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A Duplex Loft Elevates to a Charming Rental

Walls go up in a sleek upgrade to a Williamsburg rental property

rental property updates to Williamsburg loft

“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten

Appealing to the ideal renter

Originally when entrepreneur, we will call him AC, bought his apartment,  he intended to live there himself. However, after a few months, he decided it would make an even better investment property as a rental. To make it more renter-friendly, he wanted to enclose the upstairs loft. Doing so would convert the apartment into a two-bedroom —opening it up to a whole new market. He also wanted the design of the space to reflect the neighborhood vibe and attract young professionals with a modern aesthetic and lifestyle. To take on this rental property upgrade, he needed a professional for the renovation.

Finding the renovation team

AC posted his project on Sweeten and hired this general contractor. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

“The contractor I found through Sweeten was great because he was very flexible with the changes to the scope of the work,” says AC. “Plus, the Sweeten team was accommodating and always on top of looking after my project.”


Choosing the finishes

To appeal to young professionals, AC chose on-trend luxe materials and finishes. He put in brass hardware that pops against the deep-blue kitchen cabinets. The cabinets weren’t originally this color, but AC knew that simply painting this rich hue would drastically change the look of the space. He was right. It went from drab to sophisticated.

He also made other smart paint choices. He brought the stair railing up-to-date with a new coat of paint and gave one of the bedrooms a masculine dark-blue accent wall. The bathroom was refreshed as well, adding interest with gray walls instead of plain white. 

upgraded bathroom sink in rental property

Creating a second bedroom

A lot of the renovation was more behind-the-scenes. The newly-enclosed bedroom required the electrical to be rewired and recessed lighting was added. They also changed the narrow hallway into a more useful space by configuring it as a small office area. 

AC’s advice to those thinking of renovation? “Just to be realistic,” he says. “With little changes, you can make a big impact.”

Thank you, AC, for sharing the results of your rental property upgrade.

Style Finds: Paint: Farrow & Ball. Kitchen hardware: CB2.

Check out another inspiring loft renovation.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

The post A Duplex Loft Elevates to a Charming Rental appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Fridge Paneling: 8 Refrigerators in Disguise

Let your fridge blend neatly into its surroundings with these paneling ideas

One of the first things you notice in a kitchen is the refrigerator. It is big and usually holds souvenir magnets, wedding invitations, or to-do lists. With more homes featuring open-plan layouts, its size and boxy shape interfere with the visual harmony. Paneling and built-ins can help hide a fridge door and integrate it into cabinetry, unifying the look of the entire kitchen.

The homeowners below lassoed their oh-so-necessary refrigerator into functional design statements with their general contractors from Sweeten. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

A custom touch for a fridge

For their East Hampton kitchen, homeowners Jennifer and Alex wanted to keep the redesign simple but inviting. They chose to add a large island for entertaining and splurged on a wine fridge and quartz countertops. To make the design more modern, they decided to install an integrated refrigerator, which streamlined the look of the cabinetry.

refrigerator paneling

A repurposed structure

When Ainsley and Simon’s architect discovered that the column in the kitchen was merely decorative, they came up with a plan to tuck the refrigerator inside of it and add custom panels. “You don’t look at it and think it is a fridge at all,” Ainsley said.

refrigerator paneling to hide fridge door

A seamless built-in

Lauren’s front door led directly into the kitchen. She had to choose between a traditional entryway or a hybrid space that would add square footage to the kitchen.  She chose the latter and added a seamless wall of cabinetry with a refrigerator and pantry—plus, a coat closet.
kitchen storage and integrated refrigerator

A wall of closets

To improve the flow between their living and kitchen space, Tara and Brian’s contractor came up with an idea to move the refrigerator to a wall already outfitted with closets. Now the refrigerator fits right in with the cabinetry instead of jutting out in the main cooking space.

refrigerator paneling

A fridge in disguise

Casey and Kumar’s apartment is full of clever storage solutions to maximize their limited space. The kitchen is one such example thanks to creative built-ins, which also hide the fridge door. Custom cabinetry covers the refrigerator along with a neighboring pantry, and the whole unit conceals a structural column.

wooden cabinets to hide fridge door

Closet-turn-fridge spot

Scandinavian chic was the look that homeowners Roxana and Gabriel were going for in their Long Island City loft.  They turned to a Sweeten contractor who was able to update their space to match their minimalistic style. The refrigerator, which moved from the main kitchen area into what was formerly a coat closet proved to be one of the biggest challenges. They had to find the right size appliance and custom cut the Ikea panels to fit.  

Panels unify the kitchen

Creating an open concept living arrangement was the biggest goal for this Manhattan couple. They took down the dividing wall between the kitchen and family room and replaced it with a custom unit with storage on both sides. It was really important to the couple that they fit a fully integrated Sub-Zero refrigerator and other standard-sized appliances. “They [general contractor team] worked with me through a few kitchen iterations until we found a great open layout that permitted full-size appliances,” the homeowner shared.

A puzzle of panels

Less like appliances, more like furniture—that was Sally’s directive for her kitchen renovation. Her contractor built out a wall of cabinets covering the refrigerator, a pantry, and added narrow units designed to hold brooms and mops, too. 

Set your calendar. Here’s how long an average kitchen renovation will take.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration, and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

The post Fridge Paneling: 8 Refrigerators in Disguise appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

5 Eclectic Bathrooms Design Ideas to Try this Summer

5 Eclectic Bathrooms Design Ideas to Try this Summer

When looking for harmony, think about bringing it to the places where you feel the most like yourself. An eclectic inspired bathroom gathers different styles, colours and textures. This contrast might be exactly what you need to achieve a full relaxation and a completely joyful mind set. Deep down, you get the best of all the other styles in your personal healing space

In collaboration with our partner brand Brabbu, we have prepared a whole e-book with multiple ideas and inspirations on bathroom design, with a special focus on Eclectic Bathrooms Style. 

Continue reading 5 Eclectic Bathrooms Design Ideas to Try this Summer at Maison Valentina Blog.

Renovating Your Home for Resale in Atlanta

The best Atlanta home improvements for resale, from new garage doors to a light kitchen or bath refresh

atlanta home improvement renovation for resale(Above) Renovation in Roswell, Georgia by Sweeten contractor Justin

The Atlanta housing market is humming. The value of homes increased by over seven percent in 2019, according to data from Redfin. It’s one of those American city’s that is revitalizing with the fourth-fastest growth rate in the nation. As a result, Atlanta homeowners are increasingly planning for home improvements. 

If you’re thinking of prepping your house for sale, Sweeten outlines the top home improvements for the Atlanta market to get the best price and sell quickly. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Sometimes renovations aren’t always about what you want but what the homeowner who comes after you might want. A good idea is to take a look at the style of spec homes. “They try to use elements that have a large appeal,” said Sweeten contractor Lonny, who is based in Atlanta. When looking at the styles around Atlanta for your home improvements, sticking with what’s popular is best for resale rather than involving your unique preferences. “There might be hundreds of choices for faucets, but 95 percent of people might go with three styles,” said Lonny. 

Renovation projects to consider: 

1. Change out the front door

First impressions endure when selling your home. “It is crucial that your entranceway is well kept,” said Lonny. Sprucing up the front of your home could be as simple as adding a new front door. For one client, Lonny swapped out a plain door for a craftsman-style door along with matching shutters. “It really set the house apart,” he said. 

2. A fresh coat of paint 

Atlanta-based Sweeten contractor Justin advises homeowners to think like makeup artists when accessing the front of their home ahead of a sale. “You’re not going to attract buyers if the windows are fogged up and the paint is chipping,” he said. Ensuring your house is clean and your paint fresh will go a long way in getting the best price, Justin said. 

3. Replace the garage door

Along with your actual front door, replacing your garage door is a quick and easy fix to improve your home’s value. A garage door replacement costs $3,663 on average for the Atlanta area, according to Remodeling‘s Cost Vs Value report. Your home’s value is increased by more than 76 percent of that cost. 

4. Invest in siding

Lonny often gets calls about siding replacement from homeowners who are planning to sell their home. New siding is a great investment, according to the 2020 Cost Vs Value report for Atlanta. A project that installs fiber-cement siding costs an average of $17,000. Over $13,000 or 78 percent of the project’s cost is returned to you in the value that it adds to the home. That’s one of the highest returns on investment of any renovation project, according to the report. 

5. Basement as living space

The basement is the first thing Justin looks at if a client is planning to resell their home. An unfinished basement has the potential to significantly increase the square footage of your home. “Finishing your basement is going to yield the largest return on your investment,” said Justin. 

Other alterations, such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, are helpful, but they don’t add to the size of your home like a basement can. The square footage of your home and its price per square foot will feature prominently in your home’s sale listing. Depending on how many floors you have, a finished basement could almost double that square foot measurement.

A full basement renovation that includes budget-friendly floors, paint, lighting, and a half bath can start at $20,000. “On the conservative side for finishes, a turn-key basement will cost around $50-65 per square foot to finish out,” said Justin. “This includes a small kitchen area and basement bathroom if all the rough-in plumbing is already installed.”

According to the Cost Vs Value report, the average cost of a basement remodel in Atlanta was $70,000. This increases a home’s value by $46,000 or more than 65 percent of the renovation’s cost, the report found.

6. The bathroom adds value

Giving your bathroom a makeover is an easy route to a higher house price. Recently, a real estate agent contacted Lonny with a house about to go on the market. To increase its value ahead of the sale, Lonny completed a modified gut renovation in the bathroom. “This was something that was needed because it was dated from the 1980s,” said Lonny. The customer had everything replaced except the cabinetry. The budget was about $20,000. A bathroom remodel in this budget range adds almost $13,000 —65 percent of the budget— to your home’s value, according to the Cost Vs Value report for Atlanta. 

If you don’t have the time for a major remodel, then simple superficial changes might be a better option. This could mean swapping outdated fixtures like faucets for something more modern, said Lonny. A new countertop on your vanity could also spruce up your bathroom with minimum effort.  

7. A streamlined kitchen refresh

Kitchens are the gathering place, a focal point for any home. A kitchen could also make or break your home’s value, according to Justin. Rather than doing a full renovation that involves the costly exercise of changing a layout, stick to a scaled-back renovation. “A new countertop, backsplash, and faucet can go along way,” said Lonny. “If there’s the budget for it then I also suggest lighting and flooring.”

Cabinets, especially if they are custom-built, can take up a huge chunk of a budget. For a renovation that is geared towards increasing value, Lonny advised keeping cabinets as is. That way the budget and timeline can be streamlined. 

A minor kitchen remodel with a budget of $23,000 has a high return on investment of 73 percent, according to the Cost Vs Value report. A minor kitchen remodel in this instance involves replacing only the front of your cabinets, sink, faucet and countertops while adding an energy-efficient cooktop, oven, and refrigerator.

Give your home a fresh and neutral slate. Curb appeal gets the potential buyer to enter the door. A conservative palette inside allows them to more easily see how they can make the home their own. Take these home improvement ideas into consideration and be one step closer to closing the deal.

Here’s the renovation cost guide for Atlanta for purchasing a new home or updating an existing one.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

The post Renovating Your Home for Resale in Atlanta appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom

Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom

Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom – If you’re constantly wondering how to turn your home into a more relax yet sophisticated place, why not start with the bathroom? Here’s enough inspiration to turn this part of your home into a both luxury and comfortable retreat. Knowing that everyone is different, take a look at every style and select the one that fits you the best – all the way from Modern to Classic.

Continue reading Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom at Maison Valentina Blog.

A Dark Bathroom Goes Hollywood-Glam

Exposed bulbs and graphic tile create an unforgettable look

Project: Update and brighten a small bathroom in a Chelsea studio

Before: The bathroom tub, fixtures, and drain in this circa 1964 co-op had done their job, but were now way past their sell-by date. “The shower and tub had gotten a little scary,” says Kristen, the homeowner of this 700-square-foot studio. Peeling paint on the tub and hard water stains on the tiles didn’t help. Plus, the windowless room was dark, with floor-to-ceiling slate tile and poor lighting. And there was no medicine cabinet or built-in storage.

Chelsea bathroom renovationChelsea bathroom renovation

After: Knowing that she wanted the bathroom to be bright and modern with classic elements and storage, Kristen posted her project on Sweeten and was matched with a general contractor. Because of building regulations, she wasn’t able to change the location of the plumbing, so the work was cosmetic only. Flash forward to the finished room…now, the crisp, light lavender-gray walls and tub paired with the black-and-white floor tile. A porcelain-tiled shower and Hollywood-glam mirror lighting brighten up the bathroom considerably.

“I’m glad I chose porcelain over marble because it requires less upkeep,” said Kristen. She decided to pass on installing a vanity. This gives the illusion of more space—as does the stripe pattern on the floor tiles. A free-standing cabinet is part storage and part display. The overall feel of the space hits the modern yet classic style she was looking for.

porcelain shower

bathroom renovation


Kristen’s biggest challenge was finding all the materials that would work together. It was difficult, she said, narrowing down selections, “considering the many options out there.” Her contractor “provided a lot of information to help make decisions.” In addition to having a Renovation Checklist, Kristen had a list of products and materials to order for her project. “I checked off each item once I had sourced it. This was really helpful because there are some things I never would have thought of, like a new vent for the wall,” Kristen said.

Having an organized list also allowed her contractor to make sure it was all compatible with the space. The contractor, she said, “helped incorporate eco-friendly elements into my renovation, telling me what to look for in a toilet, showerhead, and faucet.”

Tile ideas at the airport

Her other challenge was that she was traveling during the renovation. But her contractor took care of any bumps, even going directly to the manufacturer when there was an issue with a showerhead. At one point, she said, while she was at the airport waiting for a flight, the Sweeten contractor’s tile installer called with a layout question. “Luckily, this airport had a lot of tile,” she said with a laugh. “So I walked around and looked for different layouts to help reinforce my decision.” Who needs subway tile when airport tile offers loftier inspiration?

Style finds: Floor tile: Cement Tile Shop. Battiscopa Renaissance Calacatta porcelain wall tile: AKDO. Shower and sink fixtures: Brizo. Pedestal sink: Signature Hardware. Toilet: Toto. Lighting: Illuminate Vintage via Etsy. Hutch: Target. Medicine cabinet: Robern. Art: Neue Galerie.

Marissa created a glamorous bath with high-contrast design, combining black walls with gleaming tile and a sparkling chandelier.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

The post A Dark Bathroom Goes Hollywood-Glam appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

2020 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Dallas

A guide to home remodeling costs in Dallas; including kitchen, bath, whole home, and outdoor, plus outdoor deck & patio costs

Dallas remodeling costs

Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the United States. It’s a headquarter for multiple Fortune 500 companies like American Airlines. There’s the Dallas Cowboys as well as real cowboys. And of course, there’s BBQ. Dallas is a thriving city and a great place to renovate your dream home. Sweeten‘s guide to home remodeling costs in Dallas provides a jumping-off point to get you on your way. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Developing a budget is your first step to your dream home. Sweeten contractors will want to sit down with you and inspect your home to reach an accurate number. 

Here’s a quick overview of budgets for some typical renovation projects:

  • Gut renovation: starting at $80 – $100 per square foot (psf)
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: starting at $10,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: starting at $25,000 – $30,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: starting at $40,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: starting at $8,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: starting at $15,000 – $25,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and expansion: starting at $30,000
  • Deck composite: $19,000 or $60 psf
  • Wood deck: $13,000 or $40 psf
Dallas home remodeling costs per square foot

A total gut renovation in Dallas that brings your home down to its bare bones and remodels it to your liking, starts at $80 – $100 psf for a home that has low-range finishes. This means materials such as laminate flooring and countertops, value-brand appliances, and basic tiles from big box stores like Home Depot. 

Although a gut renovation is a big project, consider doing it all at once to get you the best bang for your buck. You’ll also have your dream home much quicker than renovating room by room. 

How much a Dallas kitchen remodel costs per square foot
  • A kitchen renovation in the best-value range can start at $10,000 and reach $15,000. To get a new kitchen at this price, it needs to be a rip-and-replace job, meaning a layout of the kitchen must stay the same with pipes and appliances remaining where they are. Materials will be pre-made cabinets and appliances from big-box stores. 
  • A mid-range kitchen remodel in Dallas has costs starting at $25,000 – $30,000. What does a mid-range kitchen look like at this starting cost? The kitchen layout must remain the same as a rip-and-replace: swap your old oven for your new one and your old sink for your new sink. You can get a stainless steel sink with single-lever faucet, laminate countertops, a built-in microwave, new appliances, custom lighting, and semi-custom cabinets. An island could also be added. Moving plumbing, gas, and electrical, reconfiguring the layout, or choosing custom features will increase the budget.
  • For an upscale kitchen, labor costs and a refresh with select high-end materials such as marble or quartz countertops, imported backsplash tile, and high-quality fixtures start at $40,000. The costs increase from there with custom features, new cabinets and appliances, and reconfiguring the layout.
chart of home remodeling costs in Dallas
How much a Dallas bathroom remodel costs per square foot
  • At the low-end, expect a rip-and-replace bathroom with no behind-the-wall surprises to start at $8,000 – $15,000. The layout will remain the same where plumbing doesn’t move. This budget won’t include any issues like leaks or mold discovered once the project begins. Materials will include a prefabricated vanity, ceramic tile, and fixtures from big-box stores.
  • In the Dallas area, a mid-range bathroom can start at $15,000 – $25,000. The average cost for this price range remodel is about $20,000 or $570 psf, as per Remodeling‘s Cost Vs Value report. The key to a budget in this range is rip-and-replace. This means keeping the layout the same and swapping out an old toilet for a new one, an old vanity for a new one, etc. That way, no expensive plumbing work is needed.

The example project for this budget is a 35-square-foot bathroom. You can install a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. More than 55 percent of your budget can be recouped in the value the project adds to your home.  

  • For a high-end bathroom remodel and expansion, the cost can start at $30,000. This budget includes a three-piece bathroom (tub/shower combo, toilet, and sink) for a typical 5’ x 7’ space. The cost increases with features including a double vanity, creating a separate shower from the tub, specialty tile, a custom vanity, or a toilet with additional functions.

Adding outdoor space to your home

Dallas is a city perfect for outdoor entertaining, whether it’s a crisp winter night in front of the fire pit or a cold beer paired with a hot summer evening. An outdoor area is often the cherry on top of a dream home remodel. It’s the project to really let your creative juices flow. There are endless options to make your outdoor area your own with extensive outdoor kitchens, gas fireplaces, fans and misting systems for cooling, custom lighting, and landscaping. 

A basic wooden deck will likely cost $40 psf or $13,000 for something in the 320 square foot range, according to the Cost Vs Value report. A deck made from composite, a mix of wood product and plastic, will cost just under $19,000 for the same size or $60 psf. This material tends to last longer and requires less maintenance. 

Permit costs

Dallas is experiencing a lot of new building construction. This has resulted in a more rigorous approval process compared to approvals for existing homes. 

There are numerous cities and towns that make up Dallas. Each one has its own building department and its own fee structure for permits. Your Sweeten contractor will likely put an estimate in the budget for building permits, which will be determined by your end costs or square footage of your project.

The upmarket suburb of Highland Park bases building permit costs on square footage. The permit for a 200 square foot kitchen renovation costs $490, according to Highland Park’s calculator.  

In the city of Addison, building permit fees start at $40 for projects under $500 in value. Fees then increase with the project’s budget. For example, a project with a budget between $2,000 and $25,000 will have a base cost of $115 with an additional $23 per $1,000 for estimated costs over $2,000. That means the permit for a $20,000 mid-range bathroom remodel will cost $529

Building permit fees in Cedar Hill, southwest of the city’s center, are determined by square footage. There is a set fee of $400 for any renovation of less than 1,250 square feet. For each additional square foot over 1,250, the permit increases by $.60. After 2,500 square feet, it increases by $.40.

Enjoy making your Dallas home your own. Understand the costs and find the right renovation team to bring your vision to life. Post your project on Sweeten and you’ll be one step closer to your home sweet home. 

Six steps on how to start your renovation and finding the right general contractor for your scope.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

The post 2020 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Dallas appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Clean Up After Renovation & Minimize Mess During Construction

Renovation cleaning tips to protect your home from particles and paint fumes, and your floors to furniture

home renovation clean up

As you prepare for a major renovation, you will be rightly focused on finding a great general contractor. Other items on the list include selecting materials and figuring out costs. With this long to-do list, it’s easy to overlook plans for site prep and protection. It can have a big effect on your home during and after the renovation. Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors offering support through project completion, outlines the ways to minimize mess and prevent damage with thorough site prep before work gets underway; plus tips to clean up after a renovation.

Discuss site prep and protection with your contractor

Contractors generally work with you on protecting the existing space. However, it’s mainly to prevent damage rather than block dirt and grime. That is to say, your floors shouldn’t be scratched or dented, but they may be dusty, streaky, or even sticky. They will need to be cleaned up after the fact. You’ll want to discuss with your contractor your expectations for cleanliness over the duration of the renovation. What services are included and for what price varies depending on the project and the contractor.

Decide whether to stay or go

Site prep is an important undertaking, especially for homeowners who are renovating just one part of their residence. It becomes even more important if you plan to continue living at home through the renovation. Staying put may cost more than clearing out completely. Extra time and effort go into set-up and tear-down each day. Crews must first lay paper, hang tarp, and add any other protective barriers. These all have to be taken down at the end of the work day in order for the owners to use their home at night.

For example, if you are renovating the kitchen and your only bathroom, your contractor will need to make sure you can maintain access to the facilities. You’ll also need a pathway to walk through to the rest of the apartment. On the other hand, a renovation in an unoccupied home allows the crew to leave the space in relative disarray at the end of the day. The next morning, they can pick up right where they left off. For this reason, whether or not you leave during the renovation is usually part of the initial conversation with your contractor to determine a project estimate.

Prep and protect your home, and seal the construction site

If you are undertaking anything other than a complete gut renovation, you can do the following to limit the disruption and minimize the mess:

  •  Cordon off the renovation zone by hanging heavy-duty tarp (at least 8 millimeters thick) from the ceiling down to the floor to create a seal. Apply masking tape across all sides of the tarp where it meets the ceiling, walls, and floor. Tension rods can also help hold up heavy tarps. Particles will fly through any and all gaps you leave, no matter how small. If you need a flap for entry and exit, consider applying an adhesive zipper to your tarp. Add a double layer if there will be a lot of sanding or if you know that dangerous particles will be released into the air.
  • Within the reno zone, protect anything that you’re keeping. Floors should be covered with construction paper (maybe even a double layer, as insurance against tearing). Cover window treatments or appliances with tarp (again, leaving no gaps).
  • If the reno zone is in the center of your home, consider laying continuous paper or tarp through all the high traffic areas. This will prevent dirt from tracking into the rest of the space.
  • Cover all furniture throughout the home (especially textile surfaces such as couches and beds) with a drop cloth or tarp.
  • Seal up closet doors by applying masking tape to the gaps between the doors and the floor. Nothing more annoying than having to wash all your dusty clothes because you forgot to do this. 

Clear the air

  • Vacuum, preferably with a HEPA (“high efficiency particulate air”) vacuum at the end of each work day—you can rent one or discuss getting one with your contractor. HEPA vacuums are able to trap much smaller particles than normal vacuums.
  • If you have one, run a HEPA air purifier on high 24/7, and change or wash the filters frequently since they will be working a lot harder than usual. If you don’t have one, consider renting a commercial-grade air scrubber for the duration of the renovation.
  • Open the windows! The more air circulates, the better. 

The costs of prevention are fairly minimal (with the exception of an air scrubber rental, which can run you several hundred dollars depending on how long you need it) but important to identify and account for upfront so that you and your team are on the same page about expectations. And even with excellent containment, you’ll most likely need a dedicated cleaning after the project is done. Read on for how to approach a deep post-construction clean. 

How to approach your post-reno deep clean

Unless you explicitly build it into your contract, extensive cleaning is typically not part of your contractor’s job. The industry standard is “broom-swept,” which usually involves vacuuming up larger bits of debris and then running a broom across the floor. Anything beyond this (including cleaning up common spaces such as hallways and elevators) will need to be specifically arranged, and will most likely incur additional costs that you’ll bear as the homeowner.

Renovation clean-up services

Whether you moved out or stayed put in your home during the renovation process, you’ll need to arrange for a deep post-construction clean up once that last drawer pull is attached and the final coat of paint applied. Homeowners can undertake the deep clean themselves or outsource it to one of the many companies that focus on this service. Thumbtack shared that the cost of a deep clean isn’t necessarily determined by the size of a space but by the level of effort. A 3-bed, 2,000-square-foot home costs $250 to clean on average, while a 1-bed apartment starts at $110. Post-construction cleans will cost more so you can expect to at least double these numbers for a deep, post-construction clean. 

Clean-up steps after renovating:

Usually, a post-construction clean up will include the following:

  • Sweep and vacuum all surfaces, including ceilings and walls
  • Sweep, mop, and disinfect floors
  • Vacuum all upholstery
  • Wipe down doors, knobs, baseboards, moldings, and hardware
  • Thorough wipe-down and sanitization of bathrooms and kitchens (including appliances, cabinets, and counters)
  • Dust, vacuum, and wipe-down of all window interiors including sills and frames
  • Dust all ducts, grates, vents, blinds, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures
  • Clean all hardware hinges and handles, shelves, and cabinets
  • Clean inside all closets
  • Removal of all remaining trash and debris (although your contractor should have removed most of this as part of the contract)

If you’re trying to decide whether to tackle clean up after a renovation yourself or to outsource it to the experts, ask the following questions:

  • Do you have the energy and time?
  • How long will it take you?
  • Do you have any money left in the renovation budget you could put toward the clean? (Or better yet, build it in now if you haven’t started!).

Different circumstances will determine who does the job, but a thorough clean is crucial. All kinds of particles are released into the air during renovations, including various toxins, mold spores, silicates, and ultrafine dust that can damage your lungs. Freshly applied paints, lacquers, and primers also give off fumes. Given the possible dangers to your health, the hefty price tag for a proper clean may well be worth it!

Read about Sweeten homeowners who left their homes during their renovation—and those who stuck it out.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

The post Clean Up After Renovation & Minimize Mess During Construction appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Surviving a Renovation: Should I Stay or Go?

Six Sweeten homeowners weigh in on staying or leaving during their remodel

One of the main points to consider when planning a renovation is how you’re going to minimize the disruption of daily life. It can be tricky if you are updating a kitchen or bathroom. Living without some elements will make surviving a renovation tough (running water, electricity, Wi-Fi), so moving out while work is being done is probably your best option. But if the renovation won’t affect your needs in a major way, then you might be able to stay.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner. Here are six Sweeten homeowners who moved out—or stuck it out—during their renovation.

Moving out during demolition

(Above) Carly’s new apartment

Carly had been looking—and saving—for years to buy an apartment of her dreams. So when she found this 500-square-foot co-op in Greenwich Village, she snapped it up. It was a studio with a  lofted bedroom and balcony—what more could she ask? It did need work, however. She wanted to literally raise the roof in order to enclose the loft bedroom and redo the kitchen. The entire renovation took five months.

In the interest of surviving her renovation, Carly decided to move out during the messiest part of the process: the demolition and raising the roof.  “For much of it, though, I was there,” said Carly. “I had no kitchen for six months and lived out of suitcases.” But she doesn’t regret “slumming it.” “The money I saved on short-term housing enabled me to buy the gas stove of my dreams!”


moving out during a renovation
(Above) Zoe and Arvid’s apartment combination

Combining their apartment with the unit next door eliminated the option of living at home when work began. Since the scope of work extended beyond demolishing walls and the two existing kitchens to build a new one,  Zoe and Arvid moved into a short-term sublet. The couple embarked on an Airbnb-hopping adventure when their lease ended before the work was done. They then decided to live on-site for the second half of the project.

Expecting while renovating

moving out during a renovation
(Above) Lindsay and Roger’s updated kitchen

Renovating the kitchen while nine months pregnant made getting around the apartment a challenge for Lindsay. “You think you can live through it for a week or two, and then realize how long a week or two really is. It would have been a nice break to go somewhere where there wasn’t dust and tools and boxes everywhere,” she said. To make it work, she moved everything from the kitchen and living room into the nursery. For future renovators, she recommends going away for a weekend during heavy construction.

Surviving their renovation: A couple toughs it out

(Above) Sharon and Laurence’s New York City apartment

Sharon and Laurence lived in their Financial District apartment for more than two decades before renovating their bathroom. They previously had remodeled their kitchen but were wary of redoing their bathroom. The couple only has one in their apartment so they thought it being out of commission would be tough. Sharon and Laurence ultimately decided to stay in the apartment during the renovation. It wasn’t ideal but they used a neighbor’s apartment for bathroom access. Sharon thought it was better to be living on-site to deal with potential issues quickly and efficiently.

Moving into a rental

(Above) The light-filled renovated living room

For their family of five, these homeowners wanted an open and airy space. That meant renovating their Upper West Side home, adding another bedroom and bath. They also knocked down walls and updated their kitchen. They turned to Sweeten to find a reliable contractor.

The couple decided to take their three boys (and two dogs) and move into a rental while the work was being done. “When I told our Sweeten contractor that we wanted to move back in before the apartment was completed, he worked with us to allow us to do that. Even though we lived there without a kitchen, there was no question that it would be worth it in the end.”

Neighbors offer hospitality

moving out during a renovation
(Above) Nikki and Chris’ apartment renovation

Nikki and Chris had to get creative to manage the challenges of being in the space mid-construction. “Through this experience, we showered at our friends’ homes, brushed our teeth at local coffee shops, and ordered from Seamless four times a week,” Nikki said. But it was all worth it to see the daily progress and watch the couple’s vision come to life. The routine became so natural that the couple’s pug started waiting at the door each morning to greet the contractor’s team when they arrived.

Surviving a renovation (whether remaining in or leaving your home) is an important decision. We’ve outlined the pros and cons of sticking it out vs. moving out during your renovation.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

The post Surviving a Renovation: Should I Stay or Go? appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

A House Addition Plan Allows a Family of 5 to Grow

When a home addition plan for a new a sunroom, deck, and dormer enhances everyday living

When this family decided they needed more room, they opted to remain in their beloved first house built in 1932 and make it work. Once a 2,500-square-foot Dutch Colonial in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, they carved out an additional 1,000 square feet. While they had done several smaller renovations along the way, this was the largest—and scariest. Adding a dormer to the attic meant that at one point they were without a roof while waiting for support beams to arrive and constantly checking the weather.

To bring their plan for a home addition to life, they posted their project on Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors offering support through project completion, and chose their contractor.

home addition sunroom

“After” photos by Pixy Interiors for Sweeten

Guest blog post by Sweeten homeowner

My husband and I used to live in Manhattan in a one-bedroom apartment. Once we decided to have children, we knew we wanted to live closer to our families. So we opted to buy a house in the Bronx and have our parents partake in child-raising. Originally we thought we would have one child, live in the area for a few years, and then move back to Manhattan once school started. 

Bronx renovation

We were most excited about having a bathroom on the first floor and not having to go upstairs.

Our home addition plan: Envisioning more space

However, we soon fell in love with having a house and knew we wanted to have more kids. Our neighborhood is quite ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. It’s a nice mix of feeling like we’re away from the city, but not quite in the suburbs. 


We wanted more living space on the first floor because it’s where we spend most of our time as a family. We also wanted our children, who are 9, 6, and 3, to have larger bedrooms and decided to add a 250-square-foot attic dormer for that purpose. The idea was for the new space to be airy and maximize the view of beautiful trees in our backyard. Our 280-square-foot basement converted to a ping pong room for extra recreational space.

kitchen remodel
Transformation outside the kitchen

In the kitchen, the window that previously looked out on the old deck was converted to a passthrough window that now connects to the new sunroom. The kitchen countertop was extended about two feet to the end of the wall that divides the dining area and kitchen. 

Off of the kitchen, we added a 280-square-foot sunroom that includes a bathroom, pantry room, and living area. We were most excited about having a bathroom on the first floor and not having to go upstairs. The pantry provides tons of food, toy, and sports equipment storage. The new outdoor deck is off of the sunroom and is 250 square feet.

home addition space with deck

The renovation process

Our favorite part of the renovation was working with the architect and our Sweeten general contractor on the layout of the new rooms. The biggest challenge and most anxiety-provoking situation was waiting for support beams to be delivered and installed. For two days we had no roof and obsessed about checking the weather to make sure it didn’t rain! 

Our Sweeten contractor had experience with all aspects of our project, including beautiful glass doors installed in his own home. He was great at giving us ideas and then executing the plan. We also shared the same taste in simple, modern, open design. He was able to deliver exactly what we envisioned. And if you need to file for city permits, our advice is to use an architect who can do that. 


It was great to have Sweeten follow up every step of the way. We knew we could turn to Sweeten if we experienced problems with our contractor. Luckily, we didn’t need that assistance. Our contractor’s team was excellent!

Our new home addition space makes us feel less crowded. Now, our children can grow and play without feeling like we’re being swallowed up by all of their toys!

 Thank you for sharing your renovation with us!

OUTDOOR DECK RESOURCES: Yosemite TruOrganics™ 3G deck composite in gray: Calibamboo. Deck railing kit in Premium Somerset: Vista.

BATHROOM RESOURCES: Vintage mirror: Pottery Barn.

PAINT: Walls throughout in #OC117, Simply White; Dining room walls in #C52, Gray Owl: Benjamin Moore.

Maintain the charm of an old house while upgrading the interiors for comfortable living.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

The post A House Addition Plan Allows a Family of 5 to Grow appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

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