Renovation expert Naomi Findlay says she would “get in a pub crawl to save a tradie”, and for a really good reason. Find out how trade professionals, or the lack thereof, can make or break a renovation project.
Property renovation still stands as one of the most effective ways to manufacture instant equity, but as it could also be an expensive venture, investors seek to minimise expenses while continuously improving the value of their assets.
One of the most common ways to minimise renovation expenses is to do away with professional services and do projects independently.
However, while this could be effective for minor changes, independent renovations could be risky in bigger projects as subpar works could result in even higher expenses on repairs and maintenance over the long run.
Ms Findlay, therefore, strongly encourages investors to engage trade professionals when renovating properties.
After all, good tradies are always worth their weight in gold, especially when they are well taken care of, she said.
According to the renovation expert: “My husband is often like, ‘I understand you love them more than me,’ and I’m like, ‘Correct, dude…’ Everyone’s down with this, and for me, if you don’t select a good team and manage them well, you can end up in a bad position — that’s just an elementary mistake.”
With the right team and a good leadership, renovation projects are likely to turn out successful and ultimately yield impressive results for the investor.
“It’s about leadership… It’s an art form, this project management. Tradies are cut from a different cloth than non-tradies, so you need to actually understand what makes them tick,” Ms Findlay highlighted.
“Renovations will almost always entail a team of people, a whole raft of talented people who are all trying to work together, so the relationship you can create is probably the most critical thing.”
As part of building a strong relationship with tradies, the renovation expert advised against going cheap as it may compromise the end results of the project.
According to her: “You need to have an understanding about how they want to communicate, what their triggers are, what makes them feel worthwhile. You need to make them feel worthwhile, make them feel part of the team, and definitely not screw them down for every last dollar.”
“The cheaper you go, the more you compromise quality, time and even attitude.”
“My favorite thing with my tradies is…when I make money, you make money. When you make money, I make money. Let’s all make money together.”
Ultimately, the number one thing to foster within a renovation team is respect, Ms Findlay reiterated.
Tradesmen, like all professionals, appreciate clients who respect their craft, regardless of how big or little they contribute to the entire project.
Part of respecting their craft would be to pay them accordingly and on time, she said.
“They are craftsmen, no matter their trade, and you need to respect that. It’s also respectful to let them know that they will get paid as soon as the job is done and their invoice is in your inbox,” she said.
“Just develop a relationship with them. They’re real people and they’re amazing people.”
One of the ways through which Ms Findlay shows her respect for her tradesmen is by giving out little tokens of appreciation every time she could, like a cup of coffee whenever she visits the renovation site.
By being appreciative, she maintains a good and long-lasting relationship with professionals who she can trust to work well on her properties.
“I never rock up on site without a coffee. Every trade that is on site, I know what they drink. And if I bring kebabs to site on a Friday, everyone gets kebabs… It could be as simple as bringing over prawns and beer on the last day… because that’s what you do with your mates. That’s what you do with your family… Treat them the way you want to be treated,” she said.
Even when her tradies are not always on the same page as her, Ms Findlay makes sure to approach every situation with respect and understanding.
The first step she takes every time a tradie starts pushing her around a bit would be to seek to understand — a significant value that she always tries to foster on her team through every renovation project she manages.
“That’s my big one on site: Seek to understand why an action or a statement or whatever it might be happened, because it’s not always what I think it might be. It’s not always a motivation that I think it could be, and it’s not always about me or about the job. Could be about anything,” the renovation expert said.
“I seek to understand, and then I’ll say, "Cool. Everything I do in life needs to be win-win and I’m not feeling overly like a winner right now. How can we turn this around so you win, I win, we both make money and we’re good?’”
Still, as much as she promotes understanding on site, Ms Findlay encourages investors to be firm leaders and, thus, know when to let go of members of the team who are not contributing to its success.
“Of course, let’s be dead honest… I may have done the big, ‘I’ve heard you. If you cannot hear me, then I’ll need you to leave the site.’ It’s that simple, because realistically, a worksite is nothing different to an office and you are only as strong as your weakest links,” she said.
“If there is a tradie that isn’t pulling their weight, making it harder for the other tradies, it could undo everything… Make a quick call just and move on.”