Decision fatigue; dealing with contractors; living in a noisy, dusty building site with the whole family in tow. It’s not surprising that renovating or building a home tends to rank high on the scale of life’s most stressful events.
But while some healthy tension throughout your project is a given, you can reduce the intensity by planning carefully, scheduling in downtime and keeping the big picture in mind. Follow these expert tips on how to deal with renovation stress to stay sane during your build.
For many of us, uncertainty fuels stress. The solution? Becoming familiar with all facets of your project to eliminate fear of the unknown. “The more you understand about what is happening now and what you can expect to happen in the future, the better you’ll be able to plan and not get caught off guard,” explains Rebeka Morgan, founder and director of BuildHer Collective.
See our pre-project checklist below – ticking off the points in advance will set you up for (low-stress) success.
As with any good relationship, communication is key to working harmoniously with your builder, project manager or designer. Set clear, mutual expectations from the start, listen carefully, and have a plan for how you’ll approach difficult conversations when they arise. If possible, visit the building site weekly – seeing the work in progress can help curb uncertainty and reduce overwhelm.
Effective communication within your family is also key to reducing renovation stress. Building or renovating a home is a major life disruption for all involved, so regular check-ins with each family member – and with yourself – will help nip issues in the bud before they escalate.
Also, ensure your partner and your children are on board with the project from the start; get them involved and they’re more likely to view it as an exciting adventure.
While it’s important to have a clear vision for your dream home, don’t let the pressure get the better of you. “When we build, we place so much expectation on ourselves to have the perfect outcome – but there is no perfect,” says Rebeka. “A home is an expression of your personality, so have fun with it and build for you and your family – not for the expectations you imagine everyone else is putting on you.”
Pre-build or pre-renovation, choose the three features or outcomes that are non-negotiable for you in your new home. Seek perfection with these elements, but practise flexibility when it comes to the rest.
Your kids are sleeping in the lounge room, the whole family is sharing a tiny bathroom, and the kitchen is under construction.
Your whole world may feel like chaos, so to stay zen during your build or at least reduce renovation stress, it’s important to maintain your regular routine. If you and your family usually eat together at 7pm every night, continue that habit consistently – even if you’re cooking around a camp stove or treating yourselves to takeaway.
Even the best-laid plans should be fluid and flexible. Accepting that mistakes and delays are inevitable will also help assuage anxiety.
“Expect last-minute complications; every build is unique,” says Rebeka. “Unforeseen issues will come up during the build. Try to keep the size of the problem in proportion and give yourself a moment to think through the implications before responding.”
In the early stages, it’s worth creating a contingency plan for your timeline and budget to avoid moments of panic down the track. But remember: this too shall pass.
“Renovating and building is a season – the busy time and crazy balancing act will end at some stage,” notes Rebeka. “Be as organised as you can, but also expect a last-minute run-around.”
It’s easy to let a renovation or build consume your life but living and breathing your project will see your stress levels soar. It’s important to schedule in pockets of time away from your home – both physically and mentally.
Plan a dinner with some girlfriends, book a staycation with your partner in the city, or spend a Sunday afternoon out in nature with the family. Recharge your batteries, take your mind off tapware and tiles, and feel your build or renovation stress melt away.
A new build or renovation is a huge undertaking that will likely send you on a rollercoaster of real and raw emotions. It’s OK to feel the stress, frustration and overwhelm, but also keep your eye on the end goal: a beautiful home to share with your loved ones and fill with happy memories.
Holding onto this vision can put a late delivery or rain delay into perspective. “You might have the weight of making all the decisions and organising the build on your shoulders, but what a wonderful privilege it is to be able to create a home for your family,” says Rebeka.
Tick off these points in advance for a smooth-sailing project:
Create a realistic budget
Attain council approval
Choose a trustworthy builder
Plan a timeline
Inform your neighbours
A degree of renovation stress and new-build angst are a given, but a considered vision and plan will set you up for your best chance of success. Check out our Home Renovation Guide for more ideas and advice.
With the right help and advice, you can make decisions confidently, ensuring your home will be magnificent in years to come. Our Renovation Guide can help steer you through every stage in the process to help you achieve the renovation you’ve been dreaming of. Get a copy of the James Hardie Renovation Guide now.