Renovating with your Significant Other: Ten Actions for Success

It is said that opposites attract. Overall, this may be true in a relationship, but it can create challenges during a remodeling project. If you and your significant other struggle to make a decision that works for the both of you during a design project, then this article is for you. Here we discuss ten ways to reduce the remodeling stress and conflict that can arise between couples, bringing accord throughout the process.

1. Scope Agreement
This first step is the most important. Here you both will make an agreement about the overall scope of the project. This is the project’s big picture treaty. Begin with a positive, we’re-doing-this-together approach. Start by sharing each other’s vision and end goal for the project.
Put it in writing and reference should someone go rogue and need to be reminded of the agreement.
Here are a few questions to help you begin the process. Add more questions as you see fit.
• What is the purpose of the renovation?
• What functionality of the space will stay the same? What will change?
• How will the new design enhance everyday living?
• Will we like the design one year from now? Five years from now?
• What are the key factors to ensuring a consultative arrangement between each other?

2. Prioritize
Here you and your partner will separately list the TOP three to five priorities to accomplish during the renovation. Highlight your number one priority (they can be different from each other). Refer to this list should there be a need to remove lesser priorities. It also keeps conflict in check, especially as the renovation progresses. We find that our customers think they can handle a renovation but when you don’t have a kitchen for several months, it’s easy to start viewing every decision as carrying equal importance. The priority list helps you to avoid making this mistake and keeps you on track and in harmony.

3. Exchange Lists
In this section, you each get to add more ideas and wishes to your lists. This is the place where your vision for the project should be put in words. This is where you and your partner get to ask questions about each other’s project plan. Dawn Michael, a couple’s therapist and sexologist, developed this process to help couples come to agreement. Switch your lists with each other and then do the following: checkmark similar ideas, circle ideas that can be compromised, and x-out ideas where there is disagreement. When this task is completed, return the lists and have a conversation based on a genuine interest of how each person prioritized items. Here is where each other’s desires are revealed allowing for a better understanding of why one feels a certain way. This type of open discussion can bring couples consensus towards a very positive remodeling experience.

4. Determining the Renovation Budget
Setting a renovation budget can be daunting, especially if it’s been a while since you have remodeled, or if you have never completed one. You and your partner could be in for a shock when you review the project quote. Here’s where couples can argue and get into conflict. Before you begin a renovation, it is important to get all the facts about what you want. A good rule of thumb provided by the Appraisal Institute is to budget approximately 15% of value of your home for a kitchen renovation and 10% for a bathroom renovation. From there, you both decide what you can and can’t live without. Now is the time to hash out what budget figure gives each of you the top items on your lists. Remember to add in a contingency amount because you will encounter points in the renovation where you want to add something or worse, it could be found that you need new water pipes, updated electrical, etc.

5. Compromise
Renovation really is about compromise. It’s important to realize going into a project that your vision will change to reality…meaning neither of you will get exactly what you want 100 percent of the time. Sometimes the better choice is to compromise. Look to find a solution that matches both of your desires if confronted with a renovation rework.

6. But not 100% of the Time
Think about it…if you compromise on everything then no one gets what they want. Therefore, as partners, you need to really think about your lists and let each other have at least one, hopefully more, items that make sense to the overall scope of the project. This way, each of you can proudly boast about the items you love and the ones that each of you settled on compromise. It truly is a win-win for all.

7. Navigating the Renovation
Make sure to discuss with your builder realistic expectations of the timeline, any possible delays and whether to vacate your home during the project. This is a critical component to insure your sanity, reduce stress, and enjoy a positive experience. Do you have any upcoming family events that may add stress to the renovation? Do you need to vacate your home during all or just certain components of the renovation? Where do pets go? As partners, it is important that you agree on the flow of the project from start to finish.

8. Picking the Pro
The Pro you choose for the project can make or break a positive renovation experience. Be sure to check references, understand their fee structure, learn their communication process, and generally feel good about their overall design sense and personality. Ask each other what attributes of the Pro are important. Getting on the same page here is key. Only pick a Pro when you both agree the fit aligns with your project.

9. Interior Designer
Strongly consider hiring an Interior Designer to oversee your project. Good Interior Designers bring your vision to reality, clearly explain the process and take charge of overseeing all that goes on during a renovation. They can act as a mediator between you and your partner, bringing any needed accord. Use the same method you did in picking the Pro to choose an Interior Designer.

10. Treat Yourselves
Renovation is full of decision-making. Make sure to acknowledge small wins and milestones. Celebrate by doing some of your favorite things together, such as a fun date night, take a short trip, delight in good food. Maybe even surprise your significant other with a small gift. Whatever you choose, take the time with each other and enjoy the small wins.

Renovation, by definition, is to reinvigorate; refresh; revive. Keep this in mind as you wind through the process with each other. Open communication and mindfulness of each other’s desires will result in a very positive renovation experience and, of course, a beautiful new space for you both to enjoy.

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