It has been said that nothing reveals the strength of a marriage more accurately than building a house. The sentiment is rooted in the understanding that building a house is stressful from day one. If a couple can survive intact, they can survive anything. At least that is the thinking. So, could your marriage survive building a house?
A 2013 survey among 1,400 couples revealed that 46% considered a major home remodeling project stressful. Another 12% said they considered divorce or separation in the midst of their projects. If remodeling is that bad, imagine how much more difficult building from the ground up could be.
So what is it that makes building so stressful? It is not just one thing. It’s lots of things that add up over many, many months of design and construction. Consider the following:
1. Financing the Build
Money is often a source of marital problems. Couples who find they cannot agree over simple financial decisions may find the decisions involved in building a home to be more than they can handle.
For starters, couples need a construction loan to build a house. That construction loan is generally released in several phases, all of which have to be approved before money is actually released. Upon completion, all the construction loans have to be rolled into a standard mortgage.
This translates into a couple applying for multiple loans over the course of the project. Every loan application requires more paperwork, following up with the bank, etc.
2. Builder and Architect Disputes
The building process obviously involves both builders and architects. If you are building a single-family home not in a housing track, you may want to hire your own architect. Sparano + Mooney Architects in Salt Lake City, Utah recommends hiring the architect first, then using their recommendations to find a local builder.
At any rate, there may be disputes between the builder and architect. Couples may have separate disputes with either one as well. Disputes can arise over everything from money to local building codes. Each one represents another opportunity for stress.
3. So Many Choices
Couples building from the ground up may have disagreements over the many choices they have to make. Imagine a couple that contracts with Sparano + Mooney to build a mountain modern home based on sustainable architecture. The design phase would offer plenty of options in building materials, fixtures, floor plan, and so forth. Every option represents an opportunity to disagree.
4. Construction Time
Perhaps the most stressful factor of building a home from the ground up is the time commitment. A cheap tract house can be put up in 3 to 6 months, but more expensive tract houses and luxury homes on separate pieces of land can take twice as long. Unfortunately, couples often go into the building process expecting to be ready to move in just a couple of months after signing. It rarely works that way.
On top of the normal pace of construction are inevitable delays. Construction can be delayed by everything from bad weather to the local code enforcement officer who seems to take his sweet time getting around to completing planned inspections. A home that should have been built in four months might not be done until the eighth or ninth month. This frustrates couples and leads to arguments.
None of this is to say that couples should avoid building from scratch. It is simply to say that the experience can be stressful. Couples ill prepared to handle the stress in a collaborative way could discover that building from the ground up is hazardous to their union.