Renovating: The marriage tester

By Dion Seminara, Dion Seminara Architecture

If I were to ask you to list the events that put the biggest strain on a marriage, I am sure you could rattle off quite a few - but would renovating the family home appear on your list? If it doesn't, then it probably should!

To understand this better, consider the followingscenario:

Your current home has grown too small for your family so you would likea renovation/extension that will create more space for everyone who lives in your home, as well as those people that you occasionally entertain. You're working to a budgettherefore you want the best possible outcome for your investment. But instead of choosing to work with a highly experienced architect, you decide to try and save some money and work with a draftsperson instead. The draftsperson asks you want you want, and then creates a design based on your ideas. Now, with your plans in hand, you go out and select a builder and work commences.

It is at this point that the problems start.

There are challenges with actually trying to build the renovation based on your design. Why? Well commonly because not enough detail has been provided to the builder. The builder then needs to take their best guess' and interpret the design themselves.

As a result things are not exactly' as you pictured them. Worse still your budget has begun to blow out. The lack of detail has also resulted in the project taking longer than it should. Arguments, finger pointing and buck passing follows. You are left feeling tense, a feeling which is compounded by the stress of your partner.

But finally the work is completed; behind schedule, and grossly over budget, but at least now you can sit back and enjoy your newly found space and freedom. Well at least that was the plan, but unfortunately the design has not actually given you more space, and you're left feeling like you have even less freedom than you did before. Nothing quite works the way it should. Sure the fittings are all there, but it's not an inviting space. You and your family are constantly getting in each other's way and as a result tensions rise even further. The strain on your marriage is now at an all-time high. You have spent so much money only to be left with a space that doesn't function; a space that actually inhibits your lifestyle rather than enhancing it.

So what went wrong? Well to start with, you chose someone who creates building designs, but does not necessarily understand how to design around someone's particular lifestyle. They gave you exactly what you wanted, without asking you enough relevant questions to find out what you really needed.

Selecting someone to design a renovation to your existing home is a major decision that will impact on your bank balance as well as your lifestyle - it is the sort of project that is best dealt with by an architect.

However not all architects are of the same standard. Sure, we all have the same initial qualifications, that's why we are called architects, but skill levels and experience can vary greatly. So if arguing, fighting and falling out with your partner is something you would rather avoid, then I suggest that you take the time to find the right architect for your needs. Often paying a little more up front can really save you in the long run.