Proximity to NYC and picturesque towns are among the appeals of Westchester County. Along with its established residential neighborhoods comes beautiful but older homes—a large percentage built prior to the 1940’s. For new families and first-time homebuyers moving to the area and longtime residents (and everyone in between!), there is a lot of renovation work to be done to customize or update homes across the county.
That’s where Sweeten comes in. A free service named “Best Contractor Locator” by New York Magazine, the company has seen an explosive growth in renovations in Westchester, quickly making it Sweeten’s second largest market behind New York City.
“Anyone who has taken on a renovation understands just how daunting it can be, which is why I wanted to find a way to make the renovation process easier from start to finish,” explains Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten.
A trained architect with more than a decade of experience in the construction industry, Brownhill learned the hard way how challenging it can be to find the right general contractor for the job. A major gut renovation of a fixer-upper she bought for herself led her to general contractors who weren’t available for her project, had done kitchen and bathroom remodels but had never tackled an entire home, or who basically didn’t show up.
“There had to be a better way,” she says. And so, Sweeten (as in “home, sweet home”) was born in 2011. “We’ve developed a completely free way to make it much easier to find thoroughly vetted, licensed general contractors for your renovation. Not only that, we’re here to help with every step, from comparing your estimates (called bid-leveling) to monitoring your project to answering any questions that arise,” says Brownhill.
Sweeten projects range from small-room remodels to multimillion-dollar gut renovations, with screened general contractors matched based on project location, scope, timeline and style.
Brownhill shares some tips on how to make the process as smooth as possible for your renovation:
1. List your “must-haves” versus “nice-to-haves,” beginning with why you want to renovate in the first place. If budget gets tight, priority spend goes toward your “musts.”
2. Figure out your team. Will you need assistance with design and layout changes, or someone to simply build out your plan? Sweeten can help you determine who you’ll need, and personally match you with 3-5 general contractors selected specifically for your renovation (this blog post can also help).
3. Research your budget. Our Westchester kitchen cost guide, for example, is a great starting point.
4. Schedule a phone call with the contractors and then meet with a few you like so you can compare estimates and find one that works best for your communication style.
“Of course every renovation has its own story, whether it’s overhauling a single room or an entire home,” says Brownhill. “Sweeten’s mission is to help people build their dream space, and to enjoy the process as much as the end result.”
Sweeten is a free service that matches people with major renovation projects to the best general contractors, offering personal support until the job is done. For more info visit sweeten.com or call 212-671-1713.