How to Find the Best General Contractors on Long Island

A renovation can be a major undertaking. Whether you’re a recent buyer wanting to customize your new property on the North Shore, or a longtime owner finally ready to tackle a big remodeling project in the Hamptons, here are the keys to getting off to a successful start—and hiring the right team for the job:

Step 1: Understand your goals and how to prepare for your remodeling project.

Begin by determining what the job (a.k.a., project scope) entails. Are you overhauling multiple rooms in your house, or just the kitchen? Identify the “must-haves”—the changes that inspired the renovation and will make going through the process worthwhile.

Step 2: Research costs.

To simplify, calculate the cost per square foot. Sweeten, a free service that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors, estimates costs for an entire home renovation begin around $100 per square foot and go up to $500 per square foot, depending on where you are on Long Island. As you get into the Hamptons, pricing can go up even higher to as much as $1,000 per square foot for ultra-luxury finishes. Keep in mind that a budget should begin as a range, as selections of materials, specialized labor, and local permits can affect this number. More details about renovation costs can be found below.

Step 3: Evaluate the experts.

You’ve got the project scope and a budget range; now you need to find a great team. Asking friends for referrals is one route—just make sure they can vouch for their general contractor to be licensed, insured and with expertise in your type of project at your budget. This is a high-stakes moment, with a lot of money (and often, emotion) on the line, so be sure the communication style is a good fit.

Another option is to post your project on Sweeten, and within 48 hours, matchmakers will send you screened Long Island general contractor profiles for your review, based on your specific scope, budget, timeline, location, and style. It is highly recommended that you get at least three estimates for your project.

Sweeten was founded in 2011 by trained architects with decades of construction experience. We take the intimidation out of renovating by matching homeowners and business owners with licensed, insured, talented general contractors for each project, providing support until project completion. Our service is absolutely free to the renovator.

The more you know about what to look for in general contractors and how to work with them, the better you’ll be able to navigate the renovation process. With more than $1 billion of construction projects in the pipeline, Sweeten shares this advice for homeowners from Rockville Center to Roslyn, Smithtown to Southampton, Hempstead to Huntington, and Great Neck to Greenport!

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Sweeten is free and simple to use

1. Post your project

Tell us about the renovation you’re planning and we’ll match you with the right general contractors for your project.

2. Meet your matches

We’ll send you a shortlist of contractors matched with your project, you can browse past work, read reviews, and get introduced to your favorites.

3. Start renovating

After meeting your matches and receiving estimates, hire your favorite and get started. Sweeten will be there to help throughout the process.

What to Look for in a General Contractor

A general contractor is responsible for determining the final scope of work, creating the schedule, reviewing site conditions, obtaining licenses and insurance, and coordinating subcontractors and other necessary trades. Contractors manage the project from start to finish, so it’s important to hire someone you can trust, communicate with and who is a good fit personality-wise.

Sweeten general contractors are screened for licenses, insurance, high standards of work and professionalism. One-on-one interviews and reference checks confirm they have strong communication and customer service skills, and portfolio reviews ensure their experience is relevant and has staying power.

Verify your general contractor choices have proper licensing and knowledge of building codes in your area. Why is this so important? For one, an unlicensed contractor will not be able to obtain proper permits. You’ll also be responsible for the cost of repairs if the work does not meet building codes, and may be liable if a sub-contractor gets injured if they don’t carry their own insurance.

A shockingly low bid could be too good to be true. You’ll save more money and avoid potential liabilities in the long run by choosing a contractor with the proper credentials.

Key takeaways:
  • Any general contractor you work with should have a (HIC) or Home Improvement Contractor license. Every Sweeten contractor is vetted and maintains the proper licenses.

  • Remember the lowest bids are not necessarily the best ones; Sweeten can help clients evaluate various estimates.

  • Check out photos and reviews of contractors’ previous work.

  • Always check references from past clients.

  • Ask if the contractor guarantees the work; Sweeten contractors’ work is guaranteed for a minimum of one year post-construction.

Note: If you live in a single-family home, you don’t have to deal with certain rules you would in an apartment building. If you’re part of a homeowner’s association, however, there are likely to be stipulations about construction times, as well as license requirements to consider. Contact your HOA or board to make sure you understand what’s required before you start your renovation, and have that information on hand for meetings with general contractors.

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Best Contractor LocatorNew York Magazine
A free service that matches homeowners with vetted professionalsNew York Times
Sweeten makes the whole process less daunting–and even fun!Food52
A renovation game-changerDomino

Kitchen Remodeling on Long Island

Unlike New York City, many homes in neighboring Long Island have the advantage of more square footage…room for a kitchen island! This allows for more flexibility—and possibilities–in kitchen layouts. Sweeten contractors specialize in different types of kitchens, from simpler remodels (keeping the location of plumbing, gas and major appliances where they are, sometimes referred to as a “rip-and-replace”) to more dramatic changes. The average kitchen renovation cost on Long Island is $320 per square foot according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report, but can be lower or higher depending on where you’re located; for example in the Hamptons costs can go up to $730 per square foot. Contributing factors include permits as well as the premium level of appliances, cabinets, countertops, and lighting.

Key takeaways:
  • Average kitchen renovations on Long Island cost about $320 per square foot.

  • Common kitchen layouts include horseshoe and L-shaped with kitchen islands.

  • Extending plumbing or gas lines increases the cost.

  • Set up a makeshift kitchen elsewhere in the house for use during the renovation.

  • If you have the space to store things, purchase cabinets and appliances before demo begins, so that you’re ahead of the game for installation.

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Bathroom Remodeling on Long Island

Whether you’re remodeling a powder room or designing a luxury master bathroom, what will impact your costs the most is material selections and plumbing changes. On average, a mid-range bathroom remodel costs about $570 per square foot in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, but as you start adding in luxury finishes, you’ll be closer the $760-per-square-foot range. Sweeten contractors’ bathroom renovation projects in the area range from gut remodels of hall bathrooms (i.e., incorporating a tub for the kids) in New Hyde Park to adding a new powder room off the kitchen in Westbury to a standard “rip-and-replace” of fixtures for a guest bath in Merrick.

Key takeaways:
  • Average bathroom renovation cost on Long Island is $570 per square foot, though pricing can go up or down depending on finish levels.

  • A gut renovation involves going down to the studs of the space, while a “rip-and-replace” includes the swapping out of fixtures. Be cautious of breaking down costs feature-by-feature, though. If you are just replacing a few fixtures or updating tile, there could still be behind-the-walls work (like sheetrock) that has to be done.

  • Delivery delays can affect your renovation timeline. If you have the space to store things, try to purchase tile and other fixtures the before demo even begins.

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Basement Remodeling on Long Island

Updating your basement gives you expanded livable square footage and also adds value to your home. The extent of your basement renovation depends on its current condition and how you plan to actually use the space. Is more storage area and sparkling new laundry room in the plans? A cozy family gathering spot and playroom? A guest suite? A “man cave” outfitted with the latest technology?

Sweeten general contractors have worked on basement renovations ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. On Long Island, the average falls at $117 per square foot. A few things to consider when outlining your plan include: ceiling height requirements (which vary from town to town), whether you’ll need a second form of egress, plumbing needs, waterproofing, and ventilation.

Key takeaways:
  • A renovated basement adds resale value to your home.

  • on Long Island, the average basement renovation costs $117 per square foot

  • Adding a bathroom will add to the costs of the project, but makes the space more livable and convenient to spend time in.

  • Towns across Long Island have varying basement ceiling height requirements.

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When to meet with and hire a general contractor

Ready to tackle that home remodel you’ve dreamed of, but unsure when to actually meet with general contractors?

Homeowners typically begin the process of meeting with contractors 1-3 months out from beginning construction. Of course, each renovation schedule will vary, and the right contractor can be found in a pinch, or even 3-6+ months out. It all depends on how far out you’re comfortable planning.

Most importantly, you’ll want to hire the right general contractor for your specific job, and the start date is a major factor in your search. Some contractors may be booked a few months in advance, while others will have an opening in their schedule that correlates with your timing. Sweeten can match based on your schedule, with contractors first expressing interest in your job before you are introduced, offering a one-stop resource for estimates from multiple experts.

If you do select a Sweeten contractor, you’ll receive regular check-ins until the project is complete, plus encouragement to reach out with any questions so you can renovate with confidence.

Our renovation expertise includes:
Single-Family Houses
Condos
Duplexes
Landmark Buildings
Kitchens
Bathrooms
Living Rooms
Bedrooms/Nurseries
Basements
Outdoor and Exterior Renovations
Wood Flooring
Gut Renovations
Historic Restorations

Sweeten also handles commercial projects, including restaurants, retail spaces and offices. Find out more here.

Locations:
Nassau County
Suffolk County
The Hamptons

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