How to Cope with Home Renovations in collaboration with Charlotte Langley
Top Tips for Coping with Home Renovations
So, you’ve just bought a new home with lots of exciting renovation plans in mind. There are lots of questions flying around your mind … How much will it cost? What will it look like? Who will build it? Where will we stay during construction? These questions help people map out a path to a successful outcome. But families who embark on such a project together often forget to think about one crucial question: What effect will the stress have on our relationship with our partner, children and even our pets?
We’ve collaborated with a renovation expert, Charlotte Langley, who gives us some behind the scenes insight on her own renovations, offering tips and advice on how to cope during those VERY stressful periods!
Large sums of money are involved in renovation projects, plus ego, personal preferences, childhood dreams, high stress, forced collaboration and the list goes on…
Most people find the process of renovating, decorating or building a new home fun and fulfilling, but others also find it extremely frustrating and difficult. A huge 68% of women from a recent survey found DIY frustrating and 47% found it stressful which just shows the huge pressure we put ourselves under when renovating our homes.
It does depend on how extreme your renovation is to how much stress you endure, if you’re simply replacing a door or a uPVC window you may not find that your renovation interferes with your daily life compared with building an extension or adding a whole new floor to your bungalow.
Conflicting opinions while planning
The best way to resolve an issue? Compromising is top the list. Try sitting down together and going through pictures to help each person understand what the other likes and helps them come to clear conclusions on style and design choices that can prevent disagreements later.
Write down 10 ideas or desires you have in relation to the room and exchange them with your significant other. Each person should circle the things that are similar, check the ones they can compromise on and cross out the ones they completely disagree on. This way you’ll come to a final decision in a calm and collective way.
Charlotte talks about how she’s combated relationship challenges through her renovations, ‘As we have done it before, we bicker, then laugh! We quite honestly, just laugh it off as we know it isn’t a reflection of us, we’re just two people who are working together and trying to make two visions become one.’
You may realise that your partner likes very similar things to you, but they go about explaining it in a way that puts the other person on the defensive, or sometimes men and women simply speak different languages. Be considerate of the other person’s point of view and try to understand their reasoning behind the idea.
You could even get the kids involved! Let the kids lighten up the mood and see what they think or try and include them in the décor design e.g. wallpaper or paint colour. If everyone has their own input your new home will be loved by all family members.
Challenges once things get underway
The most common challenge families face while in the thick of a renovation project is staying calm and composed. We try to pretend to our children that we’re not stressed and act like its one big adventure but really we’re tearing our hair out inside.
Long hours of renovation work along with doing your day job and juggling this around family life can be exhausting. But that’s not the worst of it … renovations are usually disruptive; you may need to move out of your home depending on how extreme your project is.
Functional rooms in your house could be out of use… so you may have to shower at a family member’s house, or you may end up with quite an unhealthy diet consisting of takeaways and food ‘on the go’– Not ideal for the whole family. But don’t let this chaos get you down, you must remember this is a temporary measure and soon you’ll have created your dream home.
‘When we renovated our first home, number twenty, both Mr L and I were living at our respective parents’ homes. This enabled us to totally remove everything from the house (kitchen, bathroom, carpets, parting walls etc) so that we were left with a shell of a house ready for us to make a home. This worked for us then, as we could just close the door and leave the house and go back to a clean home (our parents’) with a fully functioning bathroom and kitchen.’ Definitely some good advice here!
Differences in project management style between individuals is another pain point. One person may not mind the mess; the other can't stand it. Or one is perfectly fine moving along at a leisurely pace, while the other just wants the project finished five minutes ago.
Deep breaths and compromises are the solution…
We all want to bring those perfect Pinterest boards to life in our own homes… But you must try to set your budget and stick to it. If something comes up during the project that calls for a change in the budget, discuss it with your partner before making a decision.
You can spend three times what you thought on a top of the range new oven but you’ve agreed to stay within your overall budget so other areas of the renovation could suffer. It’s all about balance.
From our recent survey 70% of people undertake renovations and DIY themselves to save money, money is precious and if you have the time to learn a skill yourself then why not! You could even get friends and family to chip in and help where they can. Obviously, some jobs need skilled tradesmen, but for those odd jobs it may be worth giving it a go so you’ve got some extra budget to spend on your shiny new sofa!
Polish those negotiating skills
You and your partner need to make a lot of decisions together, hundreds of decisions. Once a discussion comes up, that's when negotiations begin. You and your partner are negotiating on what the solution or decision should be.
The key is to agree on what you disagree about: When you say that, nobody points a finger. It's the key for successful negotiation. Instead of saying, 'How are we going to renovate our home when you’re so frugal’ try, 'We seem to disagree on the suitable budget for the renovation so let’s see how we can compromise.'"
‘Mr L and I bickered (with raised voices!) over the position of a light switch at number twenty. The difference was 10cm, I wanted it 10cm higher and Mr L wanted it 10cm lower. It sounds ridiculous now looking back but at the time we both felt so strongly on where to position this damn light switch! After a three-day heated discussion, we decided to leave the light switch where it was!! (A compromise at its best!)’
When you have a lot invested in something — time, money, hopes and dreams — it can turn into a high-stress situation. If you've ever planned your or your child's wedding, obsessed over the perfect birth plan or thought you had that far-away vacation worked out to the last detail only to have everything blow up in your face, then you might have some understanding of what a renovation project can entail.
You'll need a few tricks to help manage the inevitable stress. Many people found that venting to each other or to friends and family was a huge relief. Getting out of the house and taking alone time is also a hugely important part of dealing with any stressful situation.
There are other, perhaps more unconventional, ways to manage stress too. For many people these include beer, wine, and lots of gin … oh and sleep.
‘We make sure that we have certain weekends and evenings off. It’s important to not burn yourselves out with renovation work and make the time to enjoy life and each other’s company in a non-renovation environment is essential. We are also planning a holiday to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in September (any excuse!) which is keeping us going!’
Is it worth it?
Despite disagreements and challenges, most homeowners think that their relationship strengthened during their renovation: "We make a great team," "I'm glad I'm with this person" and "If we can make it through this, we can make it through anything." The latter is particularly important.
While refurbishing is challenging, it can strengthen relationships. Many people report that after completing a renovation project, they now spend more time at home together, eat and cook more at home, and have more company over.
Most people are glad to have gone through their renovation project, each time you go into a room that you renovated together, it will remind you of the fun times you had. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor, enjoying a bottle of wine with no glasses or even just the laughs that you had on your renovation journey. The success of the project relates to the success of your relationship and will provide you an overwhelming sense of pride and happiness.
‘Our first renovation at number twenty was absolutely worth it and although we are (not even) half way through the renovation at number twelve, I can already tell you it will be SO worth it.’
Our Home Renovation Top Tips
Be realistic and set a budget
Set realistic goals and a budget you know you can afford. Setting up a budget sheet so you can see the numbers day by day can help relieve financial stress. Get a range of quotes from different places and service providers. That way you will know what the basic industry prices are and can bargain better.
Manage the renovation as a project
Divide the tasks among family according to strengths. If your wife is a whizz with accounts, or your husband is brilliant with bargaining, assign those tasks to the person best able to do it. Even the kids can get involved, with such things as suggestions for garden designs, searching for fittings online and making a Pinterest board of ideas. By involving everyone in the project, there is buy in and more interest in the eventual outcome.
Try not be confrontational, understand the other person’s point of view and try to come to a compromise. In a stressful situation step away from the project for 10 minutes, collect your thoughts and agree to disagree … after all it’s not worth falling out over the colour of your new uPVC windows.
Get professional help for the things you cannot do
Avoid doing renovating jobs you have no qualifications for or no idea how to go about. It's just not worth the hassle and stress involved, and there can be a potential for physical harm too. However, for the jobs you can do or can learn to do, get stuck in and teach yourself a few new skills, you’ve always got YouTube to help you out!
Have some time off
Have some ‘you time’ and enjoy your shower or bath after each day's hard renovation (if you can). A little bit of pampering and self-love is well earned during renovations.
Charlotte’s top tips
‘Have a vision of how you want the whole of your home to look, vision this and work towards that. Right down all the details even down to where you wish to position your bed, your kitchen bin etc, then work back from that. As you are renovating, you can (cost dependant) totally re-model your house to how you want it. Oh, and if you think you might regret not doing something, then just do it! Now is the time to spend that extra bit of money or time to do it just right down to all the minuet details like where you wish to position your bed, bedside tables, your kitchen bin, then work back from that, otherwise it will forever bug you!’
Mr L would also give a separate piece of advice, ‘measure twice and cut once’, a motto we live by when doing most of the DIY work ourselves.’