It’s happened more than once. We’ll be meeting with new clients and they’ll ask, in a joking manner, if we are marriage counselors and home builders.

Many people experience apprehension about keeping harmony in their relationship throughout the build or renovation process. They know there are a lot of decisions to be made, styles to blend, and budgets to agree on, in addition to keeping the normal routines in balance.

While we are not officially counselors, we do have some experience in marriage and raising a family. And we also have experience in building homes. In fact, we’ve built three personal homes together and also completed a basement renovation. What have we learned along the way? For us, tension builds when we paint together. It always seems like a good idea 5 days before we start the project and soon, we’re giving each other the evil eye. We stress each other out in different ways. Nicole can overthink design decisions or become indifferent and Andy will throw a curve ball by presenting a new option at the last minute. We understand the stress and the relational scenarios that can surface.

After going through the process ourselves and working with other clients, here are a few words of wisdom to minimize the stress and keep you lovin’ your partner.

1. Remove the Idea of Perfection from Your Mind

What? It’s the biggest investment of your life! Yes, we know. But stick with us – do you and your partner’s idea of perfection align completely? Are you able to get into each other’s heads to see the exact vision? Unless you have some amazing superpowers, probably not. Take the stress off yourselves and intentionally map out your project goals to create a shared vision.

2. Develop a Shared Vision

Before talking square footage and design, step back. Why do you want to build or remodel your home? What’s not working for you in your current environment? Then take time to talk about what you want your new space to do for you. How can it support the way you’d like your family to function? What feeling do you want to have when you walk in the door (relaxed, fun, homey, etc.)? Write it all down – this is a crazy important step! It’s something you can go back to that grounds you throughout the process.

marriage and home building

3. Outline Your Investment Strategy

We all have budgets! Whether you are self-funding your project or working with a financial institution – do your homework. Identify how you will pay for the project, the steps you need to complete and timelines involved. Find a dollar range you are comfortable with. Take it one step further – what is your philosophy on making financial decisions? There is an education process that occurs when you create your vision and then get the costs associated with it. What are your guidelines and priorities for making a decision? Is it style regardless of cost? Is it dollar amount and you are willing to make design changes to reach that number? Is it a hybrid approach? Write it down. This will save you from stressful conversations later on.

4. Breakdown Your Wants and Needs

Now we can start talking about logistics of your home. General square foot ranges, style, bells and whistles. Make a list.

Photo by Alair Homes Green BayBrowse kitchen ideas

5. Identify Stress

Identify what stresses you out about building and what your ideal build will look like. Make notes so you can talk to your contractor about that.

6. Have Grace with One Another

We all get stressed, maybe snap at one another, become overwhelmed, etc. – when that happens, step back. What’s going on that might be contributing to that? Lack of sleep? Feeling like you are running at 100mph? Uncertainty? We have found when clients (and ourselves) can name the root cause, it diffuses a lot of emotion and you can work to address it. Sometimes it may have to do with the build and sometimes it is just life. This is a big and vulnerable step, but it makes a difference. Go back to your goals for the house and focus on your why. Then work with each other, your builder and your support network to see how you can reduce some of your stress and overwhelm.

7. Know You Have the Ability to Engage in an Amazing Build/Renovation Experience.

It doesn’t have to be stressful – in fact, clients who have worked with us in the past have coined it to be an enjoyable experience! We have a Client Control process where we walk with you strategically step-by-step to help you make decisions at appropriate times without a huge overwhelm. We help you to be confident in your selections and to know and have certainty with your budget, thus minimizing many of the risks that tend to cause stress in marriages.

8. Laugh

Figure out a way to talk and think about things other than your home project. Between good communication with your builder and key milestones that give you confidence that everything is on track, allow yourself to enjoy seeing your vision become reality.

We know it’s a big step, but we’re rooting for you!


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