If you think building furniture with your significant other is the true test of a relationship, try undertaking a home renovation together. Renovations can last anywhere from a few weeks to months and even the most in-sync of couples can find themselves at odds at some point during the process.
There are a few things you and your partner can do to stay on the same page and survive your home renovation (almost) effortlessly.
Renovations are expensive and unpredictable. As you peel back old layers of your home, problems can emerge and costs can add up. If you own a home together, you've hopefully talked about money before. But the money talk before buying your home (an exciting milestone) is very different from the discussion over replacing the roof or fixing a crack in the foundation (a terrifying, stressful and not-at-all-exciting milestone).
Although knowing things like each other's savings, credit score and income are important, it's most important to know the kind of relationship you both have with money. Are you good at saving money? How do you feel spending it—especially when costs can be in the thousands? And how do you handle unexpected expenses? If one of you feels comfortable paying top-dollar for quality work and the newest, most innovative products but the other is a discount shopper who breaks down at the thought of tapping into your contingency fund, you'll likely butt heads throughout the process.
Establish a budget based on where you feel comfortable spending money and where you can penny pinch. Make sure you've established an emergency fund and capped budget if things go awry. Once you have a price range in mind for each part of your renovation, the first challenge is done and you can start looking for your contractor or materials. The next challenge is finding things you both agree on.
Compromising can be especially challenging during a home renovation. You'll be living with your renovation decisions for a long time.
Renovating is not the time to passively let one person make all the decisions. If your partner wants a quirky backsplash but you're more of a Minimalist, tell them. Alternatively, if your partner thinks Scandinavian décor is boring, you're better off finding out before the renovation starts. You should reach a healthy middle ground you're both happy with.
Many ideas will be shot down throughout the renovation process, but decisions should rarely come down to, “If you like it, I'll settle for it—but I get my way next time.” If one person doesn't like it—whether it's paint colour, flooring, furniture or layout—keep looking until you find something you can both agree on. Otherwise, you're setting yourselves up for resentment down the road.
Give each other space
A renovation means lots of sacrifices, sharing ideas and shelling out money. Add the fact you and your significant other will be living in very close quarters, and you might start to feel overwhelmed. When you find yourself feeling this way, it might be a good time for you and your partner to give each other some space.
Couples need space every now and then but during renovations, it's especially important both for your sanity and to release any tension that may build between the two of you, to carve out some “alone” time.
Space can mean anything from a weekend apart—maybe to visit your parents or a friend—to an afternoon spent painting separate rooms. Maybe one of you can stay home to oversee things while the other goes shopping for materials. Some time apart will allow you both to clear your head and regain a sense of control amidst the chaos of your renovation.
Not to contradict the point we just made but a renovation also offers great opportunities for bonding. Depending on your or your partner's skill level, you might opt to do some projects yourselves to save money. Find projects you can work on together. Something like intricate tilework might create more arguing than bonding, but a fun task like putting up an accent wall, painting your own artwork or installing wood flooring can be a great way for to collaborate and contribute to your new and improved home together.
You'll never feel 100% in control during a renovation, and the fear of not getting exactly what you want in your home might create tension in your relationship, so it's necessary to establish boundaries (both financial and creative) beforehand. By opening up about your respective relationships with money, giving each other space and doing fun projects together, you and your significant other can make it out of this stressful process stronger and closer than ever.