Nicky Bryden, Business Development Director at project management consultancy ClearPlan, has seen all manner of building problems. In her latest blog, Nicky offers some sage advice for those who are about to embark on a new building project.
"Every year, thousands of couples take on home improvement and renovation works – mostly the
story's the same. What starts out as exciting and challenging becomes stressful, exhausting and a
constant source of friction. Disagreements about money, lack of equal responsibility and criticising
each other's decisions are the 'big three'.
So how can you get through the process whilst maintaining your sanity and a healthy relationship
with your partner? Having worked with hundreds of couples on their builds these are my top sanity
1. Commit equally...
Undertaking building works is like any other major decision in your relationship. Be prepared to
commit equally to the process and broadly want the same outcome. Discuss your attitudes towards
risk, money and working with other people. If your views are very different in some areas, put in
ground rules around communication to make sure that you keep talking throughout the process.
2. Let's talk money...
The thorniest issue of them all...the devil is in the detail with money. The more detailed the plans,
the more accurate the estimates. If you find it hard to talk about money (or agree about it), consider
using an independent PM for costing – it takes the emotion out of the process.
3. Who's the boss?
Any successful project requires everyone to play to their strengths so define your roles and
responsibilities around what you know you are good at.
Most relationships are a complimentary blend of skills, the secret is knowing when to step up and
take the lead and equally when to step back and let your partner take over. Try making a list of
functions and agree who will be responsible for what. Seems obvious but can be a relationship
4. Have clear lines of decision making...
Whatever you've agreed, the people involved in the project may have different opinions as to who's
in control. For some, the person principally involved in the daily decisions of the project is viewed as
the 'boss'. For others, it's whoever pays the bills.Be as clear about the lines of decision making and
responsibility as possible from the beginning of the project.
5. Take time...
Don't make important decisions in isolation and resist pressure to make critical decisions in a hurry.
There will be times during the build when decisions have to be made very quickly but don't act in
haste and repent at leisure!
6. Step Up...
Don't under estimate the pressure this build will put you both under. Be prepared to step in if your
partner cannot fulfil their functions for a while. 'Project fatigue' can set in – be prepared to support
7. Don't Criticise...
Resist the temptation to criticise – it is entirely unhelpful to allow someone else to take all of the
responsibility for detail decision making if you are not prepared to live with their choices, so either
engage or butt out.
8. Make Time...
Accept that, periodically, the pressure will get to one or other or both of you. Head this off by
making some time out from the project for yourselves – this could be an hour, a day or a weekend.
Make sure that you are both committed to it being quality time.
9. Easy does it...
Make your life as easy for yourself as you can. Friends, family and colleagues will want to help you in
this busy time. Accept offers of assistance, be it childcare or even someone offering to do the ironing.
10. Keep the big picture in mind...
Easy to say, harder to do. Remember, you are creating something very special. Once it's all finished
the pain and heartache WILL be forgotten and you'll have a space to enjoy for years to come.