Before you start a renovation project, it’s essential to find a great general contractor who’s right for the job. Whether you’re planning a small remodel or a large build, you need an experienced, licensed builder who understands your needs and is capable of accomplishing what you have in mind.
Picking a contractor is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating or stressful. Sweeten, a matchmaker between homeowners and general contractors, makes it easy to find the right builder for your project and feel confident about your decision.
Sweeten was founded in 2011 by architect Jean Brownhill, after she struggled to find a reliable contractor for her own fixer-upper. She needed a service that vets and verifies licensed contractors, plus considers the needs of the individual project, so she started one. Sweeten takes its name from the phrase “Home, Sweet Home,” and the company has officially arrived to change the renovation game in Los Angeles.
It’s free to sign up and get matched with contractors, and Sweeten offers personal support throughout the renovation process.
We asked Sweeten for their best advice for tackling a renovation. Here’s how to get started—and how their platform works:
- Determine the scope of your renovation. In order to find the best general contractor for your project, it’s important to have a clear outline. For example, if you’re remodeling a kitchen, will you be knocking down a wall? Which appliances are you planning to replace? Do you need a new floor? Make a list of what’s involved in your remodel, what styles you like, and what kinds of professionals you think you’ll need.
- Ask for contractor recommendations. There are plenty of builders in L.A. and you only need one. How can you narrow it down? Check with family and friends to find out which builders they recommend for similar projects—or go to Sweeten’s website and answer a few short questions about your planned renovations. They’ll introduce you to three to five experts who have been selected based on your needs, location and budget. All of Sweeten’s contractors have undergone a rigorous vetting process.
- Talk to the contractors that interest you. To get a feel for what your contractor’s communication style will be during your renovation, reach out and see how fast they respond. Set up a phone consultation. Ask questions about your project, similar work they’ve done in the past, and their availability. How soon could they fit your build or renovation into their schedule? Analyze the quality of each builder’s work, and read about the experiences of previous clients. Sweeten’s platform includes photos of previous projects and reviews as part of each expert’s profile.
- Get at least three bids from licensed contractors. Consider your options carefully. Once you have a few contractors who seem like a good fit, ask them to bid on your project, giving them the same parameters. You can expect them to provide a written outline with a detailed plan. As you are looking those over, remember that the lowest price isn’t necessarily the best choice. Sweeten provides bid-leveling–evaluating estimates side-by-side with you–as part of their free offerings.
- Check references. Even if your instincts tell you someone is the right choice, take the time to check their references. Ask to speak to three most recent clients to make sure they’ll deliver.
When you choose one of Sweeten’s recommended contractors, an account manager will stay involved and check in with you along the way to be sure that everything is going smoothly.
Planning big changes to your home doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. Take it step by step. From identifying expert local contractors, to gathering estimates, to assisting with communication, Sweeten makes the process as transparent—and as sweet—as possible.