7 Steps to Ensure Your Renovation Doesn't End in Divorce

18/08/2015 7:50 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

"Till Renovation Do Us Part"

Living through a renovation can make you wish you had never started one in the first place, particularly if you have taken the DIY path. Sometimes you question why you've spent all this time and money to make a house look worse than it did before?!

Prior to beginning there was at least not only a working bathroom and kitchen, but on the most basic level, there were walls and flooring.

Oh, how the simple things in life become a luxury. Undertaking a home renovation will likely be one of the most stressful situations you will ever experience. From dodgy tradesmen, to delayed timelines, to a contradicting 'vision' on how the house should look, there seems no end to the list of potential road blocks.

Pointless arguments, ones which seem so trivial in hindsight, will become all too commonplace.

Honey, do you like this cushion? Do we really need another cushion?! Anyone would think you owned a cushion factory!

They are all old cushions; they don't go with our new home. We can't have these old cushions in our new house, they don't match!

That's ridiculous! You can't keep spending money on furniture and accessories when we haven't even got a driveway!

I'm just so sick of all the mess and I want this house to feel like home...

So $200 cushions will do the trick then?!


Sit down with your spouse and put together your ideas for your renovation. Start a mood board and try get on the same page.

Importantly, remember to listen to one another's opinions and ideas without scrunching your nose (more on that later though).

It's all about compromise. Try to incorporate a little bit of both of you in the renovation. This will reduce the arguments during construction and avoid last minute discoveries about a 'man cave' being constructed in what you thought was your walk‐in robe!

Step 2: BUDGET

Oh dear, you knew this one was coming didn't you? Money is by far the biggest stress trigger during a renovation. It's one thing living in dust and mess, and another not being able to afford to get out of it!

The light at the end of the tunnel can very quickly disappear and you may be plunged into darkness.

Budget blowouts can be caused by a number of factors -- moisture build up, rotten stumps or re‐wiring or underestimating trade costs to name a few.

Even when you are DIY, it is pivotal to factor in the cost of trades that you are not qualified or legally allowed to undertake i.e. plumbing and electrical.

This is why it is extremely important to set aside an emergency buffer. If you don't think you will need a contingency fund, Murphy's Law will hit you where it hurts and you will find your own hidden horror which could result in a huge financial hit.

Things you never hear someone who has renovated say no.430: 'Geez, I didn't need to touch my contingency fund; I budgeted perfectly the entire time.'


Call in any and every favor you can, and get your family and friends in for a working bee. It'll help your hip pocket when their only wages are pizza and beers.

Don't be afraid to hire unskilled, affordable laborers such as those found on gumtree, for jobs like digging holes, removing bricks, cutting branches, etc. Spending a little money can sometimes save everyone's sanity for a few extra days.


Sometimes, a renovation feels more like an oft-procrastinated hobby you have on the side. It can be a struggle to make any kind of a decision at the best of times, let alone communicate it with your spouse after a long day at work or a tough week raising the kids!

With vital onsite decisions regularly needing to be made, it is important to keep your partner informed sooner, rather than later.

The only thing worse than finding out a decision was made without you, is discovering that it cannot be undone.

"Oh didn't I tell you that I was going to knock down that wall?"


Staying organized can not only save you money, but can also save you time. Set aside a mini site office where you can file away invoices, quotes, business cards and trade contacts.

Stay in touch with your tradesmen about when they need items on site or when certain decisions have to be made.

It is vital to get everything in writing, including start and completion dates. This ensures you have time to make appropriate decisions and not be put on the spot, which will help avoid any conflict between everyone on site.

Step 6: ENJOY IT

Create an upbeat Spotify playlist, and dance when you are painting. Grab your morning coffee. Get dinner delivered and don't forget to ask for plastic cutlery!

It's the little things that will keep you going. After all, you're building your dream home, so it should be fun!


Last, but by no means least, try to have a conversation about something other than your renovation.

I know it's hard, trust me. When you are literally living (in mess) and breathing (the dust) renovating, it feels like every waking moment is devoted to finishing the darn thing so you can move on with your life. It genuinely can feel like it is impossible not to think or talk about it!

A little game I like to play (and always win) is one in which whoever mentions anything to do with the renovation has to put $5 in the coffee jar! You'll never have a caffeine withdrawal again!

Remember to take time to relax and spend time together; remind yourself of the people you were before a renovation consumed your life. And for a really special occasion, you could wash the paint out of your hair... imagine that!

We have been through eight renovations (and counting) together so we have had a bit of experience in the field, so trust us when we tell you to expect highs and lows and also that it usually gets worse before it gets better. Most importantly though, it does get better!!!

Good Luck!

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