Meet Sweeten General Contractors Nina and Ilya
The duo loves nothing more than making their clients’ vision come to life!
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.
Where are you from and how long have you been in construction?
Nina: I’m from the country of Georgia and I’ve been in construction ever since Ilya started our business.
Ilya: I was born in Russia, grew up in Australia, and finally settled in New York City in my early 20s. I’ve been in the construction business professionally for 12 years. As a teenager, I used to work on construction sites almost every summer, and that is really where I developed a love of building.
How did you get into this industry?
Nina: When Ilya started our business 12 years ago, he always leaned on me for inspiration and advice. Ilya had a construction background, while mine was in marketing and advertising. He’s the expert contractor and I manage the back end of the business along with communications, marketing, and social media. If you see a smiley face in one of our emails, I probably wrote it.
Ilya: I have always been interested in things that allowed me to be creative. Even as a kid, I was a Lego’s master! I went through culinary school in Australia, then jewelry school in New York City. I worked as a master jeweler, which is so similar to construction and building—only on a much smaller scale. Ultimately I decided to pursue my passion for construction and building.
What do you love most about what you do?
Nina: I’m a big people pleaser, and I love nothing more than knowing that our clients are truly happy with the home that we helped them design, build, and personalize.
Ilya: I love the process of being able to help take someone’s vision and turn it into a reality for them. When I see the look on their faces when they walk into their finished home, it makes the hard work all the worthwhile. No two projects are ever alike which always leaves plenty of room for renewed creativity!
What is the biggest challenge about renovating in New York?
Nina: Definitely all the red tape that comes with the management companies and co-op boards. I’m the lucky one that gets to deal with all of that!
Ilya: The biggest challenge—besides traffic and parking—is navigating all the different management companies, co-op boards, building codes, and permit regulations. These processes are a lot harder than they really need to be, but we always work hand-in-hand with everyone involved to ensure we have all the requirements going into the project so there are no delays along the way.
What do you think is the biggest misconception that homeowners have when starting a renovation project?
Nina: Renovating is expensive and not as simple as shown on television! There can and usually will be surprises along the way, so it’s always good to pad your budget by 10%, just in case.
Ilya: Pricing and budgets. So many folks don’t understand how expensive renovating in NYC can be! And while Pinterest can provide some amazing inspiration, their budgets oftentimes can’t support those ideas. But that’s where our creativity kicks into full gear and we get to suggest amazing alternatives and more affordable options for consideration.
What is your favorite New York City building?
Nina: The Chrysler Building—it’s gorgeous!
Ilya: My favorite modern building is the IAC building right across from Chelsea Piers, but my favorite classic NYC building is the Chrysler building.
What is your favorite New York City neighborhood?
Nina: Brooklyn Heights, especially the boardwalk with the view of the Manhattan skyline. It takes my breath away every time.
Ilya: Soho! It has the best mix of modern and classic architecture.
Take a look at some of Nina and Ilya’s renovations below and check out their portfolio for more photos of past work.
Nina and Ilya have been Sweeten contractors since March 2018.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.