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After outgrowing their home, this family of five set out to build their dream garage space. Two years later, the wait was finally over for this highly anticipated addition — but it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies along the way.

Taking place in the height of a pandemic, this renovation had its fair share of setbacks, with material lows and demand highs nearly turning their dream garage into somewhat of a nightmare.

Rest assured, Wellington homeowners Christine and Petrus say they have finally achieved a garage that is both fit-for-purpose and appreciated by everyone in the family.

Wrap your eyes around the amazing progress pictures of the renovation from start to finish as Christine and Petrus take you through:

  • The problem and the vision

  • Posting their job to BC

  • Choosing a professional

  • The job logistics

  • Advice from an expert

  • The end results

  • And, what to consider for your own project.

Sneak peek: The family of five (left) now have their dream garage (right) | Photo: Christine

There was one thing missing: a dream garage

Picture this: it’s 2019, and Christine and Petrus had just scored themselves a Wellington new-build right before the boom in house prices.

“Our new home was livable and functional,” Christine says, recalling their initial feelings upon moving in. But they were missing a critical space.

Their home was only complete with a concrete pad fit for two cars, so early on they knew they wanted an upgrade.

A slightly sloping surface meant some serious groundwork | Photo: Christine

It started with a blueprint

“These houses don’t have a huge amount of storage inside, especially if you’ve got three kids like us. A garage just made sense.”

After doing some research, Christine and Petrus came to the conclusion that they didn’t want to buy a flatpack, so opted to build one from scratch.

They set out with their mortgage provider to finance the project, and settled on the original blueprints from the surrounding homes, which Christine took to Builderscrack.

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For peace of mind, they chose BC

Prior to the garage project, Christine and Petrus had done their laundry space through BC and quickly realised that it was a great tool to source trade professionals.

“You can communicate through the platform, if you prefer, which is great when connecting with people that you don’t know yet,” Christine says.

“Being able to see and leave positive or negative reviews at the end makes a big difference, because it gives you and others that sense of security.”

The existing concrete slab was replaced with a foundation for the new garage | Photo: Christine

But building costs were on the rise

Having a blueprint for the garage project meant less flexibility with the scope, and Christine thought it might have been less appealing to builders.

However, after posting the job to BC, five trade professionals quickly showed interest and the quotes provided took Christine and Petrus by surprise.

“We heard the neighbours had done their garage for a certain amount as part of their home package,” Christine says.

“But that was years ago and prices have since gone up…so it was difficult to compare.”

Winter weather caused added delays to the garage build | Photo: Christine

And then there were trade shortages

All that aside, Christine and Petrus decided to proceed with a quote which they deemed reasonable, and had planned to start building in the coming months — or so they had thought.

“The company was able to get the plans done and organised with council approval…But then we lost contact for a while,” Christine says.

Several months later the company sent a letter saying they were no longer able to complete the project.

“They may not have had the manpower, and we were starting to get into supply and material shortages.”

The company offered a full refund, but needless to say Christine and Petrus were still disappointed by the turn of events, and the complexities of a project this size were starting to set in.

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Despite the challenges, they tried again

Christine and Petrus were starting to lose hope as rising living costs and increasing demand on tradespeople almost doubled the build cost of their garage.

The couple weighed up their options, and even considered buying a home complete with a garage, or finding a doer-upper that would be more affordable to renovate.

But with house prices soaring, Christine made another attempt at finding a builder on BC.

To her relief, Lewis from Wellington City Renovations connected through the platform and they settled on a price.

The pros from Wellington City Renovations (left to right) Lewis, Calvin & Valentin | Photo: Lewis

A builder with integrity was vital

Carrying out her usual background checks, Christine looked for communication, quality of work, consistency, and above all, someone who had the capacity to do the job.

“Wellington City Renovations seemed to be a fairly new business, which made it harder to look at reviews,” Christine says.

“But Lewis had really great communication, and he knew our neighbours from down the road.

“We had also heard that Lewis had renovated a friend of a friend’s entire house, and they were really pleased with the results.

“This made [hiring] them feel like a good option.”

The bones starting to come together, thanks to Wellington City Renovations (WCR) | Photo: Christine

Even still, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies

It’s true that not all renovations are smooth-sailing; once the work commenced the speed bumps continued, with the biggest challenge being the actual build itself.

The flattened area of the existing car park still needed major earthworks, and it created a much bigger job than Christine and Petrus had initially thought.

“There were a lot of added costs and elements that we didn’t anticipate, including drainage, a new pathway, and a retaining wall built around the side,” Christine says.

And due to delays with one of the subcontractors, the pair questioned whether they could have done a smaller part of the project themselves, like the pathway.

“We realised how big a job it was, and the people that did it in the end knew exactly what they were doing.”

Even at the height of a GIB shortage, WCR managed to push through | Photo: Christine

The team who turned it around

When first pitching for the job, Lewis from Wellington City Renovations put together a personalised and detailed introduction, in the hopes of making a lasting impression on Christine and Petrus.

“From there, they took us through the plans and council approvals, and I provided the quote,” Lewis says.

Despite the obstacles, Christine and Petrus were in good hands, with Lewis reassuring them every step of the way.

Lewis says that seeing the garage come together was definitely one to remember for him and his team.

“Things came out a lot nicer than I had anticipated – it’s a properly completed job,” Lewis says.

The vision started to come to life | Photo: Christine

Bringing the vision to life

Lewis gives us a rundown of the logistics for the garage project:

  • Job elements: Laying the foundations, drainage, building pre-frame and interior walls, constructing retaining walls, installing the ceiling, garage door, laying the pathway, and driveway.

  • Materials used: Concrete, double exterior lining, steel interior lining, plasterboard, and interior and exterior paint.

  • Estimated time frame: 3 – 4 months.

  • Actual time frame: 8 months.

  • Cost: Approx. $79,000.

Laying down the driveway was just one of the major elements | Photo: Christine

Expert advice from a builder

Moreover, Lewis offers his expert guidance to homeowners undertaking a similar project, with the following tips:

  • For the best outcome opt for a Licensed Building Practitioner.

  • Do thorough research before finalising your decision.

  • Check out reviews and previous jobs to gauge the quality of your builder.

  • Keep in mind that building contracts may involve sub-contractors.

  • Be prepared to allocate a flexible budget for the best possible finish.

Adding the finishing touches | Photo: Christine

The result? A spacious garage fit for everyone

The newly constructed garage now serves multiple purposes, including exercise, office work, arts and crafts, as well as storage for scooters, bikes, and cars.

“We find ourselves spending a lot of time in the garage — it has become a common hangout spot for us at any time of the day,” Christine says.

Christine and her family had patience and persevered through external factors such as winter weather, the pandemic and material shortages, and the results are definitely worth it.

A dream garage that’s functional and well-loved by everyone | Photo: Christine

Hindsight for your next project

Taking away some valuable expertise from the garage build, Christine generously shares her advice for homeowners undertaking a similar project:

  • Research: Check reviews to build confidence and avoid surprises.

  • Security: Engage trade professionals through BC for safety and security.

  • Relationships: Find a trade professional who understands your reno wants and needs.

  • Options: Have a contingency plan in place and explore other options if necessary.

  • Delays: Understand that some delays are beyond your control and that timelines may vary.

  • Communication: Avoid stress and uncertainty with clear and open communication.

  • Quality: Prioritise quality for your home’s overall value.

Thank you

A big thank you to Christine and Petrus for sharing their reno journey with us! And a huge shout out to Lewis and his team at Wellington City Renovations, who brought their garage dreams to life.

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