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5 Tips on How to Find the Best General Contractor

The founder of Sweeten, an online tool that matches homeowners with general contractors, offers her best advice on finding the right expert for your renovation.

Whether you are moving into a new home in Greenwich, CT, or tackling a long-awaited update of your Larchmont, NY, property, you want to make sure to choose the right general contractor for the job. Fairfield and Westchester counties are fortunate to have a roster of outstanding builders and contractors, but how do you find the best for your specific project? Searching the web and asking friends can be a start but won’t necessarily lead you to the right fit.

That’s where Sweeten comes in. The free renovation platform is unlike other services out there; it matches you with vetted general contractors who work within your budget, scope, location and timeline. Plus, because the company is run by industry experts, they can help with every stage of your renovation from advising on budget to helping address problems during construction.

“People appreciate that Sweeten monitors the job from start to finish,” says founder Jean Brownhill, who has appeared on NBC’s Today Show to talk about her growing business. The Connecticut native thought her experience in store design for Coach and an architecture degree from Cooper Union would make selecting a contractor for her own home remodel a simple task. But she ended up becoming her own GC when the project flopped. That’s when she came up with the idea for Sweeten (named for “home, sweet home”). Her advice:

Choose a contractor who is licensed and insured

Towns in Fairfield and Westchester counties have slightly different processes. The regulations for your addition in Ridgefield, CT, may vary from those in Bedford, NY, or Darien, CT. Knowing your contractor has all the necessary licenses, and can work openly and honestly with your town for permits and applications, will put your mind at ease and make for a smooth process.

Be sure your pro has the right experience

Your general contractor should have the knowledge and experience to tackle your project. Ask for references of similar past projects—and call them! Sweeten provides portfolios and client reviews for each contractor they match with your project.

Plan your remodel budget

Know your project before you begin. Make a list of “nice to haves” and “must haves” before you get started in order to be clear on your priorities and what might be more of a splurge (or get cut if budget does not allow). Be sure you have access to the space before you meet with contractors so they can give you the most accurate estimate possible. On the Sweeten blog, homeowners can research average costs of projects in Fairfield County and Westchester County specifically.


Know your communication style

Finding a pro who will work within your price range is great, but personality is important, too. “You’ll be working with this expert throughout the process and want to establish a good rapport. Consider the way you will share information: Would you like daily text updates, or maybe a weekly walk-through to check progress?

Ask for help before you start

Doing the necessary research before selecting a contractor will ensure a smoother renovation. Take advantage of online tools like Sweeten, which, based on details of your project, provides you with the best matches for your renovation. “We all know renovating can be stressful,” says Brownhill. “Many people find it helpful that our contractors are held to a certain level of accountability and that they have Sweeten’s team supporting them throughout the entire process.”

For more information, call 212-671-1713 or visit

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