April 3, 2013

7 Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Together While Tearing Your House Apart

Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring professionals, renovating can be a major cause of relationship stress.

From the overwhelming number of decisions that have to made, to the high – and sometimes unpredictable—cost of many reno projects, couples undertaking a major renovation together have their work cut out for them.

As we head into the height of renovation season, here are 7 Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Together While Tearing Your House Apart:

1. Be very clear with each other about what you expect.
As is the case with most aspects in life, effective communication is the key to happiness. From the overall scope of the project and the amount of money you’re willing to spend, to specific design details and your living arrangements during the renovation, communication is critical to a successful project you can both relax and enjoy once the work is done.

2. Set a realistic budget.
Make sure your renovation is within your financial means. If you can’t afford your “dream” reno, then be prepared to make compromises in the quality of the materials you choose (ie. laminate instead of hardwood flooring, for example). If you are not willing to compromise, then keep saving and plan to renovate at a later date. If you decide to go ahead with your project, be sure to build in a 20 per cent contingency for “surprises” along the way.

3. Avoid decision fatigue.
Although you’re probably excited by the thought of choosing all the design elements that will make up your new space, there may come a time when making even one more decision is one decision too many. Do yourself and your partner a favour and make the majority of the decisions (tile, flooring, finishes) before the renovation begins.

4. Don’t renovate on a tight deadline.
Perhaps you’re sprucing up your home for a major holiday, a big family function or as you prepare to sell. A tight deadline is a recipe for disaster and just adds stress to an already stressful situation.

5. Hire a full-service company.
Not only is it crucial to keep the lines of communication open between you and your partner, it’s makes sense if the company you hire is a full-service company that provides complete project management. That way, you deal with one person, and the company deals with all of the contractors required for your project. When you coordinate the various contractors yourself, you may receive inconsistent or conflicting messages. If your contractors are receiving conflicting messages, your frustration and stress will multiply as the job gets delayed or executed incorrectly.

6. Keep one room as a sanctuary.
No matter how hard you try to keep your house free of dust and dirt, it’s going to get messy. And the bigger the renovation, the longer you’ll have to live with the inconvenience. Having one clean, organized room in your home to escape to will help maintain your sanity and make a huge difference in your family’s ability to cope with the chaos that surrounds you.

7. Maintain some form of normalcy.
Don’t play down the importance of taking an occasional break. If possible, plan a night away at a hotel or an evening out with friends. The endless cycle of decision-making, cleaning and running around can put an incredible strain on your relationship. Avoid letting your renovation define your whole life.