GC Recommendation for Large Renovation

Hi there -

I'm looking for a contractor that can take on a large remodeling (second floor addition as well as first floor renovation) project. The contractor needs to have experience in high quality, large-scale renovations and working with an architect.

Would love any referrals.

Thank you,


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We did a small addition project last year with Mario Santilli Construction; they are definitely on the higher end price-wise, but their work is outstanding at all levels. Mario is very detail-oriented and from the beginning was asking a ton of questions to make sure he knew exactly what we wanted and how we wanted to handle any 'weird stuff' that he noticed. Because we were on a non-flexible deadline (needed to get construction complete before new baby arrived) he gave us a long lead time for estimated completion; we told him work had to be done by August 15th, he promised July 15th, and with one thing and another we passed inspection on August 1st :) We were working with plans drawn up by an architect.

Everyone we worked with was pleasant and respectful. They built a plywood wall in our living room to separate the work site from the rest of the house so that the crew would not be tramping through the house and we wouldn't have to worry about our toddler ending up in the construction. The foreman and framers who we saw nearly every day for 3 months would chat with our 2-year-old and work around her nap schedule for using the loudest tools. The subcontractors who handled painting, electric work and stucco were fast, professional and did phenomenal work.

We probably won't be doing more house upgrades for a while now, but should we find ourselves in a position to need more, we would absolutely consider Mario and his crew for another project.

What city are you in?  Schafer Construction is based in Oakland and San Leandro and they do excellent work.  They are experienced in big projects and don't let the details slide (they even put a cute wooden fence around the porto-potties they use so it's not an eye-sore for the neighbors).  They first did a small remodel for my bathroom, then a couple years later a large deck in my backyard.

The owner's name is Rudi, you can talk to him directly if you'd like to, but everyone in the office is great.  They work with a great architect (assuming you need one) and handle everything for you (permits etc).  I truly believe they are the top construction company in the Bay Area.



Check out Kirsten Elliott of Elliott Build. We're on our third project with her - a complete gut job and new everything. She likely won't be the cheapest bid you will get, but she makes the process almost easy and the results are amazing (just look at her website: http://www.elliottbuild.com).

Kirsten is on-time and on-budget, but almost more important is that she has a ton of experience. Her advice is usually right, which makes the 10,000 decisions you have to make a little easier! And, I'm not the only person who likes working with her - her crew and subcontractors are great, and nearly every one of them has told me that Kirsten is their favorite contractor to work with. I can't recommend her highly enough!

It sounds like you are looking for something at least fairly high end. If you want good quality and a high level of service along the way try a larger company like Jetton or Mueller Nichols. If you prefer a smaller outfit try Cerami Builders, Zanderbuilt, or Mario Santilli. 

Since you already have an architect they usually have a list of contractors that they can recommend to you from experience with previous successful projects. 

Greg Sage, Green Mountain Builders, 510-418-7978, gregbsage [at] yahoo.com. We did exactly that (North Berkeley): lifted the house and added a whole new floor plus renovated the old floor (New kitchen, all new electrical, roof, 2 new bathrooms, radient heating, etc.) Greg is conscientious, organized, had decades of experience and has great, competent skills set within his team that he engages as needed. He also presented a complete and competitive bid, was good at working with the designer/structural engineer to make sure the solution was executable. He has good customer service and communications skills in addition to trade skills, inspectors know him and he handles the inspections well. Greg and his team are punctual, clean up after the day's work and have worked with each other for a number of years, I highly recommend him.

We had an exceptionally good experience with Ken Winfield, Winfield Construction in Emeryville, CA a few years ago. He had excellent sub-contractors, and a great team of workers on his own that were always on time and thoughtful in their interactions with us as they got the job done as efficiently as possible. Ken stayed in touch with us and was wonderful to work with. Highly recommend.