Home Improvements & M.E

ID: Graphic with Home Improvements and M.E on it with a picture of a house and some tools.

Doing work in your home can be stressful enough when you don't have a chronic illness but when you do, it becomes even harder to deal with, especially when one of the rooms getting work done in it, is you entire world, your sanctuary!

From October 2019 through to January 2020, I had a few home improvements done to my bedroom & the spare room, which is now my office/study. I spent the majority of this time dealing with an M.E flare brought on by the stress of it all as it wasn't all smooth sailing ~ Is it ever when you have someone coming in to do the work for you?

I thought I'd share a few things around this whole experience, things to keep in mind and do as the homeowner with M.E, somethings to try to help you cope and keep your body as happy as possible, and things that the person/people doing the work for you need to keep in mind


1) Make a Plan

This is something that needs doing before you begin to get quotes. Draw out what you have in mind, how you want the end result to be. If you're having furniture built that needs painting, get the colours chosen so you have a clear idea of what you want before you speak to a joiner or builder.

2) Be Honest

Having M.E, especially if it has made you housebound, will make your situation unique to most of the people your joiner/builder have worked with previously. It's vital that you are as honest as possible about that & what you will require as the work is being done.

3) Support

A support system when you live with M.E can make a big difference daily and it can make a bigger difference when you're having work done in your home. So try to have someone who can help oversee the work and be your spokesperson if the need arises. Doing so, will hopefully lessen the stress for you a little.

4) Be Determine

If, like me, the work is being done in your bedroom and that's the room you are in the most, make sure the person doing the job knows just how important that room is to you. Be determine to get what you're paying for and don't be afraid to get certain things re-done if they're not done how you wanted them in the first place.

At times, you may feel you're being awkward or made to feel like you're being difficult, but remember you are the one that will be living with the finished result, not the person doing the work. So it is vital that you get want you want and need. The environment you live in can make a big difference when it comes to living with M.E.

5) Find an Experienced Joiner/Builder

As with most things, it's definitely better to find someone with a good amount of experience to do the work. They'll be able to look at your plan, look at the space they would be working with and tell you if it will work or not. While changes and mistakes may still be made, working with an experienced Joiner/Builder will likely lessen the amount of things that could go wrong.

Things To Help You Cope:

Okay, so you've managed to plan out the work you want done and even found a joiner/builder to do the job, but you know it's still going to take its toll on your body and your health ~ that is just a fact if you have M.E. So I thought I'd list a few things that may help you and your body cope a little bit better.

1) Pre-Rest

It's really tempting to get it started as soon as possible, but it's likely that the process of finding someone to do the work and what needs doing, along with anything else you've had to do, has already impacted your health. So although you're eager to get started, it may be a good idea to push the start date back a week or two so you can give your body some recovery and pre-rest time before the work starts.

2) New Sanctuary / Home Away From Home

Ideally, if you are able, staying elsewhere would be of most benefit. This would greatly reduce the impact on your body, as we all know what dealing with loud noises can do to you when you have M.E.

If you are unable to leave the house, or have nowhere else you could go, try your best to turn another room into your new sanctuary, preferably the room furtherest from the noise. Make sure you have all your comforts close to hand; ear plugs/defenders, blankets, heating pads, hot water bottles, anything that helps you cope.

3) Get Help

If the room having work done needs to be packed up, try to get someone to help you with that. Preferably, if you know a few weeks in advance that you will be having work done, you could slowly begin to pack up the unessentials, leaving the things you need daily until last.

Also, if you can, getting help with meals or other jobs around the house will lighten the load while the work is being done, especially if you're still in the house. All the extra noise and comings and goings will drain your already low energy levels, so help with household chores will help.

4) Rest Rest Rest

While it's tempting to be as involved as possible with what's going on, it's even more important to look after yourself. You know how vital rest is during a normal day to day with M.E and when there's extra things to deal with and going on, it becomes even more important to get the rest you need. This is where having support and making sure you have a temporary sanctuary can really help.

5) Mental Health

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, any type of home improvement can be stressful whether you have M.E, {or any chronic illness} or not. So make sure that while you're looking after your physical health, to keep a check on your mental health. Stress and Anxiety can have a negative impact on people with M.E, so if you're able, even if it's just a few minutes, to stop, breathe and do a little something that makes you feel okay mentally.

My make-shift sanctuary during the day was our Conservatory, so when it was all getting too much, I would get a cup of tea and just stand outside in the back garden for a couple of minutes. Breathing in some fresh air really helped clear my head. I also made sure I had the book I was reading with me, so I could escape into it's pages for a little while each day, which helped a great deal.


As the person doing the work for someone with M.E, or indeed any chronic illness, here's a few things to bear in mind:

1) Be Honest and Understanding

Don't let needing the job blind you of your ability to actually do it. If the job is too big for you, then just say so. You have to remember that the person giving you the job is in a unique situation compared to others you may have done work for. So your inability to do the job how they need it doing it, will likely cause them more harm than you.

2) Don't Under Estimate the Time Scale

This is a big one when it comes to doing work for someone with M.E or any chronic illness, especially when they are housebound / bedbound and the work you're doing is in their bedroom. The person needs to know honestly how long they will be out of the room they live in 24/7 so they can adapt another room in the house for their needs.

Please do not under quote the time it will take just to get the job ~ you are putting someone's health and wellbeing at risk!

3) Stick to the Plan

You've discussed the plan your client wants and even if you "think" it would look better another way, it's so important to stick to what your client has asked for. It's likely they will have visualised exactly how that piece of furniture will look when it's been decorated and styled. They will also know exactly how it will be used.

If you do feel something would be better done a different way, then discuss it with your client, don't just do it your way. At the end of the day, it's not your house, you're not the person who has to live in that room 24/7. Therefore, it's important to follow the plan of your client.

4) Be Respectful

It should go without saying to be respectful of the person you are working for, but it's likely that you're working in the most important room in that persons life. So it's really important to be respectful of the room you're in, along with the rest of the house. Along with this thought, it's important that before you leave each day, to tidy the space you're working in. M.E can cause mobility issues, so leaving tools or extra materials around are a hazard, so keeping walk ways clear and tidy is necessary to their safety.

So there you go, these are just a few things to keep in mind when getting home improvements done while living with M.E. or working for someone with the condition. I could have gone into each point a lot more, but this is already a lengthy article, so I've just covered the important points. I think the main things to remember are that you're the one who has to live with the finished result, the changes being made are likely to try to make your life a little easier, so push for what you want.

Also remember that the stress and disruption are temporary and try to focus on the end result, especially if, like me, you enjoy interior design. The decorating and styling stages of the projects are the nicest part to having any work done. Personally, I feel it's that part that makes whatever you've had done, truly unique!

If you're having any work done, I hope the things I've mentioned help you. Alternatively, if you've been through your own home improvement experience, please feel free to leave a comment with anything that helped you through the process while coping with your M.E. You're tips could help someone else!

Take care,

L x


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