I've come to the conclusion that I have only one piece of advice to give any prospective married house-builder - don't. The strain on the marriage is such that 30% of couples divorce within a short period after completion. This is why you see 'Notaire 2%' in house sale adverts. It means that notary fees on the house are only 2% instead of 7-8% because the house is less than 2 years old.
My neighbours are building a house in the next village. Today I was peacefully having my lunch when all hell broke loose next door. It's not that I was listening, but they were less than 10m away and shouting, so unless I drew attention to myself and embarrass them totally, I would just have to sit there.
It was all to do with the house and money. This is a common theme because when you decide to build a house, it's rare that you actually manage to calculate the exact cost. It's not just about builders, bricks and mortar. There are all those unforeseen costs like earth shifting, fittings and a tax on new constructions. You also have to build a wall, a driveway and do the garden.
When my ex-h and I were building, the money had already been signed into a building agreement when we decided to divorce so we had to go through with it knowing we would never really live in it. The strain was just as bad but at least it couldn't lead to anything worse than rupture.
I remember one of our nicer builders telling me that he was also having a house built and HE was on the point of divorce. Obviously the flakiness of builders is not confined to punters because they have no respect for the brotherhood either. They turn up or don't turn up on a whim, you can be left waiting for weeks for someone to be free from elsewhere to do some vital piece of work without which no one else can carry on, so they all bugger off to other sites. Then when that piece of work has been done, you can't get the others back because they're all busy on other sites. And so it goes on.
We were actually locked out of our nearly finished house for a couple of months. It took a mild car accident on my part and a fortuitous meeting with an official building expert who'd been my victim to sort it out. When he realised that I was a damsel in distress, exhausted from work, children and building a house that had got blocked, he offered his help for free. Had it not been for him, we might still be going through tedious costly legal procedures.
I hope my neighbours make it unscathed. All is quiet tonight, so hopefully they've found the wherewithal to pay for the latest unforeseen extra cost. They'd better brace themselves though, it's unlikely to be the last!