World Mental Health Day: How to manage stress during a building project

Young couple having problems while renovating their apartment
(Image credit: Getty Images)

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to reflect on our mental health. A home renovation or self build is one such life event that can trigger significant stress — those who've completed one already will know exactly what we are talking about.  So how to manage or even avoid that stress? 

Renovating a house can be extremely rewarding but it’s undeniably challenging. From making a schedule of work, preparing to live on-site and renovating on a budget there’s lots to think about.

To help you manage the turbulent times of your renovation project, the Homebuilding & Renovating team are here with some tips and tricks to hopefully help lower your blood pressure and keep your stress levels at a minimum.

Making the best of a stressful situation

“I truly believe that had we spent more time and thought in creating a proper schedule from the off, our project as a whole would have been less stressful and would have been finished far quicker — so take note and get scheduling right," says Natasha Brinsmead, Associate Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating.

Natasha has written about the top tips for avoiding stress when renovating a house, having recently completed a DIY renovation and extension of her Edwardian cottage, which included a kitchen extension. The kitchen is the most stressful room to renovate in a house, according to a study from earlier this year.

Meanwhile Amy Reeves, Assistant Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, says one thing that was essential for motivation during her remodel of a mid-century cottage was making the most of even the worst moments of living on site while renovating

“A favourite memory of mine is setting up the dining table in our bare-brick room at the back of the house for a fairly cold barbecue in April (when the rule of six came into play). The room was open to the elements thanks to the hole for our bi-folds that hadn’t arrived yet, but after stringing up some fairy lights and creating a small bar, we were able to celebrate a pivotal moment in our renovation.”

kitchen renovation and extension

The kitchen is the most stressful room to renovate in a house, according to a study from earlier this year. (Image credit: Paul Arthur)

Amy Willis, Website Editor for Homebuilding.co.uk, says of her own ongoing renovation project that avoiding the temptation to go cheap is one top tip that can cause you less pain in the long run.

“What I found stressful during my DIY renovation was when people tried to 'help' by saying they had a great contact who could do something really cheap. This always sounded fantastic and easy. I would then find I was messed around by the ‘great contact’ who clearly did not want to be doing the cheap favour, which was really low on their priority list.

“Sometimes, you've just got to pay that little bit more to make stuff happen as well as for your mental and physical wellbeing. That cheap contact should always come with a health warning."

And Michelle Guy, Deputy Editor of Homebuilding & Renovating, adds: "If you're renovating and living onsite with young children it is really worth planning how to cope around any disruptive building works.

"The project was going to take two weeks: the first week was going to be the messiest so I took my son away with me to stay at my mum's for the week while my other half stuck around to answer any questions. Our plasterer was a trojan and stayed until nearly midnight two nights in a row to get the job done, which would have been difficult if my son was trying to sleep in the back bedroom above."

Trades survey reveals worrying findings

It’s perhaps not widely addressed as it should be that tradespeople suffer mental health problems. In fact, four in five tradespeople in the UK say they experience mental health problems due to work, according to new research commissioned by IronmongeryDirect.

The survey of 500 tradespeople also revealed that 85% do not feel comfortable talking about their mental health. Around two-thirds of respondents said they experience stress, anxiety or depression every month, and 13% feel symptoms every day.

Finances is the number one cause of stress, affecting 34% of tradespeople, while customer tensions (24%) was the second-biggest worry.

IronmongeryDirect is working with mental health charity Basildon Mind to raise awareness of the mental health problems faced by tradespeople.

Emma Mamo, Head of Workspace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “In male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing and able to open up about their mental health and ask for support. This can be problematic because mental health problems often become worse if left untreated, and the consequences can be fatal.

“We urge employers to create cultures where employees can speak openly and honestly about their mental health.”

Jack Woodfield
News Editor

Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms. 


He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.