Does Your Basement Need An Update?

When people invest in fixing up their homes, they generally focus on the areas with the most traffic. Living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms are frequently updated, however spaces that you spend less time in are more likely to be overlooked. If you haven’t been investing in your basement, it may be time to look into it. There are several common indicators of issues in your basement that can be indicators of costly damage further down the line. If you see one of these signs in your basement, it’s probably time for an update.

Watch out for that damp smell
That smell that so many people associate with basements is really a sign of a leaky, overly wet basement. Chances are that the smell in question is caused by small cracks or faults in your basement walls or foundation. These imperfections let in moisture, which can further compromise your foundation and lead to issues like mold and mildew growth.

Water accumulation is a real issue
If the leaking in your basement is so bad that there’s physical, visible water accumulating, you have a real issue. First and foremost, that water can damage your foundation, particularly if there’s a freezing spell. Secondly, it can damage anything you store in the basement, both by direct water damage and later due to mold and mildew growth.

Cracking in walls leads to bigger issues
If there are visible cracks in your walls, then water is getting into your basement. They will grow over time, and those cracks could eventually result in insects getting into your house. The sooner you address cracking in your walls, the less likely they will cause serious structural issues that could be incredibly expensive to repair.

Bowed walls and sinking floors are signs of trouble
Walls that bow are generally under pressure from moist soil on the outside. Repeated freezing and thawing can aggravate this issue, and the worse it gets, the more compromised your home becomes. Walls can be reinforced with steel beams or may need to be dug out and rebuilt. Sinking floors or warping of floors can be caused by shifting soil under the foundation. Your home may need support piers installed under the foundation to prevent additional movement or damage.

Separation in windows and floors mean movement
If your basement windows and doors are no longer opening and closing with ease, that’s a sign that the soil around your foundation is shifting and exerting pressure on your basement. Chances are that your foundation will need to be reinforced or repaired to prevent greater shifting and serious structural issues in your home.

If you notice any of these signs in your basement, it’s time to call a professional. Professionals who understand structural and foundation issues can help you determine the exact cause of the problems you’re experiencing and help you figure out how to address them. Because your foundation, and by extension your basement, are critical to the structural integrity of your home, you want to invest in repairing serious foundation and basement issues as soon as you notice them. If you need to update your basement, contact us today!

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Interior Painting Ideas to Lighten Up a Room


No matter how many sunburns or bug bites you may suffer throughout the summer months, it’s never easy to bid the season farewell come September. Before the weather grows semi-permanently grey and wet, you have the power to plan an interior space that serves as a sunny refuge through any season. One of a homeowner’s best weapons to fend off a dark and dreary space is a strategic approach to wall color.

If you’re ready for a room-by-room refresher rather than a whole home overhaul, Harjo Construction offers a wide scope of services including minor renovation work. Our team will devote the professional touch you need to execute your next interior painting project — whether it’s one room, a statement wall or a complete color makeover. No floor or ceiling splashes left behind, no mess, no “you missed a spot.” Get inspired with these on-trend bright paint jobs.

1. Mint

With so many variations of mint paint shades on the market, this color leaves plenty of room for customization. Whether your preferred shade leans heavier toward blue, green or even grey tones, mint is generally subdued enough to paint an entire room and still leave behind a soothing ambiance. If you’re not quite ready to commit to one color, it’s easy to mix and match bolder hues of mint with subtle, barely-there options, freeing you up to pair a statement wall with your all-over paint color.



Image courtesy: AVSO.org


2. Lemon

Pale lemon walls can add vibrancy to any space, including the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room or nursery. This is perhaps the most literal expression of summer color, as it offers your interior a dose of sunshine.




Image courtesy: The Tao of Dana


3. Cerulean

Whether true cerulean or a play on cobalt, deep and bold blue shades can deliver a pop of color without frazzling your nerves. Go all in by pairing with warm-toned bold decor, or let your walls speak for themselves by keeping the rest of your setting bare-bones.



Image courtesy: Houzz


4. White

Sure, it’s technically a non-color, but crisp white walls can enhance any room’s natural light. A fresh coat of white paint just might be the ideal mood-lifter for the minimalists out there. Best of all, white matches virtually anything, giving you ultimate free reign over decor. Go to town with bold accents and outlandish patterns, or if neutral is the name of your game, stick to white, black or natural furnishings.



Image courtesy: HomeIdeasBlog.com

5 Considerations for Where To Live During Your Remodel

One thing that families need to consider when planning a large remodeling project is where they’ll live during the construction process. Often, families assume that they’ll be able to work around the chaos of the remodel and cohabitate with their contractor and his crew. One thing is certain: it’s better to fairly assess how realistic this is and weigh the cons and pros before you’re several weeks in and need to find some last-minute solution. Here are a few points to consider when you’re determining where to live during your remodel:

1.) Financial Aspects

Yes, it’s true that renting a home for weeks or months can be very expensive, and other solutions like buying an RV or going on a vacation can also add up. However, it’s important to also recognize that a project will be completed more quickly when the crew has the place to themselves, and when it comes to construction, time is money. When a family continues to live in a house, the construction is often hindered by occupants, and slowing down construction makes it more expensive, not to mention they price you might put on your own sanity and convenience.

2.) Bathrooms, Water, Power

Utilities are also a major determinant of whether or not living at home can be feasible. Will you water or power be turned off? For how long? What about your heat or air conditioning? If your bathroom is being remodeled, do you have other bathrooms in your house you can use? Will one bathroom be enough for a four person household accustomed to having two?

3.) It Takes a Village

Many people get through a remodel by leaning a little on their friends and family. If you don’t want to include a hotel or rental in your remodeling costs, but you can’t realistically stay at home, you may want to consider moving in with someone close to you. If you have children and pets, you can also split up these residencies. Often, children will be overjoyed at the prospect of perhaps spending a week or two sleeping over with their friends or cousins, and you might have a friend who would love to host your labrador. It’s natural to worry about imposing on the hospitality of others, but keep in mind you can always repay your debts with a gorgeous dinner or party when your new kitchen or living room is finished.

4.) Pets

Pets can often complicate your housing options during a remodel even more than children. If you choose to stay at home, it can be almost impossible to make your pet understand that they need to stay out of the construction zone during work hours. Further, the last responsibility a work crew wants to deal with is worrying whether an indoor cat might run outside while they have the door open. Pets are also often terrified by the strangers and the noise, and pets with disabilities have a particularly hard time. If you don’t have somewhere you can reliably house your animals during your remodel, don’t forget to budget for a kennel or shelter!

5.) Cleaning

Even if you can endure the noise, strangers, and inconvenience of a remodeling crew, you might not be able to handle the mess. Construction can create a lot of debris, from sawdust to dry wall, and the smell of dust or paint can drive you crazy. Further, it will seriously slow down a crew if they have to tidy up after themselves enough to keep the living space usable at the end of every day, which slows down the project and increases expenses.

So where should you live during your remodel? That completely depends on the duration, your needs, your family, and your finances. We just encourage clients to consider their housing needs before they begin their project, and budget accordingly. We’re also happy to talk to you about your options—contact us at Harjo to learn more about what to expect from your project!

Why Wait Through Winter?—Start Your Construction Project Now!

Everyone seems to think that the only time the construction industry can get anything done is during spring and summer, and that’s just not true. The industry has changed a lot since the days when you needed to have a roof on by November, and improvements in technology mean that we can work on homes or buildings year-round!

The most important thing to note about year-round construction is that we live in the Pacific Northwest, not the Midwest—every month of the year here has an average temperature above freezing, and if we have any snowfall, we measure it in inches, not in feet. The biggest threat to Seattle construction is rain, but as we all know to well, that’s a year-round battle! New construction or remodeling projects in the winter are especially doable in our temperate climate.

Of course, there are drawbacks to winter builds. Daylight hours are shorter, and so there is decreased natural visibility. And of course, you’ll need to install weather-protecting materials for the site, including tarps, thermal blankets, and added insulation and heaters to keep the materials and pipes from expanding and contracting with the temperature.

But there are also particular advantages to winter construction. For example, demand is much lower, and it’s much easier to quickly secure a good contractor (like Harjo!) and team for your project—after all, we need to keep eating through winter! It’s also much faster to get your permits approved by the city because they are less busy.

Another great reason to build during the winter is that, even if there are potential weather-related expenses that might drive up the cost of your project, you’re already losing money if you’re sitting on property. If you already have property you hope to develop, you’re paying taxes on the land and perhaps taxes and rent somewhere else, too.

Finally, the ideal temperature, weather conditions, and humidity levels for construction almost never align. The summer can be too hot, or the fall and winter too wet. The unpredictability of the weather is something contractors deal with in all seasons—the key to a successful build isn’t picking the right time, but the right people. If you choose an experienced contractor like Harjo, we can guarantee that our team is ready to successfully negotiate any conditions to help you get your project finished quickly, within budget, and beautifully. Contact us today if you have a project you’d like to discuss!

Everything You Need to Know About Condo Remodeling

One of the best things about choosing to live in a condo over an apartment is that you have ownership over everything “from the paint in”—or so you’d think. There are actually many limitations on an owner’s ability to remodel their condominium, but within those limitations there are a lot of exciting possibilities. You contractors at Harjo Construction are excited to help you get started on your condo remodeling project! We’ve done beautiful work for condo owners in the past, and would love to talk you through your plans!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your next condo remodel.

Navigating the HOA

Before you start buying design magazines, give your Homeowner’s Association Rules and Regulations a thorough read. Most condos are part of what’s called a “common interest development,” which includes a document entitled the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). This document will usually describe what you can and cannot do with your property. For example, if you’re hoping to replace your carpet with hardwood or laminate flooring, you might have some problems; if the carpet is necessary for dampening the sound of your footfalls for your downstairs neighborhoods, you’ll probably need to also install all very specific kind of insulated padding. (Luckily, if you’re working with an experienced contractor like Harjo, we’ll be well aware of how to work within these kind of CC&Rs to find a compromise if one is possible).

What’s Up for Grabs?hicks-2

If you can’t even always replace your floor, how can you know what you can change? Every condo and set of CC&Rs is different. We’d be happy to review your CC&Rs with you to determine your possibilities and potential work-arounds. If you want to remove a wall to open up your space or add a partition to create a room or nook, we’ll be able to determine what you can add or take away, and what might be structurally necessary. Kitchen remodels are one of the most popular projects for condominiums—it’s an upgrade that will instantly increase the value of your home by nearly the cost of the project, and replacing cabinetry, countertops, flooring, or appliances will make a huge difference in both your kitchen’s appearance and its functionality.

Working With Contractors

Some condo complexes that have specific limitations set for how often work can be done, during what hours, or how long a project can take. Oftentimes, condominiums will only allow construction work between 9am and 5pm during the weekdays, so as to minimize the effect construction sounds or traffic might have on other residents. So even if you’d like to do the work yourself or think you might be capable, you’re often not going to be able if you work a job with regular hours.  You’ll need to help your contractor with booking parking, the freight elevator, the security system, waste disposal, and project containment, but they’ll be able to handle all job and site supervision.

Working with a professional contractor and their teams is often even more important in a condominium than in a single-family home because the space is limited, finite, and shared. Making the most of the unit requires an understanding not only of how to maximize space, but also how to work within the restrictions of multi-family housing. You’re rarely able to alter major systems (piping, waters or gas lines, ventilation ducts) and you must completely understand the structural support network of your home.

Bellevue-Condo-Remodel-Kitchen-and-DiningWork with Designers and Architects

The scope and difficulty of your project will determine whether you need a designer or architect. The difference between the two is that architects have a much more rigorous procedure for both licensing and education, while designers might just be home renovation experts who have on-the-job experience. It’s possible that for small projects you’ll be able to just work with your contractor, and a decent contractor will be able to give you an honest and thorough summary of what they can do on their own and what they’d recommend design assistance for. Architects can pay off in the long run in a number of ways with condo remodels, such as green specialization or in terms of developing a plan your HOA will be more likely to approve.

We’d love to help turn your dreams for your condominium into a reality. Contact us at Harjo Construction to discuss your project—our first budget we assemble is always complimentary!

Is My Property Suited to a Ground-Up Remodel?

In our last post we took a look at our ground-up remodel of a Lake Sammamish home, in which the owners had fallen in love with a waterfront lot and decided to tear down the existing house and construct something more modern and spacious on top of its expanded foundation. As you can see, the project turned out beautifully, and the owners were very happy with the result.

If you’re also in love with a piece of land but not the home currently sitting on it, you might be wondering whether you should do the same thing. Let’s take a closer look at what makes for a viable “ground-up remodel” and what doesn’t.

1.) Do You Own the Home?

A ground-up remodel takes a lot of equity upfront because mortgage lenders will rarely consent to the demolition of an existing structure. Even if you plan on replacing it with something that will double or even triple the property’s value, very few lenders will allow you to destroy the standing house—the only source of security on the loan—unless you have another source of collateral. If you are able to buy the property outright and also finance the new construction, go for it!

2.) Do You Already Live There?

This can be much trickier to navigate than the purchase, demolition, and ground-up remodel of a completely new-to-you property. In the latter case, you’re usually able to not only put up your current equity-laden home as collateral for financing, but your family has somewhere to live during the construction. Our project on Lake Sammamish, for example, took six months—if you’re already occupying the house you want to tear down and rebuild, you will either need to rent a house through the duration, stay with family, or buy a trailer. You can live ina  house through most basic remodeling projects, but complete demolition and rebuilding is unlivable.

3.) Can the Property Support the Value?

For most homeowners, this is the biggest question. You don’t want to sink a ton of money into a property that can’t bear the weight of its own price tag. If you’re dealing with an old, small home in bad condition in a neighborhood where the surrounding homes are selling for two or three times as much, you might have a good candidate for demolition, however. For example, if you’re able to buy a home for $350,000, and the other houses on the block have been selling for around $1 million, demolishing and remodeling could be a sound investment. Property features like being located near water, a great view, an up-and-coming neighborhood, a new transit center, or a very good school system can all be indicators that a structure can support the value of its rebuild.

4.) Is It a Problem of Function, or of Vision?

Even if your ground-up remodel makes sense from an investment standpoint, you need to have a strong sense of vision to pull off this project and be happy with it. The Lake Sammamish home wound up so well because the property owners worked with us and our partners at Encore Architects to design the perfect spacious modern home for their vision. If you don’t know what you want, don’t try to execute a dramatic ground-up remodel because you might not even wind up that much happier. If your problems are more functional and your house has “good bones,” simpler remodeling or retrofitting projects might be the best way to improve your home. For example, if the home is too small, we can add a second story, pop out a room on the first floor, or convert an attic space to an additional bedroom. If you have serious structural problems in your live-in home, it might seem easier and cheaper to just bulldoze it all and start over, but repairs will likely be less expensive and easier in the long run. There is a huge amount of bureaucracy and planning that goes into a ground-up remodel, including zoning, city permits, and HOAs, and if you don’t have a driving vision the work load probably won’t be worth it to you.

If you have any questions about what kind of remodeling is best for you and your property, contact us at Harjo Construction! We would love to talk through your project.