How to Find the Best General Contractors in Westchester County

We share expert guidelines for anyone in search of a first-rate general contractor for a major renovation in Westchester County:

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

There’s no doubt renovating involves many layers and steps. Before you dive into finding the best person for the job, think about what the job (a.k.a., project scope) entails. Are you overhauling every room in your house, or just the master bathroom? Are the changes structural or purely cosmetic?

Step 2: Research costs.

Obviously, a gut renovation, which involves demolishing the existing structure down to the studs, is more of a cost and timeline commitment than a non-gut remodel. To simplify, consider the cost per square foot. Sweeten, a free service that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors, estimates that costs for a mid-range gut renovation range from $250 a square foot and go up to $500. Keep in mind prices can vary due to material choices, specialized labor, and local permits. Learn more about kitchen, bath, and basement renovation costs below.

Once you’ve assessed your goals and budget, you’re ready to post your project to Sweeten. There’s no cost or obligation, and your post activates our matchmakers to find the best lower Hudson Valley general contractors for your project based on the criteria you provide: scope, budget, timeline, location, and style.

Step 3: Evaluate the experts.

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. Ahead, we highlight what to look for and how we can help.

“If you haven’t heard of Sweeten yet, you will, especially if you’re looking to tackle a renovation on your home in the near future. That’s because Sweeten is a renovation matchmaker – much like the renovating Match.com. They connect homeowners with the best general contractor for your renovation along with a project advisor to provide support until the work is complete.”

--Westchester Magazine, March 2017

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.
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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

Once you understand your scope and have a general idea of budget, you can evaluate what kind of service you need and who can complete the work.

No matter how big or small your renovation is, finding the best, trusted professional for the job is essential. 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 trades needed. Contractors manage the project from start to finish, so it’s important to hire someone you can communicate with and who is a good fit personality-wise. This is also important to think about when it comes to friend referrals. While they can be very useful, what works for your friend may not necessarily work for you—especially on the communication front.

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.

Sweeten verifies general contractors have the proper licensing and knowledge of varied building codes across the County, from southern Westchester towns like New Rochelle and Yonkers to those in the northern reaches like Katonah or Bedford. 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 could 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:
  • Every 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.

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

  • Always (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.

One thing to note: If you live in a single-family home, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of building requirements as you would in a multi-family apartment building. If you’re part of a homeowner’s association, however, there are likely certain rules about construction times, as well as license requirements to consider. Contact your HOA or board to make sure you understand what’s necessary before you get started on your renovation.

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Sweeten's mission is to help people build their dream space.Westchester 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 in Westchester County

Unlike New York City, many homes in neighboring Westchester County benefit from the luxury of space. This allows for more flexibility—and possibilities–in kitchen layouts. Sweeten contractors specialize in all different types of kitchens, from simpler remodels (keeping the location of plumbing, gas and major appliances where they are) to more dramatic changes in the cook space. The average kitchen renovation cost in Westchester County is $65,651, or about $328 per square foot, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. Contributing factors include permits as well as the premium level of appliances, cabinets, countertops, and lighting.

Key takeaways:
  • The average kitchen renovation cost in Westchester County is about $328 per square foot.

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

  • Extending plumbing or gas lines increases the cost.

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

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

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Bathroom Remodeling in Westchester County

Whether you’re renovating a powder room or a master bath, ultimately what will impact your costs the most are material selections and plumbing changes. On average, a mid-range bathroom remodel costs $20,000 in Westchester County. Sweeten bathroom renovation projects in the area range from gut remodels of hall bathrooms (i.e., incorporating a tub for the kids) in Pelham to adding a new powder room off the kitchen in Scarsdale to a standard “rip-and-replace” of fixtures for a guest bath in Pound Ridge.

Key takeaways:
  • The average bathroom renovation cost in Westchester County is $20,000.

  • 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 sheetrocking) 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 in Westchester County

Updating your basement gives you more livable square-footage and also adds value to your home. The scope of your basement renovation will depend on how you plan to actually use the space—more storage area and laundry room? A cozy family gathering spot and playroom? A “man cave”?

A basic basement remodel can start at $50 per square foot and upward in Westchester County. 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. Those changes can bring up the per-square-footage cost.

Key takeaways:
  • In Westchester County, basement renovations average between $50 to $117 per square foot.

  • A renovated basement adds resale value to your home.

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

  • Evaluate what you’ll use the space for to help narrow down the needs versus wants.

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When should you meet with and hire a general contractor?

You’ve decided you’re ready to tackle that home remodel that you’ve always dreamed of, but not sure when that right time is to start the process of actually meeting with general contractors. Though every project will have a unique schedule, homeowners typically begin the process of meeting with contractors when they are 1-3 months out from starting construction. Of course, each renovation 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 contributing 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 well with your timing.

Sweeten is a one-stop resource for estimates from multiple experts, and can match you with contractors ready to take on your job no matter when you plan to start your project. And if you do decide to select a Sweeten contractor, you’ll receive regular check-ins until the job is complete, with encouragement to reach out with any questions so you can renovate with confidence.

Our renovation expertise includes:
Single-Family Houses
Condos
Duplexes
Townhouses
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.

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