Meet NY Sweeten General Contractors Shenna and Chance
They have over 36 years of combined experience!
At Sweeten, the experts in our network are experienced contractors and design pros we’d be thrilled to have working in our own homes. We check their licenses, insurance, quality of work, and customer service skills. Trust and open communication are the lifeblood of our free renovation service, and our personal connection to our experts enables us to match you to the best choices for your project. Here, get to know their personality and click to view their portfolio, including photos from past work and client reviews, so that you can hire the right team and renovate with confidence.
How did you get into this industry?
Shenna: I have been working in this industry for six years now. I previously handled marketing and brand management for businesses. I always liked planning and managing projects, and have strong skills in this area. This led me to pursue my master’s in project management, and simultaneously to this industry. I started working with Chance in 2014 and have never looked back. Chance is the perfect mentor if you’re looking to learn the tricks of the trade to survive and succeed in this industry.
Chance: I’ve been in the contracting business for over thirty years. I worked part-time for various area builders and construction companies in high school and college. I graduated from NYU with a BA in English and writing. After college, I continued to work as an independent contractor for a bit, before going into the fitness industry for several years. When I burned out of that, I went back to school and earned a BS in real estate development from Columbia University. After a year in the commercial real estate business, I went full-time with my company, and I’ve been with it ever since.
What do you love most about what you do?
Shenna: I thoroughly enjoy the transformational process that construction projects go through as they evolve from a concept to a real, physical space, encompassing all these different layers and intricacies that we have worked on for months. I enjoy being a part of this change, and I enjoy working closely with our clients and other stakeholders to help move projects along and keep them on track. Construction projects almost always have a great significance to clients, both, personally and professionally. I love making this (otherwise) complex and overwhelming process a breeze for our clients and feel content when I see the satisfaction on their faces when we hand over these projects on completion. It’s priceless!
Chance: What I love most about what I do is being honest and straight with people, in the process of helping them achieve what they set out to achieve. Believe it or not, in this day and age, many people mistake this for a ruse or an angle. But, I simply know no other way to approach this daunting business, but with straight honesty, integrity, and hard work.
What is the biggest challenge about renovating in New York?
Shenna: The construction industry, especially in NYC, can be costly, complicated, and competitive. A lot of different people work together in the pre-construction phase when a project is being planned, designed, and prepared for soliciting bids from contractors. Many times, important information tends to get lost somewhere along this process. We put in hours of work to make sure we thoroughly study and understand the details going in, to avoid changes, add-ons, and surprises to the client once we’re hired. It’s challenging when clients use the initial cost as the sole factor to select their contractor because honestly, no two bids are exactly the same, nor is the end product, even when they are based on the same set of plans.
I think making clients understand this is possibly one of the biggest challenges because using a single, quantifiable factor to entrust someone with a huge responsibility as this, and ignoring other crucial factors like service, quality, timelines, professionalism, etc., tends to pave the way for future complications. Once we’re past this, I think that everything that follows is simply a part and parcel of construction in NYC.
Chance: The biggest challenge to renovating in New York City is that most people (whether commercial, retail or residential) want a million-dollar job for five dollars. On a rare occasion, a client arrives with a realistic budget and realistic budgetary sensibilities. The next biggest challenge is that it is very crowded with a vast array of players and many pretenders…for as long as this city has existed, and even before that when it was under Dutch rule and known as New Amsterdam, it has been a collecting pool for characters of all shapes, sizes, and varieties, many of whom who rolled downhill into it, for better or for worse.
I tell every potential client we meet, right away: “We’re not going to be your cheapest price. And if “cheapest” is your primary objective, we don’t want to waste your time.” We’re also not going to be the most expensive either.
What do you want all of your clients to know before you work with them?
Shenna: I would like all our clients to know that everything we do is always in their best interest because we highly regard honesty and transparency with all our clients. We understand that every second on these projects are precious and we’re very driven in meeting all our goals & deadlines. We are always available for our clients and get back to them extremely promptly. Risks from the unknown and other unforeseen conditions are a common part of construction projects. While we take the necessary steps to prepare for these risks, we advise clients to have a realistic contingency budget (typically 10%) on projects so that nothing slows us down, once we get going.
Chance: A. I have been in business, in this capacity, for twenty years. It’s uncommon to find another GC/Construction Manager/Construction Consultant of our size, who can say the same.
B. That we’ve never cheated a client. In other words, we have never issued a single change order for anything that a client didn’t add to the project or request to be added. Again, this is our business. We listen to our clients. We also ask a lot of questions. This is not to be nosy. This is because we collectively have a lot of education and applicable local professional industry knowledge and experience. The more we know about your project, the more effective we can be for you.
C. We have never tried to convince a client/potential client to spend a single dollar over their objective (unless it pertains to a significant longer-term value). We want for our clients, what they want. The more we know and understand about their business and their approach, the better we can help get them there.
D. We are business people, first and foremost. I understand the incredible cost of New York real estate and we fully understand the concept of “time is money,” which is why our construction timeline/schedules are part of every proposal, and why I have Shenna do those. She is a genius with timing and frankly, has never been wrong. We’ve never missed one of our time schedules, unless a client has added to the scope. I am also a commercial property owner and fully understand the value of every dollar spent.
If clients have questions or concerns, how would you like them to address them?
Shenna: As I mentioned earlier, we’re very open to questions, concerns and other feedback that clients have. We understand that some clients may not be well versed with the specifics of this industry, and frankly speaking, they don’t need to if we do our jobs right. I always try to answer clients as simply as possible, avoiding any jargons or industry-specific terms that might confuse or complicate information.
We believe in building an honest and trustworthy relationship with our clients. A crucial part in doing so is making ourselves easily approachable to our clients, so they don’t have to think twice before calling or emailing us with any questions or concerns. Additionally, we have weekly review meetings on projects where we specifically spend time answering questions, figuring out solutions to challenges that come up, etc. with our clients.
What is your favorite project that you’ve done and why?
Chance: I take great pride in all of our work, but some projects that stand out to me are the entirety of Jonathan Adler’s retail chain for over a decade, from 2003-2016, and being a pivotal component to the company’s success. We built-out and renovated and re-renovated every one of his stores in NYC as well as East Hampton, NY, Greenwich and Westport, CT, and Philadelphia, PA during that time. We also did all of his New York City offices (twice).
I am also very proud of the work we’ve done with the Broadway theatres: The Lyric Theatre (2015) and The Hudson Theatre (2018). We’ve also done many, many memorable and stunning retail stores throughout Manhattan including Djula, Alexis Bittar, Taylor Street Baristas. But most importantly I am most proud when we complete a project and that client calls us for the next one. That is our ultimate goal.
What is your favorite New York City building?
Shenna: It’s got to be the Chrysler Building. It’s a timeless and classic design!
Chance: “Favorite” New York City building is like saying what’s your favorite breath of air…however, some that I greatly admire: The Dakoka; The Flat Iron; Grand Central Terminal; The Woolworth.
What is your favorite New York City restaurant?
Shenna: Buddakan in Chelsea. It’s a great place for Asian fusion delicacies and has a very fun and chilled out vibe to it.
Chance: Arturo’s on West Houston. Then Patsy’s in East Harlem. Then Peter Lugers (in Williamsburg).
If you weren’t a general contractor, what would you be doing?
Shenna: I would probably be a wedding planner or in a similar field where I’m planning something from start to finish and collaborating with different people. A monotonous job would kill me.
Chance: Acting, writing screenplays, or running a not-for-profit youth-sports organization.
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