An unlikely path to contracting
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 personalities 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.
Tell us a little about yourself and how long have you been in construction?
I am of Romanian background but grew up in the Boston area, in the small town of Ipswich. I served in the U.S. Army and am a veteran of the Iraq war. I have been running my construction business for 10 years.
How did you get into the industry?
I always loved woodworking and have done it as a pastime since I was young. When I moved to New York City to work on Wall Street (I studied investment finance in college), a lot of my new not-so-handy friends seemed to need help around their apartments. I ended up building a few things out of wood to fit in custom spaces where store-bought items wouldn’t work.
This led to my work getting noticed and I started getting recommended for more projects. Slowly I was introduced to designers, decorators, realtors, and architects. I went from being a handy helping hand to a licensed contractor.
Over the years, I would learn every trade in the interior remodeling field, soaking up my staff’s expertise, asking a lot of questions, reading countless trade books, and pulling all-nighters to study up. I have never looked back; I find my construction independence to be much more fulfilling than holding a job in finance. I wrote a book on the construction industry in 2015.
What do you love most about construction?
Problem-solving. I love taking an idea and turning it into a functional reality. Designers and clients look to me for ideas on how to turn a thought into an item that lives in their home. Also, issues arise on a consistent basis on job sites and I love figuring out solutions. Most times, we can take care of the issue before the homeowner even knows. That is very satisfying.
Who is your ideal client?
One who doesn’t micromanage our work. They have their own job and they respect ours.
What’s the biggest challenge you face when renovating in New York?
Space (there is very little room to work and spread out the necessary tools), getting around the city (it is tough to deliver and remove materials), and restrictions imposed by buildings.
What do you think is the biggest misconception homeowners have when starting a renovation project?
The length of the project. These days everyone watches home remodeling shows on TV and not only do they think they know how to manage a construction project but they also have unrealistic expectations based on skewed realities seen on “not-so-real” reality television.
What do you want all of your clients to know before you work with them?
I’m here for you. Let me worry for you. Let me make sure things stay on track. Stress shouldn’t be your job; it’s mine.
What is your favorite New York City building?
Grand Central Station.
What is your favorite New York City neighborhood?
The East Village.
What is your favorite New York City restaurant?
Could I plug my bar? Harlem Nights.
Claud has been a Sweeten contractor since 2014.
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Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.