sure it all comes together.

Jimmy  23:06

So you actually design the house?

Chris  23:08

Not design, but you got to make some a lot of things don’t work on plans. Right that in reality, , you’re right. . So architect will draw something that will actually won’t actually work in real life. Right. It’s easier to draw something on paper, but it’s actually a different story. , absolutely.

Jimmy  23:26

I remember somebody bought into a new apartment block by one of our largest developers. And,   they’d seen the show apartment and it looked really nice. And then they were when they were in in the lounge room had this big bulkhead running across the corner. It was about 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters, but that wasn’t in the plan. But when they got there, they’d forgotten to put some sort of piping in the construction. And so they just tacked it on and it’s like,


Ruined the whole effect kinda.


So here’s a here’s the thing about personal taste. In a bathroom are light colors better than dark.

Chris  24:15

For me, yes. But bathrooms are generally not the biggest room in the house. So if you put dark colour, it’s gonna look even smaller than what it is? Right. Use light colours and it sort of looks bigger.

Sue  24:28

One of our friends went and stayed in a hotel, that had had a brand new renovation, and all the bathrooms were incredibly dark. He was saying it was really dangerous because you couldn’t shave without worrying that you’re going to injure yourself and you had no idea what you look like when he went out.

Jimmy  24:53

He said that the vanity the light was underneath the vanity. He said it would be great if I wanted to shave my legs. But that wasn’t his plan for the holiday.

Sue  25:06

When it comes to fixtures and fittings Do you get what you pay for?

Chris  25:10

I believe so. There’s a big difference. Like, if you go, to Reese, or one of those trade links on here. There’s the showerhead examples like five $600. And then you go to a corner shop, whatever. They’re like hundred dollars. , there’s got to be something. You can’t make the exact same product for that price. There may be some that looks like unique and somewhere you can feel when you actually testing What do I flimsy? Right. totally gonna love to the mix, isn’t that? , you can tell there are a few things you but

Sue  25:45

so when they arrive when you’re doing a bathroom renovations, you say to the owners, we don’t want to put these in?

Chris  25:50

No, you can’t … you can’t force someone to pay thousand dollars. But you’re told you’re in risk of this breaking off in say six months or a year, whatever. It’s gonna be their choice. If they say yes, you can’t refuse …  it’s not up to me. You can obviously give advice. But as far as you can go,  

Sue  26:21

Because you look at the list of things that people buy for their bathrooms …

Chris  26:28

Well, I always send it to my plumber. And so he’s going to see any issues with any of these.

Jimmy  26:35

Hmm, and talking about issues… How come it is that you have a wall hung toilet, and you want to replace the WC? And you think, well, the cistern’s still working. But it turns out you cannot replace the old WC on the old system. You got to buy? I mean, what’s going on there?

Chris  26:57

It’s about money? They don’t want you to go down just to buy the piano when you buy a lot of things. Right, basically. So they do it on purpose. There’s no reason why they can’t make it the exact same.

Jimmy  27:09

So that’s literally it’s like Apple bringing a different shaped phone?

Chris  27:12

Slightly different then they run down the charge on the old ones.

Sue  27:16

Like football teams – because you were a professional footballer – bringing out a new strip every year.

Chris  27:27

Basically, there’s some slight color changes. .

Jimmy  27:29

There’s a slightly different stripe on the shoulders.

Sue  27:32

And you talked earlier about niches. . niches. Everybody’s talking about niches now with bathrooms.

Chris  27:38

I like them. Because if you go without a niche, unless you’ve got shelving or something in the shower, you’re gonna have all your soaps now on the floor, which doesn’t look great.

Sue  27:48

It’s an indentation in the wall, isn’t it? Near the shower?

Chris  27:53

it’s like an inset wall shelf in the wall. , , I’m doing I did all mine. Initially my house, every thing gets put in the niches in the bathroom, everything is just cleaner.   There’s not a lot as much mess and I like everything to have its place.   I don’t like things just thrown cluttering around.

Jimmy  28:20

You got mentioned in my website today, because we’re writing about baths and how you can get a smaller bath that’s actually got more room in it, because we’ve gone for a free standing bath. And so it doesn’t have a lip around the edge. I said, Where am I going to set my gin and tonic? and Chris says, That’s all right. I’m building you a niche That’s a good cocktail bar

And I remember early in the process, you suggested we could have underfloor heating. And he said it was only about 500 bucks.

Chris  28:59

It’s about $700 or $800 but it’s come down a lot. It used to be expensive at first.

Jimmy  29:04

Well, that was almost like the signal of real luxury for us. , coming from Northern Europe.   your underfloor heating in a bathroom is I’m just going to sit in the bathroom. gonna lie on the bathroom floor and get warm. But $700 or $800 – do a lot of people go for that?

Chris  29:23

They do now because of the price but obviously depends on the area. Bathrooms will be about that. But some people do their whole house a whole living area. But you’ll be surprised how long it takes to heat up like the bathroom will maybe take like 30 minutes to an hour to heat up. , you set on a timer. So six o’clock, it’ll start heating up for you that the goal is to live in the lounge room still be here takes like six hours. Geez, so you’ll set it up. You set the timer off in the middle of the night. And then by the time …


When the electricity is cheap …

Sue  30:00

I guess you have to live your life to routine … I’m gonna have to shower now because …

Jimmy  30:07

I was just having a shower just now and they told us they were turning off the water in the building because some idiot’s doing renovation, and they said we’re turning off the water at 11 o’clock so I got that. I had to work out in the gym. Come back up. I’m standing there at 5 to 11 – suddenly no hot water!! I don’t do cold showers. I don’t need to be that awake.

Jimmy  30:31

What would your one piece of advice be to apart from hiring CBT? Do you have one piece of advice for people who are thinking of doing a bathroom renovation in an apartment block.

Chris  30:50

Just make sure you’ve organized everything early. So buy all your toilets and showers, your vanities and tiles and that early? Yep, there’s a lot of people. They have their likes. I mean, they go and go again, I like this I like that. The renovation ends up dragging on dragging without you realizing.

It’s good to have everything organized before you have the workmen on site.   You roughly know when you’re gonna need what on site. So  just have everything ready. Because then that way you’ll be much smoother on site.  It’s there. Rather than if you gotile store and they don’t have them in stock. I’m gonna go look somewhere else. And , a week later, you’re still looking for tiles.

Sue  31:30

And then the budget blows out because you’ve got the tradesmen in and, nothing to do.

Jimmy  31:34

And the other my piece of advice would be once you’ve decided what you want to stop looking. Stop. Don’t ever go near a bathroom store. Don’t even look in the window. Don’t go online. Just stop because it will drive you mad.

Sue  31:51

Because you go and you look at the you start looking at the tiles, and you start looking at all those quite nice fittings …

Chris  31:58

But everyone changes  … most people change their mind. , three or four times. But I say as long as you change your mind beforehand. Then you’re right.

Jimmy  32:07

I said to the guy in Cass Brothers, Gareth … Hello, Gareth … I said, we’re not going to be one of these people who just keeps changing every five minutes.  The next day I called up and said, I know we said we wanted such and such, well, we had another think about it. He said, this is this is my job. This is what I do. But I think there’s a limit. You don’t want to be changing stuff when the tradesmen are in, drills in hand, ready to rock and roll.

Sue  32:44

So what’s your worst bathroom reno experience?

Chris  32:48

Um, basically, like I said before, people not organized, just haven’t chosen the tiles where they’ve waterproofed everything andthey’re basically waiting. Or people choose tiles and it’s eight to 10 weeks lead time? So what are you supposed to do? You just stay off site until the tiles arrive and you’re back in to finish, it’s like three months later. You got to be organized early on the stuff you need and know it’s gonna be available.

Jimmy  33:25

And then go and get your permissions. . And strata schemes get all that sorted out. Because,   some in some strata schemes, you actually need a separate bylaw. When we were lucky in this building, I say lucky,   a lot of work has gone into it, that there is a kind of a set of by-laws that cover every renovation, and you just sign up to tha.

But I know buildings where you might have a dozen different apartments, and each of them has to go and get their own bylaws. Apart from the fact that those buildings are really badly run, folks, take it from me, it’s a pain for people when they’ve hired you. And then suddenly they’re saying, Oh, we need permission for this.

Chris  34:09

Sometimes it can take up to like 12 weeks to get that approval.   People will want to start straightaway and then they realize oh, now gonna get approval from strata and they don’t realize how long it’s gonna take.

Jimmy  34:21

Have you ever been in a position where the owner the apartment owner has said look everything’s fine. And then somebody has said” “You do realize they don’t have permission for this?”

Chris  34:34

Fortunately, I’ve always asked the questions beforehand.  I guess with the apartments  as well, you’ve got problems like some have lifts have to be dressed and everything.  Some are walk-ups, and so you have to take all this stuff up there. And access might be difficult, parking might be difficult. You’ve got all those things, additional things with apartments. It’s true. You can’t just get trucks in there. just   loads of trucks or being is basically getting trailers in and just it’s all manual labor. . . Taking it down and making sure the hallways are all protected and everything because , you don’t be damaging common hallways and stuff like that.

Jimmy  35:17

Well word of mouth is really important and in your business as it is in ours that you don’t want people saying whatever you do don’t use those guys, they wrecked our building.

Chris  35:30

That’s right. I always got to be careful.

Sue  35:31

Because I don’t know once we had a bathroom a kitchen renovation that was the only other renovation was ever done in an apartment. . And the company was the first time they’d ever done an apartment. So they didn’t realize that we just didn’t really have enough room for all the equipment to be there. And they were kind of leaving it overnight, every time and they were cutting the marble wasn’t marble was it was kind of stone. They were cutting on the balcony and left the doors and windows open. So it blew in everywhere. So it’s a real skill to work out how to do it within an apartment as well.

Chris  36:04

Well, you’re strapped for space, basically. ,

Jimmy  36:08

That company is still in business, despite our best efforts. Okay, that’s great. Chris, thank you so much for coming in and talking to us. It’s It’s such a novelty to actually sit and talk to somebody on zoom.

Sue  36:23

It really is. .

Jimmy  36:25

All right. Thanks, guys. And we’ll catch up soon.



Cheers, thanks.

Jimmy  36:34

The funny thing, isn’t it? You look at the magazines, you go around the shops, you see all the nice shiny new stuff you choose. Like we did plaster over tiles and stuff like that. And then you suddenly get this moment just before they start ripping out the bath and the sink of … Hmm.

Sue  36:54

It doesn’t look half as bad as I thought

Jimmy  36:56

I quite like these horrible grey little square tiles.

Sue  37:01

I guess we’re thinking that now because we’re just packing up to go and stay in a hotel over the road, a pet friendly hotel? And taking the cats with us. I don’t know, they don’t seem very happy about the idea of going on.

Jimmy  37:14

I don’t think they’re hotel friendly cats. That’s the problem. They like things to be exactly the way they have always been every day since the day they got here. But they’ll cope so long as they get fed and they can snuggle up. But the big problem is there’s no space under the bed for them to go and hide.

Sue  37:33

We’re gonna have to kind of build a little hutch for them. I think

Jimmy  37:36

I wasthinking of getting bricks and putting the bed on them

Sue  37:41

the hotel might say something about that.

Jimmy  37:43

I thought they might so I decided against it. Enough about renovation and pets. When we come back. It will be our Hey Marthas for this week. That’s after this.


And we’re back. So what’s your Hey Martha for this week?

Sue  38:04

Well, I find it quite reassuring, really, that when people do the wrong thing that they do seem to be found out eventually. . And it seems to be people in power tend to think they’re never gonna be found out. And they’re going to be able to do things with impunity. And it’s quite reassuring. When it’s revealed what they’ve been doing.

Jimmy  38:24

These days, they say to sports stars,   when you go out drinking and stuff like that, everybody’s got a camera in their phone. And it’s not just being caught being an idiot on camera. It’s social media. 20 years ago, you walk down the street, you see somebody famous with another person they shouldn’t be with –  who are you going to tell?  You just tell your mates in the pub or somebody over coffee. These days, you see somebody doing the wrong thing, or you find out somebody’s doing the wrong thing. You go on the internet, you go on social media, you don’t even have to identify yourself. And before you know it, everybody is talking about it. I mean, we’ve had this past week,

Sue  39:15

The Post Office with the $20,000 watches.

Jimmy  39:18

$3,000 each. That’s the accumulative cost. Let’s not get carried away by   $3,000 watch for doing a deal..

Sue  39:31

$3000 for doing their job. And the ASICs guy for claiming expenses on his tax advice for coming to Australia how to minimize his tax. Hmm.

Jimmy  39:39

It wasn’t illegal. They’re quite clear, but that was kind of like really immoral. You’re minimizing paying tax in the country that you come in, who’s going to be paying your wages? Hmm. It’s a bit Trumpian, isn’t it? Oh, . And then of course, we’ve got Gladys Berejiklian. Poor Gladys. She’s done such a good job. And then idiot features who lurches out of the shadows and her reputation is shot.

Sue  40:10

And I do feel sorry for her. I think everybody feels sorry for her. But really, I don’t know if she should survive this.

Jimmy  40:17

I don’t think she will. Somebody said on Insiders last week that she will not be in power at the next election. Hmm, no, I know that she’ll lose the next election. She won’t even be there. She won’t reach the next election. I think they’ll let her deal with COVID make her Dame Gladys, and send her off.

Sue  40:35

And it’s such a shame because she’s an incredibly talented politician. I mean, I don’t like her politics. But I’ve been to lots of press conferences while she’s when she’s there. And it’s quite incredible that can she can stand up in front of a crowd without any notes without a pen or a piece of paper in her hand, and talk about anything that they’re talking about,   about the opening of new building, the launch of a new development plan, anything. And the person who’s actually launching it and explaining the plan is still standing there with all his notes, reading his notes. She’s she’s so articulate. She’s quite incredible, really. And it’s so it’s very sad that it’s come to this.

Jimmy  41:14

The one note she needed on her Notepad, somebody should have scribbled “your boyfriend is an idiot ….dump him … get rid of them.

Sue  41:23

And what’s your Hey, Martha.

Jimmy  41:26

Well, my Hey Martha  is all about you, Sue. Because you had a huge week or 10 days. You have a new book, Healing Lives. And you’re on the radio with Richard Glover. I’ve never been on the radio with him.


Richard Glover is very nice.


Well, when I’m on my way out of the James Valentine show, he occasionally nods in my direction. And that’s the only communication I’ve had with him.

Sue  41:52

Well, it’s funny when I was waiting there in the greenroom beforehand, people kept coming and looking at me and saying, Wow, a live studio guest. You haven’t had one of these for such a long time.

Jimmy  42:03

Well, , and that was about the book Healing Hives. And you can hear that interview on the ABC, but you can also hear it edited down to Sue’s bit on her website, suewilliams.com.au.

And then you got nominated for two travel writing awards.

Sue  42:23

Much to my shock. , I mean, they are kind of weird awards. One was for trade travel story I’d written about passports. Right. And the other one, which some of my friends think is a bit bizarre was about writing about food. Right. As  you know Jimmy, there’s lots of food. I don’t eat … meat … Dairy products,  gluten. . And I did a piece on food in Guanzho in South southern China, and been nominated for an award for that one, which is very nice. But the piece was about food at various places in China. And somebody said to me, gosh, it sounded like you actually ate the meat. But as a journalist, you can write about stuff without trying it.

Jimmy  43:10

If you’ve got some tasters. “What was that like, huh?” That’s great. So you so and you your website, which we mentioned before, suewilliams.com.au, I have to say, is looking fantastic.

Sue  43:22

And who’s that thanks to Jimmy?

Jimmy  43:25

I couldn’t possibly say.

Alright, so we’ve got to go and gather our cats and take them to the cat friendly hotel. And then we’re going to hide for a week while our renovations are being done, or being started because they’re going to take a month. But we’ll be back here next week. We hope.

Sue  43:45

Listen in to hear how we’re going

Jimmy  43:46

You probably hear it in our voices or in the wails of our neighbors, saying please, stop the drilling. Thank you, Sue. And thank you all for listening. We’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.



One Reply to “Podcast 97: Renovation – best-laid plans (and tiles)”

  1. Jimmy-T says:

    If you want to start a discussion or ask a question about this, log into the Flat Chat Forum (using the link above). More people will read it there and you can more easily keep track of responses.

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