Let’s first determine what causes couples to fight during a remodel. Money, big decisions and disrupted schedules.
Remodels by their very nature are stressful. Someone is going to come into your home and rip it apart. You need to trust this person and the plans they will be following. Does everyone show up when they say they will? Does everyone return calls and emails in a timely fashion? Do they have a personality you can deal with at the end of each day?
Make sure both spouses like and are comfortable working with all team members; designers, General Contractors, and tradespeople on the project. Make sure ALL parties are communicative with ALL stakeholders (spouses) during the process. They should all be respectful of you, your children, your pets, your budget and your property. They should be open to questions and requests for clarification, not annoyed or seemed bothered.
The money needed for a remodel can be significant. Not having a plan will most definitely increase the cost and arguments. There are many details to work out and items to consider before you even think about the physical portion of the process. Making sure your project is fully funded before-hand is extremely important. Know how you are going to pay for it and have that money accessible. If your situation changes at any time, make sure you communicate these changes with each other and to the people you are working with. Your designer and/or GC may have suggestions and methods to help reign in costs.
Make sure the space has been fully explored, as many existing conditions as possible have been discovered and the work you need done is clearly documented. Previous work done to a home may not be up to code or was never permitted. You may also discover the work you need done requires you to upgrade other systems in your home. These may require additional time & money. We can discover many of these items in the consultation phase of a project and with drawings, thorough research with the city and by fully documenting the existing conditions.
It may seem minor but do not underestimate the effect of not having a working bathroom or kitchen. Schedules will be disrupted, and nerves will be frayed.
Make sure you have a plan for how you will deal with this. Will you set up a kitchenette in the basement or a corner of the living room with a microwave and small fridge? Will you eat out every night? Or will you simply move to a hotel and not have to deal with any of it? Know these costs and include them in your budget! The more each family member knows, the more easily everyone can adjust their schedules and expectations.
Most of the above scenarios can be avoided or mitigated with careful planning during the design phase and documentation in the information gathering stage. Then prioritize your needs and wants because at some point you may need to do some “value engineering”. This means some portions of the project are done later or some materials are more budget friendly. Already knowing which items are the most important, so if the need should arrive, you already have a good idea of what will go and what will stay.
Divide and conquer. One person cannot do it all. Usually one person is good at the communication side; keeping track of design decisions, emails and schedules. The other is good at the analytical side; budgets, project details and knowing the value of each decision.
This is good because you also need to take turns freaking out. One person can calm the other in times of stress. Lastly, sometimes you will end up with what you want and sometimes the other person will, but in the end it should be close to 50/50.
If you begin a remodel with these items in place, your chances for success increase greatly! And your chances of staying together in your newly remodeled home also increase!
Not a very sexy of way of looking at a relationship but keep in mind a remodel is a financial decision that is steeped in emotions with the person closests to you. Be open to hearing the other person out and at times compromising on detail here and there. Whew! Don’t worry, it’s all temporary and life will be back to normal soon!