Jun 27, 2017
Interview With Jeff Streich
Hosted By Nate Pfaff
Jeff Streich has owned Prime Renovations for 15 years and he specializes in high-end renovations across the city. His father was an engineer and they would build their own decks with no power tools. When he first got into the business, he learned the value of setting clear expectations and communicating clearly with clients about exactly what they want. Construction is a challenging and often messy job, so Jeff sees one of his most important responsibilities to be very detail oriented and make sure everything is approved by his clients.
Jeff’s favorite restaurant in the city is Babbo on Waverly Place, as well as Bond Street downtown and Landmarc in the AOL building. He found E Myth by Michael Gerber to be extremely useful in giving insight into how to not be an employee of your own company but to be the owner. It teaches you how to delegate, which is extremely important in the construction business.
[1:32-2:11] Intro: Jeff Streich is the owner of Prime Renovations. He founded the company in 2004 and it specializes in high-end renovations across the city. Prime Renovations was founded after a chance encounter between Jeff and a stranger. Jeff was working as an exterior contractor at the time and he found a phone. On returning it, the owner was a man who happened to own 200 buildings across the city. Because of Jeff’s contracting experience, the man asked him if he wanted to do some exterior work, and soon after Prime Renovations was born.
[2:11-2:32] Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you specialize in? I’ve owned Prime Renovations for about 15 years now. We specialize in high-end residential renovations. Anything from bathrooms to kitchens to doors.
[2:32-3:13] How did you get into the renovation business? A long time ago, I had a friend that worked in waterproofing. I started working with him and I happened to find someone’s cell phone who happened to be an owner of a management company. He had a good exterior guy already, so he asked if I could do interiors. We started out doing some small stuff at the Bronx and from word of mouth it just grew so much every year.
[3:13-3:41] Did you grow up around renovations and home developments? Very little. My father was an engineer and he would build his own deck in the house but he wouldn’t let us use power tools. From this, I got a little experience but other than that, I don't have a renovations background.
[3:54-4:37] What are the biggest obstacles to overcome when doing renovations in the city? They're too many but one thing that’s really different in the city is you're restricted in time. For example, most buildings will allow us to work from 9 to 4. This is a big challenge. Getting the deliveries in coordination is quite hard because you can’t do deliveries with so much moving out. So coordination, and working with the buildings.
[4:37-5:09] What’s your favorite kind of renovation to do? The thing that we do most that I like is when we do a full gut renovation. It's like starting from scratch and having a blank canvas.
[5:09-7:13] Why do contractors have a bad reputation? Some just chase the money. They ask for the deposit and when work gets hard and they run out of money, they start another job and neglect the original work. I used to work with someone whose MO was to start a job, then get into a fight with the owner. He would either leave or get fired so he won't have to finish the job.
[7:15-8:30] What are some steps a homeowner might do to ensure they have a successful renovation? It's first important to find the right contractor. The best way to find one is by getting recommendations from other clients. Secondly, be very decisive in what you're buying. If you can’t make up your mind quickly, the renovations could go on forever.
[8:30-9:18] Stay in touch with the podcast by subscribing to the mailing list. Text Brooklyn to 66866.
[9:18-10:37] Why do prices vary so much from one contractor to the next for the same work? I’ve been doing this for 15 years and even my prices change considerably. Expenses vary from contractor to contractor because of project managers, insurances, office rent etc. when businesses grow it means the experience is better as well as the job quality, and this will cost incredibly more.
Supply and demand is another factor. If a contractor is busy, he tends to bid higher on incoming projects.
[10:37-11:42] What do you tell clients on a budget how to save money? That depends on what kind of job they're doing. There’s always a way to save but a lot of it has to do with what the client is buying. Marble tiles don't cost the same as porcelain tiles.
[11:42-12:37] If you're renovating a kitchen, which items do you feel are most important to spend money on? Personally, I think the appliances, backsplash, and the countertop. I am more than satisfied with Ikea cabinets because we customize them.
[12:37-15:21] What are the biggest mistakes that you’ve made over the years that you’ve really learned from? They’ve been numerous but recently I've realized it's so important to get submittals. When a client wants to buy something it's important to make sure it's the exact thing that they want.
[15:21-15:41] What are some of the biggest ways your city has changed over the past 2 decades? I think it's a little cleaner now but there's just so much traffic.
[15:41-16:05] What’s your favorite restaurant? I have a couple. My favorite is Babbo because the food is unbelievable. I also love Bond Street Downtown and Landmark at the AOL building.
[16:05-16:42] What advice would you give to someone looking for a renovation specialist? The smartest thing would be to make sure you have a good team. Ask your friends for referrals. This is the biggest thing.
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