|J. Stewart and his wife|
We contacted J. Stewart, the owner of Terravest Custom Homes, LLC, about building a two car garage BEFORE winter. We budgeted $20,000 plus or minus 10 percent for the project, being prepared to pay $18,000 to $22,000 in cash. Mr. Stewart seemed like a nice person when he came to do the estimate, seeming willing to work with us.
We told him what our budget was and what exactly we wanted, a simple 24 foot by 24 foot two car garage on a cement slab with a double door, one window, one door, and electricity. We also wanted a quote to install a sidewalk from the garage to the front door.
Mr. Stewart told us that he would try to keep costs down and estimated $30 to $40 a square foot for what we wanted, bringing the total to between $17,250 and $23,000 and very close to our budgeted amount. He told us that he could not provide a "final" quote until we had plans drawn up, so he recommended an architect whom we met with the following week.
When Mr. Stewart and the architect came to the house, we went through the process again, spelling out exactly where the garage would go, the size, and other details in order for the architect to draw up the plans to submit to the city. He told me that it would cost $600 to $1000 to complete the work and, trusting Mr. Stewart, we decided to go ahead with the plans in order to finish the garage before winter. That was on September 11th, 2013. The architect said that he should be able to finish the plans in a week.
A month went by with no word from either Stewart or the architect, so we contacted both and asked what the delay was. The architect said that it was taking longer than expected (obviously) and that he would go to the city to see if there were any restrictions as well as come back to the house to measure the house, lot, and other things necessary to finish the plans. We finally received the plans on October 17th, 36 days after we were promised they would be done in one week. Winter was quickly approaching and we wanted to get the project going ASAP.
With plans in hand, Mr. Stewart scheduled an appointment to come by with his quote on Friday, October 17th, he was about 30 minutes late. As I looked over the quote, I was quickly drawn to the total which was well over $30,000, FAR ABOVE the $30 to $40 a square foot we were quoted ($30,500 divided by 575 square feet comes to over $53 a square foot). I told Mr. Stewart that we could not afford $30,000 and he said "I can suggest some metal building companies", to which we replied "we already have a quote and it is only $6,000 for a metal garage". He quickly left without saying another word or offering to make things right.
I am extremely disappointed by his behavior, making us wait nearly six weeks then coming in $10,000 (a 50 percent increase over his estimated price) over his original quote, but I am more upset with myself for trusting the man. We now have no garage, winter weather will arrive in a few weeks, and we spent $600 we could not afford to have plans drawn for a garage that may never be built. I should have known better than to trust a human being after what we have been through in the last 5 years, but J. Stewart seemed like a nice man with integrity, so I thought he would do the right thing. He did not, so DO NOT BE FOOLED by his friendly demeanor and empty promises. We paid and are still paying for trusting J. Stewart and Terravest Custom Homes, LLC, so we believe you should proceed very cautiously before hiring him for any project, particularly one with tens of thousands of dollars on the line.
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