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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Couples: Seven Simple Steps to Deal with Remodeling

Uploaded: Nov 10, 2017
Couples and remodeling . . . have you been through this? It is often a major problem between couples, leading them into counseling.

My husband and I are remodeling, and it's been a journey. It's exhausting. Sometimes he gets really fried (he's doing a lot of the work himself and is the superintendent-overseeing the work done by others-that's his profession so he does it all day long and then at our house) and loses patience once in a while. I don't react; I just see what I can do to help (I'm the project manager-scheduling people, making tons of phone calls, scheduling inspections, paying people, etc.). I schedule massages for him, make sure he has good meals and make him stop working!

There are so many issues that arise for couples to deal with. Here are seven simple steps to deal with it:

1. Decision-making. Who will decide on the overall project? Both of you, one of you? Who will oversee all the details? Who will decide on the interior decorating details when you get to that stage?

My husband designed our remodel with input from me. He did the drawings that we gave the building department. But the decisions about what fixtures, finishes, paint colors, tile, flooring, etc. are all mine. In his job, designers create those plans and he implements them. So that's our model, too. He's great with numbers (and I'm a great therapist) so he figures out how much tile/paint, etc. that we need.

2. Money/budget. What will you spend on the remodel? (Plan for it to go over whatever you expected). What if you find that "perfect" something and it's over budget? Will you have a dollar threshold that if it less than X go for it, but if it's more than X discuss it? How many of those will you have on the project?

We've gone over budget :-( Turned out we needed an entire new roof rather than new for the addition and tie-in. Our windows and doors were more than expected. And the tile installation . . . surprise! And not in a good way. I tried to save money where possible (vintage light fixtures from eBay, ReStore Habitat from Humanity, new tile from Craigslist, previous years model of rain shower heads, etc. There are plenty of materials available; it's a distribution question. Be creative.

3. Upheaval. People in your home. Dust everywhere. Your yard thrashed. Building materials and construction trash. Storing windows/doors/plumbing fixtures, etc.) Noise. Keeping good neighborly relations.

Some people move out completely. If you can afford that it helps. We've stayed in our house and have dust curtains. Sometimes I find a quiet place to hide out and write. We've hit an unexpected stage: the hardwood floor stain and coating triggers migraines for me (10 minutes in the house is all it took). So we're not staying home through this. Wonderful friends have offered us refuge. The last smelly thing is the shower hot mop--tar. Once all these odors clear I can go home again. Right now I'm writing to you from Peet's.

4. Control. Many couples struggle with control issues anyway. Remodeling will bring them out in force.

We're fortunate in that our skills compliment each other through this process. Plus,when things feel overwhelming and out of control I remind myself to kind my eye on the prize--the finished home.

Here are a few tips for managing the process:

1. Create a realistic budget.

2. Create a remodel that fits your budget (and watch for feature creep; e.g., we planned for a heated floor in one new bathroom and then I decided I wanted it in both new baths).

3. Find a trusted contractor.

4. Expect it to take longer than you hoped for (you can negotiate a bonus for the builder for getting it done on time. Realize that many things are out of their control, too. For example the building department, PG&E, CalWater, subs schedules, consultants. Yes, they have to mange all that, and they do. But be realistic.)

5. Take time off to have fun together and talk about things other than your project. Take weekends and vacations away. (We went to Oregon to see the eclipse and came home restored and relaxed.)

6. When you get stressed about it be a team in dealing with it rather than taking it out on each other.

7. Be kind. To each other, your contractor and everyone working on your project. They'll feel better and so will you. Kindness is catching. I've made extra supper for subs working late. They appreciate it.

I'm sure all you smart people out there have other good tips to add, so please do. Happy building, and happy being finished. We're close to the end.
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Posted by From a serial remodeler, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Nov 12, 2017 at 7:07 pm

From a serial remodeler is a registered user.

Our family has remodeled or built over ten homes, two more pieces of advice

1) whoever cares the most wins. For example, the cook in the family gets then final say in appliances and kitchen layout. The person who cares most about landscaping gets the final say in landscaping. You get it. If a partner is passionate about something, give it to them.

2). When building or renovating there are trees and flowers. Trees are permanent, walls, foundations, roofs, hardscaping, floorplans etc. Flowers are changeable, paint colors, tile, flooring, lighting, all things that are easy to change. Spend your energy on the trees and not the flowers.

Keep you sight on the goals, a comfortable home for your family.

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a blogger,
on Nov 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Serial Remodeler, great tips. Especially the trees. I might have worded it slightly differently to get out of the win/lose mentality which can set couples up in many aspects of their lives together. Thanks fr chiming in.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Depending on the company, Engineers factor in at least 10% or more like 25% over actual cost for the corner office types. Much like the extra cost to manufacture and sell the item to the public. Engineers do NOT like salesmen to come in and say: " How soon can you build the item I just sold? ". That has happened before and will happen again. We don't want a costomer to suffer damage by an unauthorized modification to our original part; thisis what gives Engineers ulcers.
Like building a bridge, we usually calculate and apply 10% as a safety factor for unexpected problems at the site.

I have done the same for my designs over the years; it creates harmony in our household. I have fired contractors that don't meet our building codes and replaced them with people that do. Even building inspectors " on the take " that don't do an inspection at all.

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