Philly is a city filled with fixer upper hopefuls. But while websites like Pinterest and endless HGTV marathons fool us into thinking that renovations are easy peasy, we all know that the hardest part of the process is actually getting started.
That's what the company Sweeten hopes to make a little easier for local homeowners with its recently announced expansion from New York City to Philly.
Think of Sweeten as a matchmaker service—only instead of hooking you up with a date, they're matching you up with a general contractor that, well, won't screw you over.
Here's how the free service works:
- You reach out to Sweeten with your renovation project—we're talking major projects that will cost at least $15,000 or more.
- Sweeten connects you with a project manager.
- This renovation specialist then puts your project's details (budget, timeframe, style, etc.) through an algorithm that matches you to three general contractors that are a right fit for the project.
- You pick which contractor you want to work with. The project manager stays in contact with you and the GC from start to finish.
- When the renovation is complete, you're asked to review the general contractor, which keeps them accountable for future homeowners they may work with.
The highly curated selection of general contractors is what separates Sweeten from other similar services, explains co-founder and COO Preeti Sriratana. Angie's List, for example, does offer feedback and reviews, but in the end it's up to you to make the hire, and you don't have access to a project manager.
"We like to get all the best general contractors onto our platform," Sriratana says. "They go through internal screenings and have to meet some pretty rigorous criteria."
That includes a 30-minute phone call with Sweeten and three references from past homeowners they've worked with. "We want to make sure we get homeowners the best people that we personally know," says Sriratana.
Currently, 100 general contractors in Philly have made the cut with Sweeten. Sriratana says they expect to have 1,000 in their database by the end of the year.
Sweeten also is looking to expand to the west coast. But for now, they're focused on getting to know Philly and looking into getting an office space. "We do plan to have local teams and people who are from Philadelphia area and really understand it at a very local level."
"Philly was really attractive because we found that there are a lot of overlaps in the demographics of home renovators in New York and Philly," says Sriratana, who lived in Philly for three years before moving to New York.
"And to be honest, I miss Philly," admits Sriratana. "So now I get to go back more often."