Home air quality is nothing to sneeze at. Perhaps no remodeler knows that lesson better than Paul Kocharhook, owner of Pathway Design and Construction in Seattle. While remodeling his own home, Kocharhook noticed a potent, off-putting odor after painting his master bedroom.

“I couldn’t put my hand on why it was so stinky,” recalls Kocharhook. “I had never smelled anything that bothered me as much as this did.” But Kocharhook pushed it to the back of his mind and went out for an evening with his wife. When he returned home later that night, Kocharhook discovered to his horror that his two pet hamsters had died. “I truly believe that our hamsters died because of the paint that we used,” he says. “I thought it was a result of what I had done.”

Disturbed as he was, Kocharhook was also curious. What could have caused this? Could indoor air quality affect his health? To find out, Kocharhook enrolled in the American Lung Association’s Master Home Environmentalist program. “That class really turned the corner on where I wanted to take our business to understand how we affect our homeowners,” says Kocharhook. And what he learned helped him found his remodeling business, which caters to homeowners with chemical sensitivities or a desire for healthier home living.


  • Uses green building materials whenever possible. Kocharhook got his start recycling drywall for a client, and since then, using eco-friendly materials and processes has been on his mind. Though it might be a little more expensive, Kocharhook says he can convince his clients that it’s worth it in the end. So far, it has worked: Most of his new clients come from referrals.
  • Works with architects and designers to spearhead new green building techniques. “We collaborate with architects and designers quite a bit,” says Kocharhook. “It allows us to be more flexible with the types of products that we choose, and the majority of the designers that we work with push the envelope with green building, sustainability, healthy home [practices] and universal design.”

Listen: Paul Kocharhook discusses remodeling with air quality in mind on Big50 Bites, our podcast on remodeling leadership and best practices.