Home renovation projects can be stressful at the best of times. Several key factors go into a successful renovation that ends with you and your significant other still happily in love. Our goal is to make the process as stress-free as possible and guide you through it – think Julie McCoy as your cruise director (not Gilligan-and now I’ve dated myself).
Get On the Same Page with Your Home Renovation
Talk before you decide to embark on a home renovation to ensure you and your partner are on the same page. Be crystal clear about your expectations and your wants vs your needs.
- Top Priorities: Independent of each other, make a list of your top priorities that you want to accomplish with a renovation. Literally, list them on a piece of paper ranked in order of importance. Then trade lists with your loved one and discuss. Discuss your lists without criticizing. Make one combined list of your priorities in order of significance to clearly communicate this to your contractor up front. The time to determine what is important is before you begin your project. During the project, EVERYTHING will seem critically important, so it is imperative to identify these in advance. You can even separate your lists into WANTS vs NEEDS.
- Compromise: Sometimes you are both able to get exactly what you want from the renovation and are on the same page. Other times compromise may be called for. This may be based on finances, the layout or space, or a difference of opinions. This is the time to discuss what is really important and what you can let go of. Advocate for yourself, but also listen carefully to your partner’s wish list and compromise to get the desired end result of a beautiful home with your loved ones by your side.
- Budget: Finances are one of the most common sources of conflict in any relationship – during a renovation is no exception. It is important to be in agreement on what you are willing to invest in your home. Research together and determine what you are comfortable spending and communicate this clearly to your contractor to ensure they are designing your home within your budget from the beginning. Be very clear on how important your budget is.
Discuss how your family will cope with the chaos of a renovation
- Game Plan: Develop a game plan for how to weather the challenges of your home in chaos. Renovation can be messy and chaotic, and some personalities thrive in such conditions while others do not. It is important to talk about how you and your family will live through this season and to discuss with your contractor to best prepare in advance. It may involve carryout dinner a couple times a week to reduce the stress.
- What to expect from your contractor: Ask your contractor for a clear schedule throughout your project as well as what you can expect for the duration. Where will the dumpster be placed? Can you live in your home during the renovation? Is there a system for dust control and site preparation and what are they? How do they communicate who will be in your home daily? What is the expected duration of your project?
- Involve the kids: A home renovation affects your entire family and having a discussion of what to expect with your kids is crucial. Life on the home-front may include strangers coming and going while they get ready for school and eat their fruit loops. For some kids, this will seem fun and they will have lots of questions about what’s going on each day. For others, this is a fearful time, and they may need reassurance or even a defined delineation of where construction people may be or may not be to ensure security for them. And do not forget your pets. Develop a plan for Fido and strangers in the house to ensure he does not get let out accidentally or bite the electrician.
Choose a remodeling designer and contractor carefully
Interview your contractor together and trust your gut instincts. While most of us have heard horror stories about our friend’s renovations, it does not and should not be your experience. Discuss your list of expectations with your contractor and ask them questions. Ask for statistics on how often they start and finish a project on time? On budget? While many clients verbalize price as their most important factor in choosing a contractor, our clients tell us that experience with similar projects, recommendations from others in their sphere of influence, and quality of the work are more important. Choose a contractor you feel comfortable with and trust.
BONUS: Plan a date night with your loved one
At some point during the renovation surprise your loved one with a date night. It might be during an especially stressful period of the renovation (think drywall and dust) or perhaps during framing (can you hear the hammers hammering). Either way, if you each choose at least one time during the renovation to love your significant other well, it will go a long way towards mending the bickering that can occur when you are fed up with people working in your home. Consider your loved one when planning the date.
It might be helpful during the renovation to find a space in your home where you can spend time together out of the chaos. Check-in with one another throughout the renovation to ensure you are both OK. If conflicts arise…and they will…empathize with one another’s perspectives. Be flexible and support one another and keep the end result in mind. Your beautiful newly renovated castle of your dreams.