Needs vs. Wants – negotiating a settlement


Problems and SolutionsIf you are lucky enough to be in a long term relationship and have decided to either renovate, or self-build to create your perfect home, then you have an amazing and exciting journey ahead of you. However, as there are two of you then at some point you’ll realise that your shared dream varies slightly and you may have lively discussions over some of the details of your project. Negotiating a settlement that pleases both of you is difficult but essential. Here are a few things to consider:

Limited budget
Almost every decision you make on your project will have to conform to your budget. If you blow your budget then the happy ever after in your new home won’t be so happy at all, as you will be busy trying to pay off your debts.

Before you even start your project ensure that you have sat down and worked through the budget together. You both need a very clear understanding of how much money you can allocate to each part of the project and how much all the essentials will cost.

This will give you both a framework in which to work and set your limits. If one of you wants something that will blow the budget, it’s best to have the conversation early on. There’s often a compromise where you will get the benefits that you want at a cost that you can manage. For instance, maybe a conservatory or garage conversion instead of an extension will be more cost effective, or a loft conversion instead of a double storey extension. All of these are options that can be considered and costed in advance to determine what works for you and your budget.

Roles within the household
Although you should both be happy with all the details of the project, remember to give priority to whoever will be spending most time using the finished result. If one person does the lion’s share of cooking then their opinion will count more when it comes to deciding the kitchen layout and what work surfaces you choose. However, practicalities and budget still need to be considered, and if one of you has big ideas, unless your budget is big enough, one of you will need to be the voice of reason.

If you are including a study, or gym that will be mainly used by one person, then that person can add very personal touches to the room in order to make it their own.

For families that are considering including a play room then even get the kids to help out when it comes to picking a colour scheme and decorating. It will help them to cope with some of the upheaval and involve them in the process.

Keep your decisions practical
When you’re debating how to complete a part of the project always go for the most practical decision, rather than the one that looks the best. Aesthetics are very important, but you are creating YOUR home, not a “show” home.

A wonderful, large and airy bedroom that doesn’t include storage won’t look as good after a couple of weeks of wondering where to put all your clothes. A beautiful floor that isn’t suitable for the area of the home will soon spoil and you will be left wanting to replace it.

You can improve the aesthetics of a room with some superficial finishes, but any debates between looks and purpose should always end with the most practical choice.

Remember why you started
If you really do end up at loggerheads with your partner about details of the project, remember why you started in the first place. It wasn’t to have big arguments, but to create a home for you to enjoy your life together. When things get tense take a break from it all for a day before going back to negotiating.

You can always change your mind
Once you have completed your project it doesn’t have to stay the way it is for eternity. You can try things out for a couple of years and then change it. That’s why you should spend the most time deciding on the framework of your house and not worry too much about the finer details. Loft conversions, garage conversions and extensions are long term decisions, the merits of wallpaper over paint aren’t.

Decide what it is that you, your partner and your family most need and complete your project. Then, once you have tried it out for size you can slowly add the things that you have decided you want as and when time and money allow.

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