Home construction can be a stressful process. It’s not uncommon for disagreements to arise and relationships to be tested. You can avoid the potential for conflict and ensure a smoother construction experience with preparation.

Clear, open communication
Talk about goals, design preferences, potential impacts and budget with everyone in the household. Starting with open communication means fewer miscommunications, hurt feelings and becoming stressed later in the process.

“It is so important to establish a regular communication routine to check-in with your partner on everything from schedules and progress to budget and decisions,” says Marshall Hickox, president of Homeworks Construction.

Communication is also critical toward the mental and physical well-being of those in the household. Consider holding regular family meetings to discuss any concerns or changes. Involving children and older family members in the process can help them feel included and reduce potential stress.
Design agreements
Before construction begins, agree on the overall aesthetic and major design elements. This reduces the likelihood of disagreements about the appearance of the finished project. Homeworks recommends a scaling test.


“On a scale of 1-10, how important is this to you? Compare and make decisions accordingly,” Hickox says. “Avoid making impulsive decisions without consulting each other, especially for significant design or budget changes.”

Define responsibilities
“‘I thought you were going to do that’ is a phrase that you never want to hear a client say to their spouse during a meeting,” Hickox says.

Make a list of responsibilities before construction begins, this includes decision-making, financial management and communication with contractors. Additionally, decide who will lead particular phases so your contractor understands whose lead to follow.

Create a detailed budget and decide on spending limits for various aspects of construction.

“If one partner splurges and repeatedly disregards the budget, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Hickox warns. “We want you to have the best experience. Any good contractor will work with you and provide options when the unexpected occurs.”

Unforeseen circumstances can arise despite the best planning, so be kind. Set realistic expectations for the construction timeline. Understand that delays may occur and discuss how to manage potential setbacks. Be flexible and patient, recognizing that construction projects often take longer than anticipated.

Work with professionals
It is highly recommended to hire experienced building professionals. A professional team can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure quality work.


“Hiring a family member or friend is going to lead to ‘I told you so!’ so don’t do it,” Hickox says.

Ensure both parties are comfortable with the company being hired and that it is a decision both support.
Make compromises
Recognize that compromises may be necessary. Be willing to find solutions that meet both parties’ needs and preferences. Also, try to understand each other’s perspectives.

“Our project and design team members are sometimes in a position to broker peace, though most often the couples can do it themselves if they are willing to find common ground,” Hickox says.


Hickox and his wife, Heather, built their home together in 2004 and work together every day designing and building homes at Homeworks Construction. They have been through it all.

Effective communication, respect and a willingness to collaborate are all keys to success.

2111 S. Beretania St., Honolulu