ON TRACK: Peggy Hockey is just a couple of weeks away from moving into her new home in Mount Alford, which ground to a halt after the collapse of G.J Gardner's North Ipswich franchise in January. She is still out of pocket about $100,000.
ON TRACK: Peggy Hockey is just a couple of weeks away from moving into her new home in Mount Alford, which ground to a halt after the collapse of G.J Gardner's North Ipswich franchise in January. She is still out of pocket about $100,000. Cordell Richardson

They'll move in without even a bed but dream home on way

IT WAS a chance encounter with an old school mate that allowed Peggy Hockey to get her dream house back on track after her life was turned upside down earlier this year.

The construction of Mrs Hockey's Mount Alford home was left in limbo after the collapse of G.J Gardner's North Ipswich franchise in January.

Her story was splashed on the front page of the QT in February, and read by some of her former peers at Blair State School.

At a school reunion after the G.Js bust, she caught up with builder Darryl Ellison from D & J Building Contractors, who agreed to finish off the build in June at reduced cost after reading Mrs Hockey's story.

Mrs Hockey and her husband Ron received about $132,000 in insurance from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, which didn't cover the $280,000 needed to finish the build. The couple had pre-paid the builder $188,000 for the fit out of the house.

"We had no other option but to ask for a pay out as the money QBCC covers you for was not enough for the insurance to complete the build themselves, all because I had paid the builder for the fit out before it was completed," she said.

"As we had no cash to cover the gap QBCC were asking, we had no alternative but to find our own builder and try and reduce some items and get my husband to do some of the work himself to get the job done."

As well as paying for the new work, items such as baths, toilets and showers had to be bought with Mrs Hockey estimating she is out of pocket about $100,000.

Additions like a planned $12,000 solar system were cut.

 

Peggy Hockey is close to moving into her new home after being hampered by the collapse of GJ Gardner's North Ipswich franchise.
Peggy Hockey inside her home. Cordell Richardson

Things are so tight she has drawn out $40,000 from her superannuation just to get everything over the line and the $30,000 set aside for furniture has already been spent.

"We've had to use every cent to finish the basics... I've had to re-buy everything all over again," Ms Hockey said.

All the furniture they previously owned was sold or donated after leaving a stint working in the Solomon Islands and the Hockeys have been living in a 1970s caravan on the 40-acre property while the house is completed.

It means when they move in in the middle of October, the pair will sleep on the floor without funds left for a bed.

"If it wasn't for (Mr Ellison), we would be sitting in our caravan waiting with no more money because all my cash has gone to the builder and there was nothing to finish a house that's worth over $900,000," she said.

Collapse takes its toll

The strain of the whole ordeal had taken a massive toll on Mrs Hockey's health; she only returned to work last week after taking time off from July.

"I was so run down and stressed," she said.

"I ended up getting influenza A, had asthma (issues) and I've ended up with a heart condition as well. I had to have a procedure only three weeks ago. Since July I've lost about $8000 in pay because I became so run down I got the flu and had to use all my holidays up."

She can see the light at the end of the tunnel now but reflected on a very difficult few months which had taken a toll.

"It's a beautiful house and looks fantastic," she said.

"We're happy. It's just disappointing I gave the cash to the builder when he asked for it two weeks before he went bankrupt. It's been an extremely stressful year.

"All my sub contractors who were doing the build, they've come back to finish our house. I'm appreciative of that."

In response to questions from the QT, a representative from G.J Gardner's Queensland Master Franchise said a focus "has been and always will be" on assisting "anyone directly affected" by the collapse.

"We will continue to maintain open communication with anyone who requires further support," they said.

"We have assisted every client effected where possible, either in having another franchisee complete the build, or assisting them in accessing the home warranty insurance to complete their build."