In this episode we speak to one of our sizzling BuildHer members, Ivy Huang, about her recent renovation project and a particularly, shall we say, unique challenge that she faced throughout the process.

Ivy purchased her classic Edwardian home at auction with the plan to do it up and make it a family home.  Although it wasn’t the perfect time to buy, she got a good deal and the house was a renovator’s delight (don’t you just love hearing real estate agents say that) with all the right features in a perfect position.

Ivy didn’t spend much time in the planning stage and got stuck in removing old extensions and unveiling the beauty of the original period home.  Rebeka talks to Ivy about her process in transforming the house and what she did to bring the place to life.  Featuring weatherboards, beautiful fretwork and a stunning cathedral ceiling in the main room, the WOW factor of this house is real.  However, without much of a plan, Ivy got swept along into managing quite a big renovation project!

Having previously spent time working on a mine site and also having experience with engineering and contracting, Ivy felt confident that she would be able to manage the renovations herself.  As the renovations grew, this false sense of confidence soon became clear and she enlisted the help of a foreman to manage the project alongside her.  Ivy talks through some difficulties she faced in managing the relationship with her foreman and how she would like to do things differently next time.

Tension on site is a fairly normal thing. With numerous trades operating at the same time, it can be difficult to manage the schedule and navigate the blame game.  Tension is one thing, but being taken for a ride by a con artist who tries to scam you out of money is another (say what?).  Ivy shares about the bizarre encounter with her con artist plasterer and how she eventually came to discover that he had featured on A Current Affair 10 years ago and had 17 other cases against him!  Thankfully she got her money back and Ivy shares her insights for other homeowners to avoid getting into the same situation.

It wasn’t the most straightforward renovation job, but Ivy is at it again with a new project and, having learned from experience, she is planning, planning, planning.  We are excited to see what the new place is going to look like and the BuildHer community is here to support her all the way through to the end.

If you have a topic or question you’d like us to cover, contact us here.


  • [2:40] – Why Ivy bought the home in Armidale and her thoughts around that
  • [4:00] – How Ivy’s lack of a plan when she bought the home turned the project into something much bigger than she had anticipated
  • [5:50] – Why Ivy enlisted a builder to be the foreman of her renovation project
  • [7:00] – What the house looked like when Ivy first bought it
  • [8:37] – Removing the original dodgy renovations to permit a more succinct and formatted renovation
  • [9:15] – The research that Ivy did into the original look and feel of an Edwardian home and how she incorporated that design aesthetic into her renovation
  • [11:30] – How working with a foreman she didn’t know and trades she also didn’t know, set Ivy up for some issues
  • [12:20] – When “Simon” entered the scene as the conman plasterer
  • [13:40] – How things started to go pear-shaped once the conman started to slack off and blame other trades
  • [15:15] – The moment when Ivy realised that Simon was indeed a conman after doing some digging
  • [17:50] – The game that the conman played to gain payment and why it’s not really something that is followed up legally
  • [20:00] – How Ivy was able to actually get her money refunded from this man and the resolution
  • [21:43] – Ivy’s tips for what she would do different when starting a new renovation: Start planning before you get the keys, lock down the documentation that is needed, surround yourself with people that can help you (important for first-timers)
  • [25:20] – When you have others to bounce things off, it helps to build your confidence
  • [26:50] – Starting the planning as quickly as you can even before settlement


We have several Facebook Groups at BuildHer Collective.


BHC DevelopHers Circle and BuildHer Collective Members Only – these are closed groups for women who are doing our Build Like a BuildHer course or who have joined our DevelopHers Inner Circle.


Anyone is more than welcome to join our Women who Design, Decorate, Renovate & Build group. You will note that it’s a closed group but ask to join and if you’re into building and renovating, this is such an amazing and supportive FREE community, so come on and join in the building goodness!