There are two things that can drive a wedge between even the strongest of couples: Nicholas Cage movies and building a home. Of the two, the latter is the real relationship tester. It is just one of the most stressful things you can ever undertake, that thing which puts a stress on finances, your living space and your future as you dice with fifty different risks.

The emotional stress is just a whole other level, to the extent that 12% of couples that undertook a self-build project last year actually considered separation-slash-divorce. That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to save marriages while simultaneously helping your self-build project to come to fruition.

Read on for our helpful advice.

Plan Ahead & Be Patient

Don’t rush into any self-build project and don’t expect it to be done in the timeframe you a) expected or b) were told. It never happens like that. What you need to do in light of this is have patience, understand the amount of work that is required and have fun with the planning part of proceedings. Scroll Pinterest together, create mood boards and work toward a common goal. By staying on the same page and having each other to lean on you’ll find the stress much easier.

Don’t Break Your Budget

No self-build projects ever go wrong for the sake of going wrong. They go wrong because money runs out and that happens when the budget wasn’t properly planned out. The matter of money, however, is a sensitive one. We’re not just talking about understanding what you’ve got in salaries, but what assets you can contribute and how much you are willing to borrow. You need to know what the maximum you are willing to spend is (including the 10% contingency) and stick to that. Come up with compromises along the way. But stick to the budget.

Use All the Help You Can

This is not going to be easy. We’re talking about building a house. There is so much you need to know about from legal requirements to modern techniques, to building regulations and planning permissions. To reduce the stress on you and your relationship, make sure you get help on this front. Get construction liability insurance from someone like Poms & Associates. Hire a local architect that understands the rules and regs. Getting a contractor or project manager that understands what techniques are required and what the latest rules on renewable energy (etc.) are. Ask friends to come and help with certain things and chores. The more help you have the less stress there will be.

Appoint a Decision Maker

We’re not saying you need to decide which of you is going to make overall decisions on every aspect of the home, but certainly divvy up areas of your home to the one who has more expertise on that part. If she works from home, let her decide on what the office needs and if he does the cooking, then make the kitchen his domain. This will stop any arguments breaking out when you can’t decide. With this in mind, you should also ensure you remain equal throughout this process. It is a joint thing, remember that.