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.
UPDATE 8.30.2022: Purchase the hot tub at your own risk. I do not recommend it. It started acting up at two weeks and was fully out of service by three weeks. INTEX CORP sent me a partial replacement part and told me I could throw the old one out. After throwing it out and taking the new set to Mexico, I discovered the new base had no control panel. The company refuses to send the rest of the replacement parts, refuses to refund me for the product, and one of their agents hung up on me. BUY THE COLEMAN SPA instead. I wish I had.
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.
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.