Helpful Tips for Handling the Emotional Roller Coaster of Remodeling or Building a Custom Home

Tips for Handling the Emotional Roller Coaster of Building a Custom Home

Building a custom home or remodeling your current home is an exciting, fun, challenging and sometimes scary process. Our homes are extremely personal to us. Home is where we spend time with our loved ones, raise our children, entertain, work, play…the list goes on. After having parts of my own home remodeled multiple times, working in the interior design industry for several years, and my experiences working with clients as a counselor and coach specializing in transition, I can bluntly say that THIS IS A PROCESS. A process that at times can feel like a psychological roller coaster ride. There are incredible highs and gut dropping lows, but in the end you (and your home!) will be transformed.

What Does it Mean to be in Transition?

Let’s start by simply naming it. You are in transition. You are in what William Bridges calls the “Neutral Zone,” which means you might not have closed the door and completely let go of what was, and are perhaps not yet settled into the new, in regards to your home. And this goes against what our brains want. Psychologically, the brain has evolved to sense danger, keep us safe, make a plan, analyze that plan, and then label it either good or bad. This not knowing, ambiguous, gray area can really throw a wrench in our automatic thought processes.

Some folks may experience the thrill of the process. They love being part of the planning and are excited about all the selections.  It feels like a perfectly detailed puzzle that you (and your partners) are creating and watching come together. You may be intrigued, stimulated in all the right ways and looking forward to the grand finale.

For others, the weight of the change, not being in total control, and being in the neutral zone can be terrifying and can jolt them out of their comfort zone. Without certainty, many other emotions may arise, such as fear, anxiety, overwhelm, worry and indecisiveness.

3 Common Fears You May Experience

Remodeling, building or even simply moving are all big changes! Fear is a normal and natural response to change. Three of the common fears I see when working with clients (both in the interior design industry and in counseling/coaching) are the fear of making the wrong choice (a.k.a. indecisiveness), the fear/guilt of doing something overly extravagant (and not believing you DESERVE the upgrades or changes) and lastly, the fear of being sold something that is not in your best interest.

It can be overwhelming making all the little decisions that go into the big remodel/build, therefore, at every decision, fear may emerge. It may show up as a worrisome thought, a scary image, a long list of to-do’s preventing a good night’s rest, or a bad feeling in your stomach. We don’t always know when it will emerge, but the sooner we become aware, the sooner we can move through the fear and get back to enjoying this transformational process.

What Can We Do?

Becoming aware of and naming our feelings are significant and very critical first steps. Begin to notice where you have the most resistance and spend some time exploring what that is and what might be underneath it.

Below are a few more tips to help you navigate the emotional roller coaster that is remodeling or building a custom home:

  1. Once you have identified and named what feelings are coming up, share them. Communicate your fears and feelings with your partner, family, friends, builder, architect, or interior designer.
  2. Journal – write down how you feel after each meeting, or after each step in the process. To help you sleep better, write out questions and stressors to be discussed at the next meeting. Writing creates an emotional release by moving the fear and worry out of the emotional part of the brain and into the pre-frontal cortex, the executive functioning part of the brain.
  3. Meditate, pray, play – do whatever you enjoy doing that brings quiet and clarity into your consciousness. Often times we try to analyze our way to truth and to answers of important questions (such as which wood flooring to select), but we can become distracted by the outside noise. We can be influenced by what our partner wants, what’s popular, or what’s affordable. Getting really clear on what we want, why we want it, and then sharing that information can help a great deal and move the project forward.
  4. Focus on what’s going right. The power of positive thinking and attracting what you want has a fascinating impact. It can be second nature to focus on what’s not going right or to predict what might fail (because that’s what our brains do), but I assure you that is not always needed. Trust yourself and the team you’ve selected to help you through this process. If there are problems, you’ll sense that and deal with them. Until then, and because you might not have them at all, give yourself permission to enjoy this. You deserve to live in a home that is true to you and those you share it with!

Change, even when it’s needed and we choose it, can be difficult – but it can also be rejuvenating. Try not to lose sight of the end game, which is a home that you love and feel at peace in. When the process and transformation feel exciting, joyful, and positive, slow down and enjoy it! And if it feels scary, remember – no judgement, feel it, acknowledge it and remind yourself why you chose this adventure in the first place. Rekindle your inspiration by looking at concept pictures or imagining your family playing together in your new home.

And, take a deep breathe because your feelings are normal…and it’s all coming together.

Brooke Jean

About the Author:
Brooke Jean, MA is a Psychotherapist and Life & Leadership Coach in private practice here in Denver, CO. She works with individuals and teams, and specializes in life, love and career transition. She has a true passion for helping people reach their unique potential and believes that often times, transition is where we get the opportunity to create new and meaningful outcomes for our lives. Her background is in corporate leadership and business development. She enjoys yoga, dance, laughter, live music and being in nature with loved ones. For more information visit:

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