Australia: Renovating during COVID-19, Part 2

Experience the pain and hurdles of renovating during COVID-19, in Part 2 of this short Australian series.

You may like to read some background on how the great renovating plan was hatched late last year, in Part 1 of this renovating series, before continuing with this chapter.

A little background

Initially, we set the deadline of 6 weeks to complete all renovations in time for our flight to the UK, for a wedding in early April.

Landing in Sydney to spend a week with relatives catching up after 4 years away from Australia – actually, 6 years of traveling all up – we then fly to Brisbane. The plan is to start some serious renovating in mid-February after my tenants of 14 years vacate.

The Exit Inspection reveals much more cleaning, repairs, and maintenance work ever imagined. And, this needs completing everything before even starting the renovation project. To make up for lost time with all this prep work, we work long hours every day, for 6 weeks.

Re-kindling my love affair with the sander

I first learnt how to use several types of electrical sanders and also a Torture Board, in my early 20s.

While building a Bruce Roberts 28′ Motor Sailor, extending the boat, and continuing its maintenance over 20 years, my intense affinity with the sander developed.

After decades of hours, months, and years of sanding, the love-affair (hate) is cemented.

Throughout the years, my sander reared its ugly handle. Luring me to grasp it and go hell for leather. This, I do each time. As I mentioned, it’s a love/hate relationship.

This sander brings me pain. Although, the end result is sensational and the reason persevering with this brute!

Sander, renovating, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
My lover

The time is here again to re-kindle this decades’ old love-affair with the same sander. Yes. I can’t believe that this sander is still alive. Especially, for a cheapie brand from the 1980s!

Internal painting

Even though the house was painted before my tenants moved in, 14-years’ later and compliments of the tenants, the internal paint is an absolute mess. Enter the trusty sander.

The original plan is to renovate one room at a time. Although, when you have so many rooms in such bad shape that all need painting, the plan changes dramatically. So, painting the ceilings throughout the house in one go before moving to the walls, is the new plan.

A few holes in the walls. Many dents, dings, and cracks of which all need repairing/filling, sanding, undercoating, and a couple of final coats of paint.

  • window frame, house, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • renovating a house, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • badly patched hole in wall, house, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • smoking remnants, house, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania

The timber work is next, which takes a long time. Not only is the timber in poor condition as it’s been knocked around, but it also hasn’t seen new paint in a couple of decades, possibly more. And, the oil-based paint is yellowed.

The timber doors (21 internal and 2 external), frames, window sills – all timber work really – need repairing, filling, sanding, undercoating, and painting.

I lose count of the plethora of holes that I fill. To be fair, not all of the holes are from the tenants. Some are a legacy of replacing the Roman Blinds throughout the house a couple of years’ ago, with lovely white slatted blinds.

  • renovating a house, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • renovating a house, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • renovating a house, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania

Luckily, my handyman fixed the ceilings throughout the house 18-months’ ago.

The roof leaked again after the 2015 repair. Sadly, I didn’t know how bad the ceiling leaked. Not until my tenant had to move his bed to a different position, because the ceiling dripped on him! Returning to Australia in 2016 to fix the roof again, I also check the ceiling – a tragic state.

Why am I explaining this? Because, if the handyman didn’t repair the ceilings, this would add a couple of more weeks, to the already mammoth job of renovating.

The internal painting takes over 3 weeks to repair and paint almost every inch of the house – not the floors.

The renovating consumes us solidly for 12 to 13 hours each day, 7 days of each long week that passes – it’s exhausting. During all of this, I pick up nasty plague-like blisters on my hand, from an unknown spider’s bite. This infliction hangs around for a month before clearing properly. Although, this doesn’t stop me from renovating on the 6-week deadline.

External painting

The external paint colour is dirty, mouldy, tired, dated, and screaming for a complete facelift.

I never liked this colour combination anyway. And, don’t think that warm and cool colours together compliment, for house paint. Any thoughts?


Before starting the huge external painting part of the renovating project, the house needs washing down thoroughly. Especially as many spiders, cockroaches, and all forms of insects have free-loaded on the house. Eggs and nests are everywhere.

Sections of the render are missing and also needs repairing – not one of my greatest skills. It’s too expensive to hire a tradesman to do this job. Also, with COVID-19 restrictions, it’s almost impossible to get someone to the house.

The timber shutters are removed and repaired before the usual drill of filling, sanding, undercoating, and final topcoats. An endless and tedious job, which takes time.

Painting everything

This feels as though it’s a never-ending spiral of painting – a revolving door.

Each morning, we wake up with very stiff achy claw-like hands and named this affliction “painter’s claw”. Know if there’s such a condition? Guess after painting for over 12-hours each day, 7 days every week, something has to give…

As the last roofer did a good job in 2016 repointing and repairing the roof, which hasn’t leaked for years – touch wood – I decide not to restore the tiles.

Roof restoration is expensive and the current renovations are already costing a small fortune. Also, it’s difficult for tradies to provide a quote for any job, because of COVID-19.


Personally, I love the slightly tinted white and bright blue colour scheme.

The colours are bold, fresh, and so different from the current colour craze of 50 shades of grey, in this Brisbane inner-city suburb.

  • house renovating, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • house renovating, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • house renovating, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
  • house renovating, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania

The colour scheme also reminds me of the Greek Islands – thoughts?

What’s next to renovate?

A lot! The painting part of the renovation project is intertwined with a plethora of repair jobs. This gives our hands a break from painting – a little recovery time. But, also because everything is broken and needs fixing, or ruined and needs replacing.

Replacing the patio roof and enclosure is the major part of the renovations, both cost-wise and stress-wise. This work starts concurrently, while we still finish the internal and external painting.

My chicken scrawl project schedule on a foolscap page covers around 20 dates, company names, and phone numbers, but does work. Surprisingly, everything is coming together smoothly, regardless of COVID-19. This is even after difficulties with builders coming to the house to quote.

Check back next week, for the next renovating instalment – replacing the 25-square-metre patio roof and enclosure. In this perpetually-lasting renovating project during COVID-19, it feels as though we’re finally getting somewhere…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.



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26 responses to “Australia: Renovating during COVID-19, Part 2”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    A fresher look indeed. I like the white and blue.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Brian. At first I thought I’d made the wrong decision as painted the front fence “Norwegian Blue” (marketer’s delight) so stands out from all the grey/white houses on the street. But, I really like the fresh colours now and like to be different. 😉

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Never worry about the others. Might be misunderstood. Let me rephrase. Never worry what others may think. I like the new colours.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Had to salvage your comment from my trash folder – WP is at it again.
        Never have in my life and I’m too old to start now Brian! 🤣
        Excellent and happy that you like the new colours – very fresh and happy.

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Agreed on all counts. Enjoy your sunday.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you and you too! 🙂

  2. Christie Avatar

    Really refreshing colours! I like your “lover” haha I still believe that some of the ’80s tools are more sturdy than the new ones🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Christie and happy that you like the colours!
      Ha, ha, after decades of abuse, my “lover” never lets me down. 😉
      Totally agree that tools back then lasted a lot longer than the throw-away tools of today.

  3. gillmorris Avatar

    Wow, what a job! But what a result, yes very Greek Island. Love the colours 🙂 xx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Gill!
      It was a massive job and more than we expected to do due to the repairs needed, but all finished now. 🙂 x

  4. Suzanne Avatar

    Wow, Nilla, what a transformation. Yes, very Greek though suits the Queensland area. I love the houses on stilts over there, so very different to here. The thing I couldn’t get used to when visiting Queensland is how dark the places are which I know the shade is required due to the temperatures. You both have done a fantastic job. Very time consuming and your renovation brought many memories of us doing up homes. No more of that for us!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Suzanne for the great feedback! Yes, it is a huge transformation and also very hard work. Check this week’s post for the real transformation of the patio – think you’ll like it… 😉

      I also love homes on stilts and think the concept originally came from the islands. The breeze going under the house is supposed to keep it cool. Not all the houses are dark but think it’s the older ones that are dark. Guess like the Mediterranean houses with shutters, Queenslander houses keep things drawn. I like a lot of light also – it’s a balance.

      I love renovating and have done a few over the years. I particularly love restoring older houses to their former glory and try to source similar materials.
      We’re back in our home now and there’s a lot to fix here also as its been rented for 6 years – at least it was left clean. 🙂

  5. the eternal traveller Avatar

    It’s interesting to hear you say about the fashion for grey. Here all the new homes in the area seem to be shades of brown and cream. It’s so boring. There’s one home which stands out – it’s a pretty shade of pale blue with all white trim. It looks so refreshing.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Carol,
      It is interesting how phases come and go. It seems as though, one house is painted in the new ‘phase’ colour, then before you know it, most houses in the street are painted the same colour or similar shade and will also probably date quickly.

  6. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    Wow, the exterior looks so much better now – so much more open!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Doesn’t it… 😉
      It’s amazing how colours create a completely different feel, especially for a home.
      Check back this week for the ‘major’ part of the renovating.
      Thanks for your feedback!

  7. Lesley Jewitt Avatar
    Lesley Jewitt

    Also love the colour scheme for the house and it does look very Greek 🥰

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Lesley!
      Most of the houses on this street and in the suburb actually are grey and white. It’s so easy to spot my house now!
      I’ve taken a few videos so will include a couple in the last post for you. 😉

  8. Lesley Jewitt Avatar
    Lesley Jewitt

    Wow I am enjoying reading this so much wish it was longer, can’t wait for the next instalment

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Lesley!
      I could have gone on more with this post, but I was concerned I might bore my readers too much… 😉
      Thanks for leaving me feedback – much appreciated.

  9. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

    The restoration looks fabulous great choice of colours and it does look Greek Island Holiday. Excellent job done and the next one ?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback Nanette!
      I’m really happy with the result and also the colours. The house is becoming a home once more and very liveable – she has very good bones.
      Ah, you’ll have to wait and see, but the next chapter is about a major renovation – ripping down and replacing the patio! 😉
      Stay safe…

      1. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

        You stay safe too

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you 🙂

  10. Keith Jewitt Avatar
    Keith Jewitt

    Seems that circumstances allowed you to really get stuck in and knowing the “operai ” the result will I’m sure speak for itself 🤩

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hey Keith,
      Thank you for your kind feedback Keith!
      Yes, we certainly did get stuck into the work – feverishly! But, as you know, we had a deadline, so kept working to this regardless in the hope that flights wouldn’t be cancelled in April.

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