In today’s modern society, a trend that has become clear is people are spending more time at home. Zoom and other technologies have made it easier to work from home.
Amazon and other e-commerce sites have made it easy to shop from home. We’re even bringing the gym experience home with fitness equipment like the Peloton bike.
With all this ‘at home’ time, people are looking around at their surroundings and deciding they want to improve, redesign, or expand their space. Many couples are taking inspiration from HGTV and plunging into house renovations and remodeling.
But what about the home renovation relationship stress?
Read on to find out how to deal with relationship stress due to home renovation and get the essential home remodeling advice you need.
Is renovating a house stressful?
Does renovating or buying a house put stress on your relationship?
Everyone has heard about the home renovation nightmares that can result from working with a bad contractor. Frankly, doing renovations and remodeling a home can be a stressful experience by its very nature.
Just think about all the challenges and discomfort that arise during the process!
To begin with, you’ll have strangers (the contractor’s crew) in your home for weeks or months. It’s likely that you’ll have to live with some level of dirt, dust, and unpleasant odors during the renovation. You’ll probably lose the use of important areas of your home, be it the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover potential issues or surprises like increased costs, material delays, and many other potential difficulties.
Let’s face it, renovating can be stressful. Home renovation relationship stress is real!
How could a house renovation affect your relationship?
Remodeling with your spouse or partner is like any other large undertaking you pursue together, like buying a home or starting a family. Both of you will certainly feel quite a few emotions and stressors during an expensive and time-consuming remodel.
But if you don’t communicate about those stressors and anxieties, they can build up over time and manifest in arguments and fights.
Often, these arguments don’t end after one fight, and some hostility can continue until the project is completed or long afterward.
Some experts even recommend that couples seek counseling from a therapist before, during, or after a renovation to maintain a strong relationship through this stressful period.
But the good news is that there are certain ways you can proactively manage things at every step to make sure that your relationship does not feel stressed.
With good communication and planning, it can even emerge stronger post the renovation that the two of you will be proud of!
5 tips to reduce stress in your marriage during a home renovation
1. Good communication
When two people decide to renovate together, they rarely have the same tastes and design aesthetics in their minds. The odds are that you and your partner won’t completely agree on how you want your finished house renovation to look.
It’s really important early in the process to spend time together and come to an agreement on the design you want for the space to avoid home renovation relationship stress.
Ensure that you’re being completely honest with one another.
After all, you don’t want to be bitter after the work is completed if the result doesn’t match what you were hoping for.
You may want a traditional design while your partner really loves modern. You’ll both have to compromise and maybe even blend the styles.
What to do: You may consider writing down the 3-5 design elements most important to you and share that list with your partner and vice-versa. That way, each partner may get their desires met in their most important categories but compromise on other things that are less important to them.
2. Living arrangements
When you’re undertaking a major house renovation, you really have two living options, and neither is totally ideal.
First, you can move out of your home during the project, but that entails spending an extended period of time in a hotel or with your in-laws, etc.
Alternatively, you can stay in your home and deal with the various discomforts of living through a remodel.
Neither choice is perfect, but you have to decide what makes the most sense for both of you. Be aware upfront that not having your ‘comfortable space’ can create home renovation relationship stress for one or both partners.
Having to share a small bathroom, not being able to sleep in your bed, or coming home every night to ‘take out dinners’ because you have no kitchen can all start weighing on you.
These issues may be more troubling for one person than the other. Make sure to take the time to tell your partner how you’re feeling along the way.
What to do: You may find that you’ll need to spend some time away from the house to recharge, find some practical ways to make life a little easier, or just be able to sympathize with each other’s struggles throughout the renovation project.
3. Divide the work
Although you’re paying a renovation contractor good money to perform the construction at your home, you should also realize that you and your partner are also taking on a part-time job to manage all of it.
Once the project begins, there are quite a few tasks that will require your time and attention. Some of these tasks include: paying the contractor, reviewing the work, selecting design materials, coordinating the work hours and access to your home, staying on top of project progress, communicating with the contractor, and finally, making decisions when issues arise.
What to do: It would be very wise to divide these tasks upfront among partners as much as possible to avert home renovation relationship stress.
Otherwise, one person will feel like they are doing all the work, dealing with all the headaches, and the other person is slacking off. Invariably that will lead to a blow-up or argument, which will just add stress for both of you.
You’ll certainly want to agree on a budget before you get started to preclude home renovation relationship stress.
It’s a really good idea for both of you to agree on a contingency in your budget of 10-20% for unexpected issues & changes. You can decide which person is in charge of paying the contractor and keeping track of the total spending.
You may want to set some ground rules that empower this person to approve budget increases, such as material changes, extra labor, etc., without needing to discuss each of these with the other partner, perhaps as long as they stay within a certain cost range.
That range could be something like a flat $500 maximum or up to a 10% increase in cost, etc.
Another important aspect of budgeting is taking into account your homeowners insurance and seeing what all your policy covers.
What to do: There are several remodeling contractor search websites that connect homeowners with trustworthy general contractors to thoroughly prepare every homeowner for remodeling. You can sit down with your partner to initiate the process with an inclusive discussion to set the ball rolling. This way, you can easily find a good contractor who can work as per your budget.
Also Watch: Budgeting for a Home Remodel
5. Stay united
Before you even start planning the details of your project, you may want to make a list of all the major decisions that will be made along the way.
These may include selecting the contractor, choosing materials & design, deciding on the plans/layout of the space, making changes or adding to the project, etc.
Then, you should discuss how each of these major decisions will get made along the way.
Will you both have to agree on every single item? Or will one person have the right to make the final call on some things, and the other person makes the call on other things?
Having these rules set upfront will ease the burden of addressing these items as they come along. It’s a way of ‘picking your battles’ so everything doesn’t become contentious.
What to do: Make sure you are on the same page when communicating with your contractor and staff. Ideally, make one person (the more tactful one) the primary point of contact for the contractor, so they don’t get mixed signals by speaking with each of you.
In the end, you can expect that your house renovation will not be a total breeze, and there might be some rough patches along the way. However, the more you can research and discuss upfront, the more you can align your expectations, which will make things less stressful along the way.
By discussing the issues well in advance will make them seem less overwhelming when they arise and help you avert home renovation relationship stress.
By setting some ground rules, you’ll be ready to take on these problems in a rational, positive manner. And when you’re done with your remodeling, you can look back and be proud of what you were able to accomplish together.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jon Grishpul is co-founder of GreatBuildz, a free service in Southern California that reduces the stress of renovating. GreatBuildz matches homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides ongoing support to ensure a pleasant renovation experience.