At Liberty Homes, we are custom homebuilders, not marriage counselors. And yet, in our 36 years of building homes in the Poconos, we’ve seen the impact building a new home can have on spousal relationships. Don’t get me wrong: building a new home can (and should) be a fun and fulfilling adventure for any couple. Even so, we’ve observed a few things that can trigger stress between couples during the process.
Here are a few general observations about what happens when the process gets stressful—and some suggestions (from a builder’s point of view) for avoiding the most common triggers.
Decide What’s Important to You
Sometimes couples come into a new homebuilding project with very different ideas about what the essential elements of their new home should be. Before you even begin to look at floor plans, it’s a good idea for couples to make independent lists of the items and features that are really important to them (here are some ideas to consider). Having established the “non-negotiables,” the partners can share their lists with one another and see which items are mutually exclusive. It’s much less stressful to have that discussion before you decide on a floor plan.
Identify Different Expectations
Occasionally couples think they’re on the same page only to find out that they have different expectations. One partner may think the ideal family room is configured around watching movies or television. The other partner has the expectation that the family room will be used for quiet conversations with guests. This isn’t a matter of “right” or “wrong,” but simply of different expectations. Again, the best way to deal with conflicting expectations is to make sure you and your spouse clearly identify how you plan to use specific spaces in your house before you begin building.
Look Beyond the Obvious
People understandably pay a lot of attention to the kitchen, family room and bedrooms when planning their new homes. But some other rooms and spaces are sometimes overlooked, even though they get a lot of use. Before you build (or even choose a plan), talk to your spouse about the rooms that are important to you. It might be the laundry room, or a workroom or a craft room that you use more than your spouse. You might also want to talk about common spaces, such as your master bathroom. And don’t forget to plan adequate storage space. Discussing closets and cabinets isn’t as exciting as other design features, but having enough space to store things can make your whole home more enjoyable.
One of the keys to avoiding stress in the homebuilding process is touching on these topics before they become “hot buttons” and before making changes ends in schedule delays and added expenses you didn’t plan on.