Our goal story; Where we came from and where we’re going – Part 1

September 27th, 2016 | By Carlene ...



There was never any doubt in mine and Michael’s mind that would be home owners, and sooner rather than later. It was always just a given. Both our parents owned their homes at a young age, which we recognise was easier to do with home prices back then. Nonetheless, owning a place to call our own and in which to start a family was always one of our goals moving into adulthood and working towards financial freedom.


We purchased our first home at the ages of 21 and for over 6 years, we chipped away, slowly renovating our modest 3 bed, 2 bath house on the Northern end of the Gold Coast. It wasn’t easy, with Michael only in the beginnings of his carpentry apprenticeship and my interest in interior design undeveloped.



Our first home and first reno (on a tight budget).



It also wasn’t easy financially, with Michael on an apprenticeship wage and later, me on maternity leave and then returning to work only part time. We lived simply and watched our pennies. I remember I would never spend more than $35 on a piece of clothing; we would only eat out once a week (and it was usually sushi); and every holiday was a camping one (actually, the camping holidays still remain),


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One of my few “before” photos. It’s worse than I remember. The view from the kitchen into the living room which we moved. We transformed this space into a bedroom.



Post reno. It’s pretty ‘meh’ looking back on it but it’s not bad for a first reno on a tight budget and it did the trick because we sold before auction.


When we found our much larger, much more ambitious, forever home/half a home at the other end of the coast, we submitted a very unattractive offer, which was subject to the sale of our then house, building and pest inspections and, a bid $100k under the asking price. It was fair. The property was in a bad, bad way. It had suffered a devastating fire and the owner had simply walked away. It was a mess, a big mess – three levels of mess and it had been on the market for a year with no offers, so our odds were good.


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The new block with a HUGE pool in the concrete slab, undamaged by the fire.


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The second level. The brickwork also remained intact.



While everyone thought we were mad, the deal went through and the home was ours, along with many, many years of hard work and a big financial commitment. You see, the work that this home needed, and still needs, is immense and when we purchased it we knew this was a long term project (we didn’t have our blinkers on). Properties of this scale are money suckers and we would have to be very hands on but we also had two very young children whom needed our time so yes it would be a long, long process.



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Framing on not even half of the concrete slab.


Fast forward a few years to 2014 and we were accepted on The Block. We saw this as our chance to win a lump sum that would be our answer to finishing our renovation. Well, as Australia witnessed, that wasn’t to be and winning only 10k between us for 5 months of filming and publicity commitments set us back financially. We had to start again and our renovation would have to wait.



The Block auction.


On the upside, the disappointment of the show outcome propelled us into action. We launched Cedar & Suede, a design and build business, blog and now also, digital video content production business. For the past couple of years, the business has been keeping us very busy, too busy to even look at our very unfinished house but we have decided that this is it; this is the time to bite the bullet and start/restart/finish our house. It has to happen to achieve our goal of financial security and our state of mind. Why and how? Stay tuned for the next post.



Michael and I at work, doing what we love.


This post is brought to you by AMP. If you want to own your own home sooner and be debt free, AMP can help find out how here


Carlene xx

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