Designing a home together can be a wonderful experience for you and your spouse - or it can have you digging out the combat gear while you fight over whether or not you really need a sunken living room or kitchen fireplace. Read more to learn how you can build a house and still stay married.
Realize That Decision Making Can Be Exhausting
You might know that wonderful couple who, when building their home, breezed through planning meetings, never fretted a design choice, laughed off the bad stuff, and never stopped being excited about their project. When you and your spouse are going through the stressful process of building your own home, it's perfectly acceptable if you want to think of that couple and hate them. They aren't normal.
The amount of decision making that you have to do in order to build a house - everything from the type of shingles you want to the kitchen tile - is exhausting.
Not only do you have hundreds of decisions to make, you also need to acknowledge that you and your spouse are not going to agree on all of them. That means that you have the added fatigue of stress and negotiation over a significant number of those decisions. You need to take specific steps to keep from becoming burnt-out.
Build A Reliable Support Team
You need a reliable support team, including your architect, designer, contractor, realtor, and loan officer. If you can afford it, hire an interior decorator to help you work through some of the finer points on the inside of the house, and a landscaper to help you through designing the yard that you want to go with your home.
Ask For A Detailed List Of The Decisions You Need To Make
Have your contractor provide you a list of the decisions that you need to make. Ask that you be given at least a week to make any decisions that weren't originally anticipated.
A week gives you time to shop, look at materials, and research your choices so that you can make an informed decision without being unduly stressed or rushed.
Divide Tasks Between You - Or Delegate Them
You and your spouse don't bring identical things to the marriage, so capitalize on your differences. Unless you are equally good at all things, one of you may be more comfortable picking out cabinets and crown molding and the other one may be more comfortable discussing sub-flooring and HVAC systems. Play off each other's strengths and don't feel like you both have to be part of every decision.
Are neither of you comfortable choosing the shingles or insulation? Delegate it to the contractor and trust his or her decision. That's why you've hired a team to work with you.
Don't Try To Control Everything
Agree beforehand if there are some things that you have to have (like solar panels) and if there is something you can't stand (like bamboo flooring) and then be open to negotiation with each other about everything else.
Try to aim for an over-all "blend" of ideas in the house, not one person dominating the show. Otherwise, the other spouse is going to end up angry and resentful, and possibly unhappy with the finished project.
You want this house to reflect both of you together, not just one of you.
Have a Stress Relief System
Do not make building your home the entire focus of your relationship. First, it's a bad idea because when the building or design process is hitting a snag, your relationship is going to reflect it. Second, you need to have other things to focus on once your home is built. People can become so consumed by the building process that they are left feeling at loose ends and without goals once the home is finally done.
Instead, schedule times to discuss the house, shop for the house, and make decisions about the house and try not to bring it up at other times. Keep it from intruding on your regular times to rest, have fun, or be together. If you have to, lay down strict "no house topics allowed" times so that you can both take a break.
Plan all of your decision making times for the house in the mornings, as well, rather than evenings. Keep evenings together as free time.
Building your own home together can be incredibly stressful for a couple, but it can be incredibly rewarding as well. You get to create a home that's a reflection of your combined tastes and values and you and your spouse will be the first people to ever live there, and that's pretty awesome.
For more information on new home construction, visit The Gresham Group.