Random Musings


by | Random Musings | 0 comments

bungalow in need of restorationSo there you are. Standing in front of a derelict house whose potential charm & beauty just need to be revealed by the loving hand in a successful bungalow restoration. Sounds perfect. Well, let’s take a look at this perfection before you decide that it will be your hand & not so incidentally, your purse & just as importantly, your sanity & your marriage.

There are probably 1,000 articles out there on getting loans, finding a home inspector, but, this step is before that. It’s just after you have decided to KNOW THYSELF.

In my 45 years in the construction industry, I cannot tell you how many times the house went on the market immediately after we completed a large project. The happy couple came to us all excited about the new house/the big addition/the major restoration. We met with them together & grew fond of them as a family. Being the flooring guys, we were always the last ones on the job, & too often by the time we got our final check, the payment was going through a lawyer.

I wanted to address this issue because though our marriage has weathered the storms (Read that- storms of driving rains, back to back lightening flashes & high decibel thunder.) of 5 projects, I have seen reno/building stress tear relationships asunder.

According to a law firm specializing in divorce, these are the 5 most common reasons for a couple to get a divorce. Let’s see how that might apply to bungalow restoration so you can head these off at the pass.


  1. Infidelity

There’s a great deal of opportunity in a restoration for infidelity, which can be defined as “physical or emotional engagement with someone outside a committed relationship.” One partner’s love for the house & passion for the project is often much greater than the other’s leading to an abandonment of previously made agreements, a diminishing of communication & accord. It can cause people to grow apart.

Weekends used to be fun nights out, or cooking with friends, but now one partner is too tired or too obsessed with finding doorknobs & tells the other to just go alone. And out he trots, to be introduced to friends attractive, newly divorced  cousin. She’s easy to talk to & is interested in the same things he is, one of which, notably, is not old house restoration!

  1. Lack of intimacy

Any idea how tired you’re going to be at the end of the day? Work from 9-5. Come home & survey the work that got done during the day while you were gone, make your list of questions & punchlist items, or, pick up the heat gun & strip paint until your eyes cross.

After a lively discussion about said  punchlist items, as seen from your differing viewpoints- he’s firm, she’s more, easy-going- & a shower to get the plaster dust out of your hair. All you want to do is hit the sheets. “Not tonight, honey.”

  1. Communication

What we saw in every one of these marriage failures was the lack of communication from the very start. They each went into the project making assumptions about how the other one thought or felt because they hadn’t discussed the prime issues & 1,000 pieces of miscellaneous minutiae that pop up like weeds in spring, in even the smallest construction project.

Different people have different points of view, different tastes, different ways of handling life. All of these have the potential to blow up during the weeds of a project. My suggestion is that both of you take a look at KNOW THYSELF on your own & then discuss what you find there with your partner. (I know that I already linked it once. I’m being more emphatic this time.)

Just work it all out before you start making decisions, writing checks & finding out that you need new plumbing & foundation repairs & there’s a rat problem. Create a strong team & you will save yourself much $$$, time & heartache.

  1. Speaking of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

You need to appraise your finances together, taking into account your combined earning power & the whims of the world economy. In other words, what can you really afford, not what can you squeeze out of every possible bank account, retire account, investment, credit card, relative, kids’ piggybanks, etc. How much $$$ have the 2 of you decided that you can afford to throw at this beaten up bungalow before your children start looking gaunt & ragged?

And, do you have such an abundance that it this current inflation of materials continues, can you cover it?

And if you get into this project that seems so simple & straightforward but is actually just a mess held together with termite spit, can you fund that without causing a disruption to your family’s plans?

Bottom line- what priorities as a unit do you place on your money? Is investing time, money, energy & love in a house part of your allover life plan together? If he wants to send the kids to an orthodontist & an Ivy League school & you are fine with crooked teeth & community college, there’s going to be enough discord to make the neighbors start shaking their heads, even if you close all the windows!

5. Addiction

Well, who hasn’t been driven to drink during a restoration project? It’s tempting to see the situation as temporary & get into some ba-a-a-d habits. Perhaps at this point I should suggest my article on becoming discourage because it actually doesn’t suggest that you settle in with a bottle of vino at the end of a hard day. Even together.

I just want to urge you to take a look at your priorities together- time, money, family obligations. Many folks are willing (& able) to sink fortunes into houses that may never hold a great deal of financial value. Are you this person, or do you consider your house to be an investment on which you would prefer to show some return? And as importantly, what does your significant other feel? Get it worked out before your relationship is tried by the fire of a restoration project.


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