A veteran general contractor with 19 years of experience
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Where are you from and how long have you been in construction?
I moved to the United States in 1999 after completing my military service in Israel as an officer. I co-founded my general contracting firm in 2001.
What is the biggest challenge about renovating in New York?
Renovating your home anywhere, especially in New York City, is definitely not an easy task; even for the most seasoned pros. Here are the five biggest challenges we find:
- Hurrying through the planning phase: Before starting demolition, be certain your plans, specifications, and details are worked out in precise detail. Before any hammer hits any wall, you and your contractor should do a thorough walkthrough of the space.
- Getting only one proposal or going with the cheapest bid: You should never accept the first proposal you receive. Compare at least three different contractors. Always remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- If your project is a gut job, consider hiring an interior designer: If your kitchen remodel is a full gut and includes tile, stone, cabinets, and paint, then you will benefit by hiring a designer.
- Spending money in the wrong places: Make the best use of your budget and reserve the largest amounts for the spaces and features you’ll use regularly. This could be a large countertop or a great cooktop. Remodel the lesser-used areas with simpler finishes like lighting and backsplashes.
- Living in the apartment during the renovation, or moving back too soon: You’ll have plenty of stress while overseeing your renovation, but living in the midst of it all will multiply that stress.
What do you want all of your clients to know before you work with them?
Before we begin working with you, they should think about the goals they want to achieve. Is stellar design the driving force? Improved functionality? Resale? Perhaps you’re looking for energy-saving ideas? Or maybe it’s a combination of all these elements? They should also know their budget. Developing a budget range will help you make decisions when you are choosing materials and appliances.
What’s the number one thing clients should know before starting a renovation?
As contractors, we’ve learned a lot of lessons on the do’s and don’ts of construction. The number one thing is to be a confident decision-maker.
We all want our remodel to move forward with as few problems as possible. Make as many decisions about your project before the work actually starts. A good contractor will always discuss a list of possible situations that might come up on your renovation project. Their project manager Nick said, “Most of the problems are usually connected to choices about small things such as faucet selection, paint, or trim.” These may seem small and unimportant when you start your project. If your faucet is two weeks late because of shipping, your plumber will have to be rescheduled. This can balloon into a week delay on a four-week project.
What is your favorite architectural building?
Santiago Calatrava, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub is my all-time favorite. I love his work—it’s organic and always feels like his structures could be a skeleton for something that was once alive.
What is your favorite neighborhood?
My all-time favorite neighborhood in New York is Greenwich Village. It has pre-war buildings, thriving arts and a foodie scene,.Greenwich Village was and continues to be full of cultural and artistic edge.
What is your favorite NYC borough?
Manhattan, although I complain about many aspects of it, like the traffic. However, I really feel that it’s the greatest city in the world. Despite popular attractions like Central Park or Radio City Music Hall, there is so much more to the borough. Manhattan has classic bars, charming neighborhoods, hidden green spaces, and trendy boutiques.
Yoel has been a Sweeten general contractor since February 2015.
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