Jozi Guide To Your Renovation Team

So here is my secret team of special-agent, operational design, super-hero, makeover dudes who are trust worthy, affordable and freegen amazing!!

First up… You need a reliable builder, and to that end, Philbert is your man.

When working with local contractors, I never negotiate. I always get a price upfront, and then we all stick to it and there is no further negotiation. The issues arise when you try and negotiate too much and then they run out of cash. Philbert is great, just stick to this with him. He has oodles of experience – from doing every London Pie shop back in their heyday. His crew are super talented, tidy and every day your house will be left spotless even during the maddest breakdown. He has the BEST plasterer’s I have yet to work with. Rhino-light can be especially expensive to work with if you don’t have a craftsman who knows how to apply it properly. This will also take days to try and sand if not applied correctly.

Design tip. Want to make your space look instantly expensive – get rid of that cheap, crappy, scratch plaster that gets installed in all townhouses and flats. It’ll change your whole space instantly.

Philbert call for: building, break downs, plaster, painting and general maintenance.

Your go-to plumber is Almon. This man is amazing. He is so affordable and so good at his job! He installed bathrooms for me in 4 days at Bar Hemingway’s (we had a huge party planned for the Saturday night, and on the Monday there weren’t even walls, let alone plumbing!). He’s my go-to guy on all things pipe related.

Tiler: Fernando. Fernando is without doubt the fastest, straightest tiler in the South Of Africa. He and his Mozambican team are machines. He is also a wizard at working around other contractors. His rates are just ridiculous.

Electrician. I have two for you Patrick and Brian. Both are amazing, you can’t go wrong with either of these contractors.

The manufacturer…. drum roll please…. (this can go horribly wrong if you get the wrong guy here).

I use Shaun from Lumber City Kitchens… He’s a little hard at hearing, so don’t get a fright when he talks to you loudly. I love factory’s and have visited many in my endless journeys to find manufacturers that we love, but Shaun’s factory is spotless! You could, should you be so inclined, eat off the floor. That is not an under-statement. The place is so sparkly it’s a little unnerving.

This man and his team are pure genius. If you need any convincing – pop into Bar Hemingway’s and take a look at the secret hidden doorway behind the book case. Or the hand-made copper bar he crafted. He can make anything for you. Literally anything.

Kitchens, cupboards, furniture, vanities, you name it. Bespoke and to spec. He installs when he says he will. His team never leave an inch of dirt anywhere – his quality is superior, and his pricing is insanely competitive. I have yet to find anyone to beat his quotes actually – regardless of the quality of work. But we all know when building – cheap is not always less expensive.

Grant is our wallpaper man. He and his team are actually artists. For complicated installations – you have to use Grant. He’s lovely and his work is perfection.

Our recommended mural artist is Ulrika.

What can I say about the most talented person I know? She is an artist on an epic scale. She works with paint in the same techniques as the old masters – therefore you get the same look as you would in France or Italy. This is paint techniqueing and murals how the ancients did them! How they are supposed to be done. It’s art and it’s just sensational.

That’s it – my secret list of experts that I work with on all my little side projects. These guys are amazing. They are trust worthy. They will make your space into the dream home you have always wanted.

Just don’t forget to begin with your plan and a budget!

This team has worked on the renovation in my Lonehill Townhouse- Rose Cottage, The full renovation of Cafe Hemingway’s from a small coffee shop to one of Jozi’s most loved restaurants. a full home renovation in Sandhurst, and a gorgeous estate house in Ranjiesfontein along with numerous other projects in and around Johannesburg.

Shaun – Lumber City Kitchens: 083 277 1448
Shaun is also responsible for the amazing hand made copper bar that is standing in Bar Hemingway’s
Philbert – building Contractor: 079 838 8994
Almon – plumber: 076 785 3800
Fernando – tiler: 083 580 0027
Patrick – electrician: 082 688 1978
Brain – electrician:082 558 3569
Grant – wallpaper installation: 082 320 8018
Festus – wallpaper installation: 082 465 1775
Louise – waterproofing: 083 2588568
Alison – fabric protection and cleaning: 083 377 7650
Ulrika – Paint Finish Artist: 072 027 5513
David – couch manufacture: 084 623 5548
Dawid – dry walling and bespoke ceilings and cornices: 082 456 9646
Michelle – paint finish artist: 082 608 0278
Specializing in painted kitchen and furniture makeovers


Currently my Rose Cottage townhouse in Lonehill is available for rental from the 1 February, this home has a special place in my heart, as being one of the happiest spaces I have ever been fortunate enough to live in. I am currently working on my next renovation project in Cape Town, The Upside Down Beach Cottage, which is not even 200 steps from the magnificent Long Beach, right by the surfing break.

For further information on my Rose Cottage rental, please contact Vanessa on: 082 896 3439
or you can give me a call, Ingrid: 084 742 2402 or drop me an email on
Rental: R14,000 excluding lights and water. Unfurnished.

Including, 3 bedrooms, 2,5 bathrooms, lounge and dining room, kitchen, undercover patio and garden. Wood burning fireplace. Loads of storage. A SMEG oven, and wooden kitchen counter tops. There is a beautiful view of the river, and at night you can fall asleep to the sound of the water and birdsong floating through your windows. 2 parking bays. Extremely secure – it’s like a little piece of Nottingham Road in South Africa. 1 cat no dogs.

Happy renovating

Lots of Love


About me

Creative Director + Photographer and founder/owner of BigCityLife. Ingrid Alice is a Creative High End Commercial & Portrait Photographer who has her feet firmly on the ground and her aesthetic in Wonderland. A true-to-life marketing leader, her approach to brand development and image creation has been shaped by seventeen years in the international creative and design industries. Her practice is grounded in engaging concept driven design and bold advertising strategies. A whimsical flower child with a Rock and Roll Soul.  LOVES horses, vintage cameras, travel and tea.


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