Whanganui house painter Julie Sandbrook honed her skills while tagging along on her parents' renovation projects.
"I was exploited as a child labourer," she laughs.
"Dad was a house painter and mum was a real estate agent and they would buy and renovate houses to resell.
"The truth is that I loved it and learned to do a lot of those fiddly jobs that some people hate."
Her Panda Painting business offers a range of services that include water blasting, repairing and sanding back window and door frames, removing mould, repairing damp spots and resealing.
She can also paint the interior or exterior of a house on her own and install timber or metal framing if required.
"I'm not looking to muscle in on existing businesses," Sandbrook said.
"I see myself as someone able to fill a niche.
"Some women may prefer to hire a female contractor and I am happy to take on small jobs as well as the big ones."
Sandbrook takes a dim view of DIY television shows that depict renovations being completed in very short timeframes.
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"One of my recent jobs was replacing shower walls in a house that is only 10 years old.
"They should have lasted much longer but they hadn't taken time to seal things properly with the original job."
Careful preparation is key to doing a good job, Sandbrook said, and she has just completed work on a house at Pohangina in Manawatu.
"It's a modern, tilt slab house in a beautiful, rural setting and it needed a good water blasting before I started painting.
"It's been a great job."
Sandbrook said some people enjoy doing the big painting jobs themselves but would rather hire someone to do the trims.
"That's where I can come in and do a careful, thorough job.
"I can also help choose good colours for people who have trouble deciding.
"They may have had no difficulty in choosing the main house colour but they get stuck on picking colours for the trims so I will take some colour charts with me to help them decide."
As a mum of two young children, Sandbrook said she is able to fit her work in around their timetables.
She describes herself as an "octopus" with the ability to reach out in several directions at once and also works as an events planner, hosting events aimed at the post-teen demographic in the region.
With her Panda Painting business, she hopes to build a strong reputation and eventually be able to offer work to others.