Mistakes to Avoid When Life Partners Joins Your Home Building Business

Mistakes to Avoid When Life Partners Joins Your Home Building Business title on white background with photo of Amelia Lee and Duayne Pearce and Live Life Build Logo

Are you aware of the common mistakes builders make when partnering with life partners in the home-building business?

Understanding these mistakes is crucial to ensure a smooth partnership in achieving the best possible outcomes in your home-building business.

Watch the video now, or read the transcript below. Be sure to also subscribe to the Live Life Build YouTube channel.


I can honestly sit here and tell you I would not be in the position I’m in without my partner in the office

Top Mistakes Builders Often Make When Collaborating with Life Partners


Duayne, lots of builders who run family businesses will often start out as the builder on their own. And then, as their business grows, they start to need administrative support and it can be common for their partner to get involved. 

It might be because their partner is at home with the kids, sees their builder husband struggling, and wants to help and support them. It might make sense because it’s a family business everybody just gets involved and starts to sort of work out how they’re going to best run the business. 

It might be done for affordability as well because they can’t afford to pay an admin person. But we see this happening. We work with a lot of builders whose partners are involved in the business. And you, of course, have your wife involved in D Pearce Constructions as well. 

What do you see are the biggest mistakes that builders make when their partners are in the business in terms of running their business overall? 


The biggest mistake we made was not paying my wife. Looking back now, it’s just so funny. We actually had conversations about it. Long story short, my wife came into the business when she was on maternity leave with our second child. We thought it was a good decision to make. We actually had discussions about how this would put us ahead of other builders like we won’t have to pay you.


We’ll get a competitive edge. 


Yeah, we’re going to get a competitive edge. This is going to be awesome. But I just can’t believe how wrong we got it. Looking back now, that was a really, really poor move, and for multiple reasons. 

Number one, eventually, it plays on your mental health. How would I feel working in a business, taking on enormous stress, being thrown in the deep end for a bit, for a start, that I didn’t know anything about the construction industry, and not getting paid? Who else is going to do that? 

You’ve really got to put a value on their time and pay them for the role they play. 

This is the next really important part of this. So many builders would be in that position where they’re going to think they’re getting a competitive edge because their wives are free. They’re part of the business. They’ll do it for free. They’ll do whatever else I want. They’ll help me out with all my rubbish. 

That couldn’t be more wrong. It doesn’t matter whether they’re your wife. At some point, there might be a point where your wife finds another interest, and they want to pursue their own career or business or who knows what it is. 

So whether it’s that or a normal employee who leaves, it’s no different. You have to replace the person. You need to pay your wife for the role she’s playing, whether that’s a general admin or she might be doing everything—accounts, contracts, everything—or she might be more of a project manager. You need to pay a salary for the role that she is playing that you would have to pay if you were to get another employee in. 


That builds in longevity for your business, doesn’t it? It just builds in that capacity that should anything happen or the structure change, you can still afford to run your business and have that role filled by somebody else. 

Consequences of Devaluing Partner’s Time and Effort


Yeah, and at the end of the day, it is an overhead to your business. All businesses are overheads, and that’s why we deal with it so much with our members and really drum it into them. You have to know your running costs and overheads and whether you’ve got your wife, partner, auntie, uncle, girlfriend, or whoever it may be in your business that is an overhead to your business. 

You’ve got to understand that because you’ve got to put a value on them. Honestly, how bad would someone feel if they’re sitting there dealing with all the stuff a building business has to deal with, and they’re not getting paid for it? So yeah, the number one mistake we made was not valuing the role that my wife was playing, not valuing her time. And when I look back now, I’m quite disgusted at myself for and asked for making that decision. 


A lot of builders can also, you know, they could have been really struggling with the running of their business. Finally, their partner says, okay, I’ll help out. Let me sort of take some of these things on. 

And they then just start chucking them in the deep end and giving them all the stuff that they either find difficult to do, find they don’t have the time to do, or actually aren’t interested in doing. And not giving them the support or the opportunity to learn how to do those things. 

Particularly if their partner’s never been involved in their construction industry, that can be completely overwhelming for the partner and mean that there’s a lot of stress caused because they’re trying to get on top of understanding:

What’s going on with the business? 

What are all of these processes?

How do these need to be performed legally and financially? 

All of those kinds of things. And if you, as the builder, are taking off early in the morning and not coming home until late at night, that can be very difficult for that person to manage on a day-to-day basis. 


It’s not only that, it’s how people deal with them. My wife was devastated when she first started out, and we threw her in the deep end because not only was I trying to get her up to speed talk on the phone every spare minute I had, but she was doing helping out with contracts. 

She was helping me out with the pricing, chasing suppliers for quotes, helping me schedule jobs, and just about everything else. A lot of it was stuff I’m no good at, like she’s fantastic on computers. So it made much more sense for her to do it, but she didn’t know what to do, so that was really hard for her. 

The worst part was the way that she was treated. She didn’t understand how the industry works. She needed help understanding the lingo that gets used and all those types of things. It really opened my eyes up because it wasn’t actually her. It was also other women that I knew working in the industry. 

And it was funny when my wife started because she started really connecting with, like, we had a few female reps, and they were able to really hit it off because the reps were feeling that they were getting treated the same way. 

My wife opened up to them and said, hey, this is ridiculous how we get treated in this industry. And so a lot of things have come of that. But when your partner starts working in your industry, you might be a tradie, or wherever you’ve come from to become a builder, you’re used to being out on a job site. 

You’re mucking around with the guys, getting to talk to other people, and all of a sudden, you’ve thrown your wife into the family business. 

They’re sitting at home in an office all alone. 

They’ve got all the pressure of not understanding what needs to be happening. 

They’re trying to do their best. 

They’re also probably dealing with kids and other family and the dinner. 

There’s so much going on. I think we, as blokes, take it for granted. 

Don’t make the mistakes I did, value your partner’s time, pay them a wage, and appreciate everything they do. 

Creating a supportive work environment

A really important one, spend time with them. Put in some time and effort and help them learn. We did a few over the years where there were a few things that got complicated, and I actually didn’t know enough about them, so I couldn’t teach her properly, and it kept creating these issues. 

We looked into seminars and industry events, and that also started getting her more involved. Looking back now, at the end of the day, everyone looks at me and thinks, oh, look at him. He’s come from nowhere. He’s got a fantastic business. It’s all good for him

I can honestly tell you I would not be in my position without my partner in the office. She’s an incredibly valuable part of my life and an amazing value to our business, and she deserves to be rewarded for that. 


Most definitely. Inside Elevate, we have partners who both turn up to the calls. It’s fantastic because they’re both learning together and then can support each other through the changes they’re making in their business. 

The first one is making sure that the partner is actually earning a salary for the role that they’re playing so that the business can afford to have that role always and that their time is also valued, and then they’re also learning and growing together. 

So, if you have your partner working in your building business, reflect on what we’ve discussed here. Duayne shared a lot of personal experience from what he’s learned over the years of having his wife join D Pearce Constructions, and it can be a really fantastic thing. 

You’ll never get as much loyalty from an employee as you will from a partner, but you’ve got to make sure that you set it up right so that you can really create a fantastic business together. 

Find out how you and your life partner can enhance team cohesion and business success in our latest blog: ‘Residential Builders – Is your team on the same page?‘ 

Read now for invaluable insights and strategies to ensure your partner and your team understand your business.

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