Renovating a house is a dream for many people. Unfortunately, the stress of a major renovation project can strain family relationships and highlight communication problems and differing priorities. Here are some ways to manage the challenges and keep your relationships intact.
Get on the Same Page
Talk to your partner about the changes you want to make and why you want to make them. Don’t assume that you are on the same page. There is a good chance that you aren’t.
If you don’t see eye-to-eye on something, speak up. Biting your tongue and then getting angry when the house is a mess will strain your relationship. It’s better to argue and hash out your differences now than after contractors have started knocking down walls.
Figure out which goals are essential and which would be nice to have. Agree on a total budget for the project and discuss ways to keep costs under control. Leave room in your budget for unanticipated expenses.
Some couples like to discuss every aspect of a project and make decisions together. In other cases, one person prefers to agree on the big picture and allow the other to work out the details. In some families, specific tasks are assigned to each individual. Figure out what works for you.
Talk to Your Kids
Discuss the renovations as a family. Allowing your children to make suggestions, and even letting them make some minor decisions, can get them emotionally invested and help you avoid conflicts later.
Tell your kids what to expect during the renovation process, including which rooms you will and won’t be able to use and how family life may be affected. Explain that you will all have to contend with dust, fumes and noise.
Make a Plan
Prepare yourselves mentally for the fact that your home may be in a state of controlled chaos for weeks or months on end. Figure out how you will prepare meals or whether you will order a lot of takeout. Discuss how to keep important parts of your family’s routine, such as mealtimes and bedtimes, as close to normal as possible. Designate one part of the house as a place to relax away from construction.
Have a contingency plan in place in case the chaos at home becomes unbearable. For example, ask relatives or friends if you could stay with them for a while, or set aside money to stay at a hotel if you need a break.
Spend time together and have fun outside of the house while it is being renovated. Going out to dinner, going for a hike or playing a game at a park can allow you to take a mental break and reconnect.
Keep the lines of communication open during the renovation process. Encourage each other to share concerns, frustrations and complaints, but focus on finding solutions rather than just airing grievances.