10 Steps to Managing a Remodel With Your Partner
Even under the best of circumstances, remodeling can be challenging. So, what can couples do to reduce conflict during a home project? Here are 10 steps to help you negotiate remodeling decisions with a minimum of stress.
1. Look at the Big Picture
Start from a positive, after all you’re both in this together. Talk about your grandest goals for this project, not just paint colors and decor styles but how you want the new space to make you feel, what activities you envision happening there, and if there is a difference between how you will use the space now versus what you see for the future.
2. Name Your Top Priorities
When you’re in the middle of a project, it’s easy to start seeing every little decision as the be all and end all. This, of course, is a recipe for tension and conflict. Instead, consider creating your own personal lists of three to five top priorities, with just one item highlighted as the top priority. This will allow you to take a step back and focus on the bigger picture view of the project. While some areas certainly are sensitive to you, there are many others where there is room for compromise.
3. Do a List Swap
After your lists of top priorities are made, take some time and flesh them out with more ideas and wishes for the project. Once the longer lists are complete, swap them so that each list can be gone over by the other person. Feel free to mark them up — circle things that are similar, check items that you’re willing to compromise on, cross out ideas you absolutely disagree on.
When you’re done, talk about the lists with an open mind and genuine curiosity. Seek to truly understand your partner’s priorities and the “why” behind their preferences.
4. Come Together Regarding the Budget
Money issues are the most common sources of conflict in relationships, so it’s important to get on the same page about your budget straightaway. Gather all the facts, research financing options and discuss what you feel is an appropriate amount to spend on the project before you start on it.
5. Partial Solutions Are Okay
Understanding that neither of you are going to get exactly what you want all of the time opens the door for partial solutions, where each of you gets enough out of the decision to keep you both satisfied. Compromises on decisions equally affecting both parties, like the exterior color of your home, are a good place to practice the fine art of partial solutions.
6. But Don’t Compromise on Everything
While some compromise is good, feeling like you both compromised on everything leaves nobody happy. This is where circling back to the priority lists is important. Can each of you find at least one item on the other person’s list that you are willing to “give” to them? This way, when the project is over you both have something you really love, and there are places you can point to where you compromised.
7. Timeline and Life During the Remodel
It’s a really good idea to discuss how long the project realistically will take and how you are going to manage while the actual work is taking place. Check the calendar to be sure there are no major events or conflicts that will make the project extra stressful. Do you plan on staying in your home during the project, moving into a temporary rental, traveling or some other option or combination? Don’t forget the needs of pets and children as well.
8. Hiring a Pro
What exactly do you want when it comes to hiring a remodeling professional? Talk about what’s important to each of you, whether it’s design sensibility, personality, the ability to stay on schedule and under budget or something else. Much like your discussion about priorities, approach this conversation with an attitude of curiosity and try to understand why certain things are or are not important to your partner when it comes to a professional.
9. Build in Rewards
Celebrate your small remodeling project wins along the way with small treats or fun gifts. If you hit a mini milestone or conquer an especially tough decision, reward yourselves with a day trip, special date night or other shared treat you can enjoy together.
10. Call in a Professional
While home design professionals aren’t able to solve all of your problems, they do bring their expertise and creative abilities to bear on your project. This means it’s highly likely they can inject important incite into areas where you and your partner are having trouble agreeing.