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Remodeling Can Be A Home Wrecker

by Broderick Perkins

Remodeling is hazardous to some relationships. 

More than one in ten couples admit to considering separation or divorce during a home improvement project. 

For many, the home is the heart of many homeowners' lives. Having it ripped apart for weeks or months can be a real heart-breaker. 

Tremendous emotional stress can cause a rift that strains even the strongest relationships. 

While 46 percent of homeowner couples found remodeling with their significant other to be collaborative, an equal percentage found the experience frustrating and 12 percent admitted the job threatened their relationship, according to a new survey from Houzz.com, a Palo Alto-based, online construction zone for designing, planning and sharing a remodeling project. 

Things could get worse before they get better. More and more homeowners are remodeling to take advantage of growing home values as well as to create a more livable, lovable home. 

Remodeling is up 5.3 percent from the first to second quarter this year and up 8.6 percent from a year ago. 

By this time next year, remodeling is expected to move higher, growing by 11.3 percent, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) recently released by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Study's Remodeling Futures Program. 

What miffs remodeling couples? 

Houzz found that conflicting tastes can be a major point of contention. One third of previously happily married homeowners said they disliked their significant other's design style and 76 percent weren't afraid to tell their spouse so. 

Honesty doesn't always work. Forty-two percent of respondents reported being stuck with crap they hated, but weren't allowed to get rid of. One in five went ahead and trashed their love partner's stuff without telling them. 

Knickknacks weren't the problem. A disdain for old furniture created the most problems, followed by posters and artwork, mounted antlers, hunting trophies, wood paneling and outdated magazines. 

When couples are at loggerheads, some partners take control on their own. 

One in five respondents said they made a major remodeling decision without telling their partner, including tearing down walls, picking paint colors and choosing furniture and appliances. 

When the dust cleared, so did thoughts of splitting up. 

Four out of five couples said they felt more relaxed in their home, 42 percent entertain more and 41 percent report an increase in happiness with their significant other. 

Preventing break-ups 

So how do you keep the relationship intact when your home is being ripped apart? 

•  Compromise - Before beginning any project, each partner should browse photos, idea books and images and use other visualization aids to find preferred styles. Have a date to share styles and find common ground to establish a style both can live with. 

•  Negotiate - If the mounted antlers must go, give up the velvet Elvis paintings. Both partners should be prepared to give up something they value. If one partner can't part with a loved object, be prepared for the other partner to do likewise. 

•  Mind the money - Avoid financial stress by agreeing upon an upfront stick-to-it budget. Research costs for materials and professional work. Then, make a list of items both partners need to approve, including wall color, kitchen appliances and electronics. Houzz offers a cost finder and similar services are available around the Internet for comparison purposes.