Real Life

Tyge and Christina Dellar ‘We’ve realised how short life is’

After a terrifying health scare, Kiwi house-flippers Tyge and Christina decided to chase their dreams

To look at Tyge Dellar, you’d never imagine that four years ago, the former handyman was fighting for his life in Middlemore Hospital following a stroke.

Especially because the 41-year-old now spends his days demolishing and rebuilding houses with his wife, Californian-born Christina, 34.

So successful have the Whangaparāoa-based couple become at flipping houses, not only have they turned it into a business, but they’ve also become social media influencers with more than 12 million followers, plus a second series of their successful Demo To Reno DIY programme just launched on Instagram and YouTube.

The parents of sons Valor, seven, and Zeph, four, admit their lives took a turn they could never have imagined in February 2018, when Tyge suffered a stroke.

“I woke up that morning and felt a tingle in my fingers,” recalls Tyge, who emigrated to New Zealand from South Africa when he was 10. “And then most of my left side went numb.”

When they got to hospital, where doctors announced that the youthful and physically fit Tyge had suffered a stroke, the pair were stunned. “We always associated strokes with older people, but I was young and healthy,” Tyge tells.

During the week the former handyman spent in hospital, his then-eight-week-old son Zeph sleeping by his side, the couple had time to talk about their future.

“It’s such a cliché, but when you have an experience like this, you’re never more aware of how short life really is,” shares Christina, who emigrated to Auckland with her parents in 2000. “Tyge said he wasn’t happy being a handyman, so we focused on how we wanted our lives to look, and how we could achieve Tyge’s dreams of flipping houses and having a TV renovation show.”

At the time, the family was living with Christina’s parents, which made the transition to self-employed house-flippers easier. But because she was home with a toddler and a newborn, Christina wasn’t able to work as a makeup artist, which she’s done since 2005.

It’s a sure bet sons Valor (left) and Zeph will become handy on the tools too.

“Financially and emotionally, it was tough and we went through some very difficult times,” admits Christina in an accent still tinged with a Californian drawl.

It was Tyge’s mother who threw them a lifeline – a property to renovate. “Mum was working in real estate at the time and knew we wanted to flip houses, so she told us about a place that could be perfect,” says Tyge.

The couple, who met at church, managed to obtain a mortgage before spending eight weeks doing it up, working around Tyge’s full-time role as a project manager at an Auckland interior fit-out company.

The profit from the sale of that house allowed them to buy another and, after a few months, Tyge gave up his job to focus on full-time flipping.

The couple started to post their renovation journey on Instagram, soon winning legions of loyal fans and the attention of brands such as Hirepool and Trade Depot, who partnered with them on sponsored content.

The idea for the TV series came from the many renovation shows the pair like to watch.

“We’d had a couple of TV offers to do a similar thing, but they fell through,” says Christina. “We realised we wanted to produce our own series, rather than waiting for someone to knock on our door.”

They roped in a friend, who’s an experienced videographer, and their first 12-minute renovation video was posted last July. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, including some from others who want to follow a similar path.

“It’s about inspiring and helping others to go have a go,” says Tyge. “We’ve just finished our ninth renovation, which we’ve documented for the second series of Demo To Reno, and our aim is eventually to do 10 flips a year.”

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