Our adventures with "V"

So at the end of last year we decide to pull out the design concept and put it up on the wall to ponder and get all excited about.  The plan was to get 3 extension companies to give us a proposal for a design and a ball park estimate; partly to explore our options and partly to make sure they weren’t ripping us off.  I’m not sure how well that last one works because you have to tell them your budget.  All our proposals have come in on our budget, but I can’t help wondering whether this is because they have come up with a design to maximise what we can get for our money or whether the ball park estimate has been padded up to our budget.We got a short list of about 6 companies from the local paper that had websites, then from their websites we chose 2.  We also added in a well known extension company – “V” works for this company.  V was booked to come and see us at 9am.  On the day of the appointment, he called about 10 to 9 and told me he didn’t realise he had an appointment and had been watching the football (soccer) and would be there in 20 minutes.  At 9.30 he finally arrived.Finally we got down to what company C could offer us.  The first stage, for which V would waive the fee (1% of your budget), was to include the following:

  • Measure existing property
  • Preparation of existing conditions plan
  • Design proposal including plans and elevations
  • Preparation of computer simulated 3D image
  • Liaison with structural engineer
  • Liaison with authorities
  • Cost estimate
So we went ahead.  V came back and measured the house, then he came back with his design.  We spent about 20 minutes looking at the floor plan and 3D drawing of the back of the house and discussing the design and cost (exactly what our budget was!).  There was no deck off the back of the house – not even steps out of the back doors!  V said he could add a deck in for $10,000.  Hubby asked what’s the next step?  “We do the estimate” said V and he opened up a booklet (skipping the first page) and we went through a list of all the things we wanted included.  This took sooo long that I had to put Oscar to bed.  When I came back, hubby and V were discussing payment.  I assumed this was the 1%, but then V asked for $15,960 dollars!  I nearly fell off my chair.  He then asked us to sign the front page of the booklet he had opened, it was a contract for this company to start our renovation, the $15,960 being a non-refundable payment for this company to start the detailed drawings for the renovation!  The 2 drawings and verbal cost estimate were all that we were to receive as part of stage 1.  If we wanted more we had to pay 7% of the verbal estimate.  We weren’t prepared to do this and told him we needed time to consider the proposal and discuss it in private.  He wouldn’t even leave the floor plan with us (just the 3D drawing of the back) so we could have time to think about his design.  Before leaving the estimate booklet with us (to sign when we were ready) there was a piece of paper paper-clipped inside that we hadn’t been shown, which he took out.
Back view of “V”‘s proposed design

Who in their right mind would sign a contract to spend so much money on their most valuable asset, based on a 20 minute discussion and a couple of sketches?  V’s company did not make it to the short list!