Some married couples, Lord knows how, work together in business. Some couples, heaven help them, remodel together. Jennifer and Steve Clark of Lafayette, Calif., somehow, do both.
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The Clarks, who have been married seven years and have three kids, not only team up to renovate other homeowner’s properties, but they also regularly tear up their own living space.
I don’t mean to be discouraging. I’m all for couples collaborating on home improvement. I personally have built or rebuilt three homes with my spouse over the years. Of course, we now live in separate states. So you see how that worked out.
From experience, I would just say that many couples who have been through a remodel would rather light their hair on fire and sleep on a bed of glass shards than renovate with their mates.
This is because humans like, no, rely on, stability, consistency and routine. Remodeling upends all that.
It wreaks havoc on daily patterns. All of a sudden you’re doing dishes in the bathtub and brushing your teeth in the garden hose. It compromises your foundation, literally, and your privacy, unless you’re used to encountering strange men in your home while you’re still in your nightgown. And it makes fool’s gold of your finances.
On a scale of one to 10, 10 being you accidentally ran a car over your parent, home remodeling is a 12. But, sometimes it works out, as the Clarks, who have had plenty of practice, will attest.
I talked to the Clarks, and can tell you, their success isn’t because one is meek as a daffodil while the other bull runs his or her way into reality, though that combination can work. On the contrary, the Clarks both have formidable personalities, and run their own separate companies.
He’s a general contractor and owns RFC, a residential construction company. She’s a real estate agent and owns The Home Co., a realty, design and staging firm.
Four years ago, they began collaborating on each other’s projects, when neither could help injecting themselves in the other’s work.
“Honestly, a lot of times I would butt in when I heard him talking about paint color,” said Jennifer. “I couldn’t let him paint a house a horrible color, so I would dive in.”
Steve agreed that his construction clients could benefit from his wife’s design and home staging advice, while Jennifer’s real estate clients often needed renovation work Steve could do.
So far, they have collaborated on 15 residential renovations for others, and a few for their own home.
Along the way, they have had to figure out how to do that and stay happily married. Though clashes happen even for this well-oiled machine, here’s how they resolve common areas of conflict:
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.