There’s always the possibility that we’re taking a chance when we hire a home improvement contractor for the first time whether the job is big or small. When I moved to the suburbs and it was time for me to find a contractor, it was for a big job: to take a mud room that was literally falling off the back of my historic home, reframe it and install a new door, a half bath and a closet.
A good friend who had moved from the city a few months before us recommended a contractor he had used, basically a handyman, and knowing no one else in the area, I trusted that referral. Foolish me, I forked over $500 upfront to the guy to buy materials, and that was the last I saw of him. Forty-some years ago, that was a lot of money to me, but being rooked and made a fool of hurt more than the financial loss.
The lessons learned where to never hire a contractor who wants money up front nor to hire one who doesn’t have a whole portfolio of jobs in the community to demonstrate his or her stability.
Since I became The Home Guru more than a dozen years ago, I’ve formed happy alliances with many home improvement suppliers, and because readers frequently ask me for recommendations, I’m opening the pages of my “little black book” to share those I’m using right now or have used in the recent past. I can recommend them with full confidence and, for good measure, I’ve included some personal notes about the nature of our relationships.
BLINDS: Niles Floors & Blinds, Anthony and Pat Viverito, 914-737-6780, www.nilesfloorsandblinds.com (Anthony and Pat Viverito convinced me to filter the light in my new digs rather than have my windows go naked, as I was wont to do for some years!);
CABINETRY & WOODWORKING: Woodtronics, Jan Efraimsen, 914-962-5205, www.woodtronicsny.com (Jan and his designer Chris Keating are designing and building the cabinetry at my new home, needed because I’m downsizing by 50 percent! Jan, originally an engineer, turned his woodworking hobby into the most skilled cabinetmaking skills I’ve ever encountered, both for residential and commercial applications);
CARPETING: Redi-Cut Carpets, Michael Feldman, 914-937-5885, http://redicut.com (Michael just installed all the carpeting in my new offices);
CONTRACTORS: Miracle Home Improvements, 914-2719119, www.miraclehomeimprovements.com (Mary and Robert Sniffen specialize in roofing, windows, siding, doors, skylights and decks, and always nicely support The Home Guru column, too!); Franzoso Contracting, Mark Franzoso, 914-271-4572, www.franzoso.com (Mark as you know is the marketing genius who came to Yorktown’s aid when we were about to lose an historic landmark which he agreed to restore in exchange for an the right to build an additional house on the property);
ENVIRONMENTAL COMPANY: ENVIRO-STAR, Mark DiBartolo, 845-279-9555, www.tankremovalservices.com (By the way, always remember, an underground oil tank isn’t a death sentence for having it there! But, if it must come out, Mark’s the guy who will do it for you);
ELECTRICIAN: P&K Electric, 914-962-3581 (Pete and Ken are doing the wiring needed for an electric fireplace in my new digs that, I swear, you would never know isn’t the real thing. I found it at Fireglow in Jefferson Valley);
FENCING: Campanella Fencing, Tony Campanella , 845-628-2200 (Tony always offers me creative solutions when it’s time for repair work on my VERY old stockade fencing);
FLOORING: Absolute Flooring, 914-245-0225, www.absoluteflooring.com, (When it came time to replace my kitchen floor, owners Mary and son Bryan Fellbusch treated me like family and gave me the best installation job imaginable for a checkerboard white and black pattern);
HOME INSPECTOR: Robin Home Inspection, 914-456-7718, (Dale Robin does an incredibly thorough job; clients are always impressed);
INSURANCE: Albert J. Chapman Agency, Inc., Bob Chapman, 914-962-5778, www.albertjchapman.com (Bob found me the best priced policies for both my new condo at Trump Park Residences and for my cars. He’s a second generation insurer and the most attentive provider I’ve ever encountered!);
LANDSCAPER/SNOW REMOVAL: Fitz’s Landscaping, John Fitzpatrick, 914-618-1549, www.fitz-landscape.com (Now that spring is here, you can rely on John for total landscaping design as well as lawn maintenance needs);
MOLD REMEDIATION: Oxygen Sanitizing Systems, 1-877-224-3080, www.newindoorair.com (When my office library was attacked by mold, owner Valerie Maziarz brought this wonderful service to my rescue; I actually breathe better now!);
MOVER: Advantage Movers, 800-444-0104 (My friend Phil D’Erasmo is the best in the business, and his resources aid charities in need. That really appeals to me);
PAINTER: Joe Pascarelli, 914-330-3889 (Can there be anyone else but “Fireman Joe” for painting inside or out? He’ll also tell you about fire safety at home and check your smoke detectors!);
PAVING & STONEWORK: Jim’s Driveway Sealing & Paving, 914-962-8727. Jim Capone will be paving my driveway on Hickory soon as well as constructing my new stone walls);
PLUMBER: Goldberg Plumbing & Heating, 914-962-3498. Dave Goldberg was the first plumber I called over 40 years ago).
To my suppliers, I say, if I’ve left anybody out, don’t shoot me. Forgive me, and I’ll catch you the next time around. Just as with the throes of maintaining a home, there’s always another job to be done, right?
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is: www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com and his blog is: www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.