How Do I Build/Remodel While Keeping My Sanity and My Marriage Intact?

Building or remodeling a house can be a great experience.  But it can also be stressful on you and your marriage.  Here are our 10 Tips to Keep your Sanity and your Marriage during your project:

1 – Be a team with a game plan: Sit down with your spouse and agree on a budget and plan before you start the project.  If you start a project without a clear goal, there is no doubt that it will end up being more than you wanted to spend. 

2 – What’s it to you?: Clearly define why you’re building or remodeling.  Write down all of your motivations and be honest.  Divide your motivations into positive ones that you should consider when making decisions and negative ones that you should not. Then, review your list periodically throughout the project to stay on track.

3 – Men and women really are from different planets: Quite often the motivations that you define in Tip #2 will be vastly different from your spouse’s.  That’s okay.  Just be sensitive to these differences as you go through the project so that they don’t cause friction.

4 – Beware of Budget Busters: Sidestep impulse decisions that could destroy your budget.  Make a pact that any decision over a certain dollar amount cannot be made immediately.  Avoid snap judgments that you might regret later. 

5 – Dodge the bargain basement trap: If you pinch too many pennies during your project then you could actually do more harm than good.  If you cut so many corners that the end result is ugly or cheap or unsatisfactory, then you’ve just wasted your money. 

6 — A house is not a scorecard: Don’t keep a score between what your spouse gets in the house versus what you get.  This house is for both of you. 

7 — “Whatever you want, dear” is not the right answer: Remember that this house should be about both of you.  Letting one spouse always “win” can cause feelings of resentment and stress down the road. 

8 – Agree to disagree: You will most likely have disagreements during this process.  Be prepared.  Discuss how you will handle those situations.  And when it happens, calmly talk it over with each other and your builder to reach a solution.

9 – Your builder is not your marriage counselor: Building your home is an emotional process – too much emotion can cause stress in your marriage.   Remember that you hired your builder to build and not to broker a reconciliation in your marriage because you can’t agree on what kitchen flooring to use.  Don’t put him/her in the middle.

10 — Your children are watching: If you still have children at home, they will see how you handle each of the Tips above and that will help shape how they view their new home with you and it could shape how they approach their own home buying/building as an adult. 

Tyke and Judith Johnson, owners of Brentwood Builders, have built custom homes in the Brentwood, Franklin and Greater Nashville areas since 1994.  For more information call them at 615-776-4143, e-mail or visit their website at