How to manage the psychological impact of renovating


Renovating sometimes feels like hitting yourself in the face with a hammer.

You spend years of your life in a state of self-inflicted dilapidation; making your home life conditions much worse for you before they finally get better on the last day of renovating your room/home.

These are first world problems of course. After all, you are playing the long game and the rewards are potentially huge – getting a home exactly as you want it.

That doesn’t get away from the fact that many people go into renovations unprepared both for the size of the task and the hidden or unexpected impacts on your life. It’s not a walk in the park by any means, especially when trying to balance all of your other responsibilities.

Let’s uncover some of the hidden impacts of renovating.

1. A loss of control or being forgetful because there’s too much going on

You’re trying to spin a million plates. There’s more budget, planning, designing and shopping work than one or two people can handle, everything is happening at once. It’s only natural that you only have so much capacity and things start to slip.

We started to realise that things started going in one ear and out the other, staring at the insides of a drawer or cupboard wondering “what am I looking for again”, rushing around and literally cutting corners in the car. It’s madness.

Much of the renovation work happens before the build phase even starts. We’re big believers that robust upfront planning and a strong strategy can go a really long way in ensuring that you’re not overstretching yourselves.


For the most part it’s worth remembering that there’s no rush, Rome wasn’t built in a day! If you’re renovating for the long term you have a long time to make this into your home.

Also, there will be moments that are much more manic and then other quiet weeks or months where there’s dust gathering on top of the dust.

But one thing is for sure - get all of your ducks in a row before the build phase starts in order to reduce that mid-renovation stress.

2. Everything being up in the air

If you’re trying to live in your renovation, it resembles a camping trip in some sort of post-apocalyptic landscape.


Your heating might not work properly, any external doors that are currently operational are probably being left open due to workmen entering and exiting. Your kitchen consists of a microwave balancing on a dining table plus a cold water tap (if you’re lucky) and every time you want to travel from one room to the next, you must prance about like the “secret lemonade drinker” to protect yourself from dust and sharp nails.

Your routine is constantly changing and there’s a nagging feeling that your home just isn’t quite right. It all results in you just feeling ‘out of sorts’.

We coped with the impact of this by initially getting two rooms renovated; safe havens that you can escape to that are clean, dry, warm and cosy. Make these spaces your private nests and have a dust-free policy & hit people with sticks if they don’t comply.

3. Decision fatigue

AN Actual shot of FI Mid-decision fatigue

AN Actual shot of FI Mid-decision fatigue

Shopping for a renovation can be really fun, you get permission to spend all of that money on nice new things: the ultimate retail therapy right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple.

There are many elements that are brought together in a renovation and many of them aren’t quite so simple. You’ll find yourself scrolling through hundreds of websites for hours for an object that you have very little passion or interest for. Much of the time you’re trying to balance technical requirements, cost, style and ensuring that all parties are happy with all of these things. It can lead to moments where you think you might never stop searching, there will be other times when you literally get to the end of the Google results.

The results – feeling like you want to tear your hair out. We created a big list of our favourite suppliers and this now resides in in the Shopping module of our renovation online course. You can also check out where we got most of our supplies for our own 1930s house renovation by checking out Shop My Renovation.

4. The stress of unexpected costs

Nothing strikes more fear into the heart of a renovator than hearing a tradesman utter the fateful words “I’m afraid we’ve got a problem” or “do you want the good news or the bad news first?”.

Ultimately, any problems that your contractor has become your problems, and those problems have to be paid for. All of this adds to the stress of the project.


It’s very difficult to prevent these unexpected costs. Sometimes, you just won’t know until the work starts.

Some words of advice however would be to have a full structural survey done before sale or before the renovation. That way, you can get a shopping list together of all the things that need doing, then you know whether you will be able to achieve what want to do or if you need to scale back your plans to make the whole thing a bit more affordable.

Also, ensure that you budget the cost of a house renovation effectively and set a healthy contingency - usually at least 10%.

A renovation needs to be seen as a sort of living organism that changes over time - we would recommend getting into the mentality of preparing for the worst-case scenario rather than just hoping for the best.

5. Stressful rework challenges

Inadequate planning or changes in decisions can lead to all of your good work being undone. We had an example of this once when we decided to swap the way the door hangs after plastering, this meant we had to move the light switch after the plaster had been done.

Of course we had to pay for this all to be done and re-plastered and although it’s just a small thing it’s never been the same since…it was added cost and stress that we really didn’t need. Thankfully, with adequate planning, we had relatively few instances of this.

6. Despair - when will this end?

Renovating really does test the old patience. When you’re picking pieces of rubble out of your cornflakes and the hammer drills start up again, things start to seem like they are taking forever. And the longer things take, this certainly takes a toll on your will and your wallet. There’s only so much advice one can offer here - all we can say is to keep in mind that this will not last forever and you decide when to press pause.

To that end we decided to take a mid-renovation holiday to Greece - so we’d recommend to budget time away like this. Plus, once we had finished the main part of our renovation we decided to reward ourselves with a trip of a lifetime to South America.

Away from all of the happy Instagram renovation action, renovations are huge projects with times that test even the strongest minds and relationships. It’s important to prepare for that and to continue to recognise your ongoing achievements.

The ultimate renovation reward - a trip of a lifetime

The ultimate renovation reward - a trip of a lifetime

Next steps for your renovation

We can confirm that all of the tough times in our renovation have been 100% worth it. Would we do it all over again? Absolutely, in a heart beat.

There will be times when it feels like your home will never feel like a home again. The secret to surviving your renovation is truly all about planning properly.

We hope to see you on one of our next enrolments of our How to Renovate a house online course! Start with our free 3 day email series “A Survivor’s Guide to Renovating” for tons of tips on how to renovate the right way:

What we wish we knew about renovating before we started

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