Construction Is Stressful. Here’s How I’m Detoxing.

If you’ve been keeping up with THE EGG Mini-Vlog Series, you already know I fired my contractor. Needless to say, this is not good news. Even worse is that, after five months, the person achieved nothing but a tentative budget that constantly needed adjusting. At the time I cut him loose, he was adjusting the construction budget and materials list for the third or fourth time.

If you have ever worked on a construction project, you know it can be incredibly stressful. But, of all the ones I have worked on so far―including in Jamaica―this has been the absolute worst. So, how do I manage stress during my tiny home building project? Before we get into it, let me explain what happened.

Why I Cut Ties With the Developer

I first bought my lot after receiving assurance that the builder on-site could help me erect and build out the dome*. He was a general contractor with experience building and running tiny home developments. There was only one problem. At the start of this year, he caught COVID-19 and suffered life-threatening complications. He had to be air-lifted to a hospital and was not himself when he returned.

No one told me about this until I sent an email asking for an update and reminded them of incomplete deliverables. The developer offered himself as a stand-in. When I expressed concern about whether we could get the project done on time, he insisted that all was well. Yet, five-plus months went by since my initial purchase―more than two months of me being here―and he achieved nothing.

I’m in much better spirits since the past few weeks of reclaiming control over my project, but it’s not without its consequences―including continued micro-aggressions from the developer. Of course, there is also the actual work that goes into managing the build.

How To Manage Construction Stress

The stress of construction can be all-consuming. If you don’t have a sound support system, it can quickly lead to burnout. I’m still learning how to keep stress levels under control, and I maintain this as a priority. I do, after all, have heart conditions that require me to put self-care first. So, how do I reduce stress during construction?

1. Identify the Stressors

If you are the kind of person who prefers to sweep uncomfortable feelings under the rug, construction stress will gnaw at you. The sooner you tackle the situation and the causes of your stress, the sooner you can resolve the issue. I make checkbox lists via the Google Notes app and tick them off as I go along.

My three main concerns were:

  • The feasibility of the project without the general contractor at the helm
  • The rising cost of materials and labor and, therefore, the dome’s affordability
  • My growing distrust of the developer and his competence

Since taking over the project, new concerns have emerged. These include material shortages, liability concerns, and doubt about whether I am a competent replacement. I’ve tackled one thing on the list at a time and the project is now underway.

2. Find Solutions

Resolving issues is often even more difficult than identifying them. In some cases, the solution could be to dissolve the project altogether. Consider the possible outcomes first, and then work your way back. Sometimes, you might determine that the stress is worth it, especially compared to getting nothing done.

Here are some examples of the resolutions I pursued:

  • Reclaiming 100% project ownership and “going rogue”
  • Working with my neighbors and other people with construction skills to get the job done
  • Replacing the wooden deck with a concrete one to eliminate the need for complex calculations regarding weight ratings and support beams
  • Hiring out difficult jobs I don’t have the skills or tools for, such as finishing the concrete
  • Negotiating contracts and prices with the people I chose to work with
  • Cutting business ties with the developer and doing business directly with the development’s owners

3. Practice Self-Care

If you allow it, construction stress can eat at you from the inside out. No building project is worth ruining your health, so always practice self-care. This means different things for different people, so discover what it means for you.

When I first imagined my tiny home in 2019, I saw myself relaxing in a hot tub and gazing up at the Milky Way. Of all the ways I envisioned using my tiny, future home, this ranked really high on my list. As stress levels climbed, I remembered that vision and felt even worse about the possibility that I might never be able to bring it to life.

I am no dreamer, so I started looking up how to build a hot tub. That’s when I discovered inflatable ones. There were so many to choose from that I took weeks to finally buy my Intex inflatable hot tub and spa on eBay*. I now soak four nights per week: sometimes at sunset and, sometimes, under the pitch-black sky in beautiful, dark sky country.

4. Build Your Support Group

When I shared my video of what happened, a guy commented and said it was a lesson in self-reliance. I told him that if I wanted more lessons on self-reliance, I would have stayed on the road instead of joining a community.

Everyone handles stress differently, but a support group is indispensable at times like these. My support group has done more than provide a listening ear. They have also shared ideas, provided advice, and―in the case of four neighbors and two friends―offered to help me complete my project.

Who should you include in your support group? Choose honest people who have the time, knowledge, and emotional bandwidth to help you through your construction crises.

Final Thoughts

Building projects are notoriously stressful. From runaway budgets to project delays and material shortages, you will have your hands incredibly full in 2022. Even so, taking an honest look at your situation and prioritizing your peace is sure to see you through the worst of it.

I’ve received a lot of questions about my Intex inflatable hot tub*. So, I’ll follow up with a 30-day review. As of right now, I consider it money well-spent.

*This article contains affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might receive a small commission. Earnings go toward funding my dome. You can also donate directly to THE EGG project via Ko-Fi.

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13 thoughts on “Construction Is Stressful. Here’s How I’m Detoxing.

  1. Construction NEVER goes smoothly. I am not sure of the many reasons, but it is the truth. Loads of love to you during this trying spell.

    1. Thank you! Trying is definitely the word! I am trucking along as best as I can. Here’s to hoping it all works out in the end.

  2. I am so sorry to learn of your troubles. Everyone has problems when they build – or even renovate – and we’ve had LOTS of experience with both. But yours are extreme. I’m glad you’re back on track and able to enjoy that hot tub! We aren’t allowed to have one here – but hope that will change in the future.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate the empathy and kind words. Dishonesty is at the core of my problems here. The developer enthusiastically oversold and woefully underdelivered. I’m pressing on as best as I can.

      I hope you don’t mind my asking, but why aren’t you allowed to have a hot tub in your area? Not even an inflatable one??

  3. I am very sorry to hear about your plight to get your dome built, but knowing what I know about you, I am confident that you will get it built, whatever it takes. In the meantime, your hot tub sounds lovely, so make the most of it. Best of luck with everything.

    1. Thank you, Fatima! I’m doing my best to move things along. So far, I’ve made progress and things are on track. Let’s hope it stays that way!

  4. I’m sorry to read about all the problems you’ve run into, Alexis! It sounds like you’re very well-organized, though, and that you’ll eventually get the outcomes you want. Good luck!

    1. Thank you, Becky! It truly has been a headache, but much less so, now that I’m handling it myself. We’re making progress, which is more than I can say when I was waiting on that developer.

      Episode 6 is out and it’s good news, so do feel free to check in. THE EGG videos are very short. I only post 60-second videos for those.

      Thanks again!

  5. Home ownership is stressful enough and I can’t imagine having to build a place. I heard about inflatable pools/ hot tubs many years ago and thought about getting one. I should have but I guess other priorities happened and of course I don’t have the tub. A dog kennel occupies the place the tub could go. As for homeownership issues, the last couple months I have spent several thousands of dollars on plumbing and well issues along with tree trimming. Into a different owning a home is truly a money pit. If you haven’t watched the movie by that name, see if you can find it and have a good laugh. You’re coming I’m sorry you’re having so many issues and it pisses me off that it’s happening because I think some men are just trying to get over on you because you’re a woman.

    1. I appreciate the empathy and kind words. It truly is stressful, but I just try to focus on the vision I had of me sitting on my finished property. It really helps to have that vision. Keeps me focused on moving forward!

      I do agree with you that some people are biased because I’m a woman, especially the contractor, although I also think he’s just a con artist who oversells and under delivers for a living. One of the contractors I called for a quote warned me to be careful of men being difficult because I’m a woman too. Thankfully, my neighbours have been immeasurably helpful.

      Really sorry to hear your house is eating into your funds though. Wow. Thousands is a lot!! I hope the problem is at least resolved for the long haul.

      1. Yup! That’s one of the reasons I am happy I have my lot. I can escape high gas prices and campground fees for the most part. 😂

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