We’ve got these friends, right. They’re amazing. They’ve redefined what it means to be madly in love. Everything about them is perfect for the other. It’s so cute and adorable and smile-inducing. Yeah, it’s a teeny bit enviable, but it’s mainly just amazing to see how amazing love can look and feel, whether they’re joking and laughing with one another or just holding hands on a walk through the park. They emit love.
However, they recently did that dreamy thing of building their own home and, well, it proved they were human. But more than that, it proved just how stressful a house building project is and just how easy it can conjure up emotional issues no matter how stable your relationship may be. Taking on the unparalleled stress of a self-build can throw absolutely everything into chaos. Of course, our loved-up friends made it through with little more than a scratch, and even started laughing about it a week or so later, but it still got us thinking long and hard about this whole scenario.
One thing that struck us pretty hard was just how important it must be to have a solid foundation, great communication skills, and unwavering amount of trust in one another before taking on a self-build project. But we also realised that can’t be enough on its own.
That’s why we’ve been out and about, chit-chatting to a plethora of life coaches, interior designers, contractors and architects who have witnessed – firsthand – the most common arguments couples go through, all so we can help you successfully navigate the challenges of building your own home and come out just as strong and in love as ever. It ain’t easy, but it easy possible.
Plan Ahead. A Long Way Ahead.
Nothing makes people more stressed than that feeling of being in a rush. It always makes your heart pound, your brain whir and your face furrow. It doesn’t matter if your late for a baby group with your youngest, a swimming lesson with your eldest or when you’re trying to get a self-build project off the ground. That’s why you need to do all the planning you can and as early as humanly possible. There’s just too much work involved in a self-build to leave it to the last minute. If you do, you’ll be so overwhelmed with the level of work, you’ll become locked in more on-site squabbles than you thought possible. So, start early and know what you both want. Be creative and have fun with it. Scroll through Pinterest in the evenings, create some mood boards together, and find common ground to move forward on. This is meant to be fun, but it’s also not meant to be taken too lightly. Instead, prepare and learn ahead of time.
Get Your Finances Straight
Nothing makes people – or building projects – more sensitive than money woes. Nothing. That is exactly why you need to pull your head out of the ground, stop living in a fantasyland and have a clear understanding of not just your joint income, but your individual finances, and know exactly what you are willing and able to put into your building project without putting yourself in financial trouble. Money has long been the number one catalyst of couple arguments, so be completely upfront and honest with one another about what you have to spend and what you think it is wise to spend money on throughout the project.
Do A Test Run Together
I’m not for one second suggesting you build a mini-house to see how you get on. Not at all. However, building a house is going to test your relationship like nothing else – it’s going to push you to the limits – and not knowing how the both of you will handle this sort of stress is going to be a cause for concern in itself. The answer: Ikea. Yup. Ikea. Think of it as a trial run. A communications test. Your way of seeing how you both fare with the stress of building something. The reason is simple: if you can’t cope with building a piece of flat-pack furniture together, you shouldn’t try and build something as massive as a house.
Give Someone The Final Say
In a utopian world, you’ll have both agreed on every decision – big and small – well ahead of time. Of course, we know this isn’t going to be possible every single time. That’s why you need to decide who is going to hold the power of decision making for which area of the build. Chances are, each of you is going to have different areas of experience and feel more comfortable deciding on this rather than that. So break down these areas and then divide them accordingly. This will save you a whole bunch of stress, trust our friends on that.
Divvy Up The Role Of Manager
You’re going to find out pretty quickly that a self-build project carries with it a plethora of tasks, from the early stages of hiring contractors to the land surveying needs, to the second fix stage and beyond. As such, you both need to be clear on who will be responsible for managing the different stages. This isn’t just crucial for your own sanity, it’s imperative for your contractors too. They need to know who to liaise with at the different stages of the project.
Escape Your Self-Build Every So Often
It can be way too easy to get caught up in your project and let it rule your life. Don’t let this happen. Don’t let it become so full-on you forget to make time for your relationship. Enjoy the od dinner date, go to the theatre together, remember anniversary dates, and make time to step away from your project and enjoy each others company like you did before undertaking this project. It will be the one move that saves your sanity more than anything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s spending quality alone time together for a few hours at the end of each day or taking Sundays off – just make sure you dedicate yourselves to one another when you can.