Tips to Manage Your Reno

How to Survive Months of Construction with Your Marriage Intact

Whether you’re doing it solo, or overseeing contractors, a DIY can seem like the 10th level of unfinished hell.

About 16 months ago, we moved into our first home. We saw such potential in our adorable little lakeside bungalow. Only one family had lived in it since 1951. We found a Sunlight detergent package from 1963 in the unfinished basement, along with a bamboo fishing rod tucked up in the floor-boards. Cute.

Looking around, my husband immediately saw the new floor plan and the extra square footage. And that’s when he took out the sledgehammer. Gack.

My husband is actually very handy. He uses the best materials. He’s obsessed with housing codes, and his finished rooms are gorgeous. The problem is that it has taken us 16 months to get 1.5 rooms done downstairs. We still have 3.5 rooms to go. Oh boy.

With a feisty toddler, another one on the way, and two small businesses in tow, it’s hard not to feel the pressure. We argue. We’ve gone ten rounds over ‘really you’re buying another saw?’ We have talked deeply about how missed reno deadlines are not broken marital promises. Most importantly, we’ve figured out a few tricks to keep us laughing in the process.

Here are three tips to get your marriage through renovations (these have kept me from calling Brian Baeumler...even though sometimes I’d secretly love to. (Crush. In. Progress.))

1.  Nix the Stay-cation

The safety goggles are off and you both need a rest. The kids are at grandma’s. It’s the first alone time that you’ve had in weeks, and you’d love to just curl up on the couch with your hubs, and watch anything other than Treehouse. Forget about it! I’m not saying to pitch the together time, but pick up a phone and get the room rates for somewhere with fresh sheets and room service. Extravagant? No. Necessary. The truth is, if you stay at home there always be ‘one little project’ you can both do. And the next thing you know, you’re both covered in plaster, and your special dinner is an Ultraburger at the Harvey’s in Home Depot.

2.  Reno Dates

I happen to love a good Harvey’s burger. Especially when it’s eaten with reckless abandon after using an impact driver. Hubs and I plan reno dates together so we can really rev up the progress, and it keeps him from feeling the weight of the whole project. It also lets me play with power tools, mwa hahahaaa! Whether it’s a few hours in an evening or an afternoon, or a full reno weekend, keep your ‘dates’ project focused, and just aim to complete one thing at a time.

3.  Take your Goals to the Bank

It’s one thing to be driven by the ‘won’t this room look so nice with a Christmas tree in it’ type vision, but putting a dollar amount on a finished product is a much better motivator. Our strategy? Environmental tax rebates from the government, increasing home value, and rental income potential are just three things that keep us focused.

So the next time you realize that your teething toddler is actually drowning out the mitre-saw or leveling compound ruins your carpet, keep your eyes on the prize, and remember that love conquers DIY. Hard hats optional.

Kat Inokai is a creative director, producer, writer, host, and mom.

She runs Spin the Idea —a boutique PR and branding firm— and is a featured blogger with as well as a YMC contributor to the Huffington Post.

She has been a speaker, host, guest lecturer, panelist, and emcee at various events and institutions across Canada on the subjects of branding, business development and start up, and blogging, including Dalhousie University, Social Capital Conference, and U of T School of Continuing Studies among others.

Kat is also the managing director of Retrograde Films Inc., a Vancouver/Toronto production company. She just finished producing the award-winning narrative short-film Ten Thousand Steps which is now touring the festival circuit.

Currently Kat is also the host of Trying Times – a fun, engaging, webseries complimenting her YMC blog by the same name.

Her Twitter handle is @bumpandhustle - follow her as she tweets about business, motherhood and the art of the whole shebang.