Home Remodels Can Strain a Relationship, Survey Finds

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Photo credit: Robert Terrell

Remodeling a home can be stressful, and for some couples, it can lead to plenty of bickering back-and-forth. For some, it can even lead to heart-break.

In fact, 12 percent of couples admit to considering separation or divorce in the middle of a home remodel, according to a recent survey conducted by Houzz, a home remodeling and design social network.

What’s more, 46 percent of respondents say they found the remodeling and redecorating process “frustrating” as a couple.

What’s triggering all of the tension? They can’t agree on a design style, the survey finds.

One-third of respondents say they don’t like their significant other’s design style. The household items irking them the most: Old furniture, posters and artwork, antlers and other hunting trophies, wood paneling, and old magazines.

While 42 percent say they’ve gotten stuck with items they hate in their home because of their significant other, other respondents say they aren’t as willing to sacrifice in a home remodel for the sake of their relationship. Twenty percent of those surveyed admitted to going ahead and removing a significant other’s item without telling them.

And when you can’t agree during a remodel, some say they’ll just proceed without telling the other person. Twenty percent of those surveyed say they’ve made a significant decision during the remodeling process without telling their partner — decisions like tearing down walls, choosing furniture, or picking out a paint color for the walls.

For couples who can’t see eye-to-eye on a home remodel, Houzz offers up some of the following tips to help keep the peace:

  • Share ideas: Have a date night to share one another’s design ideas. See if you can find any commonalities in the styles. For inspiration, Houzz offers a large library of professional photos that can be sorted by style and room.
  • Give and take. If she gets her way here, he gets his way there. If he isn’t willing to let something go there, she gets to keep something he’s not a fan of either.
  • Set a budget. Research costs beforehand and commit to staying on a budget.
  • Agree on when to agree. Before starting the remodel, agree to a list of items that each person will need to approve before proceeding, such as the wall color and appliances. Then, no one can ever say he or she was left out of an important decision in the process.

For couples who do embark on a home remodel, they can still have a happy ending.

In fact, some couples are happier afterward. The survey shows that 41 percent report more happiness with their significant other following a remodel. Eighty-four percent say they want to spend more time at home after a remodel.

So as Houzz notes, even if they don’t necessarily fall in love all over again afterwards, at least they’ll love their home more.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Anne Meczywor

    Regarding “even if they don’t necessarily fall in love all over again afterwards, at least they’ll love their home more”…and at least the home will be worth more and show better for sale for the divorce settlement….Just sayin’….