How to keep your marriage together while renovating or building

Lauren O'Grady
December 3, 2020

Lonnie and I have been together 15 years and in that time we have renovated and built new homes numerous times. In that process we have learnt a lot about each other. What our great traits are….. and what our not so great traits are.

I am a people pleaser. I like to make everyone happy and I avoid conflict like the plague. Whereas, Lonnie says it how it is and doesn’t care what the consequences are. This combination has made for some almighty arguments along the way while in the stress depths of renovating/building. I remember one occasion when we were building our new home 6 years ago and Lonnie was working his butt off to get the house ready. He had just spent 48 hours completing a specific detail in the Living room ceiling and as soon as I saw it, I hated it!! I mean, really hated it! It was ugly, not what I envisioned and you could tell he was rushing it, just to get it finished. I was so scared to tell him but I did and let’s just say it didn’t go down well……🤣 When I returned the ceiling was in a million pieces on the living room floor and he was starting from scratch 🤦‍♀️ Now, when we look back at those times we can laugh about it but at the time it was so stressful and exhausting.

Luckily for most people they are engaging a builder, like us, to complete the physical work but sometimes the mental load can be just as stressful and tensions will rise within couples.

The difficulty in achieving decisions can be challenging when you have different tastes, different opinions, different upbringings, and different expectations.

Therefore, here is my advice on how to keep it together as a couple during this stressful time:

Be organised

Before you start talking to builders or architects you both together, as a couple, need to spend a lot of time discussing what your needs and wants are for the new home. You need to make sure you’re roughly on the same page or at least reading the same book!

Will this be your forever home? Will you have more children in the future? How many living zones would you like? Are you wanting a period style or modern looking home? Write all of this down. Go online, have a look at inspirational photos of houses and rooms and make a scrapbook of this. Don’t rush this step and don’t let one person say “Oh I don’t really care honey, you choose”. Trust me, that does not work! When you’re spending a lot of time and money on a new home all parties need to be involved.

Visit Display Homes

If you’re visual people, go to display homes (preferably without children in tow) to look at different ideas of what you like and dislike. Walk through different floor plans to see if it would suit your family.  

Identify your budget

Visit your mortgage broker and find out exactly what your max budget is and decide on it....... together.

Visit builders and Architects together

When we’re meeting with a couple, either for the first time or during construction, we prefer it’s at a time where all parties can be present. However, we do understand this can be difficult so after our meetings we send an email to all parties discussing the outcome of the meeting. This way nothing will get lost in translation between the couple.

Learn to Compromise

Yes, compromise with each other. I know many people who struggle with this concept (cough cough). For me, I love to bake so I wanted to spend the money in the kitchen and Pantry whereas Lonnie wanted to buy a ridiculously expensive beer fridge for the Alfresco/Man Cave. Of course, I compromised and took out my pantry sink so we could afford the fridge. Now this fridge spends 6months turned off, as it’s too expensive to run. But hey, at the time, I compromised!!


Don’t let things bottle up. If you’re not happy with something, speak up straight away. Don’t let resentment and anger eat away at you and making home life difficult.

Use the people around you as support

As builders, you have hired us to build you a beautiful new home and in the process we want to make it a pleasant experience for you. Use us to help navigate some disagreements and ask our professional and personal opinion.  We have encountered numerous couple disagreements. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s normal.

Have time away from each other and the project

Building and renovating can be whole life consuming. Added with the daily stresses of children and work, it can be a pretty intense time. Catch up with your friends or family regularly and talk about something else. Make sure you don’t talk about the project at the dinner table(with little ears listening).

Fortunately, a little compromise and a lot of patience pay off in the end! Engage a builder who you feel comfortable with and who you both trust. They will take majority of the hard work off your hands.

Recognise this time of your lives is short lived and the results are so worth it in the end!

Now to source a sink for my pantry…….😜

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