Can Home Remodeling Strengthen a Relationship?

Try Googling “Remodeling and Relationships” and you’ll get entry after entry about relationship woes caused by the stress of remodeling. Even, a site dedicated to remodeling and home design, released results of a survey showing that 12 percent of couples consider separation or divorce mid-remodel.

It’s human nature to feel stressed when your home is in a state of upheaval. If your marriage is in a fragileBoston couple home remodeling state already, I’m sure the additional stress may be all it takes to question your choice of mate. In the 30 years that I have been renovating homes, however, I have seen remodeling strengthen relationships more often than strain them. I’ve seen couples collaborate, communicate, and celebrate when the process results in a home that suits their lifestyles.

Houzz recently released the results of a survey with a subhead that says: “Houzz Survey Unveils Happy Ending to the Turmoil as 84 Percent of Couples Spend More Time at Home Post-Remodel”.  It turns out that remodeling really can be good for a relationship!

The release had some interesting points about the importance of collaboration and how to strengthen a relationship during remodeling. Here are a few interesting excerpts:

Conflicting style is a major source of stress as one third of respondents do not like their significant other’s design style. They’re not shy about telling their partner, either, with 76 percent sharing their opinion with their significant other. But honesty doesn’t help get rid of some of their partner’s favorite items. Forty-two percent of respondents reported being stuck with items they hate but aren’t allowed to get rid of – yet one in five has gone ahead and removed a significant other’s item without telling them. Forget knickknacks, the most common item creating clashes is old furniture, followed closely by posters and artwork. Some of the other hated items mentioned were antlers and other hunting trophies, wood paneling and old magazines.

While the majority of respondents describe their process as collaborative, when couples can’t agree, some partners move ahead on their own. One in five respondents have made a significant decision during the remodel process without telling their partner, from tearing down walls and picking paint colors to choosing furniture and appliances.

Despite the stress of remodeling, home really is where the heart is. Four out of five survey respondents reported feeling more relaxed in their home after completing their project. In addition, 42 percent of respondents do more entertaining and 41 percent report an increase in their level of happiness with their significant other.

Here are a few tips for keeping the peace – and even strengthening a relationship – during the remodeling and decorating process:

  • Strike a style balance. Can’t see eye to eye on traditional vs. contemporary? Before you begin a project, browse photos on Houzz, create ideabooks with images you like and have your partner do the same. Then, have a date night to share each other’s ideabooks and look for commonalities that will establish the style for your project.

  • Compromise or downsize. If you insist on tossing his mounted antlers, be prepared to give up something you hold dear. Conversely, if you’re not willing to let something go, be prepared to let him or her keep something you’re not a fan of either.

  • Money matters. Money is already major pain point for many couples. Avoid adding this stress to your remodel by agreeing on a budget up front. Research costs for materials and projects early on and make a list of items that both partners need to approve such as wall color, kitchen appliances and electronics.
The “Remodeling & Relationships Survey” is an online survey of Houzz users conducted July 2013.

Tags: home remodeling, remodeling trends, Boston remodeling

Will This House Last?

Paul wrote a post for the Real Estate Today blog on The post was published on September 20, 2012. If you missed it, here's the text of his article:

Paul MorseBuying an older home is a lot like buying a used car in a private sale. You can have it checked out by an expert, but there are no guarantees that something won’t wear out or malfunction – and no warranties if they do.

I’ve worked with homeowners who bought homes with leaks that were temporarily hidden by paint, insulation that had settled so much that it was virtually nonexistent, and basements that turned out to have serious water problems. The prior owner or home inspector may know of and disclose the potential for future problems, but often they come as a complete surprise.

A few years ago, the National Association of Home Builders conducted a study on the life expectancy of home components. Here are a few highlights:

  • A foundation should last forever, but termite proofing will only last about 12 years
  • HVAC systems last an average of 15-25 years with proper and regular maintenance
  • A slate roof can last 50 years or more; a roof made of asphalt shingles lasts an average of 20 years (although it may be less with the tough Boston weather)
  • Wood windows last longer than aluminum – 30 years versus 15 to 20
  • Stairs and custom millwork should last a lifetime
  • Kitchen faucets should last about 15 years, but a whirlpool tub could keep going as long as 50 if you don’t use it much
  • Decks could last 20 years, depending upon the materials used

 In my renovation work, I frequently encounter structural or infrastructure problems such as window headers that are not framed to meet today’s code; original balloon framing without floorload support that meets today’s standards; joists that have been cut or notched in improperly done renovations; rotting wood hidden by soffit and fascia boards; and electrical panels that will not support home improvements. These issues may dramatically affect the total cost of the project.

Maintenance and repairs are part of being a homeowner, but unexpected problems are no fun. Some of these surprises could be avoided if buyers ask questions such as “When were the windows installed?”  ”Have you replaced the roof since you’ve owned your home?” “ Have you installed insulation and when?” or  “Do you have a record of structural changes made to the house?” Answers to these questions will help anticipate future expenses.


Tags: home renovation,, home remodeling, Paul Morse

All About Home Renovation and Boston Communities

Paul Morse Morse Constructions smallerWe have decided to add a blog to our website to post news, tips, photos, ideas etc. that might be helpful to anyone interested in home renovation, aging in place, universal design or creating a sense of community in the greater Boston area. Our hope is that readers will comment on posts and that the blog will become a discussion forum.

We've been told that we should be posting weekly but I don't think that is going to happen. We are simply too busy right now actually designing and building home renovations to spend that much time writing about them. However, we are going to do our best to use the blog to communicate useful information. If you would like to see a topic covered or have a question you would like to have answered, please comment on this blog post to get the ball rolling.

Hope you had a wonderful 4th and watch for our next post soon!

-- Paul Morse



Tags: home renovation, Boston living, home remodeling