Saturday, May 12, 2012

Can your marriage survive your renovation?

Can your marriage survive your renovation?

Your marriage is probably the last thing that you are thinking about when you are planning to have renovations done on your home, it should be one of the most important things that you think about when you are planning on renovations.

In the last 15 years I have seen normal couples marriages fall apart in front of me to the point where I wonder why they are together at all! I have seen couples argue over the smallest of issues like where the toilet paper roll should go and if there should be chrome or brushed nickel door stops. It is amazing what a renovation will do to a happy couple’s relationship.

The reason for all of this is simply stress. Nothing puts more stress onto a marriage like a renovation. It hits all the major points that couples argue about;

Money. How much to spend and on what to spend it on.

Personal choice. Two people will have two different styles and two different viewpoints. One person will always have to compromise.

Personal favourites. If one half of the couples favourite colour in the world is green then they will want it everywhere, that will probably not go over well with the other half who enjoys beige. Striking a balance that will work for everyone and not leave your house looking like a patchwork quilt will be difficult.

The invasion of personal space. There is nothing to put a woman on edge then for some unknown people to come tramping into their home and see everything they own. Not knowing if someone is going to accidently walk in on you while you are doing something private.

Dust and debris. No matter how careful a contractor is there will be some amount of dust that will drift around the house. Handling the dust and the noise of construction can be extremely irritating.

Those are just the stressors that build between the married couple before and during a renovation. You might be thinking that those don’t sound that bad and that you and your better half would have no problem handling them because you have no trouble handling them now. Well what you don’t realize is that once the renovation starts and all of those above happen all at once then you and your partner will start to realize the enormity of the situation that you have gotten yourself into.

Add on top of all those “me your contractor.” I am standing in front of you telling you that because of mold that we found in the walls after demolition started we are going to have to ask you to leave the house that you are living in now so that we can properly spray it to make sure that it is dead. This also has caused me to push back the time line on the finish date by a week and it will also add some money to the budget because of the cost to remove the mold that no one knew was there. On top of that I will tell you that the kitchen plan that you have drawn up yourself doesn’t fit in the room and that your going to either have to re-think the whole layout of the kitchen or hire a professional interior designer as well. If we can’t come up with something quickly then the time line will be pushed back even further. I also hand you a list of questions that I have that go from what type of flooring to what colour are your walls to be, don’t worry I only need answers on them in the next 3 weeks. Some of them I will need quicker depending on what type of material you pick. At the end of our 3 hour meeting where you are standing in the middle of your home that is torn apart with all your furniture piled into the two rooms that are your clean rooms that are not going to renovated and the one room you are trying to live in I hand you your bill....

This is a pretty normal day in the renovation industry, these things tend to happen and they happen to couples more often who don’t do some key things that can help your marriage survive your renovation;

Plan. It might sound obvious that you need to do planning before starting your renovation but what you don’t realize is the depth that you should plan before hand. Every single decision that you make before your renovation starts is a decision that you and your partner will not have to make during the stressful renovation. People who make decisions under stress tend to regret them later. If you have enough time, try to pick everything that you can think of before you even start, this will help you with your budget and your stress level.

Budget. Set your budget but make sure that you set your budget realistically. If you want a house that looks like it came out of a magazine then you should set your budget higher then lower so that you know that you can afford it. Add in to your budget an overrun percentage, usually 10% is enough to cover everything. This will also help you handle any hidden problems that your contractor will have to fix for you that were not in the budget. Things like water damage or poorly constructed bearing walls that need to be fixed. Also mold, bug and rodent infestation.

Hire professionals. Hire a general contractor that you trust and that can give you what you want. They should also be able to give you a proper budget for the renovation. If you are looking for your house to turn out to look like a magazine you should hire an interior designer. A professional interior designer will know simple cost effective tricks that will make your renovation come out looking spectacular.  A lot of the time what they save you with their connections and the discounts that they receive usually pays for their salary. They are also able to free up time for you to make other decisions.

Talk to each other. Make sure that the lines of communication stay open and active. You need to discuss all the choices and you should try to remain calm. Remember that when your contractor asks you for an answer on certain things he won’t mind if you walk away into another part of the house for 5 minutes to discuss it between the two of you. If you are rushed to make a decision make sure that both of you agree on it so that you don’t have any problems later.

Try to take meetings with your contractor together. This way any decisions made are not a surprise to your better half. Nothing adds stress like being left out of the loop on even the smallest decisions. This also helps your contractor because the worst thing for a contractor is when you have one half of a couple telling them one thing and the other half of the couple tells them the opposite. This can cost money and add a lot of time to the project.

A good contractor will be able to help the two of you work through your decisions and issues. I have personally changed the subject when couples started into full out yelling matches in front of me and had to side with one party or the other to help end an argument. Remember you want your marriage to last as long as your newly renovated house so talk to each other. Your marriage is worth more than any single renovation.

If you want a company that can help you through your renovation so that you are still married at the end of the project feel free to give us a call at 877-866-3202. Or visit us at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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