The Hardest Thing About Home Improvement is Working With Your Spouse

“If you can make it through a home renovation project that you and your partner are working on together and still want to keep living in the same house afterward, that’s when you know that you are capable of facing come what may.”

This is an ongoing joke I make, especially when speaking to younger couples that are convinced they will reach their diamond wedding anniversary just because they managed to agree on their first shared couch. Although I laugh when I say it, I know what I am talking about.

That doesn’t mean just because you’ve made it through one, that any following ones get easier. Hubby and I have been working on finishing our basement over the last few months. Since we’ve done full renovation jobs before and know the back breaking, nerve wrecking labor that goes into them, we did hire contractors to do the walls and ceiling for us. We figured that we could save some cost on doing the flooring ourselves, especially since Hubby somehow knew exactly what needed to be done. Not that he’s done it before but then there is the God given male gene called ‘I don’t need instructions’.

But it’s not so much the actual task of laying flooring that is the greatest challenge, but more the dynamic of two very different but very confident personalities working together. Luckily, one of them is a female and therefore OK to step back and let the more experienced person take the lead (or at least realizes that not having any experience herself probably doesn’t make her the best leader in that situation). As one knows, luck only last that long. For that female, let’s take myself as an example, still has a perfectly intelligent mind, and on top of it sees anything as a process which if handled efficiently has a planning stage before the execution stage. So, before you start anything, you’ve gone through the process in your mind, have purchased anything you didn’t own yet, have looked for and assembled everything else you needed for the job before your hands are dirty and self leveling cement is flying around the walls.

Unfortunately, the leader, let’s assume Hubby, with another God given gene called ‘I know what I’m doing so why would I waste time thinking through the steps if I can just do them instead’-gene, does just that.

Minute 10:

“Oh, now I need the trowel. Hon, can you run upstairs into the garage, I think it’s in the work bench.”

Minute 12.5:

“Shoot, quick, get me some water and paper towels to clean the splash”

Minute 25:

“You know what? I think I might need a vapor barrier. Love, can you drive to Home Depot and get some?”

Minute 45 (just after I arrive back with the purchase):

“We’ve got a problem, we’ve just run out of cement. I’m sorry but could you get me two more bags from the Depot?”

I will refrain from repeating anything that some day may be held against me in some divorce court. Let’s just say, it was enough to raise my blood pressure to a level that didn’t exactly allow for extra patience when it came to actually start laying the flooring. Which isn’t really that much of a deal, however one still has to pay attention especially when making cuts around corners and pillars.

Having taken wood working classes myself, I am well aware of the ‘measure twice, cut once’-rule. Now of course, that only applies if you actually have measured wrong in the first place. Which, you’ve guessed it, is a gene that males don’t have (I know I’m right). And should a piece not fit, it of course has to do with either the all of a sudden faulty miter saw or is a direct cause of a VERY tricky flooring situation where even the best skilled would have failed at first.

I could go on and on, but I trust that you get the picture and if you are familiar with this situation then I’m sure you are already wrestling with post traumatic stress (sorry, but then why should I suffer by myself?).

Anyway, we put down the last piece on Monday evening. And tonight after Hubby has moved all the stereo equipment into the basement and we are hearing ‘Tubular Bells’ as clearly as I’ve ever heard them in his new, to perfect acoustics scale music room, I have no choice but to sigh at such beauty. Yes, I know I wasn’t at all eager to start this project, nor quite frankly thrilled to work through it, but the result is worth every single piece of frustration encountered along the way.

Let’s hope I can remember this feeling to give me enough motivation and patience to make it through any other upcoming house projects.

No, that doesn’t mean that I’m ready for the next one!

BBB Says Home Remodeling Troubles in Top 5 Complaints

According to the BBB, the home improvement industry is consistently in the top five types of businesses that receive the most consumer complaints each year. – Charlotte, NC Better Business Bureau

Have you or a neighbor thought about remodeling, instead of moving? Stricter lending practices have continued to make affordable credit terms harder to obtain, and that is one reason why home buying has continued to slow. A June 24, 2010, article in the USA Today stated that May 2010 saw the largest drop in home purchases in 47 years. Additionally, one-third of all home sales, in the first quarter of 2010, were made on foreclosed homes, as posted on With the real estate market limping along, more people are staying put and spending their housing budgets on home improvements. Unfortunately, not all home remodeling businesses maintain the same high quality standards, and there have been home owners that end up worse off after hiring a remodeler. These steps and questions will help you avoid home remodeling troubles.

Are you registered with the state?

While state registration does not necessarily mean an individual or company is excellent at their craft, it does mean that the state has verified that this is their primary business and are insured. Additionally, in order to keep the required registration number, contractors must comply with specific requirements in the contracts they make up, giving consumers an added degree of protection.

Are you able to provide a current insurance certificate?

According to Rich Hubner, owner of Diamond Construction in Plum, Pennsylvania, an insurance certificate is an insurance provider’s verification that the contractor’s business is properly covered. Hubner takes additional steps by requiring all subcontractors to provide proof of insurance, and he carries an umbrella insurance policy that covers his employees, as well as, any out of the ordinary events that may occur.

If you have never worked with the home remodeler before, don’t hesitate to call their insurance company and ask them to verify the certificate.

May I contact previous customers of yours?

Diamond Construction suggests actually contacting the customers that recommend a particular home remodeler. In some cases those past customers may be willing to allow you to visit the job site and view for your self the work that was completed. It is one thing to read a comment, but seeing the quality of the remodeler’s craftsmanship is another

Will you put your guarantees and my estimate in writing?

Be sure that you have any promises, such as warranties, in writing. You should receive a copy of any contracts or agreements that are signed.