Thanks mostly to our decision to have a second child; we have pretty much outgrown the house we purchased in 2006. However, our local housing market hasn’t been too great and, because we currently owe more on the house than we could currently sell it for, we are, instead, focusing on home improvement projects.
While this home improvement is geared toward resolving some of our more immediate needs and may even raise the value of our house, the fact we are taking on the work when we both already have tight schedules does have the potential to create some extra marital stress. As a result of this, we have taken four big steps to make sure our projects don’t cause unnecessary harm to our relationship.
The first thing we are doing is taking things one small project at a time. One thing we realized right away is we just don’t have the time to tackle more than one project at any time. So, instead, we pick a specific project, whether it’s replacing the kitchen floor or ripping that ugly-looking fake plastic brick off of our living room wall and concentrate on that.
The second thing we do is make sure we are taking on projects we can handle. This is our first home and, when it comes to most projects, we are learning as we go. So, before starting any project, we do our research to find out what is involved and make sure we understand the process before beginning. This takes a bit more planning and, occasionally, we need to get some outside guidance. But, it makes the projects much easier to complete or, in some cases, helps us avoid headaches simply by knowing which projects to avoid.
Another thing we do is make sure we understand the cost. We have a pretty tight budget most months and home improvement projects are usually paid for with tax return money or, since I work on commission, extra money from a larger-than-average commission check. Since we know going over budget has the potential to lead to fights, we are very careful when it comes to this part of the planning, making sure to measure carefully and shop around for the best price.
Last, we make sure we are on the same page when it comes to our overall vision. This primarily means we have to compromise because, while she would love to remodel every little thing in our house, I’m a bit more conservative when it comes to what I think needs to be done.
As a result, before discussing anything else relating to a project, we sit down at the kitchen table and hash out an agreement about what we want to do and how we think the room should look when we’re done. This does lead to some disagreements. But, they are minor compared to what we might run into if we weren’t able to agree on something after starting a project.
Ideally, I would love to be able to buy a bigger, newer house (preferably with a second bathroom). But, until we are able to do that, our home improvement projects will make our current home more comfortable for our family. And, by taking these steps, we don’t have to worry about the extra work hurting our marriage.