Trying to save money and believing that your love could withstand any storm – you bought the fixer upper. At first, the one tiny bathroom nestled right off the living room and the lack of good insulation was cute. You even thought the cracks in the drywall lining the kitchen gave your new home personality. Plus, from the outside everything looked picture perfect and all it took to make the picket white fence stunning, was just a little white paint. Fast-forward a few years and the lack of closet space and the addition of a kid or two has you packing things you use every day into plastic tubs and storing them in the garage, which is too small for your SUV. Then, you know its time for some renovations. The trick however, is surviving a home renovation with the marriage in tact
The best term to describe what will happen to your home during a home renovation is environmental chaos. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones who can move out for the duration of the construction, you will be forced to withstand pots and pans in the bathroom and your clothes strewn about every nook and cranny in the home. Of course, nothing will move fast enough and chances are you cut some corners opting to do some things yourselves to save money.
Not only are you stressed about spending such an exuberant about of money, but you will find that your spouse is not nearly as handy as you once thought he was. Living in the chaos can cause even the most levelheaded man or woman to completely lose their cool, making them feel like a wild animal that has been caged. But what do you do. Once you start, you cannot just stop midway through (at least not on purpose) and decide to put everything back the way it was. There are a few things that can help you to survive.
Before you start, make some plans. Decide what you need not just today, but in the next ten or so years. Remember your kids will be bigger and the needs of your family will be much different than they are right now. Then, find estimates and lots of them from reputable contractors. Start with licensed contractors that your friends or colleagues have used and recommend and resist choosing one based on cost alone. Construction can leave lots of hidden costs. Make sure that each of your estimates is completely itemized so you know exactly what you are getting into. Best thing is to decide together so that neither of you can blame the other when you are in the middle of trying to surviving the home renovation.
Once your decision has been made, be realistic about what you choose to do yourself. Sure, everyone wants to save money and you may have layed some tile or mudded drywall before. This however, doesn’t mean that you are an expert nor does it mean that you have the extra time to get it done. Be realistic about your time line. Also, consider that adding a grand to a loan so that a painter can get everything painted properly, evenly and timely isn’t going to be the end of the world! Instead, cut corners in other aspects.
Before you begin, give yourself a few weeks to prepare. If the bulk of the living space is going to be affected, then try to make heads or tails of what you are going to do with all the stuff that needs to be moved. Remember that you need to be able to make a cup of coffee or heat up some soup and plan accordingly. This might mean that the microwave is in your bedroom for a while. Once you organize your stuff try to prepare your mind. The hardest part of surviving a home renovation is wrapping your mind around the chaos around you. This may sound silly, but literally prepare your mental state to handle the situation. You can say affirmations such as “I will not go insane, this is only temporary” or just use visual imagery to imagine the end result of your suffering. As long as you and the kids can find your clothes and utilize your home for the necessities in life while the renovation is going on, stepping over some sheet rock or tool boxes definitely isn’t the end of the world.
While construction is going on, try to make sure that you can continually oversee the construction. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and try to lay off nagging your spouse to do more and more. In due time it will get done. The two of you should probably make a deal beforehand that you will stay on task and finish the house before starting any more projects. At the same time, don’t be afraid to take a weekend off every now and again and do something enjoyable that is AWAY from the home. This way you will be able to recharge your batteries and enjoy yourself for a bit away from the stress and tension that presents itself in the home.
Chances are that you and your spouse will be at odds about a lot of things. From deciding what needs to be done to who does it and how much to spend. The easiest way to bypass these petty arguments is for each spouse to be in charge of something. For instance if he wife is partial to the bathroom and kitchen and the husband seems most interested in the living room – allow each to have their way in those areas of the home.
The last step in surviving a home renovation is to be ready for change. Planning a renovation project is one thing but having it turn out like it is planned is another. It is very rare for everything to go without a hitch at some point. You don’t have to hold your breath the whole time waiting for the bottom to fall out, but remain in a solution-based mood that will have you flexible and looking for ways to fix things. When all else fails and you cannot look at your spouse or your home without feeling like a cookie about to crumble – remember that it will be over before you know it. This is just a small and temporary time in your life, whose means will definitely be worth the end.