Chanelle Harwood of Chanelle Harwood Homes an Anomaly in the Construction Industry
According to the National Association of Women in Construction, the percentage of women in construction overall has hovered somewhere between 9% and 10% since 1996 and is currently at 9.9%. But of the 8.3 million that were employed in field production of the construction and extraction industries in 2018, only 3.4% were women. Numbers I was certainly surprised by but as I look around Colorado’s mountain town communities this report matches my observations.
I discovered one anomaly, Chanelle Harwood of Chanelle Harwood Homes in Pagosa Springs Colorado. Architect, Suzanne Allen-Sabo, put Chanelle’s name forward as a candidate for an article. Her husband and business partner, Chris Harwood said, “I may be biased but I do believe Chanelle has an interesting story. We are both from England and have lived in the USA for 22 years. Her entire family were builders of note back in England and can be traced back to 1671 with a street still named after them.”
I was intrigued. I learned that Chanelle had spent her first 6 years in Cincinnati, OH and then Raleigh, NC where she worked with local builders, advising them on design. In 2003 they moved to Pagosa Springs and, not finding anything suitable to buy, she decided to build the family home. The local building inspectors at the time told her that, as a woman in a very small town, she’d never get it done. Well, she did. All 6,000 square feet of it.
As the children grew and moved on to attend university they sold their first home and decided to build something smaller. It attracted so much interest that the couple didn’t move in. Nor did they move into the next one, or the one after that as the popularity of her homes grew into a custom home business.
Chanelle was born into a family of builders renowned for their work constructing schools, hospitals, and churches in the south of England. Her roots in construction can be traced as far back as 1671 when Thomas and Jeremiah Hagger (Chanelle’s maiden name) are on record employing 12 men building in the city of Great Chesterford, England. Much of their work still stands today and a street is named after the family. Her first project in England was a remodel where she transformed a 900 square foot, 3 bedroom single level home into a 3,000 square foot, 5 bedroom, two-story country house.
She has gained notoriety for her attention to detail and personal involvement in every step of the construction process, she has quietly earned a reputation for building the finest quality custom homes in the area. A reputation that was met with quite a bit of skepticism and resistance. Chanelle told me of workers who simply refused to work with her just because she was a woman and others would second guess and even challenge her decisions. It was the community home inspectors however that realized her talents and attention to detail were exceptional, skills they wished other builders in the area would embrace.
She has a bevy of accolades complimenting her work and professionalism. Canadian Timberframes said, “We thank Chanel hardwood homes for an excellent partnership on the Pagosa springs timber frame home. It is because of partnerships like this one partnership that are built on a foundation of excellent craftsmanship professional level of service and years of experience that create successful projects. Projects were the clients are happy and the product shines through. Thanks for the great partnership and we look forward to working on another great project together.”
One of Chanelle’s favorite homes to build was Echo Canyon Ranch in Pagosa Springs. This home is the quintessential Colorado mountain retreat sitting on 42 acres with panoramic views of the entire county. It was constructed using conventional methods but utilizing Lodgepole Pine and Western Cedar logs and siding from British Columbia. Chinking was applied to complete the appearance of a real log home. The custom cabinetry in every room was created with meticulous attention to detail by Amish craftsmen.
Annita Bens, owner of Echo Canyon Ranch says, “Chanelle knows how to build on the challenging slopes and terrain in Pagosa Springs. She has an outstanding and dependable crew that always gets paid on time. And now we continue to enjoy her care for her little gems, long after they were sold to us. She helps us out on the spot every time we have an issue that needs to be addressed. Like with most construction be aware that it will always take longer than expected. But Chanelle makes use of every day (snow or not) she can get a crew out. More importantly, she was every day on the job site for all our home construction and renovations. We highly recommend Chanelle Harwood Homes.”
Chanelle is always up to the challenge of building a superb dwelling in almost any location. She is currently in the process of finishing up a 9,000 sf. timber frame custom home. Her 10th home in Pagosa Springs.
If you speak to her she will probably tell you that English cottages are her inspiration. They’re just bigger here in America! You can contact Chanelle through her website:
by Holly Battista-Resignolo
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