orangebar

Nova Design Group

07 3385 0698

house designs

DOROTHY RECALLS HER GARAGE CONVERSION EXPERIENCE

from the outside

When I decided to convert my garage into usable living space, I wished I had asked an expert to guide me. The stress and the money I wasted has taught me a bitter sweet lesson.

For years, my daughter had been saying that she wanted to come home, but there was never enough room for her stuff. One day in conversation, it was mentioned that we should look to convert the garage since it had never been used and only stored some old furniture.

The day came and my daughter made it official, she had lost her job and needed to come home and it was time to do something about the garage.

As a widow and pensioner, launching a project of this kind tested all my resolve. I wanted to get everything right from the beginning and so asked my friends what they considered to be the best approach. They advised me to get 3 quotes by looking through the newspaper and contacting ads placed by local builders and to have a budget in mind of what I was prepared to pay. I had no idea what a garage conversion might cost but I calculated that I was prepared to spend up to AU$60,000 - AU$65,000. 

The best that I could hope was that in getting 3 quotes and meeting with the builder, and asking as many questions as I could, I would be ok. 

I worried about the possibility of not having enough money and I did not want to find myself under financial hardship.

I did has my friends suggested, I obtained quotes and met with 3 builders. Each one of them appeared nice and knowledgeable and they all asked me what was my budget, so that when I received their quotes they were all around the AU$60,000 which I thought was a bit odd. I decided on the lowest quote of AU$58,000 and with the decision out of the way, I became very excited for the project to begin. 

I did has my friends suggested, I obtained quotes and met with 3 builders. Each one of them appeared nice and knowledgeable and they all asked me what was my budget, so that when I received their quotes they were all around the AU$60,000 which I thought was a bit odd. I decided on the lowest quote of AU$58,000 and with the decision out of the way, I became very excited for the project to begin. 

My excitement over the course of the following 3 weeks was short lived and turned into frustration, followed by anger because the builder kept asking me for more money.

In the beginning he seemed to have valid reasons and excuses and not being an expert I did not have any reason to question him, all I knew was that I had to keep digging deeper into my savings to cover the extra expenses and I became very stressed with worry.

  looking inside

I found myself extremely disadvantaged and overwhelmed.

The problem began when the builder advised me that he had not quoted accurately for the plumbing. I thought to myself, this could be an honest mistake, and I paid the difference in his quote.

Then he advised that he had not accounted for insulation to be added to the walls and roof but that insulation was very important in order to keep the house protected. I remember thinking to myself, if insulation is so important, how could he have missed it from the quote? I never said anything, I paid him what he asked.

Then he say's that I will need to increase the storm water pipes to handle the heavy rains. By this stage, I have paid an additional $10,000 dollars.

As the project is nearing completion, I am wondering to myself what about the driveway? No attempt was being made to prepare the driveway, so I consulted with the builder.

He say's, you did not ask for a driveway, and it was at this point that I realised the full extent of taking on a project which I had no experience in. I foolishly assumed that my builder would naturally think about the possibility that the kit home would need a driveway, and would at least mention it to me so that I could be financially prepared. Instead, the driveway and landscaping was an additional cost that I had not accounted for.

My inexperience and "trust" in the contractor cost me a staggering $28,000 over and above the quote.

In the hope that others might learn from my experience, I highlight the following points:

  • I took on a project I was ill equipped to manage
  • The quotes were not itemised
  • I should have done more research
  • I did not calculate for builder contingencies
  • I did not do a credit check on the builder
  • I did not ask the builder for any references of work
  • I felt intimidated by the builder and paid money before getting a second opinion
  • I was too trusting

Each day I look out the kitchen window I am reminded of my mistake. Lucky for me, it was only money and nothing worse. Even the landscaping and driveway eventually took shape and added extra appeal to an area that had long been forgotten.  By D. Clark - Sunshine Coast