Renovation Stress: How the Worst Case Scenario is the BEST Thing to Think About

Renovation stress is bound to happen when “what-ifs” start to creep in. Use these 3 steps to take control & make backup plan - or 2!
Renovation stress and the what-ifs it brings

Renovation stress often stems from the worry about what might go wrong. Like other times in our life when we undertake something new or a big project, those pesky “what-ifs” start to creep in. A single seed of doubt can so easily grow into a mountain of questions that leave us hanging off the edge of a high cliff of uncertainty. It can make our hearts beat faster, our minds race, our skin tingle with dread and result in sleepless nights.

Renovation Stress: How the Worst Case Scenario is the BEST Thing to Think About

Some people would suggest you think about something else to get your mind off the looming scenario. Others would reassure you that things will work out if you have a plan. While that advice might work, we have found that the best thing is to dive deep into the abyss of worry.

Sound scary?  It can be.

It can also be liberating!

How, you ask? Why would allowing your mind to go wild with all the things that could go wrong be freeing? How could drowning in worry and what-if of worst case scenarios be the answer?


It helps you take control. 

Control of what you’re thinking about, control of an actual problem and control of a solution.

Take control of renovation stress with these 4 steps:

 1 Focus and take control

First, you don’t want to let your brain run wild with every single thought. Start by focusing on 1 thing. Whether it’s what scares you most or a simpler what-if, you will automatically gain control over what you will be thinking about. Instead of a pit in your stomach and all the ominous what-if questions lingering for days, or worse: nights, addressing a specific concern allows you to focus on one thing at a time.

2 Assess the concern’s validity

Once you are thinking about one thing, assess if it really is a valid problem to consider. There are many far-fetched things that can go wrong but aren’t likely to. On the other hand, there are legitimate problems that may arise that are worth your attention. These are the problems that are worth thinking about and addressing.

3 Think through the problem

Once you determine a concern is valid, the third way you can take control of the problem is to make a plan for it. Even with the best pre-planning things can go sideways, especially when it comes to renovations. Even if your what-if isn’t the worst-case scenario, it can be worth following it down the rabbit hole to see where it takes you. What’s the worst that could happen – you have a backup plan for something else that could go wrong? Not a bad thing at all!

4 Talk to your partner

Lastly, talk to your partner if you a particular what-if is sticking with you. We might hesitate in an attempt to protect our partner from worrying too. Likely, your partner will know something is up and may be more concerned at what you’re not sharing. Your partner can help brainstorm solutions or perhaps even remind you that you have already created a backup plan.

Renovation Stress: How the Worst Case Scenario is the BEST Thing to Think About

A real life example:

One week, the renovation stress from our second house purchase with suite addition was taking its toll. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that we may not be able to find good renters. With the market we were in we knew we could find tenants but we wanted great renters. This thought kept nagging at me because it is a legitimate concern when you allow someone to live in your space (check out our post on how to find great renters).

Without tenants, we could still afford our second house – as long as the suites in our first house were rented. It would leave our budget much tighter than we were comfortable with and could be disastrous if one of our other suites wasn’t rented for a period of time as well. I finally shared my concern with Sean. After hearing me out, he looked at me and asked the question:

“So, what would we do if we didn’t find good renters right away?” Immediately I answered that we’d be OK for a bit because we had an emergency fund.

“But what if we go through the whole emergency fund?” He challenged.

I had to think a minute but realized that we could furnish the suite for minimal cost and rent to International students instead.

His immediate response was, “but what if there aren’t any students?”

It took me a bit of thinking but then I figured we could also rent the suite as a vacation rental.

I was relieved – and amazed! Suddenly I wasn’t standing precariously on a cliff anymore. Within 5 minutes a concern that had been tormenting me for days now had multiple solutions. We had already built in a backup with the emergency fund and now also had not 1 but 2 backup plans – just like that!

Renovation Stress: How the Worst Case Scenario is the BEST Thing to Think About

While everything might go smoothly, you will be empowering yourself with a plan of action by thinking through the valid what-if questions that come up and taking control of the renovation stress.

Whew! What a relief to already know what to do if something goes wrong.

What is the most unrealistic worry you have had during a project? Let us know in the comments!


Denise and Sean

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