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Building & Renovating

How Can Couples Agree on a Renovation Project?

Get on the same page with your partner when navigating the sticky, tricky world of home renovations

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Photography: Jilson Tiu (Main Photo)

Fixing up your home is a big deal that requires big discussions. Whether you’re working on a fixer upper, flipping an entire home, or simply retiling the kitchen backsplash, partnering up with your significant other on your significant space can do two things—bring you closer together or give you reason to clash.

Before undertaking a serious, time-consuming project such as a home renovation, keep these tips in mind (share this article with your partner to ensure you’re coming from the same point of view):

1. Be clear about your goals and parameters. Even before calling up an architect or reaching out to a builder, you’ve got to clarify your intentions. You may be assuming that you’re doing all three kids’ bedrooms at the same time while your partner is thinking more along the lines of one at a time.

Individually outline your goals for the renovation. Make sure everything is written down so you have something to track back to in case of any arguments in the future. Once your goals are outlined, it will be easy to find common ground between the two of you. Use these similar goals and action points as the foundation for your project and work on the compromises from there.

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2. Assign roles. Every individual has a strong suit and a weakness—identify yours and let them align with the different To Dos that come with your home renovation. Decisive and got a nose for sales? Do the canvassing of materials and finishes. Extrovert and expert negotiator? Wine and dine with the architect and designers. Instead of wasting energy on criticizing the deficiencies you perceive in your partner, concentrate on your strengths and use them to your full advantage instead.

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3. Communicate with each other. Your builder, suppliers, interior designer and architect should not have to play mediator between the two of you. Before involving anyone else in discussions and arguments and passive aggressively getting them to take sides, make sure everything is aired out between the two of you. Again, if you can get everything written down and in black and white, the less room there is to argue and go back and forth over details. Got a problem? Air it out. Repressing issues and letting them fester won’t solve anything. Clarity will keep your heads above water from start to finish.

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4. Defer to the expert. While this renovation project is for your own personal space, remember that you hired the people you work with for their expertise. Instead of engaging in one-upmanship, remind each other that you hired these professionals because they’re good at their job. Let them do it.


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5. Remember that done is better than perfect. Many arguments, when it comes to renovations, come as a result of wanting to get things 100% right. Accept that your living space will always be a work in progress—there will always be rooms to improve on, finishes that will need to be repaired, and fixtures that just don’t work. You undertake a renovation not so your home will look perfect but so it can be as functional and as beautiful as it can be at present.

The less pressure you put on this project, the less chances you’ll have of arguing. Causing a ruckus only slows down the process—the more quickly and efficiently you get things done, the less strain there will be on your relationship.

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