Thursday, September 8, 2011

The stress of home improvement

At the moment, we are having building work done in our flat. This is very stressful, and I am trying to understand why the situation has such a strong emotional impact.

First, it was not exactly our choice to have this work done. We were asked to make these repairs by the neighbours downstairs. Rain water has been seeping into our external walls, trickling down, and causing dampness in their walls and ceilings in two places. To prevent this from happening this winter, we are having the balcony retiled, and part of the external wall of one room rebuilt. Having to do this work because our property is causing damage to the neighbours' flat is an uncomfortable situation. Obviously we have to do it, and we want to keep good relations with the neighbours. But it was not a decision we initiated, and if we had known the extent and cost of the work required, we might have been able to prepare for it better and felt more in control of the situation.

Second, I feel invaded and trapped. We have workers in the house several hours a day, making noise, making a mess, smoking, listening to their music, sometimes arguing. My home is an extension of myself, and I feel very uncomfortable with having other people here who are not our guests. Working from home is ideal for me, because usually my home is peaceful. I am now finding it hard to concentrate with the noise and the constant awareness that I might be interrupted. I can't just take my computer and work somewhere else, because I want to supervise the workers.

Third, we have two cats, and they are currently confined to the bedroom while the workers are here. They get very upset at the noise, and sometimes I have to spend part of the day in the bedroom with them just to reassure them. I don't know if it would have been better to put them into a cat pension/hotel, since they are very attached to us and hate travelling (we have moved home with them several times).

Finally, of course, there is the financial consideration. Because the damage was caused by rain water rather than burst pipes, the repairs are not covered by our insurance. This has forced us to take money out of a savings account. We always intended to use our savings for emergencies such as house repairs, but it is never a good feeling to have to large expenses, especially as we always have a large degree of uncertainty about our future financial security.

I have realized that the stress results from feeling helpless, invaded, trapped, unsure about the future, and from worrying about the cats. I know that my life is normally quite stress-free, and hope the work will be finished as soon as possible so we can all return to our normal routine, in an improved home.

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