Extreme Reno fatigue

Texas_GemMay 17, 2014

So I seem to be in the minority here on the board in that we have done 99.9% of the work ourselves.

We built on to the back of our house for my kitchen and the only thing we haven't done and we contracted out is the slab being poured, the cabinets being built and installed unfinished (I finished them myself onsite) and the granite countertops. We did all the framing, electrical, running new plumbing, re-roofing, insulation, drywall, paint, etc.

Our reno has cost significantly more than we expected (when does it not?!?!) and we are now; though no where near finished, as close to being as finished as we possibly can be at this time.

The remaining work that can be done would honestly take less than a week to complete but instead of buckling down, I have found myself ignoring it; I guess because I am so accustomed to living in a reno (we started in August). Add to that the fact that this month is literally THE craziest month on my calendar for the entire year.
In May alone, I've got my MILs bday, my husbands bday, one of my daughters bday, Mothers day, the last day of school (and subsequent end of year party I am responsible for as a room mom) my father retiring (did I mention I am hosting his retirement party at my unfinished house) plus 3 other friends bdays as well as my in laws anniversary.

I am the party planner/host in the group. Some of my obligations can be passed on to others (like the in laws anniversary), but the vast majority I am responsible for.

I am at my wits end. Like I said previously, I KNOW if I would just buckle down and do the work my house would be back to full operating capasity instead of just scraping by...but I can't help it. I am exhausted.

I don't know why I ever thought I could tackle all this work while also being a SAHM to 4 kids who were, when the project started, 6, 4, 2 and 6 months old.

Please tell me I am not the only one. I am so close I can see the finish line but I just feel like I can't even reach it anymore. I'm exhausted; literally and figuratively.

Can anyone help me muster the strength of resolve to JUST get those last few details finished? Tell me I am not alone...

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Trust me, you are not alone. To make you feel better - we are in year 4 of our DIY renovation. What started as an addition on the house turned into "while we're at it" disease. We needed siding for the new part of the house, but the old siding was 25 years old and would need replacing shortly, so we should just replace all the siding now "while we're at it". And move additional walls "while we're at it". And extend the kitchen and move the bathroom, and the list goes on and on.

We hired out the exterior framing, siding and drywall installation, but have done everything else ourselves. We replumbed the water lines, moved the sewer lines, added/moved/rewired the electric, installed wood flooring throughout the house, rebuilt the bathrooms, totally moved/enlarged the kitchen. In the meantime, all the regular house maintenance had to be done too. The front stairs to the second floor and front porch were discovered to be rotten, so had to be torn down, rebuilt, painted, etc. All this started with a small addition so we'd have a decent sized master bathroom and closet. We research on-line to figure out how to do stuff and then just tackle it one piece at a time. We just totally lacked control on project creep.

The first winter, I remember standing in the kitchen wearing a parka and all bundled up since there was a 15 foot hole on the side of the house and it was snowing. It never snows here, but it snowed twice that winter! And we had massive rainfalls all winter long, stopping work on replacing the siding and windows.

We really enjoy working on house projects and we had several serious discussions about whether we were taking on too much before we started. There have been days when I think we were nuts and other days when I look at what we've accomplished and am so pleased with the outcome. The day we had the house appraised when we were refinancing and the appraiser wrote "house is in final stages of a renovation which the homeowners did themselves with a high level of fine craftsmanship" was a huge reward. Made me want to embroider a sampler with that comment on it!

During this 4 years, we've alternated between working every day on house projects and ignoring it for weeks at a time. We both work full-time, which is sometimes 50-60 hours a week, at our jobs. We've buckled down and worked 15 hour Saturdays and then again we've traveled all over the place and done nothing on it for weeks at a time. And not felt a bit guilty for that. We decided early on not to let the house project dictate our lives. As a result, we lived with the main floor of the house down to studs for almost a year before we got the drywall back on. We've hosted parties and held family gatherings. And nobody cares if the house is done! Other than thinking we're nuts, life with our friends and family just goes on as usual.

I find that what works for me to get something done is a list and a deadline. I LOVE checking things off the list, so I make it very detailed. Instead of my list including "finish the kitchen", my current kitchen to-do list looks like this:
Install microwave trim
Trim sidewall for appliance garage and install
Install light-rail
Fill nail holes and touch-up crown molding
Design, cut and install corbel on end cabinet
Install last section of tile backsplash

I have a party here in two weeks and have given myself a deadline of finishing the above list, plus another list for the master bathroom.

There - do you feel better knowing you're not alone? Now - get busy and finish it up!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 6:25AM
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You guys. All I'm doing is the planning/painting/cleaning, I've only been at it since March, I don't have any kids at home and _I'M_ exhausted. Pat yourselves on the back; you're doing great!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:00AM
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It sounds like it's not so much the work itself that you can't face but the looming obligations that are crushing you. This time of year is sneaky, especially if you have school-age kids. We all seem to gear up for Holiday season, but the end-of-school calendar events added to Mothers/Fathers Day, wedding/baby showers, graduations, etc. seem to make it the busiest time of all.

Congrats on all you have accomplished. Cut yourself some slack. It would be great to entertain in a finished space, but family will just enjoy the time and overlook what's not done. Anyone who is critical, well, let them host the next gathering.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:54AM
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I'm with the other posters. You've accomplished a lot. Take it all in stride. Life sometimes gets in the way of a reno. It just happens that way.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:15AM
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You are not alone. We are 99% DIY's too. We have been in a constant state of remodel for 9 years. The inside is completely done. The deck will be finished this summer and we will finally be able to close out our permits. Yes, building permits for 9 years.

In my case my DH does everything himself. Since you are the one doing the work, I would suggest making a list. Work on just one thing at a time and crossing it off the list. Pass off any obligations that you can. You can take them on next time around.

Over the years there were times when nothing was happening and it was frustrating. The last room was the kitchen and being in the home stretch and seeing the finish line really pushed Dh to get every last detail done. He even remarked how the most involved room took the shortest time. See the finish line.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:30AM
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You are doing awesome! There is NOTHING like the joy of DIY, even though it can become overwhelming.

Whenever I hit the wall during a DIY project, I find that I sometimes need to just take a break from it. In those cases, I give myself permission to DO NOTHING (on the project) for x amount of time. Then, when I get back on the wagon, I simply assign myself the task: "make SOME sort of forward progress, today," even if it is only a 15 minute piece of a job or 15 minutes of research or thinking/planning. I am AMAZED at how that pulls me out of paralysis.

Sending lots of good thoughts and encouragement!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:39AM
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>>Please tell me I am not the only one. I am so close I can see the finish line but I just feel like I can't even reach it anymore. I'm exhausted; literally and figuratively.

You're definitely not alone. We started our DIY Kitchen-turned-Kitchen/Entry/Formal Living/Breakfast Area/Family Room rebuild last July. The work involved was the same as yours except without the roofing but with crawlspace and underfloor repairs due to extensive wood rot. You're farther along than we are. I am waiting for the flooring finisher to tell us their schedule, and the lumberyard to call with information and a timeline for a new front door and sidelight.

Fatigue has set in here too. For example yesterday, I took the day off from work because more appliances were getting delivered. All I need to do is just do the biscuit joints and glue together the pantry shelves but that was an all day affair because the drive to do it is just gone.

Perhaps if someone is there with you to help that would move things along. A lot more seems to get done when there are two of us at work than when it's me alone. Another thing I've done is to take a break or sleep in for a couple of days. Also just having a short to-do list of steps to accomplish today helps me to get things done. It brings a bit of clarity to the project at this stage in the game, where it feels like I'm stuck waiting for someone else because all other tasks depend on one or two things getting done (but that's really not the case).

You'll be able to pull through it though - you're so close to wrapping it all up!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:44AM
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I so feel your pain. We're nearing the end of a 9 month kitchen reno and we've been doing a great bit of it ourselves. We're at the point of finishing up the details and I'm also a little reluctant to do some of it. There are some tasks that I know I can do myself and I'm usually pretty gung-ho about doing these things (to the point of getting up at 4am to do it before work). Then, other tasks I just dread and put them off. I think these are tasks that are not my forte or are problems that I'm not exactly sure how to address.
I agree you have to give yourself a little break. When I push myself too hard I end up making mistakes and then I'm two steps back. It also sounds like the other obligations might be too much. When I come to working on projects I'm pretty single minded and when other things are added to my list I can get really overwhelmed. So, listen to that voice inside, take a little break and then regroup and prioritize what needs to be done.
Best of luck to you! This weekend I hope to finish my kitchen (save for one tiny area to tile). Although it's been the "last weekend" for at least a month!!!!!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:02AM
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I have to echo the other posters. What you have accomplished so far is amazing! Life w 4 littles (I have 3 littles very close in age too) is messy and a bit chaotic anyway. You will manage through. And, yes, you may cry, or lose patience, or take a few days off in between.

Our mostly DIY project is waiting for us to complete the detailed finial check list too. But, we just aren't doing it. Life beyond the reno is too demanding right now. Instead of the kitchen work, DH spent last weekend fixing flashing and caulking the heck out of our bedroom windows because it started to rain in my bedroom! The projects just pile up too fast. We have a party here tomorrow. Things aren't perfect. Actually it's kind of a mess. It's ok. I do feel better about life when I get one thing done each day, just one small thing. Even making the list for my DH for the hardware store (more caulk) counts! Hahaha.

Stay the course. Can't wait to see your work.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:06AM
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I've only started the planing and will not be doing the work myself, I also have 4 kids. You are my hero to be doing all that with 4 kids! I think you should take May off with Reno stuff and not try to squeeze it in. Next month hopefully is not as crazy for you and you will be in the right frame of mind to start again. Even though you only have small details to finish, sometimes those details make all the difference. Wait till you feel a little more refreshed before starting again. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:32AM
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I'm in the 99% club too and share the emotional fatigue you are experiencing. We've been planning ours for many years. Our appliances sat in our garage for eight years now. Major life events got in our way, and what I've really taken note of is how much more difficult this would have been if we were both still working. We started last November, 5 days after my DH's last chemo treatment. We promised each other we were going to make this a fun adventure. Every time the frustration level builds, we remind ourselves of this and stop, take a break, do something else fun. We had a dreary rainy day last week and did not feel like working so we went to see a ridiculously stupid flick we would never normally see. But it was funny and we laughed for an hour a a half, went to dinner after and felt refreshed after our "date".

We are also in the last stages of finishing, doing small tasks while we wait for our walnut to arrive, then we build our island and will finally have water. I'm trying to time it so the other tasks are finished while we wait. It is satisfying to achieve even small goals. We've also added a motivational factor. We put a deposit on a pup so have to be ABB by the time we bring him home.

I do understand your fatigue; the stress can be crippling and we find ourselves so entrenched in this process that it can feel weird to not have one more thing to do. I've thought about that a lot lately and changed the focus with new goals - in the garden. It has helped rejuvenate and get me motivated again.

I think you need a day off just to do something fun and relaxing. Totally take your mind off the reno and those other obligations. Then make a list of your goals with a timeline. You'll feel good each time you check off a task completed. Can a family member take the kids for a day so you can do a marathon? Maybe get siblings to pitch in? You have accomplished so much to be very proud of and can get through this. We're all rooting for you!


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:49AM
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I am amazed at what you and others can DIY. I've DIYd very small projects and can't even finish those (I took down wallpaper and painted in the family room, dining room, bathroom, and entry hall 5-6 years ago or so...painted over the white baseboards with dark blue/gold/bold green because I knew were were getting new flooring and would replace all the baseboards shortly...3 years ago we got new carpet, took off the baseboards...last December, we took up the carpet for vinyl plank flooring and STILL no baseboards.)

As much as it's tempting for me to plan parts of the kitchen reno that I could do, I'm going to have it all done. I want it done by the time we go back to school in August (two teachers). I'm sure I'm delusional. My hope is that while it's happening I can finish some of MY projects at the same time. Also, probably delusional.

I notice two themes in the previous posts:
--give yourself permission to take May off and pick up again after the May craziness
--make a list and deadlines that will (taking some liberties here) let you use your May obligations to help push you through to the finish line

I think both of those are viable options. OR some combination of the two. I'd be on pdfcalendar.com printing out as many weeks as makes sense and either blocking out time NOT to work on the reno, or fitting the tasks in that you want and feel you can.

Again, thoroughly impressed!

Here is a link that might be useful: pdf calendar maker - you choose how many weeks and formatting

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:30AM
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You know, I get the DIY part. I think I win on that front for time it's taking.
I also get the being sick of the reno part.
I get not being able to face the last details.
I procrastinate, I change my mind, and I plug along. And have plugged along for 8 (yes, EIGHT) years now, this summer. Alone.

I suggest cutting yourself some slack. All of you exhausted, 99% reno people. I'm sure you're soooo tired of the mess. I understand. But so what? The end result, finished or not, is gorgeous.
You're also imposing those deadlines upon yourself, and you have the power to remove them. If anything, use the unfinished reno as an excuse not to host something.

Don't promise you can do anything, anymore, until you're darned and ready. With four kids, that might be when they're 28 and moved out of the house. But you MUST give yourself some time. If people don't understand, well, (those of tender sensibilities cover your eyes) screw 'em.

In the meanwhile, all you with the DIY skills either obtained beforehand or learned OTJ, step back a minute and admire your work. YOU did that. You'll finish when you finish. In the meanwhile, also congratulate yourself (DIYer or not) that you managed to get the whole shootin' match done in 9 months to 5 years.

And pray this is the worst thing that ever happens to you: a bunch of unfinished projects haunting your life. Could be wayyyyyy worse! You could be in the same position way at the end, and just find Gardenweb only to discover you really screwed up your kitchen. ROTFL!

YOU have a nice kitchen to sit and worry in. So just sit.
Wine & cookie dough.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 2:51PM
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We removed a floor to ceiling freestanding pantry in our kitchen and replaced it with IKEA cabinets in an "L" almost 2 years ago. The finished back panels have been on as well as the trim, but 4 pieces of base seem to elude me. I guess I haven't been nagged enough.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 3:23PM
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CEFreeman, you crack me up! Now I need to run to the store.

Seriously, thanks for the pep talk...we all need it!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 5:17PM
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We've been doing the DIY thing since we bought this place with 3 little ones. Well, we started it all with a 4 month old and a two year old and added another about 13 months later. They are now 4, 6, and 7.

We're two years in on the kitchen. Toe kicks are yet to be installed, crown is still sitting in the old kitchen with the island end caps. I've got tile for the backsplash, but can't decide if I love it enough to live with it forever, and my lights are just dangling bulbs. One day we'll finish, until then, we're in the beginning stages of planning a two-story addition (again DIY), so we can tear down, or at least largely rebuild the original part of the house before it falls on its own. We'll be tearing out most of the original work we did in the very beginning, but we'll be fixing some major structural issues.

I'm always burnt out. I can't think of a time in the last 5 years that we weren't working on something. We take breaks, we start projects before the last is even remotely close to being done. Eventually, we'll run out of projects to start and we'll be forced to finish everything in various stages of progress. It's our system and it's kept the house from falling in so far. I guess it's working.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 7:13PM
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Thanks everyone for the pep talk, I feel better knowing I'm not being lazy and that we have actually accomplished a lot.

My current to do list is

Finish tiling the mudroom floor so I can move the desk back in and get it out of my dining room
Tile the pantry floor so I can FINALLY get my food out of all the totes
Paint and install all the trim
Stain and finish my wet bar
Install pulls on the wet bar
Install counter on wet bar
Install sink in wet bar

Things I can enjoy:
In the main part of my kitchen, all the cabinets, counters, lights and appliances are installed and fully functional.
I actually HAVE a dining room to eat in now instead of serving meals in the living room (NOT fun w/messy eaters and carpet)
I now have TONS of natural light flooding my house thanks to opening up walls and adding windows and a French door to the backyard
Last week, instead of working on the reno, my wonderful husband opened up our pool AND he bought a hot tub yesterday that I got to enjoy last night with a stiff drink.

Once the kids are in bed, I think I will grab a drink and go sit in the hot tub with hubby to celebrate his birthday and not think about the reno for a while. Maybe we will even have some cookie dough. That or the key lime pie I made him. :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:44PM
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I am in AWE of all you and others have accomplished! Congratulations on what you have finished already, and take the rest in small bites; you deserve the rest!

You are SO not alone, although my job was not nearly on-scale with yours and others'. I am nibbling at the rest of it, and you can too. It's alright. :o)

maybe we should start a "Let's Finish This Thing" thread, where we post our accomplishments, no matter how small, and help encourage each other over the finish line?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:19PM
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Grenhaven- that sounds like a GREAT idea, please start the thread!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:51PM
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Listen to CEFreeman she has great wisdom and humor.

You may be very talented in organizing and DIYing. But you need to listen to what you need. Because of all the "things" you've reported you are responsible for, it sounds like you are a "human doing" in stead of a "human being". Try "being" for a bit. You will feel uncomfortable. It's ok, because there may be an inner quiet voice begging to be heard.

You are modeling behaviors for your children. Do you want them to do, do, & do, without the skill to know when to take a step back? If your children where feeling what you are feeling, what would you try to teach them? Keep going until you drop? I bet you would be loving and kind to them. Share that loving and kindness with yourself. When you don't, your kids worry about you.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:53PM
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I'm down for that. Another thing I do on occasion is look at pictures from a month or two ago. There's a huge difference that's easy to see (look! No holes in the floor big enough to lose a car in!). Someone you can't see the difference from one day to the next while living through it, but over time you can.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Greenhaven, don't discount what you've done, you have been amazing to watch. Your new thread is a great idea!

Texas_Gem, I think you are on the right path for relaxing with the pool open, the new hot tub, and quality time with DH after the kids are asleep. DH must have known you needed that. Have a wonderful bday celebration with him tonight!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:02PM
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Enduring- thank you...truly. Your single comment speaks volumes to me. I DON'T want my kids to model this behavior.

Screw the remodel, my kids need to see me LIVING, not doing. Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:33PM
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