We spend a lot of time in people's homes and during the process of getting them organized the topic of other home projects come up. We spoke with Randi at Sweeten to learn more about major home renovations.
How would you explain Sweeten to a busy homeowner?
We are a free service for major renovations, connecting renovators to the best vetted general contractors (GCs) AND staying involved until the project is done. Since the phrase "busy homeowner" was used, I'll also add we're a one-stop source for multiple estimates from excellent GCs.
Why is it called Sweeten?
Founder & CEO Jean Brownhill named the company Sweeten after "home, sweet home." She's a trained architect from Connecticut who made it her mission to help people "sweeten" their homes after a challenging renovation of her own. Sweeten launched in NYC in 2011; it was named "Best Contractor Locator" by New York magazine in 2012, and projects came pouring in. We expanded into Westchester and Fairfield counties in Spring 2017, and have a great base of GCs in those markets.
What are your project requirements, can I find a handyman?
We do transformative renovations that involve a general contractor--our minimum is $20k and jobs range into the millions. Our average project is in the low six figures.
How do you select the contractors for your service?
From the start, the founders screened 15,000+ general contractors to find professionals who met their standards, and we still put GCs through a rigorous process to work with Sweeten. Up-to-date licenses and insurance, quality and guarantee of work, personal conversations with past clients and the caliber of their customer service skills all factor in. GCs are growing their businesses with us; they want to keep that deal flow going, so they are very responsive and accountable to Sweeten. (Vetting info: https://sweeten.com/vetted-general-contractors)
How do you help a client during a renovation project?
We're as involved as you'd like us to be. When you post a project on Sweeten.com, our matchmakers connect you to 3-5 GCs based on location, budget, scope and timeline. We can recommend architects if needed, too. You'll check profile pages for the suggested GCs (including reviews from past clients) and choose which to meet with. From that point, we can help you evaluate the estimates, answer any questions and will check in at key points in the process. We stay in touch with the GC as well. In the off chance things go off-track, we'll step in. We also offer constant inspiration in the form of "before & afters" and education through detailed cost guides on our blog.
What types of people can use Sweeten?
Homeowners or business owners. We attract a lot of clients from finance (we think it's because of the efficiency of our process), technology and creative fields looking to create a space they love. Renovation is a big investment, and we are a wingman to make sure things go smoothly.
I know it is hard to choose, but what are some of the coolest projects you have worked on?
That's an impossible question to answer! The real-life reno stories are all so interesting, and our posts are often written by the homeowners themselves. We've seen an outbuilding become a "Diva Den," a computer coder use elaborate data to find his dream home (with a factored-in renovation), and lots of projects sparked by a baby on the way. Many architects and designers are using Sweeten for their personal homes (which we consider a compliment): http://blog.sweeten.com/before-after/entire-homes/color-and-charm-in-a-designers-tudor-townhouse/. Two recent stories that come to mind are a Westchester renovation which created a modern, open kitchen in a stucco residence: http://blog.sweeten.com/before-after/kitchens/1920s-westchester-home-gets-a-modern-makeover/, and a "before & after" of a hallway-alcove-turned-bathroom of a country house in this week's newsletter that garnered more than 5,600 likes on Instagram within a few days.