I'm certainly no marriage counselor, but I've built enough homes for enough married couples and families to know that the process of designing and building a custom home can be grueling, and it can put a strain on a relationship. It is absolutely critical that both parties fully understand the other's needs, wants, and—most importantly—expectations going in.
If you've been dreaming and talking about this for a while, it's easy to fall into the trap of assuming you know what your husband or wife expects from this new home. After all, you've been over it so many times, you know what he or she is thinking. Plus, you live with this person so surely you know!
Well, it wouldn't hurt to confirm, then, would it?
Ask Your Significant Other This Question
"What positive effect on our lives are you hoping this new home will have?"
Even as opinionated as I am, I have to confess there's no right answer to this question. But, the answer will be revealing. It might tell you something you didn't know and might need to explore further, or it might confirm what you already knew so you can skip the discussion and go on to something else.
Not only is this question a discussion starter, it's also a great way to begin prioritizing the list of needs and wants you have for your new home. Some prioritizing early on will help you make the tough choices necessary to get as much of the important stuff as possible to fit within your budget.
Keep in mind your spouse has an answer to the question, but so do you. Make sure the answers are compatible, and then make sure the list of needs and wants gets prioritized in a way that optimizes both of your needs.
A Real Life Example
Let's say you are an Oklahoma homeschool family.
Maybe your answer to the one question is that you'll finally be able to enjoy evenings with your family because you won't have to spend all that time reconfiguring your classroom to a dining room and then back to a classroom every evening. Maybe your husband's answer is that you'll finally have a house big enough to have a media room where your family can enjoy movie night together.
What if the budget isn't big enough for a house that has dedicated space for both a classroom and a media room?
Well, if you've already had that discussion and you fill your builder in on those details, maybe he can come up with a solution. That could mean a second-floor room that's big enough to double as a classroom and a media room.
It doesn't bust the budget because it's built as a second floor, which is space that's already covered by a roof and supported by a slab that was there anyway. That's cheap space that can easily satisfy both your answers to the one question, but the solution's only available because you took the time to ask.
Expectations within families are critically important to the success of building a custom home and being happy with the home you build. Make sure you're asking this one question early in the process and using both answers to define your priorities.