After spending years doing DIY renovations, Naomi Findlay knew the process needed to be simpler.
Three years later, the Newcastle woman and renovation expert has launched a smart phone app called Rapid Reno Mate, which helps people keep on top of the business side of giving a space a facelift.
The app gives DIY renovators a single place to keep track of budgets – numerically or graphically – manage and find trades, watch project timelines and find products and suppliers.
Dr Findlay said she used the experience she had built through more than 100 property renovations to come up with the app.
“It wasn’t a lightbulb moment, it came from years of renovating,” she said.
“Three years ago I went ‘right I need to simplify this for people’. I put together some software for my students and then I realised about a year after that ‘oh my gosh, the rest of the Australia actually needs this’.
“I see people struggling with the business end of renovation and it’s just not fair because it’s such an amazing thing, to renovate, and it’s a little heartbreaking that for some people it’s not an enjoyable experience.”
Like in many industries, technology is having an ongoing impact on how renovators tackle their projects.
And Dr Findlay has noticed that technological advances have changed the renovation experience.
“[The app] allows people to have a complete and clear picture, before they even start, of the types of costs they’re going to be looking at,” she said.
“If you can’t find the costing inside the app, it prompts you and says ‘hey, what are your trade costs? You need to enter them in’.”
Dr Findlay said first time renovators could easily be scared out of the game if they bit off more than they could chew and a project’s budget and timeline blew out.
She said a common phrase she heard was “if I renovate again, I’ll end up divorced”.
“I think the toll is people choose to outsource [work], which can be a good option at times, or they just choose to never do it again,” she said.
Dr Findlay is well-known in the renovation industry, featuring on TV and in a range of publications.
The app was officially launched last month and is available through the Apple and Android apps stores.
Dr Findlay said the uptake had been “massive”.
The app was tested by people with different levels of renovation experience and technological skills for about a year before it was released.
Dr Findlay has also used it for her own projects.
“Renovating can be really complex if you were to look at it all in one go,” she said.
“We worked for a year to simplify the process as much as we could, but at the same time keep the power in the tool.”