From the Forum – Looking for a (Female) General Contractor and Wondering about Neighborhood Safety in NoMa

by Prince Of Petworth February 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm 25 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user elleno1975

Looking for a general contractor – snowflake issue – I’d like it to be a woman!

“I have a bunch of house projects I’d like done (from drywall patching to installing new bathroom vanity, weatherization, maybe a roof deck?) and I’d like to develop a working relationship with a great general contractor who I could use to manage all of these projects. Also, I’d like it to be a woman Not necessarily a female owned firm; I’d like the person who I work with (and who coordinates any subcontracting) to be a woman. I’m not going to go into why, let’s just assume it’s a given at this point. I’m a woman, if it matters.

Does anyone have any recommendations, or even better, other ways I can be searching for this? The person would need to be 100% legit (licensed, bonded, etc) and I am looking for someone who really prioritizes good communication and relationship-building. I potentially have a lot of work that could make them a lot of money over the years.

I’m open to any suggestions, thanks!”

Neighborhood Safety–NOMA (O NW and North Capitol NE):

“I would like some input on safety in the NOMA area. My roommate and I (two females, mid/late twenties) are looking into an apartment on O Street NW and North Capitol NE. To gauge some perspective, we currently live near Euclid and 14th and feel safe walking home at night alone. What is the general level of safeness for a female to be walking home from Mt vernon metro, NY Ave or H street at night? I checked the crime reports but would like to get a general awareness and other perspectives. Thanks!”

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  • anon

    I wouldn’t consider O St and North Capitol quite in the NoMa bubble. I live in Eckington and had a friend who lived right there on O Street. While I think the larger area is about as safe as most parts of the city, a lot of crap happens right in that immediate area. There was a mass drive by shooting just south of NY Ave in front of the housing projects and I frequently see police responding to calls around North Capitol from about Florida Ave south to L St. Several shootings have been posted on this site that have happened right in the area around O and North Cap. The mix of low income housing, Big Ben Liquors, and major roads that allow people to quickly get out of the area make it a little sketchy. If you can go a few blocks north into Bloomingdale, it’s much better and I’ve never had a problem there.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, O and North Capitol is not in NOMA – although it’s only a block or two away.

      Basically the only people who ever get shot in the area are people who know the shooters. And there aren’t actually many more shootings than most other places in the city. The issue you’d actually face, is that when you walk by Big Ben and the bus stop, people might sometimes say something to you. Whether that’s a problem for you or not completely depends on your personality, savvy, etc.

      Bottom line though, you’re likely to feel safer in actual NOMA – or in any other particularly expensive part of the city. So the trade off is, save a grand or so a month and face occasional harassing comments when you walk by the liquor store, or pay the extra grand and live somewhere where you won’t here those. Reasonable people could go either way.

      • Anonymous

        This is probably the best advice here regarding this immediate area.

  • wdc

    I haven’t worked with her, but someone on my neighborhood listserve recommended Shy Nair of Ant Builders: 202-330-7525.

    • NOMAer

      I agree with Anon @2:31. I’ve lived in the area for just over a year and I avoid walking through that area really once the sun has gone down. There have been probably 6 or 8 shootings within a block or two of North Cap and O and several of them have been quite recent. The area improved while I’ve been there, but certainly not to the degree that I would encourage somebody to move in at that address (particularly two younger women) or recommend walking around at night.

    • guru

      I have used Ant Builders before to replace my outside staircase. They did a good job albeit it was a little more expensive than I hoped for.

      BTW – Shy does the actual quote for the jobs. She does NOT actually do the jobs. The OP was looking for woman that would actually do the job.

    • sbc

      I have not used Cecelia Moore of Handywoman Services [email protected] but she was very responsive when I emailed her about a potential job (it required someone licensed to deal with a gas hot water heater, and she is not). I don’t know if she could do all the things you asked about, but she seemed honest and emailed back quickly.

  • Anonymous

    I walk past O and North Capitol every morning on my commute to work and feel fine there at 7 a.m., but I take a different, significantly out of my way route home to avoid those blocks after dark. I’m a 20-something woman. I would not want to live on that block.

  • AA

    I cannot recall (and can’t look right now for you) but there is a woman operated handyman that I have seen on Angie’s list. I can’t recall her business name but if you googled around you might find her (or get a short term membership and look it up).

    • Anonymous

      I have contacted her before. She was responsive at first, but then pretty much stopped responding to me and never did come out to give me a quote. She’s a handy woman, not a full-service contractor though.

  • anon

    I am a construction manager/designer (non-licensed architect) that can sub-out licensed contractors and professionals. You can contact me via email at [email protected].

  • Ben Buehler
  • Elyse G.

    I would agree that O & North Capitol isn’t really in NoMA. I live in one of the large apartment buildings over near 3rd & K and feel perfectly safe walking around in the evenings. There isn’t any issue going to the grocery store at 1st & M NE or walking down H St or near Union Station. Yet, as a female I would never venture past 1st NE & North Capitol without at least one additional person.

    TL;DR – I would recommend looking at buildings in NoMA “proper” that are closer to the NY Ave metro station or Union Station.

  • anon

    I have lived on that block for 5 years. I would say that the area is getting a lot better, but it is by no means a safe. SOME is right there as well as the artist building 52 “O” (I am a resident here) so we get an interesting mix of folks out of that. The Tyler House is sketchy, and I have been told by many people in the neighborhood to explicitly stay away from walking around it esp. at night. I still do, but I have been warned. Its kind of funny to imagine the people that are going to buy the new luxury condos overlooking one of DC’s most notorious housing projects. Yes, we have shootings, drug dealers, a medicinal depot, and lets not forget about a great bakery. Thats DC, and it really all comes down to being aware of your surroundings. Why else would the rent be so cheap with this great central location? Plus you can’t beat the views of the capital building at night! It seems like everyone has forgotten how rough the Bloomingdale area was only 4 years long ago, and how quickly that transitioned from fixed gears to baby strollers.

  • aaron

    I wholeheartedly recommend Cecilia Moore. I’ve used her for a variety of things over the last couple of years. Some things have been a little on the small side, but I know she is also capable of large projects, think whole house renovation. She is a licensed GC and she’s quite responsible, so it’s no surprise that she declined to do gas work – she declined to do gas work for me too and a licensed plumber (also a woman) was retained for that part.

    I’ve been using her for a while now, but she was featured in late 2012 in the WaPo: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/more-women-are-picking-up-power-tools-and-taking-over-home-repairs/2012/12/18/807a97f8-3993-11e2-a263-f0ebffed2f15_story.html

  • MV

    Yeah, we used Cecilia Moore the Handywoman for a small job at our house (installing babygates after I totally botched the install myself). I wasn’t there for her, but my wife was and she had really good things to say about Cecilia.

  • Hi,

    I’m a female contractor and would love to help. I can be reached at [email protected] or at 305.926.6560.


  • MK

    I will second Shy Nair of Ant Builders. I have worked with her extensively. She renovated my late father’s entire house which was a five month job and did major work on mine. She runs a tight crew and will manage the project for you. Ant Builders is a small firm and works on one job at a time.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one that finds it a bit creepy that she’s looking for a female contractor only? Talk about blatant gender discrimination…

    • saf

      Not at all creepy. I have worked in construction. I know how some GCs are about dealing with women. I would LOVE to deal with a female GC!

    • h

      Nope. Letting strangers into your home, even to perform a service for which you’ve contracted them, can be a mental ordeal, especially if you have experienced harassment or sexual assault.

    • Anonymous

      If she were a man looking for a female contractor, I’d agree it’s creepy. In this case I’d say it’s not at all creepy. There could be underlying reasons she isn’t comfortable dealing with a male general contractor (I’m a female and I’ve dealt with several; never really had a bad experience, but sometimes did feel like they were talking to me like I’m dumb, which I didn’t appreciate).

    • Anon

      There could be may reasons that she is requesting a woman. Regardless of her motivations — there is an under representation of women in construction. If anything, I would say that what this woman is doing is helping to even the playing field for women in construction.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, so I suggest you go look at an area you are considering living….at night, if you have not already done so. For my two cents, I’d say don’t live at O and North Cap. North Cap is much better a few blocks north starting around R, S, Rhode Island…. I used to live at North Cap and RI and it was fine, but I recently looked at a place at North Cap and P and I felt very unsafe (and I have a pretty good tolerance for dodgy areas). I also had a friend who lived above Full Yum (I think thats the chinese restaurant at North Cap and O or P) and she said she got hit up for cash EVERY time she left her apt.

  • Anon X

    I live in the area (north of this, substantially, though). Basically, any place in Bloomingdale, Truxton, Eckington, Noma, etc is great… except for the exact area you’re looking in. Within a block or 2 of NY Ave and North Capitol is the worst part of the area by far. The rest of the surrounding area has improved so much in the last 5 years. Very little crime, safer feeling… but the area youre looking at just hasnt gotten considerably better. Construction projects have stalled, crappy merchants have moved in and out, crime, people hanging around for no apparent reason, etc.


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