Home renovations can be an exciting and worthwhile event, especially when done with care and precision. A home renovation is a great way to improve the comfort, beauty, and energy efficiency of your home, not to mention its resale value.
Unfortunately, home renovation projects can also cause tension between partners depending on how they react to the changes being made. When we started our home renovation project back in 2019, we thought it would be fun and exciting, with a bit of work required but nothing too stressful or demanding. Little did we know that by the end of it all our relationship would be finished. Looking back now, I can see how certain events gave us clues about what was about to happen:
How my home renovation killed our relationship
It was almost two years ago, when my partner and I decided to tackle a home renovation project. We thought it would bring us closer together and it would give us something to bond over. Little did we know, this endeavor would be the beginning of the end of our relationship. From the start, there were small signs of tension between us, but we both ignorantly chose to ignore them. Now it’s time to delve into how our home renovation killed our relationship.
Lack of Communication
When my husband and I decided to renovate our home, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. We expected a few bumps in the road, but what I didn’t foresee was the lack of communication this project would bring between us. Communication breakdowns can be caused by many things, such as conflicting opinions, feeling overwhelmed or just plain exhaustion from the task at hand.
From the start we had different opinions on how to proceed with each step of the process and how much money should be spent. After a while, it seemed easier to just not bring up any issues or ask questions because all it did was lead to more disagreements. In turn, this only increased tension between us and wasn’t setting us up for success in completing the project or maintaining a healthy relationship throughout it.
We were both getting frustrated with each other’s point of view, preventing any meaningful conversations about our progress. There was nothing but silence when it came time to enter into discussions and compromise on decisions that needed to be made while we were renovating our home. This brought us all the way from project start date until some time after completion of renovations, when looking back on why there had been so much tension between us during this difficult time.
This lack of communication created distrust within our partnership which resulted in resentment towards one another and ultimately ended in total distraction from our initial goals for renovating; thus dooming whatever chances we had left of salvaging our relationship along with finishing the job correctly in a timely manner.
When my partner and I decided to take on our home renovation project, neither of us had any real concept of how much it would cost us—both financially and emotionally. Though we had put aside some funds to cover unexpected expenses, nothing could have prepared us for the amount of money each additional improvement cost, or what kinds of problems such expenditures could create in our relationship.
We soon realized that most of the unexpected costs were coming from all the little upgrades that we thought would enhance our project. We hadn’t taken into account the time involved in locating specialty items at better prices or needed higher quality materials than originally planned, which inevitably meant that every new expense over our pre-allotted budget took its toll on both our wallets and our relationship. In addition to dealing with:
- vendor delays
- faulty equipment
- and more
The Renovation Begins
My home renovation started with high hopes and dreams of what our newly remodeled home would look like once complete. We couldn’t wait to start tearing down walls, tearing up flooring, and selecting all the new fixtures, finishes, and furniture. Little did I know at the time, that this renovation would be the beginning of the end of our relationship.
The process of home renovation began with “the demolition”, which is done to prepare the home for a full remodel. This destruction of existing walls, flooring and cabinetry can create a mess and stir up a lot of dust, but this step is necessary in order for work to begin. While it is inevitable that at some point you will hit a snag in your plans, there are some demolition tips that can help ensure the success of your overall project.
First, it’s important to get organized before you start tearing anything out – this usually involves drawing up plans and determining budgeting. If you’re going to be removing any large pieces of furniture or fixtures make sure they are properly disposed of first. Second, once the demolition begins in one area make sure it’s complete before starting on the next – this will help prevent confusion when demolition debris is scattered all around. Third, expect delays and time spent on proper safety precautions – Removing old fixtures and materials require extra caution as wiring and/or sharp objects may be exposed. Finally, leave plumbing hookups in place unless absolutely certain they don’t need to be replaced or repaired.
By following these tips (along with consulting with professional engineers) you can ensure that “the demolition” part of your home renovation goes smoothly! An organized approach will help minimize stress levels during this process so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labour down the road!
The Unexpected Finds
Little did we know at the time, but when we began our home renovation, it was only the beginning of the end of our relationship. We had no clue what difficult decisions lay ahead, or how much upheaval and devastating disappointments would follow us in this process.
The initial part of the home renovation project involved knocking down walls and removing surfaces that had been in place for quite some time. During this process, we discovered a range of unexpected finds:
- cracks in foundations
- wiring that was dangerously close to one another
- an old boiler that lacked a functioning shut off valve
We continued on with our plans regardless of these new findings until reality set in much later. Seeing these flaws made us realize just how much work needed to be done before we could even begin construction. This put enormous strain on our relationship due to disagreements about hiring professionals to help with repairs and what parts were even worth repairing.
The Relationship Deteriorates
Little did we know our home renovation project would become the catalyst for the deterioration of our once-happy relationship. We thought it would bring us closer together, but instead, it ended up becoming a source of tension and strain.
In the beginning, we were enthusiastic about the possibilities and excited to start the project, but quickly we realized that this was going to take a lot more than we had originally anticipated.
The beginning of the end often starts with blame. Blame is a no-win situation, but it’s the go-to place when things are uncertain and chaotic. Blame can creep in and, at first, become a way to find footing in an otherwise slippery landscape. But it’s deceptively easy to get stuck there as sorting out an issue quickly becomes someone’s fault.
In reality, our home renovation project was outgrowing us long before we knew it had – whether that be due to mismanaged funds or false expectations for progress, both parties may have contributed and should have taken charge of the situation.
Instead of squaring off in the blame game, we should have decided which aspects of the project could be realistically taken on by each partner or trusted outside experts for their opinions and advice. This would have saved time and likely set us up on better footing as our renovation project grew beyond its original plans and budgeted amounts.
Although it is always easier said than done, understanding how both parties contributed to this downturn can help people recognize where mistakes were made in order to take steps towards a beneficial resolution rather than enter into a blame game that has no winners.
Fighting Over Finances
The cost of a home renovation is a huge investment and at times, it can be difficult to manage the budget without unnecessary stress. For my relationship, this was the beginning of the end. We started fighting over our finances, trying to figure out how to pay for the materials we needed for our renovation. My partner had always been a frugal spender but now it felt like he was being extreme and I was getting anxious about how little money we were putting towards repairs compared to how much we were spending on other things like groceries and takeout.
Our lack of financial understanding of the renovation project soon escalated into arguments, which quickly spiraled beyond that subject and compiled into a slew of undesirable and unresolved issues in our relationship. We couldn’t agree on anything anymore and each began building up resentment towards one anther that would never be released. We both began getting frustrated, feeling as though there was nothing either could do to make this better.
As time passed we became so negative in our conversations that each of us started avoiding talking to each other completely until one day we realized that our relationship had deteriorated beyond repair due to stressing about finances during our home renovations.
The Final Straw
Having decided to take on a home renovation project, my partner and I were excited to start this next chapter in our relationship. Little did we know that the home renovation would be the final straw in our relationship, leading to its eventual demise.
The argument that crippled our relationship took place during the home renovation. Everything had been going well at first – I was excited to finally have a project that we could do together and we’d already decided on the layout and the supplies needed for our place. The issue arose with furniture placement, and even though it wasn’t necessarily life-altering in nature, it was one of those seemingly minor things that can spark an intense dispute between two people living in close quarters.
The debate around furniture placement ran on for hours, and eventually broke our cool attitudes towards each other, turning into an all-out shouting match over where to place the bed frame in relation to the windows. In frustration and hurt, we both said things that made us both feel guilty afterwards – words are powerful weapons when two people are so close together all of the time in a house renovation.
Looking back now, I wish I had walked away sooner instead of letting my pride take control – I should have let go of trying to prove myself right while also acknowledging my partner’s opinion. But at that time, all of our pent-up frustrations with one another had overwhelmed any sense of peace between us, resulting in a huge argument living out a tiny misunderstanding about rearranging furniture in our joint project home.
It was the day before we were supposed to start our home renovation project when reality hit. We realized that this home improvement job was much bigger than we thought. Not only would it take more time and money to complete, but also it would require us to be patient and work together as a team.
We both quickly realized that neither of us had any idea how to do this—especially with our limited funds and knowledge of DIY projects—and almost immediately the tension between us began to grow. We started fighting almost daily, and no matter what I did or said I felt like there was a wall between us that kept getting thicker.
It wasn’t unusual for tasks to take longer than expected, or for supplies that were needed on site not being available when we needed them. As our stress levels increased, so did the intensity of the arguments between us – we were both feeling frazzled, exhausted and honestly outmatched by this project.
But talking calmly never seemed to work—we had dug ourselves into too deep a hole trying to tackle this project alone. We knew that if things didn’t change soon neither of us would make it out above water—one of us (or both) was going to drown in the frustration boiling over from our DIY ambitions gone wrong.
In hindsight it seems clear now that this moment marked the beginning of The End for us – but at the time I doubt either of us really understood how far our relationship had unraveled until it was too late to turn back.
Looking back on our home renovation project and the emotional rollercoaster that came with it, I can now see that this was both the beginning and the end of our relationship. We started off believing that we had enough love to get us through anything, but the stress and hard work got to be too much for us. At the end of a year’s worth of renovations (and near divorce), we abruptly realized that this beautiful house was more than just our dream home—it was a symbol of how drastically things between us had changed.
Home renovations were an undoubtedly valuable experience for both of us. The resulting house may have scars, reminders of past mistakes we made along the way, but overall, I don’t regret starting this project. It’s true what they say: life is full of lessons and you don’t always know what you learn from them until later on in life. In my case, this includes learning how to accept defeat gracefully if necessary; hindsight is 20/20, after all.