More women are opting to renovate and build, helped by BuildHer Collective

Headshot of Jessie Stoelwinder
Jessie StoelwinderThe West Australian
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BuildHer member Maddie Witter’s home, pictured with Rachel Collard, Kribashini Hannon and Rebeka Morgan.
Camera IconBuildHer member Maddie Witter’s home, pictured with Rachel Collard, Kribashini Hannon and Rebeka Morgan. Credit: Dylan James

Sisters are doing it for themselves — in the construction industry.

There is a growing movement where women are taking control of the building process and managing their own projects, from renovations through to for-profit developments.

The fairy godmothers behind this push are Kribashini Hannon and Rebeka Morgan — they are just wearing hard hats rather than tiaras.

Coming from construction backgrounds, the duo co-founded BuildHer Collective four years ago in response to an increasing contingent of women asking for advice on how to tackle builds themselves.

Their empire now includes an online educational program, digital community with thousands of members, podcast, workshops and, most recently, a book.

BuildHer founders Kribashini Hannon and Rebeka Morgan
Camera IconBuildHer founders Kribashini Hannon and Rebeka Morgan

Everything they do is dedicated to empowering women to use their gifts and create homes they love to live in.

“Women are often removed from the building process, but you get the best results when everyone is included in the design process — that’s where projects really sing,” Hannon says.

“Women have a fantastic knack for renovating and building. We are logistical planners, just in daily life, I think. The building industry is male dominated but I think we can safely say there are a whole lot of jobs women would love to do if they only knew about them.”

It begins, Hannon says, with women understanding what they are embarking on when they decide to renovate or build.

“We wanted to shine a light on how the process comes together, who does what, what are the big decisions and when do you make them,” she says.

“People might engage an architect or a designer, and they will do their job but they can’t really teach you the whole process and things get lost in translation.”

Their flagship course, Build Like a BuildHer, covers every stage from inception to completion, including how to choose the right pathway, bringing a design to life, pulling together a mood board, managing budgets and when to outsource.

Hannon and Morgan participate in fortnightly Q&As to give specific advice, and the Facebook community has also become a gold mine of resources as members support each other through challenges.

It is this personal touch that Hannon says women can use to their advantage while building.

The home of BuildHer member Anita Roberts.
Camera IconThe home of BuildHer member Anita Roberts. Credit: Dylan James

“We want women to capitalise on their emotions because the emotional connection to their homes is what makes them special and unique,” she says.

“There is so much pressure out there to get it right, have this magazine-worthy home, but it’s not about that. It’s actually about creating something you feel connected to and you are going to be happy living in.”

But that doesn’t mean BuildHer doesn’t help hopeful investors achieve their goals, too.

“Any home build is a huge financial investment, so there is definitely that layer where we need to think of it as an investment,” Hannon says.

“Especially in Australia, a lot of people are using the property market as a way to secure their retirement.”

To meet this need, the team has also launched a DevelopHer’s Masterclass to show members how to turn over profit, make sound financial decisions and ensure they aren’t overcapitalising.

“Developing is a fantastic way to create a lifestyle where you can scale back on a 9-5, perhaps if you have kids, but still work on something in waves,” Hannon says.

“If you can find a way to fund it, it can be a way to access lump sums of cash.”

BuildHer co-founder Rebeka Morgan's project
Camera IconBuildHer co-founder Rebeka Morgan's project

Looking back on what they have created — and seeing the finished product from the BuildHers — is extremely rewarding for the co-founders.

“We are growing so fast that it sneaks up on us and every once in a while we have to pinch ourselves,” Hannon says.

“We started BuildHer in 2017, so now a lot of the women who joined us back then have built, finished and moved into their homes. It’s so rewarding to be able to go over for celebratory drinks if we can organise it, and see the build. We also do site visits if women want to open their builds up to take others on a tour, so we can keep tabs and be involved.”

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