New York City Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

New York City Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013.

New York City Best Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Lacey Nix



G. Jezarian Purveyor of Fine Jewelry | New York City

Jezarian, a former race car driver, designs custom jewelry and has a race car-inspired jewelry line. (Photo courtesy of Greg Jezarian)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

New York member Adam Korn posed the challenge to G. Jezarian owner, Greg Jezarian, of designing an engagement ring for his girlfriend, who he says wears little jewelry. Korn says Jezarian came up with a modest emerald engagement ring with tiny diamond adornments that his fiancee fell in love with and matched perfectly a family heirloom bracelet she already owned. “Greg divined one of the most beautiful pieces I’d ever seen,” Korn says of Jezarian, who garnered 10 Page of Happiness nominations last year.

Jezarian started his career in jewelry after making a name for himself in the Formula One racing circuit. After losing his sponsor, he looked for a career that could fulfill him in the same way racing did. Jezarian started designing race car-themed jewelry and found his new passion in jewelry design. He opened his jewelry company in 1997 and now designs all types of jewelry. “I found a way to combine my passions,” says Jezarian, whose work doesn’t require a license. “When people are buying jewelry, they are happy. There are no bad days.”

Jezarian donates jewelry to silent auctions that benefit veterans.


Sitara Electric | Bay Shore, N.Y.

Eddie and Seema Perez opened the company after a bad fall kept Eddie from working for other companies. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Perez)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

For Eddie and Seema Perez, owners of Sitara Electric, a stroke of bad luck changed their lives forever. While working for another electrical company in 2007, Eddie fell from a ladder and tore the menisci in both his knees. After a difficult recovery, he found it hard to find employment with other companies because of the injury. Taking a leap of faith, he opened Sitara Electric in late 2007 with help from his wife, Seema. “We complement each other well — he’s an amazing electrician and I’m a people person,” says Seema, whose company received 16 Page of Happiness nominations in the past year. Seema says they named the company after their 9-year-old daughter, Sitara.

Bay Shore member Steven Kureczko hired Sitara Electric during a home renovation that was fraught with negative contractor experiences. He says Eddie restored his faith, though. “I’m so thankful there is a contractor out there with ability and skill, who is reliable, trustworthy and keeps his word,” he says of the three-time Super Service Award-winning company.

Seema, a former social worker, says she attributes their success to building strong relationships with customers and really listening to their desires. “Eddie takes the time to listen to what they want and gives it to them. He works for their bottom line, not his,” Seema says of her husband, who holds a master electrician’s license and is a New York Jets fanatic.

Fire Island member Charles Coristine needed major electrical work after Superstorm Sandy damaged his home. Because he saw numerous media reports warning area homeowners about price gouging, Coristine worried about hiring a service provider. But he says he felt in good hands with Sitara. “I wish more companies were like this,” he says. “It’s worth developing a relationship with them.”

After Superstorm Sandy, the Perezes and their employees offered discounts for those in need of electric work and volunteered their time at an animal shelter helping with displaced pets. Seema also volunteers at a holistic clinic, where she does social work. The company also recycles wires.


Above Grade Home Inspections | Wallkill, N.Y.

Members praise Sweed for providing the inspection report and photos before leaving their homes. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Sweed)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Praised for child friendliness
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Spring Valley member Daniel Madow says Above Grade owner Chuck Sweed saved him from buying a lemon of a house after his inspection found a potential disaster. “He found flaws even a contractor like me didn’t see,” Madow says. Members praise Sweed for emailing the inspection reports to them before leaving their homes.

Sweed started the company in 1998, after serving in the Air Force during Desert Storm and obtaining a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. “I love helping people with the most important decision they’ll ever make,” says Sweed, who holds a home inspector’s license and received 26 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year.

Mount Vernon member Melinda Licciardello praised Sweed for showing infinite patience with her energetic, but fussy 2-year-old daughter during a lengthy home inspection.


Best Price Home Improvements | Hicksville, N.Y.

Barnett says he lets his customers drive his approach to a job, not the prospect of making money. (Photo courtesy of Steve Barnett)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Steve Barnett says his father introduced him to the remodeling business at the age of 8, and at 12, he served as a member of his father’s crew. Seven years ago, Barnett started his own company, working with his brother, nephew and 25-year-old son. “I teach him to never cut corners and not to be driven by money, because then you miss what’s really important — the customer,” says Barnett, whose company earned 10 Page of Happiness nominations last year.

Commack member Claire Harrison says she appreciated the owner’s involvement in all aspects of the work during her roofing job. “This is a family-owned company that takes much pride in their work,” Harrison says of Barnett, who holds a home improvement contractor’s license.

More Best Contractors

Here are some more Best Contractors who made this year’s cut based on their awesome track record for local service. Read their reviews on angieslist.com to learn why members think they’re so special.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.

New York City Worst Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Lacey Nix

Atlantic Irrigation | Manville, N.J.

Ruth and Bob Garibotto say they paid Atlantic $4,000 for landscaping and have nothing to show for it. (Photo courtesy of The Star Ledger, Newark N.J.)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced criminal charges
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile
  • Illegally unlicensed

Angie’s List member Giuseppe Salonna says Atlantic Irrigation owner Scott Minegar hasn’t paid a $4,000 judgment he won in a 2013 lawsuit accusing Minegar of taking payment for landscaping and abandoning the job. The Hillsborough, N.J., resident says he hired Minegar for a $10,000 project after seeing a coupon ad, but Minegar started the job a month late and left shoddy, incomplete work. Salonna says once he made the final payment, Minegar disappeared and left safety issues on his property. “He was a disaster to deal with and always made false promises,” Salonna says.

Salonna filed an F review on the F-rated company in 2013, joining four other members who left negative reviews. Somerset, N.J., member Mahesh Mehta says he hired Atlantic for a patio and landscaping project. After paying for materials and half of the labor costs, he says Minegar disappeared, along with his $1,200. “For that money, I got no patio and plenty of headaches,” says Mehta, who then joined Angie’s List and filed an F review on the company.

Somerset member Alice Schumm asked for help through the Angie’s List complaint resolution process after she says she gave Minegar $300 for materials for a small tile job he failed to do. Schumm says Minegar solicits work in her senior community, giving low estimates and not completing jobs. “He had more excuses than you could imagine,” she says. Schumm adds that she called Minegar more than 50 times and only got her money back after she threatened to sue and Angie’s List intervened on her behalf.

According to Somerset County court records, Minegar owes more than $21,800 in outstanding judgments to seven homeowners, including three awarded in 2013. Atlantic Irrigation has been sued 13 times, court records show. Minegar also served 10 months in prison in 1993 after pleading guilty to multiple counts of felony burglary, theft and conspiracy, New Jersey Department of Corrections records show. According to the Division of Consumer Affairs, Minegar never held the home improvement contractor’s license required for the work he does. Minegar, who filed bankruptcy in 2002, according to federal court records, didn’t return phone or email messages seeking comment.

AAA Reliable Improvements/A Safeway Improvements | Fair Lawn, N.J.

  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile
  • Illegally unlicensed

New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman permanently shut down five home improvement companies in 2013 and secured a $315,000 settlement against AAA Reliable, A Safeway Improvements and their affiliates, as well as Sulejman and Liman Lita, who Hoffman says owned or were active in all of the businesses, an AG release says. “We alleged these defendants used coupons offering free inspections and low-priced services to gain access to homes, where workers damaged chimneys, roofs or gutters to coerce consumers into paying for expensive repairs,” the release says. Consumer affairs records show only one of their companies held the N.J. Home Improvement Contractor license required for the work they performed.

Seventeen Angie’s List members from New York and New Jersey filed reviews on the D-rated company, including three Fs in 2013 and nine total F reviews. Weehawken, N.J., member Adam Kipiniak says he called A-Safeway to repair a leaky roof after receiving a flier in the mail. He says the company quoted him $500 for the job and promised to fix the roof if it leaked within six months. Five months later, Kipiniak says it started leaking and a company tech promised multiple times to fix it, but never did. “A Safeway is a scam,” Kipiniak says. “They were supposed to fix it, instead they spent 10 minutes throwing tar around and charged me for the pleasure.”

Hoffman says 86 consumers filed complaints with his office and the Division of Consumer Affairs. The state filed its 11-count complaint against AAA Reliable and Sulejman Lita in 2012 and amended the complaint in 2013 to include his relative Lima Lita, after the AG learned the two worked together at the various companies, court documents show.

Under the terms of the settlement, all of the Litas’ companies were shut down, their home improvement contractor’s registration was permanently revoked, and Sulejman was barred from performing home improvements for three years or owning or operating any business that requires licensing for three years, settlement documents show. According to the AG’s office, Sulejman paid the first two installments of the settlement, totaling $150,000, on time. Another $165,000 is due in August 2015. Numbers and emails listed for the companies no longer work, and the men’s attorney didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

The Party Ride | Brentwood, N.Y.

Members say The Party Ride ruined their special events. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Swart)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile
  • Illegally unlicensed

Gillette, N.J., member Kris Silvestry says The Party Ride entertainment bus showed up three hours late to her sister’s bachelorette party and treated the bride-to-be so poorly that she spent most of the event crying. “They ruined her special day,” says Silvestry, adding The Party Ride didn’t deliver a $300 promised refund. Members filed four F reviews on the The Party Ride, alleging the F-rated company that serviced the New York City and Baltimore areas ruined special occasions with dirty, broken buses and poor customer service.

In late September, the New York State Department of Transportation revoked the company’s intrastate operating authority, after the company received poor inspection records for two years in a row, says agency spokeswoman Carol Breen, adding that she thinks the company went out of business. The Party Ride, also operating as A-1 Quality Limo, received violations for unsafe driving practices, vehicle maintenance and allowing drivers to work longer than 10-hour shifts, inspection records show. Numbers for The Party Ride and its owner, John Grandeo Gargas, were disconnected and emails went unanswered.

Roofing Police | Garwood, N.J.

The AG says John Kot claimed to be a former police officer. (Photo courtesy of the N.J. AG)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Landed in the Penalty Box
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile
  • Illegally unlicensed

At press time, New Jersey Attorney General spokesman Jeff Lamm says a $7.7 million judgment remains unpaid by John Kot, who owned the Roofing Police and operated under multiple names, including A-1 Affordable Construction and A-1 American Chimney. The AG won the judgment in 2012 after 81 homeowners complained the company that operated in New Jersey and New York performed shoddy work and didn’t hold proper licenses, court documents show.

Member Dawn LaCosta says she agreed to a $3,150 unnecessary chimney repair from A-1 American Chimney after Superstorm Sandy that ended up filling her Mountainside, N.J., home with smoke. “I’d been price-gouged,” says LaCosta, who filed an F review that resulted in a Penalty Box case after A-1 didn’t respond. The Roofing Police has an F rating on the list, Kot’s other companies have B and C ratings. Kot didn’t respond to calls or emails for comment.

Penalty Box Hall of Shame

The Penalty Box is our way of alerting other members about a provider who has failed to meet a member's expectations. See New York City Penalty Box Hall of Shame.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.


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