Ask the Builder: How to Renovation-Proof Your Relationship

 In What to Know When Renovating

Dear JMC,

I’ve heard that a marriage that can survive a major home remodel can survive anything. What can we do to make this process less stressful and more fun?

Yours truly,
Seeking-to-stay-married

Dear Seeking,

Home renovations are one of the most stressful experiences that couples can go through, but they can also be one of the most rewarding—if you play by the rules. We have definitely seen our share of relationship meltdowns over the years, and every single one boiled down to the same “different” thing—differences in opinion, differences in key goals, and differences in budgets.

At JM Construction, we care about our clients’ well-being, just as much as we care about their spaces. The simplest way for a renovation to bring out the best in a relationship (and your new space!) is to get on the same page. Literally. Take out a piece of paper.

This one-pager will become your hallowed, common ground, as critical to your marriage as the Constitution is to the United States. Too often, couples simply assume that both spouses agree on key factors, only to find that they each interpreted them differently. Avoid that confusion—and the contention—by carefully considering and confirming the following.

Your Must-Not-Exeed Number

Some of the worst arguments we’ve ever seen arose over misunderstandings about the budget. That’s why we value a straightforward approach. Know what you’re both comfortable spending, tell us about it, and we’ll help you stick to it. Our estimates are fair and accurate, so you’ll know what’s realistic before we even start. Kitchen remodels are often the most expensive, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into financially before you start. 

Your Must-Have’s, Your Nice-to-Have’s, and your Final Say’s

Understand and agree upon your end goal, what changes indicate success, and which items are simply on the “wish list.” This establishes boundary lines well ahead of key decision points. Even more important, determine who gets the final say on items like finishes, appliances, your home’s color palette, and more.

TIP: While you each may have your own style, apps like Houzz and Pinterest can help you find common ground with their filtered search parameters. Flex your compromise muscles; if you can’t live with man-cave brown on the walls, you can’t expect him to live with a pink-toned countertop that he hates. There WILL be a design idea that you’ll both love, so keep looking—and remember we’re here to help!

Your Most Essential Project Expectations

Due diligence is critical when picking the company that will do your renovation. Some spouses are all about the details, while others aren’t sure what questions to ask. To help you get started, check out our Top 10 Renovation FAQs. This will likely spur other questions that will help you both remain on that same page and be fully informed as you enter into this project. Make sure to consider who in the relationship is working from home, who stands to be interrupted most, and communicate who has the final say on different aspects of the project so that your construction team knows where to go for answers.

Your Survival Plan

One of the hardest parts of a remodel is living with disruption, especially during our kitchen and bath remodels. Determine, together, what elements of your space you will need during renovation, as well as how you will meet those needs while your space is out of commission. If you are struggling to figure out your temporary plan, just ask us. We’ve seen countless clients in similar situations, and we have tons of ideas to assist and inspire.

At JMC, we make this incredibly easy for you during kitchen remodels. Rather than have you resort to microwaved meals and bathtub dish-washing, we provide you with a stand-up sink, portable oven, and fold-out table in the space of your choosing (as long as that space is deemed safe). Details like this matter to you and, in turn, matter to us. We also take painstaking efforts to keep our spaces clean and orderly—so much so that one client commented that his garage (our storage space) was cleaner after we left than before we started!

Your Remind-Us-When-We-Forget Commitment

For richer or poorer, from the subfloor to finished ceilings, from tarnished brass to black matte fixtures, remember you love each other. Make a verbal pact that “fits” the two of you and your relationship, and then—you guessed it—write it down. Consider a fun codeword or phrase to diffuse tension when discussions get heated. The point is to remember who you are as a couple, honor the adventure you are on together, and find the laughter that rescues when all else fails.

Full disclosure: We are by no means relationship or marriage counselors, but we do know that love plays a critical role in every single project we do. We’re here to help you be your best as a couple from start to finish. Start that one-pager together, contact us, and let’s kickstart the project that will prove your marriage is renovation-proof! 

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