The top two issues most couples argue about are money and sex. Money, not sex is the “hot” topic of discussion when building or remodeling a home. It takes money to do a construction project.

Reason #1      Couples don’t know their needs and values

Some people don’t know what drives them or motivates them to build or remodel their home. They know they want something new or different but are unsure of why.

For example, Samantha wanted to update the main bathroom in their house. She was excited to have a fresh look as it had been 10 years since she had done anything new to her home. Her husband Tim liked the bathroom the way it was and didn’t want to spend the money to fix it up. In fact, he didn’t like change very much and really didn’t want to spend money on a renovation.

Samantha and Tim would end up in arguments about the bathroom when Samantha would bring up the subject. They both resented each other because they couldn’t come to a resolution.

Tim recognized that he didn’t want to keep arguing, so he asked Samantha why it was so important to update the bathroom. After considerable discussion, Samantha acknowledged that since their last child just left for college, she was ready to make some changes to the house. The update was a way to honor their accomplishments as parents and symbolize a new chapter in their marriage. Samantha was able to verbalize how excited she was about the new phase in their relationship and that was why she wanted the update to the bathroom. Samantha got clear on her values and what is important to her.

Once Tim and Samantha talked this through they were on board with the project because the “why” behind the project was motivating for both of them. Instead of fighting about money, they were able to connect their spending for the update with how important this new chapter is in their relationship.


Reason #2      Couples don’t have a financial plan

This is the biggest problem area for couples when they build or remodel. Actually, not having a sound financial plan in all areas of a couple-ship will cause strife in a relationship. In a construction project, this issue just gets brought to the forefront rather quickly.

Before they knew it, John and Kelly had run out of money. They blamed each other for spending too much and had to stop building the cabin they had been dreaming about for years. This was very disappointing for them to say the least.

After seeking financial advice from their banker and counseling from their therapist they realized that not having a realistic financial plan or budget for the cabin was the demise of their dream. This topic was a much bigger issue for John and Kelly; their finances have always been a challenge in their relationship.

Once they started working on their harmful and unproductive money beliefs regarding a “budget” they were able to develop a financial plan to achieve their dream of building a cabin. The financial plan was a tool to help achieve their goals, not hinder it like they once believed.

Reason #3      Couples get overwhelmed

Building or remodeling a home is exciting and can be very overwhelming. For most people, they have to work their day jobs, take care of their families and other obligations in addition to the construction project. Sometimes this is a recipe for disaster.

Mike and Neda were building their home. Mike had just retired from the military and had a job where he could work from home. They had 2 school-aged children and Neda homeschooled them. They had more flexibility than most people but soon the building project consumed their life. Every waking moment was filled with thinking, planning or building the house. Inevitably, this led to unproductive decisions that cost them more money in the long run.

Their family began to experience the consequences of be obsessed with the venture. Mike and Neda were physically exhausted, the kids felt neglected and their whole life revolved around building the house. Soon Mike and Neda felt crushed with the weight of responsibility with their new home. They had hit a wall!

They took some time off, regrouped and identified what was important and priorities in their life. Family time and being healthy were 2 priorities in their life. To deal with being exhausted, they decided to set construction goals that allowed them to take time for family and rest their bodies. They backed off on how fast they wanted to complete their home.  They took Sunday’s off so they could go to church as a family and spend the rest of the day with one another. They did not do anything construction or house related on Sunday’s.

Home construction can generate a sense of urgency with decisions to be made, deadlines to keep and other life responsibilities. In summary, avoid unnecessary conflict around money by doing the following three things before you start your project.

  1. Talk about why your project is important to you and how it connects with your values. Let your significant values drive your construction project.
  2. Develop a realistic financial plan based on your values for your project. Follow the plan!
  3. Keep life in perspective. GO slow, be proactive and take breaks when you need to.


Laura Longville, an experienced therapist and Sandy Berendes, a skilled interior designer combine their professional expertise to help couples secure and strengthen their relationship through the home building and remodeling process. For more articles like this or information please visit

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