Penny of all trades: Sydney's top Female Tradie on how to add value to properties in 2019

When you need someone to renovate your kitchen or build a backyard deck, it’s not every day that you’d expect a woman in high-vis to come knocking on your door. But for clients of Penny Petridis and her team at Female Tradie, this is exactly what they expect.

With 20 years of experience and a Certificate IV in Building, Petridis and her team service Sydney with a wide variety of jobs - ranging from building maintenance and home renovations to carpentry and metal fabrication. Not only has this given her a wealth of knowledge on residential, commercial and industrial trade, but it’s also honed her attention to detail.

With that in mind, there’s no doubt that Penny would know a thing or two about adding value to properties. Let’s take a look at what she has to say.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sydney Female Tradie
Source: Female Tradie
Penny Petridis (right)

After I finished school, I got into the trade industry through building race cars. Over the years, I picked up and moved through construction work, metal fabrication, engineering and carpentry to gain more experience. And most recently, I completed my Certificate IV in Building, so now I’m fully qualified to build and renovate.

Could you tell us a little bit about your business, Female Tradie?

I started Female Tradie about 5 years ago. I wanted to work for myself but every time I went to go and see a client, they’d freak out at the fact that I was a girl. It was such a big deal to them. So to overcome that, I kept my business simple and called it Female Tradie. That way, my clients would know exactly who they were ringing and what to expect from the very beginning.

"I wanted to work for myself but every time I went to go and see a client, they'd freak out at the fact that I was a girl. It was such a big deal to them."

Today, though, Female Tradie isn’t just me alone - it’s also my team of four.

Do you get many clients asking you for advice on how to add value to a property?

Definitely! We get a lot of clients asking about that. But usually, there are two different types of people who ask. There are clients that do so for personal reasons to improve their own homes and there are clients that do so to flip investment properties and earn a profit. There tends to be an equal amount of both.

outdoor deck renovation
Penny Petridis and an outdoor deck built by her and her team at Female Tradie. Source: Female Tradie.

What sorts of jobs are you seeing people wanting done? Are there any popular ones in particular?

It really depends on the time of year. I find jobs are quite seasonal. Over spring and summer, for example, I get many people asking for new decks, pergolas and outdoor revamps. But this year, over the last 6 months, I’ve been doing a lot of kitchen renovations.

It just depends because every 10 years or so, people tend to revamp whatever is outdated, like their kitchens and bathrooms.

What’s a way that people can revamp a kitchen or bathroom that’s quite classic and doesn’t need frequent updating?

bathroom renovations Sydney
Source: Female Tradie

Stick to neutral colours and try not to jump on any trends. Why? Because if you use red splashback tiles, for example, it will definitely outdate. So, it’s best to stick to neutral colours for main fixtures and fittings like your cabinets and countertops. This way, you can add your own personal touches by adding coloured ornaments and not have to revamp your home so often.

When someone comes to you and says they want to add value to their home, what areas would you recommend for them to focus on or start with?

I think every room is important, but the three biggest areas that I’d recommend for people to focus on are the front yard, the kitchen and bathrooms. They leave a lasting impression on prospective buyers and, for this reason, need to be well presented and well maintained.

Having said that, it’s important to remember not to over capitalise on unnecessary things when renovating to sell. Things like designer lights aren’t going to add value to your home… By all means update it, but don’t go too crazy.

The scale of your project should be proportionate to the property’s value and from my personal experience, I recommend not spending any more than 10% of a home's value on a total renovation.

"The scale of your project should be proportionate to the property's value and from my personal experience, I recommend not spending any more than 10% of a home's value on a total renovation."

Do you have any advice on what materials or projects people can use/do to keep costs down?

For kitchen renovations, I recommend using laminate benchtops and vinyl flooring to keep costs down.

For bathroom renovations, doing simple tasks like changing shower screens, vanities, lights and fittings can really revamp a space without breaking the bank. And instead of replacing the tiles, why not paint them instead?

There are tile paints that you can buy from Bunnings that’ll clean them up just fine. As long as you prime the tiles beforehand and apply the paint property, they’ll last a couple of years, so there’s no need to touch them up so often.

Speaking of keeping costs down, what are some ways that people can stay within a budget?

First and foremost, people need to actually have a budget in place before they do anything. Create an excel spreadsheet, come up with how much you want to spend and decide what percentage you want to allocate to each part of the renovation.

From there, break down absolutely everything you want to do, get quotes and calculate how much it'll cost, and have it written down. Once you’ve done all this and you have a budget in place, stick within your means. Don’t buy that expensive pendant light if you don't have the capacity to. Or if you really want it, figure out what other area you can compromise in.

For jobs that are a little bit easier and that people tend to DIY, how would you suggest they can upskill themselves?

tradie lady
Source: Female Tradie

I suggest looking up videos and guides on the internet. We’re lucky now because in this day and age, it can basically show and tell us how to do everything, right?

Another thing people can do is attend workshops. We, for example, hold them every couple of months to teach girls about tools and how to use them in various different situations.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your workshops? Why did you start them?

Definitely! I started them because I got a lot of calls from people about various different problems. But the issues they were having were easily solvable if they had the basic skills and knowledge to handle a couple of tools; they didn’t need to call a tradie and pay tradie prices just to do things around the house, like hang a picture up on the wall you know?

I thought to myself, “we really need to help these girls out”. So I started putting together Female Tradie workshops.

"But the issues they were having were easily solvable if they had the basic skills and knowledge to handle a couple of tools; they didn't need to call a tradie and pay tradie prices just to do things around the house, like hang a picture up on the wall you know?"

Outdoor deck renovation redfern
An outdoor deck built by Penny and her team in Redfern. Source: Female Tradie.

And lastly - quickly going back to adding value to property - what’s one final piece of advice for people wanting to renovate their home before selling it?

If you're renovating to sell for a profit, always have your target market in mind because your renovation should cater to their needs and lifestyle.

This means, there are a number of things that won't add any value to a property. Some of which would include insulation, plumbing or rewiring.  

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