Huh? Is this really a serious issue? Unfortunately, it is. And I have been asked about it multiple times, since my wife and I have completed four separate renovations and, even though we went through some tough spells, we’re still happily married.
Here’s what we learned along the way, and what we did to remain happily married while renovating…
Decided who the ultimate decision-maker will be
Before we began any renovation process, we decided who the ultimate decision-maker will be whenever there is a deadlock. You could separate the decision authority based on the different competences you each have… If you are good at budgeting, then by all means control the finances, and have the last say — but agree on that with your significant other first. In other words, decide who is the boss is in which areas before you even start the process.
You should also think about what kind of conflicts you may encounter and what the rule of thumb should be when they happen. Write them down and keep the list in front of you. These will be your temporary marital vows during your renovation.
Price your shopping wish list before you begin
Budget has a lot to do with your product wish list — from the marble, to your fixtures and appliances — and is often the main controversial and quarrel-initiating factor. Be in the know before you begin to alleviate any potential conflicts regarding spend. Figure out where your tastes lie, and price it out ahead of time. Get the material budget defined very clearly, and make sure that when you hire the contractor, the allowance for those projects match your budget. (An allowance is the part of the bid that the contractor gives you to buy the materials you want for things like kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and roofing.)
One of you should be doing all the communication with the contractor
This may seem extreme to some, but, trust me, you can avoid conflicts by streamlining all communications. Choose one of you to communicate and that same person should preferably own the budget, too. If one of you is playing bad cop with the contractor, make sure he or she is not the main communicator.
Take vacations during the dusty period
Dust and dirt makes it hard to be happy. Whenever possible, pack your bags and go somewhere else. There are many ways you can keep track of your renovation if you’re not on site. You can go back once the dust settles.
Be understanding of the other’s signs of fatigue and frustration
Being frustrated at your spouse’s frustration is going to get you nowhere. One of you needs to be up when the other is down. Resist the urge to be influenced by your partner’s mood. Step up and be strong until he or she is up again. Discussing this beforehand will go a long way when these feelings arise in either of you during the renovation.
Manage, manage and manage proactively
Managing a renovation can be tough. It requires great project management skills, and understanding of construction tasks and their interdependencies. Once you spend the time talking to your contractor to understand your renovation project plan — task by task, and the flow of the renovation — draw up a timeline with your significant other so you are both on the same page.
You probably already know which one of you is more organized, so you can now go ahead and put the timeline on that spouse’s smartphone calendar, and set up alerts for him or her to check on the progress of every task. Do the same with the materials you need to purchase.
And give yourselves enough lead time for every product so that you don’t face any unpleasant surprises down the line.
Turn shopping trips into shopping dates
If you are both into the project, you should try to transform your shopping days into actual dates. This is the most enjoyable part of the entire journey, so have some fun while selecting the things that will be part of your home. Take the time to enjoy browsing, dreaming, spending and romancing. It will strengthen your relationship and understanding of each other as you both build your cocoon.
Any renovation can be tough, but by being informed and organized, clearly delineating responsibilities and making a romantic journey of improving your nest, everyone wins.
What tips do you guys have for renovating your home, but not ruining your relationship?