My Story

In a nutshell, my home was destroyed by water 34 days after purchase. A guest caused an accident in the 2nd floor kitchen. In just 30 minutes the entire house was saturated - flooding reached from my unit, to the rental apartment below, all the way into the crawlspace. Firefighters shut the water off from the street. I suddenly - and very unexpectedly - faced a total gut job.

The silver lining? My home is once again a sanctuary, and through this experience, I was inspired to start a business to help others through their major home improvement projects. It certainly was long road back to whole. For nearly a year, I lived in a complete construction zone - no refrigeration, no cooking, no floors, limited electrical, and running water only in the shower (and, yes, thankfully, there was a working toilet.)

I'm so lucky to have grown up in a construction family because, after the initial shock from the water damage, I knew exactly how to activate my inner home improvement manager. Within 18 hours teams were assessing and attacking the damage - ripping down ceilings, pulling up floors and hauling out all the walls and remnants of furniture and appliances. I called the insurance company, the mortgage company, and studied my financial options. There was so much administrative work to tackle - I researched and ordered materials, coordinated project deliverables, estimated and tracked draws, and continuously reconfigured wants vs. needs. I visited suppliers, conferred with contractors, navigated the permitting process, and negotiated with inspectors. It was a long, and often painful process, but at last my home is my sanctuary - functional, beautiful, safe, and even better than I’d ever imagined it could be.


As the rehab in my home and rental unit was drawing to an end, I started receiving phone calls and emails from people connected to my network. They asked me to coffee to “pick my brain” about home improvement, and other friends and neighbors requested I conduct walk-thrus and provide advice as they tackled their own renovation projects. Given my background and recent experience, they trusted my input and wanted me to help them prepare for their major projects, and feel reassured of their decision-making. I have really enjoyed supporting others in this way, and it was the inspiration behind the launch of HardHat Diplomat.

Created to help homeowners confidently navigate home renovations, HardHat Diplomat services range to include planning and preparation consulting, coaching throughout the renovation process, homeowner and contractor mediation, materials research support, home inspections and group workshops to plan for and implement major home improvement projects.

Serving as YOUR advocate

Does this sound familiar?

You ask, “Am I making the right decisions with my contractor?”
You say, “I wish there was someone to tell me if whether what is happening is normal.”
You feel like your project is stuck or has just become too much to handle.
You want someone to guide you and get you through this.

If you’re thinking about renovating, or feeling lost in the process, I’m here for you! Together, let’s define your needs and determine scope to help you take action and achieve the best overall outcomes for your home improvement project.

Erin Helland grew up in a construction family. Everyone took part in some way when her father was building additions, running historical rehabs, and conducting flips. Now, Erin is using her experience in commercial and residential rehabilitation and renovation to guide others through the home improvement process.

Reach out if you are curious about individual home improvement coaching or want to host a group workshop for your real estate clients! Contact →

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