General Contractors

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  • Contractor for remodeling

    (4 replies)

    We are replacing a sliding glass door with french door, taking out carpet from stairs and installing tile, doing a simple kitchen remodel (cabinets, countertop, backsplash, reduce size of island).    We don't need a designer, but are looking for good quality contractors.  Any recommendations? (I looked at past reviews, but were dated, or no recommendation was made by more than one person).  Thankyou

    We  were happy with Jason Johnson from home healing renovations

    I can happily recommend you BuildMark. They did an amazing job on my kitchen remodel. The contractor, Emanuel, is knowledgeable and we were happy with the work that he and his team did.  His contact info is: 510-484 5765

    Hope this helps! Good luck with your remodel!

    I very highly recommend Marius Adamache from Marius Construction (adamache [at] or [email protected]) for this work. He's standing in my kitchen now, doing the final punch list items on my remodel! Marius is sweet and friendly -- super easy to talk to -- and he and his crew work quickly and efficiently. For this job, he demolished my old cabinets, and then installed new cabinets, lighting, countertops, sink, and a backsplash. He built a pony wall, painted, and did all kinds of other small touches that have made my kitchen look great. I also did not hire a designer or an architect, and Marius had some creative ideas about handling issues that emerged as the remodel went on. He handles the unexpected very well. If there hadn't been a delay in getting tiles (not Marius' fault), the whole job would have been finished in three weeks.

    This is the second time I've hired Marius. Eleven years ago, he and a much bigger crew did a major house remodel, including building a set of internal stairs, knocking down walls and creating new ones, installing sheer wall and load-bearing ceiling beams, tying down the foundation, installing flooring, and much more. He was good then, but I think he's gotten even better.

    As a bonus, he strives to be the best bid and handles the inevitable unexpected expenses transparently and fairly. I trust him.

    I highly recommend Alin with Eco Home Remodeling. I got several quotes for the renovation of my small home in North Berkeley and Alin got back to me the fastest and with the most comprehensive quote of them all. The prices were fair and the written estimates included everything that we would encounter in the renovation. The communication was great and if something on the quote changed it was all done in writing, so there were no mistakes. These guys started work promptly, showed up on time, and even worked weekends to complete my project. Alin and the crew were courteous, professional, and respectful of the property. I would definitely use them again for any other renovations. You can reach him at 510 697 0679 or by email at admin [at] 

  • We're looking for recommendations of a good General Contractor, who takes pride in his/her work, and is available to take on a moderate remodel project. The work includes:

    1. Seismic retrofit (optional and/or can be spun out to a different contractor)

    2. Kitchen remodel (which includes removing a structural wall, and adding support)

    3. Bathroom remodel

    4. Electrical/lighting

    5. Whole house window replacement

    6. HVAC (can be spun out to a different contractor)

    7. Painting

    We would gladly recommend Emanuel with BuildMark. The complete home remodel was a pleasure from beginning to end. Emanuel and his amazing crew does beautiful work, completes it on time and he is a great communicator. We highly recommend him and the company. This is his info: 510-484 5765  emanuel [at]

    We've used Eric Sterken extensively for remodeling projects, and I have always been happy with his work ... and how pleasant he is to have around. 

    You can find Eric's website at this link, and you can see pictures of his work on our house here.


    People have a tendency to want a very high quality contractor for a low price or a very high quality contractor for a small project, such as a balcony repair. It doesn't work like that most of the time. You usually get what you pay for. Any good contractor is not available right now and you will have to wait for their services (a year or more). If you don't have completed working drawings it's going to be hard to get a contractor's attention as they are busy and don't have time to waste talking to people that don't have everything sorted out, including the budget to do the project, permits etc.

    The best contractors are fairly expensive, but in construction you get what you pay for. These guys on my list mostly work in Berkeley, Rockridge, Piedmont with an occasional project in Orinda or Lafayette. These guys will be busy and you will have to wait probably a year for their services. Your project would be at the very least $350-400K and likely much more, if using one of the better contractors. A basic kitchen remodel (down to studs) without alteration of the building envelope is $120-150K, but most are much more. Bath remodel $50-75K with Heath tile and custom cabinetry and mid-high level finishes. A larger bath with architectural detail (vaulted ceilings, ridge skylights etc. could drive this price up dramatically).

    The best contractors all have an excellent grasp at the underlying intent of the project; they will not cut corners and perform work and historical detail to a very high level. They usually work with the better architects as well. Their subs will all be outstanding. They will keep jobsite clean, use quality materials, carpenters will be detail oriented with lots of experience and they won't be rushed. Execution level will be top-notch in all areas with an outstanding finish quality. All of the contractors on this list would require working drawings etc. from an architect.

    Very Good: Carlen and Co.; Zanderbuilt; Cerami Builders; Jetton Construction (a larger firm if you want a lot of customer service and price will reflect this); Swan Builders; Breska Associates; Cameron Habel Construction

    Good: Mario Santilli Construction; Oliver Builders; Alward Construction (expensive and overall value not very good)

    Budget: Marco Fortier Construction (very good value). And when I say budget I don't mean super cheap.

    I recommend Keir Lenihan (Lenihan Builders). Keir is a former foreman at the highly regarded Jetton Construction and he also ran the shop at Zanderbuilt. He has been on his own now for many years. He has worked on my house and the execution and level of thought that go into his work is outstanding. He takes his time to do the job right. He also wears a tool belt and is constantly onsite working and interacting with any subs that are required of the project. He studied mathematics at Cal and is very sharp. No website. His business is all from referrals from previous clients. CA Contractor Lic # 760979.  keir.l [at]

  • Rockridge Contractor Recommendations

    (4 replies)

    Hello everyone - we are moving from DC and were lucky enough to find a house in Oakland (Rockridge). It needs some work (roof, sewer line, windows, some interior remodeling, electrical) and we are trying to get recommendations. We'd like to find someone who could help us remodel the basement laundry space, and re-work a closet, including knocking one wall down and closing another up as soon as possible, as we'd ideally like to do those two projects before we move in. 


    - General contractor recommendations

    - Recommendation for someone who could do the laundry/closet spaces

    - Great electrician

    - Roofing contractor, if you had a great experience with someone

    - Any advice on the sewer line work, if you've had to go through that in Oakand

    - Any other general advice on this kind of work in Alameda County/Oakland, as we have a lot of experience doing the work on the East Coast, but none on the West Coast.


    We just used Pipe Spy to replace the sewer lateral in our Oakland home. They did a fabulous job, and I would highly recommend them. 


    Welcome to the neighborhood. Try Construction Remedy. (510) 637-8973  They work in Berkeley and they are great contractors with electrical experience too. They recently updated my electrical panel box and did a great job! 

    I can wholeheartedly recommend Georg Buechi of Sticks and Stones Inc, a design- build firm. I’m currently working with Georg on a large renovation project on my home in Oakland, and can’t imagine a more thorough, organized, and thoughtful contractor. I feel very lucky to be working with Georg and his crew.


    Eco Home Remodeling recently completed a project in my home. We hired them for interior painting, installing recessed lighting in our high ceiling, and remodeling one bathroom. Alin and his team were a breeze to work with and everything turned out beautifully. They were fast, efficient, and thorough. Any time I had a question or concern, it was quickly addressed and solved. Every person that stepped foot in our home was kind and courteous. The pricing and quality of work are top-notch. You can reach Alin at 510 697 0679 or by email admin [at]

  • Hey BPN Hive Mind!

    We’re scoping a renovation for our new home, hoping to start ASAP, and the GC we were consulting with is currently committed for the timeline of our project. Looking for GC recommendations!

    Sense of skills/experience we're seeking - looking to remove a wall or two, do beam support instead, plumbing (moving to outdoor tankless WH), electric (going induction), and other gas/plumbing re-routing (moving laundry hookups). Ideally familiar with Berkeley permitting :)

     Any leads would be so appreciated!! M

    I would happily recommend Emanuel with BuildMark. He remodeled our kitchen and bathroom last year and we are extremely happy with the outcome. Emanuel was knowledgeable, professional and easy to work with. His phone number is 510-484 5765 and website

    Hope this helps!

    We had a great experience with Ken Winfield of Winfield Construction! Our vintage Elmwood neighborhood Berkeley house had a lot of problems and Ken took a thoughtful approach, used great subcontractors and got the somewhat extensive work done in an efficient, reliable, professional, beautiful manner. I'd highly recommend him. 

    We’ve worked with Kirsten Elliott with ElliottBuild for several projects, both large and small. Can’t recommend them more highly!! Beautiful work, easy, on-time.. really awesome.

    Hi!  You are in luck - we just moved into our completely remodeled home.  It was a big project.  We are soooo pleased with the results.  Happy to discuss offline additional details.

    We worked with 2Bricks design build, a relatively new company (started summer 2020) - both owners have years of experience in their respective industries (construction and architectural design) before joining forces last year.

    GC is Doug An  925.785.0706 and designer is Kibum Kim  773.354.7406.  Our big project was pretty much on schedule and on budget (which is crazy rare!).  They are really highly sought after right now so do contact them early and see if their schedule fits yours.

    We have just finished a long, involved remodel on our Berkeley craftsman home and we've worked with Eco Home Remodeling. The contractor, Alan is exceedingly organized and committed to a process that is fair and pleasant for all involved. He is exceptionally responsive to feedback, and takes the client's needs and opinions into account without fail. He was at our house every work day for more than 6 months. His work is of the highest possible quality. And, perhaps almost as important, I could not not have imagined a more pleasant and respectful person to run our job. We feel so lucky to have worked with Alan on such a complicated project. I would recommend him without any reservation; his phone number is 510 697 0679 and his email admin [at]

  • Recommendation for excellent contractors?

    (4 replies)

    Please tell us your recommendations for contractors you have loved working with!  We are especially looking for someone who has good communication skills, pride in their work, good follow-through, integrity, and reasonable rates.  Are we asking too much? :) 

    Please tell us what you liked about your contractor!
    We appreciate any suggestions or thoughts.

    We loved Crow at Crowworks.

    Crowworksdesign [at] 510 520-7989. Easy to work with, knowledgeable, and works by hour, time, and materials. tell him Jamie sent you.

    I can't say enough about Hugo Cano. He lives in El Cerrito and recently did work tiling and waterproofing in our bathroom as well as interior painting and repair work. Hugo is very communicative, flexible, responsive and reasonable. He works really hard and the job was done in a timely manner. He has a good rapport with his workers who also were respectful, hardworking and exacting. I am thrilled to have found him, and yet also happy to give him my highest recommendation. 

    Hugo Cano (510) 213-0812

    Yes, I think you are asking for too much. Contractors are in high demand right now, as people are trying to create comfortable places to work at home. The excellent contractor you are looking for is also going to be very expensive. Sorry, no recommendations, everybody I know is booked. Good luck!

    I would be happy to recommend you Emanuel with BuildMark. He did an amazing work on our kitchen remodel. We are extremely happy with the outcome, very good communicator throughout the project. Here is his info Emanuel 510-484 5765  

  • GC Recommendation for Large Renovation

    (6 replies)

    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,


    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:

    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] 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.

  • General Contractor to repair a balcony

    (3 replies)


    I'm looking for a good licensed general contractor to do some balcony repair.  Any recommendations?

    Hi - 

    I highly recommend using someone who understands waterproofing as that is the number one issue when dealing with balconies. I have had amazing experiences with Danny Gomez - 510-685-3034. Tell him that Sarah Ridge the realtor referred him to you. My husband, who is also a contractor (but not the type who does balconies) has worked with him extensively on jobs that they both were on and then we used him on our home - I am really picky (both bc of my husband and bc of my job) and I was so delighted with his communication skills, his personality (very kind and calm) and the work that he did (excellent - so smart). 

    Ken Winfield Construction.   He does top notch work and gets the necessary permits.   He basically had to re-do our very large and high deck.    The City of Berkeley has changed their requirements in this area so to get a permit, you may end up needing to do some things you hadn't planned to.   But a balcony and a deck should be safe and have permits.    It's not necessarily cheap but you want to make sure it's safe.  And nice! 

    Schafer Construction specializes in balconies and is the best of the best!  They built a deck for me and I couldn't be happier.  If it's just a small repair they might be over-kill, but if you have a lot of work that needs to get done I strongly recommend them.


  • Hi! We're struggling to find renovation contractors who are knowledgeable about construction materials - esp flooring adhesives, etc., - appropriate for highly chemically sensitive family members. BPN has a whole referral section but most of the posts are a decade old and we've come up empty for folks currently working in the East Bay. Would be so grateful for guidance! Thx.

    If you are chemically sensitive, it can be difficult to find a contractor who is careful enough. People who label themselves "green" are often not as aware as one would like (I say this as a person who has had two major additions and much work on an older Bay Area house.  We had constant struggles with our contractor, who claimed to be knowledgable).   The Eco-Home store in Berkeley is a good place to start for materials, and they sometimes have referrals to contractors. Two sources that I've found helpful: 1) Healthy Building Science in San Francisco -- they are top-notch consultants who will work with your contractor, but they are expensive.  2) Paula Baker-LaPorte, who is an Oregon based architect who wrote Prescriptions for a Healthy House.  You can buy the book at local independent bookstores, or try her website. Also, try looking at Yelp for green contractors, but just be aware you need to talk everything thru with them and be your own advocate because they won't all have the same understanding of "green."


    I have to watch contractors like a hawk. They would much rather use familiar materials and do things the way they have done for years. Eco Home Improvement is helpful:

    Maybe find adhesives you like there and buy them yourself. You can also ask them about contractors that they recommend. 

  • General contractor for fixer-upper

    (3 replies)


    We recently moved to the east bay and might be looking to buy a home. Given the number of old homes for sale, we might be getting into a fixer upper. It would be great to get recommendations of contractors and potentially architects.

    Thanks so much

    I would highly recommend Baywood Building and Design.  Over 25 years I have had the chance to have them do repairs to remodels.  They are efficient, fastidious, economical (the owner finds the best, easiest solutions rather than the most expensive), and responsible.  When something didn't turn out 100%, they fixed the problem without charging additionally.  Robert, the owner, is conscientious, amiable, and thoughtful.  He pays his employees well, which I count a big plus.

    I highly recommend a local company Construction Remedy. (510) 637-8973 They did a wonderful job on my home. Complete and Beautiful Remodel of my kitchen and master bathroom. Great rates and very professional! 

    I recommend Feraru & Associates Building and Design, 510 228 7366. They helped us remodel our house, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and the kitchen. We had a very good experience with Sorin and the crew. They are knowledgeable, professional and reasonably priced. We interviewed seven different contractors and we are very happy we selected them. Project duration was 6 months, Sorin helped us secure the plans, permits, a very good architect and structural engineer. He connected us with his entire network of associates, suppliers and consultants to make sure the process was smooth and we built our dream home on a budget and as fast as possible. They are seasoned builders and remodelers with answers and solutions to all of our building questions. We are pleased to recommend them. 

  • Handyman/Contractor for modest project

    (2 replies)

    I'm looking for someone who can help us with some projects that are part of a modest kitchen update. Specifically I'm looking for someone to remove tile flooring and replace with hardwood, remove hanging cabinets and patch and paint the walls/ceilings and someone to remove and replace a cooktop vent hood. Have you worked with anyone that you would recommend to take on these types of modest projects?

    I can recommend Erick Chavez from Innovative Construction. He is local, his work high quality and his prices accessible. He is licensed as well, which is a plus!!  510-289-5516, email: archdrafter [at]

    He recently remodeled my home. I can share pictures if desired.

    Best of luck. 


    I recommend Construction Remedy. (510) 637-8973  They are a local company with really nice licensed contracters.  Great rates and beautiful results. They also give free estimates!

    I highly recommend them. They did an amazing job on a remodel in my home.  

  • Need Contractor for small jobs

    (3 replies)

    We desperately need our porch replaced as soon as possible. We need a smaller contractor who can come full time and get the job done as it's our only real entrance to the house. I have always been fair and square with my former contractors, but they can't fit in a job this limited. Any referrals would be greatly appreciated

    Finding contractors for small jobs is frustrating, especially front porches and stairs, because of their visibility to passing building officials. I did a similar projct last spring. Depending upon your jurisdiction you may need a building permit, just to rebuild the same porch, since codes have changed. Berkeley wanted engineering studies, architectural drawings showing stringers rise and run, specifications for strength of planks, waterproofing, etc. They are using a building code which our library does not even have a copy.  Learn about the specs from your jurisdiction before you talk to the contractor to  save you money, headaches, delays, and possible red-tagging.

    Hi, contact Hugo Cano, a contractor who lives locally in El Cerrito and performs small and midsized jobs.  He replaced my 3 tier deck last Spring and replaced the rotted portion of my neighbor's deck this fall.  He is easy to work with and very willing to come on the schedule you want.  Call or text Hugo Cano (510) 213-0812.  You can call/text me for more details at (510-220-5988) and you are welocme to come see his work.

    Saul Lopez is simply the best contractor!! He built 3 decks, an outdoor kitchen and fixed up 2 houses for me and my neighbors. The work is beautiful!! Saul and his staff work hard and efficiently. He has high standards for his work. He always has your back. He is honest, kind and easy to work with. We trust him completely. His phone number: (707) 681-4691. 

    Good luck! Lan

  • Hi there! We are buying our first house and it needs some MAJOR updates. Can you recommend an affordable general contractor? 

    I can enthusiastically recommend Eric Sterken of E&J Builders —

    He has done a few jobs for us, and we have been thoroughly impressed by the quality of his work. Eric is also a very pleasant person to work with. 

  • Small contracting business needed

    (1 reply)

    I have a porch that needs to be rebuilt, but it must be done by someone who has the time to come every day and get it completed. It is the only access to my home and I am slightly disabled or I would use my handyman who does lovely work but cannot come but once a week. I was hoping that someone out there has had a positive experience with a smaller contracting business that they could recommend. Thank you for your help.

    Walter Nix. I got his name from BPN. He may not complete the job in a day or two, but he will leave it each day so that you can use it safely. 

  • Small job contractor

    (3 replies)

    Over the past 2 winters a small but persistent leak has developed in my ceiling. I’ve identified the source which is failing waterproofing under the wood siding that surrounds a slider door onto the deck above this ceiling. I need someone who can remove the siding and repair whatever is needed, including replacing the slider if that’s necessary. I know all contractors are slammed right now but I am anxious to have this repaired before the summer months fly by.  I’m hoping someone could fit this in between other big jobs they are working on in the area. I appreciate any recommendations-I am in the El Cerrito/North Berkeley/Kensington Area. Thank you in advance.

    Walter Nix did some replacing of leaking windows for me and has a great team who I'm sure could handle your job.  He is a perfectionist and made sure everything was water tight and leak-proof!  Good luck!

     I highly recommend my contractor Hugo Cano, who lives locally with his family in El Cerrito. I have hired him on and off since last Fall for many projects: rebuilding and replacing many boards and posts on a very old fence surrounding my property; demolishing and rebuilding a three-tiered deck which had to be replaced due to termites; removing and replacing trim boards around my roof line and windows due to dry rot; rerouting electrical and plumbing lines for deck project; painting or staining all finished work: repairing, replacing and caulking shingles on exterior of house; etc. His work is exceptional, his pricing is very reasonable, he is very personable and extremely reliable. Please give him a call at ‭(510) 213-0812‬. You will not be disappointed!

    I would like to warn people about a Berkeley contractor named Eron Ersch.  He accepted a small job we had in our basement.  He said it would take about 2 weeks. This was 4 months ago.  We have found out he has outstanding bills with a local mirror company, and they will not work with him.  This has been a nightmare for us, and we wouldn't want anyone else to go through what we have.

  • Hello, 

    We recently bought a single family home in Albany. The house can use some updating. We are working with an architect who has come up with a plan and pricing set for the remodel. However, we have not hired a contractor for the project yet. Can you please help us by providing some references for contractors? We hope to interview a few contractors, get pricing before picking one. 

    Thanks so much for all your help in the regard.

    We used Colin Zak at Kodiak Construction. He's kind, direct, and reasonable in his dealings. His crew is amazing; we were almost sorry to see them go after our new kitchen was finished. You can reach him at 510-329-3740.

  • Need a General Contractor

    (2 replies)


    I'm buying a house in Richmond and there are several things that need to get done.  Rather than hire individually, I'm looking for one person to do it all. The house needs:

    Roof repair but not replacement.

    Drainage - fairly large project involving a sump pump and drainage to street. Installation of a membrane under the house.

    Earthquake retrofit

    Strapping and some repairs the hot water heater

    Misc. electrical issues

    Venting issues with the furnace

    Who can I call to do this? 

    Thank you!

    I have had much work done on my house by Baywood Building & Design of Emeryville. They find simple solutions to complex problems.  Their work is of the highest quality and they always leave the worksite in good order.  Check them out.  

    I have been using a local El Cerrito contractor to do several large outdoor projects with great satisfaction.  His name is Hugo Cano and he can be reached at (510) 213-0812.  Hugo is warm, listens well, follows up on details, shows up on time, and does quality work at a very very reasonable price.  He is a general contractor with a speciality in electrical.  I used him last fall to replace several rotted fence posts including rebuilding large sections of a redwood fence with concrete footings and some tricky carpentry.  He also rebuilt several redwood planter boxes, removed and replaced rotted trim on my home including caulking and painting  This spring he is just finishing up a new 3 tier deck which involved grading, dirt removal, reworking drainage and some wiring underneath the deck, and more tricky carpentry, and is getting ready to do the finish sanding and staining once the rains subside. He rebuilt vents around my home, repaired some termite damage, and has worked on some interior and exterior doors to make them fit better.  I can highly recommend him for all this type of work.  He has saved me a lot of money by working smart-- such as using a large temporary timber  to hold up an aerial deck while replacing a rotted vertical post, instead of renting scaffolding.  He has corrected mistake of other contractors.  Feel free to call me for more details or photos.

  • Please can anyone recommend a general contractor who takes on small jobs.

    We're having mold remediation work done next week, so need a contractor to come in after and fix parts of the floor/walls etc, plus fix the leak!

    We're in San Pablo.


    Sounds like something that TaskRabbit or Thumbtack could help with. They find service providers for smaller jobs.

  • We are looking for a general contractor who would assist us with a basement remodel in the Berkeley/Albany area - either drawing plans or sending us to a designer/engineer and then executing the job.  It needs to be permitted and above board.  It requires probably 6-10 inches of excavating for a bedroom and a bathroom.  We are looking for moderate-pricing (which I know is hard these days because everyone is so busy).  Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. 

    We just had Murray Bruce ( do new attic stairs for us and some work associated with that. He is a local Berkeley builder and designer, highly capable and we would highly recommend him. His prices are very reasonable and he is extremely pleasant and communicative so he will let you know if there is going to be any change to the initial estimate. We had a great experience with him and he likes doing local work so you may find he is available (tel: 510 604 1014).

  • We are looking to purchase a home in the Richmond, we can currently still back out of the contract as we have all Contingencies in place. It's a 1,800 home that hasn't been on the Market for 50 years and needs to be completely remodeled. We ideally would like to remodel it before moving in but only have 100k to work with. If anyone has been through this scenario before, I'm interested in hearing your opinions and if there are any General Contractors out there you recommend in the Richmond Area. I think right now my biggest problem is going to be getting on someone's schedule, everyone seems really busy. 

    Have you gotten any bids on the work you're considering?  Since a kitchen remodel alone can be upwards of $50K (and that figure is based on information that's several years old), you might want to have that information in hand before moving ahead with the purchase. It's pretty tough out there to get a contractor on board these days. Best of luck. 

    I recommend  Crow Works 510 520 7989; crowworksdesign [at] Crow did an amazing bathroom remodel for us. He will,definitely tell you what can realistically be done within your budget. He's very creative, really knows the trade,  and easy to work with. I don't know his schedule, but give him a call.

    feel free to use my name.

    Kessner Construction does remodels of kitchens, bathrooms, and even new construction. You can contact Gawain Kessner at 510-847-9554.  I have worked with Kessner Construction (bathroom, garage loft building, cottage rehab), and can send pictures if you like.

  • looking for contractor

    (1 reply)

    I'm looking for an experienced, skilled, reliable, trustworthy contractor who works in Berkeley. ..rebuilding a fence, replacement windows, replace front cement walk leading up to house...Things like that. Thank you. 

    I highly recommend Silvio Dobrovat of Hometelligent ( We just finished a 9mo remodel that he led as general contractor. We rebuilt almost everything in our very old, very crooked, very poorly built Berkeley brown shingle. Because of Silvio's capable project management and skills and crew, we now have a really well built house that is beautiful and amazing to live in. He's a great communicator, very detail oriented, driven to do it right (not just rush to check it off the list), and a pleasure to work with. I would hire him again in a second.

  • I'm looking for a house builder who has experience building on a hill.

    Give Seth Melchert a call at 510-654-2746. He owns and operates the construction company called Master Builders and is really a first class contractor who will do a terrific job at a reasonable price. Honest, hard-working and reliable I have hired him several times for different projects over the years and will be hiring him again for another one soon.

    I had work done by Erol.

    Check him out on North Berkeley Design and Construction

    His website will show you how beautiful his work is.


  • Adding another bathroom

    (1 reply)

    Now that my son is past that stinky boy phase, he's now more interested in maintaining his hygiene! It's great, but we have limited bathroom access due to the increase in usage. I'd love to add another full bath! I have no idea where to begin, though, and am looking for recommendations for someone that can help walk us through the process and provide a realistic quote. I have additional projects that I'd like to work on, too, so this could lead to additional jobs.

    I have hired Arturo Handyman on numerous occasions. He has done painting, plumbing, tiling and much more. I have also referred him to multiple friends and associates to do the same services plus remodel kitchens, baths, roofs and so on.  

    He is a wonderful person, trustworthy, keeps his space clean and an excellent workman. I would highly recommend him for your projects. You can reach him at 510-725-5920.

    Call me with any questions: 510-381-2149

  • General contractor recommendations

    (4 replies)

    We are looking for recommendations for reliable East Bay contractors to help with the following:  

    -troubleshooting a long-standing problem involving leaking windows

    -replacing said windows (and possibly redoing all the exterior stucco and home insulation)

    -replacing front stairs, walkway, and driveway

    -replacing roof

    -bathroom remodel

    -interior wall repairs

    -some electrical updates

    Suggestions?  We are two women and two children who have had bad luck with contractors (despite vetting carefully and checking references), so have been putting this off...

    Thanks BPN!

    Some old school roofers who have been around for a long time and whose services I have personally used are: Pacific Coast 912-5454, Haight Roofing 523-1504, Nicholas 848-4433, Precision 436-7575, Collins 601-9181. All in area code 510. I suggest you wait until summer if you can to ask for quotes as the prices tend to be lower then when work is not so plentiful as now. For electricians I can recommend Jim Hiatt at 733-9396 and Earle at 436-4787.

    I had a great experience with Ken Winfield (Winfield Construction, in Emeryville) - my husband and I bought a house in Berkeley that turned out to have some water leak issues (hard to tell when there's a drought!) - We ended up having to do quite a few things that are on your list. Ken was straight-forward, helpful, friendly and very professional. His team of workers include a supervisor/foreman, great workmen and really good sub-contractors. They did not dilly-dally. Ken inspected the work on an almost daily basis. We really appreciated that he wanted to try the less complicated fixes first (and they worked!!). I would highly highly recommend getting in touch with Ken. We thought his prices were more than fare, he got the jobs done very efficiently, he was easy to work with of all....all the problems were taken care of. Good Luck! Yes, there are some good contractors out there - and Ken is one of them! :)

    I've used Walter Nix for replacing windows and wall repair work as well as exterior wood stairs and deck, etc.  He is highly trained/skilled as a carpenter and has many years of experience doing house improvements including remodels.  He knows his stuff and I can count on him to do high quality work.  He's personable and explains everything, and I also like that he is resourceful and able to get some of the materials we needed from Urban Ore.  I recommend him highly.  510-504-0670

    I highly recommend Levitch Associates, They're a family business that's been operating in Berkeley for over 45 years. Starting in 2006,they have done a home inspection for us, some electrical work, remodeled a bathroom and redid our front stairs. Maurice Levitch has a great eye for detail and provides really high quality work and attention to detail. What I particularly liked was on our front stairs project, I initially thought we would just replace the existing stairs with something very similar. Maurice showed us how we could open up the whole porch by widening the stairs and the whole house looks better now!

  • Contractor for in-law unit add-on

    (3 replies)

    My family and I are interested in adding on an in-law unit and wondering if anyone has recommendations for a contractor or architect for this type of project. Any other suggestions on this type of process would also be appreciated! Thanks!

    The first thing is to make sure in-law units are legal in your area. Then you want a contractor who can pull permits for you. Don't be surprised at the cost of a project like this, in addition to the permit, there are materials and labor. Inspections are another issue.  Thomas Banks built a studio in my back yard and it came out great. He had to pour a foundation, let it set, etc. so it took more time than I realized as I wasn't very realistic about the process. His number is 978 5679.

    I have hired the architect Stuart Sidells in Berkeley for several projects including the design of an inlaw unit. He is very professional, friendly and, most importantly, creative. In addition, he listens to what the client wants and does a fine job incorporating their wishes in the design rather than pushing his own agenda or biases. His number is: 510-548-0684.

    Tony Elenteny at E&F Construction is incredible. He done work for us on a few projects. I has done medium- and large-sized projects for a number of friends who have all loved him.

     Phone number(510) 388-9250

  • I used to be married to a General Contractor.  We broke up before he finished the new construction on our home.  I'm left in need of a porch and stairs for a second story entry, a porch and stairs for the first floor entry, someone to connect a new sump pump to my existing french drains, and gutter replacing/repair or referral for gutter replacing/repair.  I also have about 3 large dump truck loads of debris that I need removed ASAP.  I'd prefer to hire one GC (who is licensed and insured) so I don't have to manage or find subs.  I just want the work done, done right, done soon, and without delays or excuses.  I know what it costs to hire a licensed and insured GC so I'm not going to get sticker shock on prices.  However, I'm having a hard time finding one who takes small projects like mine.  Hoping someone has a local referral who can end this nightmare of mine.

    Try Jason Abbott at Abbott Improvements.  He's done numerous small (and big) jobs for me, and I'm a retired contractor myself.  His number is:  510-517-6849.  I think he actually prefers small jobs (like is did when I was still working).  

    Great thing about Jason is that he can do pretty much everything (plumbing, electrical, etc....) He can also do all levels of work, from cheap/quick to fine detail/high-end.  He also has a dump trailer and can handle that debris for you no problem.  

    You can try Tom Wright, who lives in Oakland.  He did good work on relatively small jobs in our house in Oakland.  He wasn't always good at communicating with first-time homeowners, but if you have some knowledge in this area you'll probably be OK.  I just talked to him and he said he's looking for a job right now, in November 2016.

  • looking for a general contractor

    (4 replies)

    I'm desperately looking for a trustful general contractor to remodel my kitchen, the garage and paint the house.

    I had a previous terrible experienced and I'd like to find someone that follow a schedule and doesn't leave unfinished job.

    Please let me know if you had some good experience and has reasonable price.

    Thank you

    Ken Winfield, Winfield Construction in Berkeley

    I cannot recommend Ken highly enough, though they are terribly busy and I'm not sure if he has the bandwidth to add jobs.

    But at the very least, look him up and give him a call. He did a wonderful job on a multitude of things that needed to be done at our place in Berkeley last fall when we were racing to do everything well before the rains began. Wonderful contractor. 

    John Hearney of Hearney Construction - here are Yelp reviews:  

    Phone number(510) 333-1966Phone numb(510) 333-1966

    At this point he and his team have completely remodeled my kitchen (inexpensively, with IKEA hacks and doing an AMAZING job), added a room and bathroom, completely remodeled another bathroom, added major built in closets to 2 bedrooms (another IKEA hack) and done it all on a budget, on time, with great workmanship and super super nice crew. John is very easy to communicate with, completely responsive and reliable, honest to a fault, and just an exceptionally nice guy. He is about to start a retaining wall and steps in my backyard and I have recommended him to many neighbors and friends. 

    I strongly recommend you Emanuel with Bay Area Pacific Construction as a general contractor for your project. Emanuel did an amazing job renovating my kitchen, garage and closets in my house. He came up with a design that extended my kitchen and expanded the storage space. Emanuel and his team are extremely reliable and professional. The guys on the job were very respectful and clean. They frequently cleaned the site as they worked. The job was completed on time and below budget. I would recommend these guys to anyone! You can reach him by phone at (510) 484 5765 or by email at admin [at] Alden

    I would love to recommend you Emanuel of Bay Area Pacific Construction as a general contractor (phone # 510 484 5765). I am so happy we found him on BPN. I know there are many people who have very bad experiences with their contractors, but that will never be the case with Emanuel. Emanuel will go above and beyond to give you exactly what you want and for a reasonable price. He is a perfectionist, so you can trust that he will give you quality work. He was always responsive by phone and text whenever I had any concerns or questions. My wife and I are very pleased with the results of his work. He had painted our whole house and remodeled our kitchen within our tight schedule and budget. I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking to renovate. Best of luck! Tom

  • Addition to our loft space

    (1 reply)

    We're hoping to build an additional story in our loft space. I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has experience with this type of remodel and recommendations for a contractor who can also work with us to devise the plan. Thank you.

    I'm always recommending our contractor, Jeff Pratt (currently finishing several jobs for us, including a kitchen remodel) is a great, honest guy, constantly on the job himself. He has never had a fancy web site, but if you're interested you could look at this, or another job he did for us where he jacked up a building and created a brand new unit out of nothing. His rates are good, he's a joy to be around, and he has good taste and ideas.

    Jeff Pratt (510) 812 8086

Parent Reviews

Highly recommend Levitch Associates (510) 845 6941. They are a family business (3rd generation starting a Master's in Architecture at UC Berkeley this fall following in his father and grandfather's footsteps) that do beautfiful work. Very high level of customer service, attention to detail and quality craftsmanship along with very budget conscious. I don't even call anyone else for remodel work any more! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


See Also: Contractors for ... Related Pages

2013 - 2014 Recommendations

Contractor for Backyard Cottage Project

July 2013

We would like to convert our redwood-framed garage into a multi-use living space incorporating a living area, sleeping loft, full bathroom, laundry/utility area and storage. We would like to do this with permits if possible (we live in Berkeley) and are looking for a creative, reliable design-build firm or contractor for the project. We would like to reclaim as much as possible from the existing structure and are interested in someone who can bring creative design/space maximization ideas while working within an agreed-upon budget.

If you have done this kind of project, would you recommend your contractor? Do we need to hire an architect or can an experienced builder draw up the plans and handle the design aspects of the project? In addition to recommendations, any lessons learned would also be appreciated. Construction Newbie

I highly recommend Murray Bruce for your backyard cottage project. Murray is a very experienced design/build professional. The main focus of his work is new construction and additions. But he likes to work on small projects as well. He has a real skill for creating the most out of small spaces. He created a small loft in my Berkeley home that is highly functional and also fits in with the look of the rest of the house. I am also familiar with some of his other projects where he has created a duplex out of a single home, or added on a very small in-law. The workmanship is excellent. Murray works quickly, efficiently and is tidy. I felt his pricing was very reasonable for the level of craft he provided. Murray Bruce can be reached at 510.604.1014 or murraybruce [at] Wilma

I can recommend a great contractor in Oakland: Cassie Tyler (510)506-0902. She is a trained carpenter, so therefore a perfectionist when it comes to details and wood. Cassie has a wonderful eye for a good finished product - she always manages to find something I've forgotten about and she never assumes what I want it to look like: she always asks. When she starts working, she is always thinking about how to make your project better, whether that's deciding what is the most efficient heating option or finding the most practical finish. Basically, the fact that she thinks at all puts her quite ahead of most contractors. She elegantly updated our garage and redid a bathroom in two separate projects. Plus she charges time and materials, which usually ends up cheaper for you.

If you have a large budget, by all means get a separate architect and contractor. You will definitely benefit from multiple minds weighing in, and most contractors aren't looking from the perspective of beauty, while most architects aren't looking from a perspective of budget or practicality.

However, if your budget is more like $30k or less...and especially if you think you have good design sense yourself, you might get away with avoiding an architect. It is hard to know if a contractor has a good sense of style. You want someone who will tell you a variety of options and really listen. At the same time, a person with opinions is helpful - you need someone who will steer you away from bad ideas. Good communication is priority number one when hiring someone. Well, that and good references.

Projects cost way more than you expect. Adding a bathroom can cost anywhere from $10,000-$100,000 depending on what you do. Are you getting imported tile and a clawfoot tub or a plastic pre-fab shower and vinyl flooring? It adds up quickly. Ex: new sewer pipe $2000, plumber $400, bath hardware $1000, new tiles $1000, Professional tiler installs cement board and tiles for bath and floor $3600, new cast iron bathtub $1500. New sheet rock $ you have demolition, paint, dump fees, window framing, new windows ($600 for one basic Marvin dual pane or $500 for basic skylight plus labor), insulation, roofing for venting and skylights etc, new gas and water lines, new electrical, contractor labor and markup (if your contractor does that). Good luck! A.M.D.

Hi - I have a wonderful worker who has done alot of contracting work with what you're looking for. We have worked with him for many years; he's creative, good problem-solver, honest, and reasonably-priced. He has a friend who could make the drafts. I highly recommend him. His name is Cesar; tel:510 710-7150

For your contracting project, contact Saeed Movehed. He has a strong aesthetic sense, is experienced in remodels, comes up with economical solutions to construction concerns, works quickly and cleans up completely: Saeed Movehed 510-872-4806 merry

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

Dec 2012

My contractor has been Dan Martinez Construction. They are reliable, honest and stick to the schedule & budget -- all things that I REALLY cared about. ( I have used him several times since my major kitchen remodel for smaller jobs and his crew/guy was in and out with the job done quickly and well. My kitchen is in his before & after photos. Happy customer

Piotrek is great, handy and resourceful. He also has great ideas for small or big projects. Piotr Krasnoski (510) 333-1566 Mariedda

We had an excellent experience with our contractor, Chris D'Andrea (owner of Greenfield Building in Berkeley: He did a complete kitchen/dining room remodel for our home in Berkeley and we couldn't have been more impressed. He and his team were incredibly respectful and dedicated and completed the job on a very short timeline. Chris is a master craftsman and it shows in his constant attention to detail. He made some fantastic suggestions along the way that we would never have come up with on our own. After looking around and hearing quite a few horror stories from friends who had had remodels, we really feel like we struck gold with Chris and his team. aereidy

Contractor for Bathroom Remodel & Side Deck/Stairs

Oct 2012

We are looking for a trustworthy, knowledgeable (codes/permits), affordable contractor to do our bathroom remodel and side deck/stair work. We are not looking to spend a lot of money and are looking to do a fairly basic remodel. We'd still like it to look somewhat attractive even though it's basic in scope. Been using Yelp with mixed results so far. Need more recommendations.

Hi EC, for the project you have I highly recommend Constantin from C G Builders. He is a general contractor and is knowledgeable in all the things you are looking to do in your bathroom. He is a trustworthy person and very reliable. Give him a call at 510.305.5680, or email him at info [at] I am very happy with the remodeling that he did for me. Diana

I know the perfect tag team for this job. Derek Rusch and Robert Esposito are both licensed contractors.They remodeled my bathroom. They are fast efficient and above all reasonably priced. Derek is my neighbor who happens to be an excellent carpenter. He has helped us tremendously replacing windows, etc. Robert is a plumber and has over 15 years experience. Derek Rusch 707-328-5007 Robert Esposito 510-725-9763 If you mention my name you may get a discount. Stacey

hi there! Bay Area Deck might be very helpful for the deck portion, but i dont think they do bathrooms. John is the owner and can be reached at 510 533-6131. I've had great work done by them. Sara

Andy Frasheski is the perfect contractor for your project. We have a couple of properties and he has remodels our kitchens and bathrooms. He also builds decks. He is very clever, creative and resourceful. He has great designing ideas and suggestions. and he is always looking for ways to save his customers money without cutting on quality materials and job satisfaction. Andy has a great eye for detail and solves problems effectively in a very creative manner. His rates are very reasonable. Andy can be reached at 510-644- 3711 or afrasheski [at] Ana

General contractor for a variety of smallish jobs

Aug 2012

We are looking for a contractor who can help us get ready to sell our home. Ideally, we'd like someone who can handle a variety of smaller jobs and get get them all done in a relatively quick amount of time. They don't have to do all the work themselves, but it would be great if they could manage contacts and sub- contractors. The work we are looking to have done includes, new kitchen cabinet doors, appliances, countertops, shower leak and tile, crown molding fix, and possibly some other tile work. We'd like to find someone that has a great track record in getting this kind of work done efficiently, on budget and is a nice personality to work with. If you have an recommendations, we'd love to have the info! Thanks!

Gene Paletta is your man. He's honest, does suburb work, has decades of experience, and totally reliable. I've had him work on a few jobs, both large and small, always pleased with the price and outcome. 415 377.0356 He's local to Berkeley. Laurel

Over the last 20 years, we have worked with Lowell Hicks for five really big projects, two medium-sized ones, and dozens of small ones. We think his skill (and personality) set really match your needs. Previously, our thinking about contractors was that, out of Reliable Affordable Skillful you could choose any two. Lowell is, emphatically, all three . . . with the added bonuses of being really nice, and smart (member of Mensa), and he does wonderful things with the money he earns, donating much of it to wonderful causes, such as medical services for poor children in Honduras, and a nunnery in Tibet.

Two of the things he's done for us in recent years are comparable to your situation. Most recent project was totally redoing our small kitchen and a bathroom in Berkeley: stripping them to the walls, and doing new floor, cabinets, plumbing, electric, the works. Before that, in our previous house, he very cleverly figured out how to convert an unused rough basement area into an excellent in-law apartment. Over the years, there have been many projects, for us and our friends, of the kind you write about. Very often, he came up with clever solutions to situations, that were faster and cheaper. He has a very wide range of skills -- rough and finish carpentry (you should see the built-in closets he did for a fixer- upper project we did with him in Austin), electric, plumbing, roofing, tiling . . . oh, and singing (he sings and plays bass at Ashkenaz, Freight and Salvage, and other local venues). You can reach him at fcleffer [at] or in Berkeley at 510-612-9988. Yours sincerely, Marina and John

Chuck could be your man. He recently finished work on a garage in Rockridge, installing 2 large doors and reframing parts of it for seismic integrity. He's a true professional and nice guy, and tells it like it is. He's got a rare combination of being talented, friendly, and doing what's best for the project within your budget. His company is Norstar Construction but he's pretty much a one-man operation. If you're looking for responsiveness and quality work, can't recommend him enough. Chuck's mobile is 510-333-9399. Ehab

Contractor for a wide range of projects

July 2012

We are looking for a contractor to do a bunch of different types of work for our home? we are looking for a more up-to-date rec. for a good, honest builder that can take on a pretty wide range of projects including; concrete work, carpentry, plumbing and electrical. Please let us know. Michael

We are just completing a total remodel of our home in Piedmont. Our contractor Jose Rodriguez from RM Builders has been amazing throughout the project. We completely gutted our home (foundation, plumbing, etc.) and Jose made the process as pain free as possible. He is incredibly organized, reliable, and budget conscious. I could not recommend him more highly! He can be reached at: Rmbuilders [at] Laurie

Dear Folks- I just had Marius of Marius Construction over yesterday to do some more work for me. A tenant had trashed my studio and Marius was there to the rescue. Marius and his workers are from Romania and they practice old world craftsmanship and value. No job is too little or too big for their artisnal work. I live in a 1910 Craftsman that is a work in progress. Marius has done the most outstanding work for me over the past 5 years...he is always on time, on budget, and fair. He helps you save money by having you go pick up parts or supplies whenever possible. His contract is his bond- no overages in time or money-EVER. If you need additional work done mid-contract he writes up an addendum that is fair and proper. Look him up on Yelp! and you will see that I am not alone in my praise for such an outstanding contractor. Susan M

I can highly recommend Jaime Fletcher for all household repairs. He is not a contractor, but is a very solid handyman and carpenter. Depending on the scope of the work, you might want to consider hiring a handyman for concrete work, small building projects, etc. Jaime has over 15 years experience and worked for a remodel company many years. He decided to start his own business when he had his daughter a year ago. I've referred him to this list before and have seen his name pop up a few times. He is honest, reliable, is solutions based and will offer ideas on how to make economical decisions for repair and fixes. He can be reached at fletcher.jaime [at] or 510-418-3128. Good luck! A.G.

Over the years, our family has worked with many contractors on a variety of projects-from rebuilding our home, remodeling/upgrading rental property and repairs. Jeff White (510.928.5559) is simply amazing. He's on time for appointments. Proposals/estimates are timely and fair. Jeff is easy to work with, communicates throughout the project (problems or not) and provides options on how to handle a project for your budget. pmog

If you want top-quality work at a reasonable cost, I highly recommend calling Seth Melchert of Master Builders. He and his terrific crew have completed several projects over the years for us from remodelling bathrooms to room additions to a whole new, separate studio in the backyard. He is open, friendly and places the needs and desires of his clients first. His crew is hard-working as well as clean and neat. We would hire no one else. His local number is: 510-654-2746. Roger

I'd give Danny at Home Evolution a call at 510-207-4425. He's a great general contractor that we've used for a lot of differet projects, large and small. He does everything, he's resonable, trustworthy, always on time, and a pleasure to work with. -Susan

I would recommend Greg Abram. He is an honest and good contractor. I wrote a more detailed review about our experience with him on TrustRecs. Mohammed

Contractor to fix damp semi-finished garage

June 2012

My old (maybe original 1926?) cinderblock garage was semi-finished by previous owners. There are windows, drywall, flooring, and electricity. I currently use it for storage. The problem is that there is a lot of moisture, so the things I store out there get very musty. I would like to engage someone to figure out what needs to be repaired/replaced in order to make it water-tight, with the idea that I could more successfully store my things as well as put an office out there. Must decrease the must

I can highly recommend Seth Melchert, owner of Master Builders, for your project. Seth and his crew have been hired by us over the years for several new as well as remodelling projects and we have always been pleased with the results. He is experienced in all phases of construction and very easy to work with. His number is: 510-654-2746. Roger

Lowell Hicks, in Berkeley, a licensed contractor, has done work for us a dozen times over 20 years, ranging from built-in furniture to an entire kitchen remodel to turning a basement into a fine apartment. For your situation, a relevant fact is that Lowell is a great problem-solver. He often comes up with clever and unexpected solutions as a job progresses. Often in dealing with contractors (or handymen), out of (1) skill, (2) reliability and (3) good price, you get to choose any two. With Lowell, it is all three, every time. He's smart and clever (member of Mensa), as politically correct as can be: he typically donates most or even all of his profits to a children's medical center in Honduras or a nunnery in Tibet. My wife and I recommend him highly. He's at (510) 612-9988, or fcleffer [at] John

Marin Contractor? (Gutting house!)

Jan 2011

My husband and I recently bought a foreclosed fixer upper in Marin County and are in need of an experienced contractor who is capable of taking on large projects (including adding a structural steel moment frame). Is there anyone out there who has completed a large house project with a contractor (anywhere in the bay area) who still recommends their contractor after completion?? I have had some recommendations for contractors who have completed small jobs but, unfortunately, this is not a small job. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. maggie

We highly recommend Will and his company William Patrick Builders. He did a design build project for us that involved expanding our master bedroom and bathroom into a master suite and remodeled our kitchen as well. Both projects went very smoothly and we couldn't be happier. Will is an excellent communicator and has a keen eye for design and helped us resolve some challenging issues with our kitchen design. His workers were polite and courteous and we felt very safe having them in our house. He is in San Anselmo. His number is 510-812-5515. Lisa

Dave Rasmussen is a fabulous contractor. He just completed a medium remodel for my parents in Larkspur, and I cooincidentally am working on a landscape project where he is finishing a large and very highly crafted remodel in Berkely. DV Rasmussen and Son 415-892-8244 Teresa

We completed the remodel of a 5 BR fixer last spring, and yes we still absolutely love our contractor and have hired him back since for an addition (Andrew Sonnemann of Sonnemann Construction, 925 457 7710)!! His work is absolutely meticulous and of the highest quality -- even to my perfectionist standards. He seems to know just about everything there is in construction and is always open to learning even more, which is quite crucial in remodeling old houses as there seem to be no standard house building techniques... He never stopped thinking about our project and figuring out solutions where standard procedures would not have worked -- way more than what he actually charged for. And he and everyone he works with is absolutely nice, polite and respectful of owners, children, pets... There are just not enough good things to tell about him! Happy As Can Be

I recommend Paul Rodman. 707.799.0106 He did very nice work for one of my projects. Good Luck - your project sounds exciting, Andus

Would you consider an East-Bay based contractor for your remodel? If so, Jim Davenport, Davenport Builders, is an all around professional based here in Berkeley. Knowledgeable, flexible, down-to-earth, and always accessible, Jim orchestrated a sizable retaining wall-drainage-patio project for us this summer on the heels of a more traditional wood-based addition to another home not far away. I'd certainly recommend getting in touch. valc

203k Contractor

May 2012

We may be buying a home in Oakland using a FHA 203k loan and are looking to the great BPN community for advice on the process itself and also for recommendations for contractors familiar with 203ks. Thanks in advance.

I highly recommend calling Sorin Feraru at 510 228 7366. He's a certified 203k contractor. He helped us with our addition/remodeling. He connected us with an excellent banker and a consultant. He can help you with streamline and standard 203k loans. We had very good experience with him and his team and we are glad to recommend him.

Rebuilding a house recently in a fire

Jan 2011

Our home was recently in a fire, and we have had little luck in finding a contractor to give us bids on the re-building. I am either not getting calls back or am getting stood up after an appointment is arranged. Does anybody have any current recommendations? I have tried many of those posted from 2009 to no avail. What is going on? Tired of being stood up!

James Reid of Tycon Builders info [at] or tyconbuilders [at] He does outstanding work. Very trustworthy, reliable and will work within your budget. I've know him and refered him friends and clients before and he's always been very responsive, and the quality of his work is top draw! He's worth a call! Good luck. mathew

We highly recommend Will and his company William Patrick Builders. He did a design build project for us that involved expanding our master bedroom and bathroom into a master suite and remodeled our kitchen as well. Both projects went very smoothly and we couldn't be happier. Will is an excellent communicator and has a keen eye for design and helped us resolve some challenging issues with our kitchen design. His workers were polite and courteous and we felt very safe having them in our house. His number is 812-5515. Lisa

Robert Leitz of Decade Construction will not let you down. He is dependable, shows up when he says he will or calls if can't. I highly recommend him, and don't worry about the WC phone number, he works all over the Bay Area. 925- 938-2410

I had a home addition in Albany built this past summer and am pleased with the process and results by my contractor, Genuine Construction in Millbrae. Phillip Chen is the owner (415) 939-2632. Although he's young, he is experienced and is a good problem solver. He was very helpful in explaining his thought process before he submitted his bid, and spent time with us after we received his bid to value engineer the project (reduce costs and still allow us to get what we wanted). He submitted the lowest bid, finished ahead of schedule, and helped us stay within budget. Hope this helps! Ken

We have used Bob Jones from OMB Construction twice--once to redo our kitchen, and again to replace a tub in our bathroom. We had a very good experience with him. He returns calls, comes when he said he would come, does one job at a time, and finishes on time. We also found his workmanship good. We liked him because we feel he is honest and straightforward and takes pride in his work--this is not the type of contractor who will take your money and then disappear. Give him a call: 925-382-0925. He works all day and has no office assistant, so give him a day to call you back, or leave another message the next day to make sure he got your first one. --Happy Customer

I had a good experience with Keene Builders in 2010 for an in-law unit remodel. The people were skilled, hard-working, efficient, and polite. They had good ideas that improved the outcome. I did spend quite a bit more than I had planned on but the result exceeded my initial expectations too. Dave Yarnell was the lead on my project. You could say that 'Mary in Montclair' recommended him and Keene. Keene Builders, Plumbers, and Consultants, Inc. info [at] 510-525-6132 510-260-0217 Fax 1503 S. 56th Street, El Cerrito CA 94530 Mary in Montclair

I'm a former HGTV producer and have worked with close to 100 contractors in the area. Hands down, without a shadow of a doubt, I recommend: Ian McCartt from McCartt Construction. 925.858.4469 He was the main contractor on HGTV's Color Splash and Landscape Smart. He is so dependable, has great ideas, highly skilled and just all around great guy. Hope this helps, Chris

As the sad-but-often-true saying goes, in choosing a contractor, out of (1) skill, (2) affordability, and (3) reliability, you can choose any two. One notable exception is a man named Lowell Hicks, with whom my wife and I have done five major projects (kitchen remodel; converting a basement into an in-law apartment, building a 2-story wing onto a spec house) and at least twenty smaller ones over the past 20 years. In addition to the above three factors, he is smart (member of Mensa), creative in coming up with solutions . . . and he donates most of his profits to worthy causes, such as a medical clinic for the poor in Honduras and an impoverished nunnery in Tibet. He is a California-licensed contractor, currently winding up a big job in Berkeley. He is reached at (510) 612-9988 or fcleffer [at] John

I had a very good experience with Travis Wirt of Black Creek Builders. Travis was reliable and trustworthy, did what he said he would do, didn't overcharge, and I would hire him again in a minute. His people are all that good, too. (800) 737-7113 Talia

I have two recommendations for you. One is Jim Vivrette from Altera Designs, (925) 766-7070, and the other is Dimitry Doronkin, (925) 708-1587. Jim has several crews and is more upscale, Dimitry has one crew and has a very personal touch. I've used them both and enjoy working with both of them, and they both are easy to get hold of, and their work is wonderful. Julie

I recommend on using Bebe Construction because of his highly skilled crew and fine work. He remodeled the kitchen and bathroom in our home, installed new hardwood floors and also added a new roof. The projects went fairly quickly, passed all the inspections the first time so everything went rather smooth. I was very happy with the estimate and bid that I received from Bebe and most of all it was well worth every penny. If anyone needs any remodeling done to their home I would go right ahead and contact Bebe Construction. If anyone has any questions give him a call 510 566 6685 and his email is bebeconstruction [at] Elizabeth

We would like to recommend Bay Area Pacific Construction as a general contractor. They did a fine work for us on our new remodeled house and on our new backyard deck. We are so thrilled with the results! We really appreciate the care and attention to detail that goes into their work as well as their commitment to giving us exactly what we want. We are very pleased with the top quality services they offered and the affordable pricing. You can contact them at 510 484 5765 or online at Cathy & Phil

We have a fabulous contractor that just finished a bit project on our home. His name is Andre Ventura and his number is (510) 837-0068. We have worked with other contractors in the past, but no one like Andre, who did beautiful work. He showed up when he said he would, worked really hard when he was here, gave us very reasonable estimates, and let us know if he ran into an issue then educated us about the options and how to proceed (one example ws when we realized we had some old electricity that needed upgrading, after being told everything in the house had been upgraded). He did a lot of the work himself, but the workers he did bring to help him were very conscientious, keep the area clean, and friendly to my kids (who were curious investiagtors in the 'construciton zone'!). I can't recommend him highly enough, and he's definitelty the kind of person who will return your call. Good luck with your project! happy homeowner

I would like to recomend Mike Trifan of Elco Bay Area 510- 427-8370 LIC 830793 He is a general contractor and has saved our kitchen remodel! We started with a very disreputable contractor that demolished the kitchen(the easy Part). He was supposed to have it completely ready to install the cabinets with clean fresh walls and floors and none of it was ready. He cut in illegal overhead lighting on our old knob and tube system and didn't even finish taking up the floor or re-texture the plaster walls & ceiling, remove wall paper, he was contracted to move the plumbing to the proper new locations and much much more and once the job proved to difficult he just left! Here I was no kitchen torn to bits the electric he attempted was not to code, no permits had been pulled. I called Mike on a recommendation from a friend and he was also listed here on BPN. He saved us! He started by putting in the proper new electric from the box, through the walls into the crawl space all according to code and permitted and cleaned up the mess the other contractor left when we needed it most! He has been a genius! He really knows how to work in my old house(1939) and how to bring it up to code, we find him extremely knowledgeable and honest. He and his crew have been so respectful and clean up after each day of work. I have had many many people talk to me about putting lighting in our dining room in the last couple of years and NO we have had estimate for the job has come close to understanding the scope of the job able to do what mike did for the price!! We are so pleased with all of his work! The old lath and plaster walls are retextured and beautiful! They did a great job and I can't wait to see the back splash they put in on Monday! Call Mike he is an amazing electrician and overall contractor! kimberly

I used Lawrence Construction, and was very happy with their company. They were timely, respectful, and kept their jobsite clean and organized. They always returned my many phone calls, the same day or the day after. While they were not the lowest bid we received, they were not the most expensive either. I can't say enough about them, give them a call 510-237-3421 or checkout their website You will love working with them. happy with the process

Have you tried calling Haven Builders? We found them here, on BPN, and can't say enough good stuff about the work we had done. Rick is such a solid guy--always there to answer a question or quell a fear. Also, there's absolutely none of that 'good old boy' stuff on his crew-- no swearing, smoking, stomping around that I associated with construction crews. He sub-contracts to like-minded crews, too, so everyone fits into his Berkeley vibe. I think he has a real artist's eye as well as commesurate business savvy--he custom build an amazing bookcase for us that friends always ask about. Anyway, blah, blah, give him a call! 510-978-1786 or rick [at] Mindy

Trustworthy contractor for a kitchen remodel?

Jan 2011

I'm looking for a trustworthy, reliable and reasonable contractor for a kitchen remodel and home addition. Can anyone give me a recommendation? Kim

We highly recommend Will and his company William Patrick Builders. He did a design build project for us that involved expanding our master bedroom and bathroom into a master suite and remodeled our kitchen as well. Both projects went very smoothly and we couldn't be happier. Will is an excellent communicator and has a keen eye for design and helped us resolve some challenging issues with our kitchen design. His workers were polite and courteous and we felt very safe having them in our house. His number is 812-5515. Lisa

My next-door neighbor is a reasonable, trustworthy and good! licensed contractor. He did a great job on our kitchen remodel and bathroom 'update'. His name is Michael Rosenbaum 510/237-8669. He's thorough, has been doing it a long time and really helped us figure out how we could do what we wanted within our financial constraints. patrice patrice

We had kitchen remodeling done at a rental property we own by Brad T Jones. His number is 510-610-7625. Great job, showed up when he said he would and completed the job in the alloted time, which was my biggest concern when looking for a contractor. I know he does additions and bathrooms as well. RDT

I just wrote another recommendation for another post for Bob Jones of OMB Construction. He did our kitchen (gutted it and put a new one in) and is currently working on replacing a tub for our bathroom. Our friend worked for a cabinet company, and Bob did a lot of work for their show room. He especially likes doing kitchens. We liked that he was honest and straightforward, trustworthy, returns calls, comes when he says he is coming, and finishes on time. His workmanship was very good. We highly recommend him. His number is: 925-382-0925. --Happy Customer

Seth Melchert (Master Builders) did a terrific kitchen remodel for us. Everything was done to our satisfaction,and finished on time. His workers were polite and easy to work with, and they left everything neat and tidy at the end of each day. Seth has done a number of house projects for us, and we couldn't be happier with every one of them. He's at 510-654-2746 laura

I would highly recommend Bebe Construction. He is a licensed contractor who takes his work very serious and makes sure you are happy. I was really impressed by the reasonable bid that was given to us for the work he completed. We had him completely gut out the entire outdated kitchen in our home and at the same time we also went ahead and had him remodel our bathroom. Bebe and his crew worked very carefully and made sure things were moving smoothly and on time. Bebe made sure to keep us up to date on what was going on and every time we had a question about something he was always there to answer it. After this whole process I could not be any happier on how everything turned out. I would hire Bebe Construction again for any home remodel project. You can reach him at 510 566-6685 or via bebeconstruction [at] Anne

I would like to recomend Mike Trifan of Elco Bay Area 510- 427-8370 LIC 830793 He is a general contractor and has saved our kitchen remodel! We started with a very disreputable contractor that demolished the kitchen(the easy Part). He was supposed to have it completely ready to install the cabinets with clean fresh walls and floors and none of it was ready. He cut in illegal overhead lighting on our old knob and tube system and didn't even finish taking up the floor or re-texture the plaster walls & ceiling, remove wall paper, he was contracted to move the plumbing to the proper new locations and much much more and once the job proved to difficult he just left! Here I was no kitchen torn to bits the electric he attempted was not to code, no permits had been pulled. I called Mike on a recommendation from a friend and he was also listed here on BPN. He saved us! He started by putting in the proper new electric from the box, through the walls into the crawl space all according to code and permitted and cleaned up the mess the other contractor left when we needed it most! He has been a genius! He really knows how to work in my old house(1939) and how to bring it up to code, we find him extremely knowledgeable and honest. He and his crew have been so respectful and clean up after each day of work. I have had many many people talk to me about putting lighting in our dining room in the last couple of years and NO we have had estimate for the job has come close to understanding the scope of the job able to do what mike did for the price!! We are so pleased with all of his work! The old lath and plaster walls are retextured and beautiful! They did a great job and I can't wait to see the back splash they put in on Monday! Call Mike he is an amazing electrician and overall contractor! kimberly

Hi I saw your post and felt compelled to tell you about Lawrence Construction. They did a kitchen remodel for me about six years ago. They were a pleasure to work with, honest and reliable. It was an asset that they have their own cabinet shop on site and were able to help me choose the type of wood and style of cabinets for my new kitchen. Give them a call. 510-237-3421 or checkout their website they do beautiful work. Good luck on your kitchen remodel

We just had our kitchen remodeled by Whitney Collins, Inc, and we were very impressed with our contractor. He wasn't the least or most expensive bid (we got three), but his bid was very comprehensive - it had detailed line items and included contingencies - spelling out where we might have to make a choice between a less and more expensive option. With this much detail, we knew there wouldn't be unpleasant surprises (as much as one can know this ahead of time), and the timeline and budget were right on. The crew was awesome - our job was pretty invasive, and we have two small kids, so we were worried about how this would all work out, but the crew was super nice to have in the house, very neat and considerate, and they accommodated our needs whenever possible. Whitney has a great eye for design as well, so it was helpful to have his input in the design phase. Whitney Collins can be contacted at (510) 4190553, and I think he also has a website at If you have questions, you're welcome to e-mail me. neriss

I went out and interviewed a couple contractors before I hired anyone to completely remodel my kitchen and bathroom in my 1960's Danville home. After interviewing and researching I choose Bebe Construction. First of all the bid that was given couldn't be any more reasonable for the amount of work that was done. He was very reliable about being on time and answered all the questions that I had towards the remodeling. During the remodeling process he let us know where we can pick up material at a cheaper price which actually helped us save some money. In all my wife and I could not be any happier on how the kitchen and bathroom turned out. I would definitely recommend on choosing Bebe Construction for any type of job that is needed to be completed. You can contact him at cell: (510)566.6685 or email: bebeconstruction [at] Bob

I recommend JB Turner & Sons. Marilyn Gardunio has designed our home addition and kitchen, as well as one of our bathrooms. We are very pleased with their work. You can look at their website and check their showroom out. In the interest of disclosure, I am related to the owners. I saw your posting and it sounds exactly like what we had done to our house. Good Luck!!

Me and my husband used the services of JB Construction for our kitchen and bathroom remodeling job, and very pleased with their timeliness, performance and outcome of the whole project, and the main thing is with our budget. We would highly recommend them to anyone lookign for a general contractor: JB Construction, License #908631 (510)735-4052. E-mail: powerlabor [at] Cristina B.

We had our kitchen remodeled over the summer by Classic Construction. They did a great job, worked hard to stay on time and on budget [they were close], and were really great to have around. Brooks, the contractor, always listened to us and addressed any concerns we had right away, with a strong intention of keeping us happy, which I really liked. And the kitchen is beautiful, by the way. Here's the website: You can use my name if you like. Jean

Renovating kitchen and family room

Jan 2011

We are renovating the kitchen and family room in our house. The process will involved gutting the kitchen, opening up a wall, and adding french doors and an upper and lower deck. We have an architect drawing up plans but will need a contractor. Can anyone provide positive or negative feedback about these contractors: Kaufman, Butler, Mora or Frasheski? Or, if you recommend another contractor for this kind of remodel, please let us know! Thanks! c.

I don't know any of the contractors you mentioned, but through my architect's referral, I just hired Jason Lord to do some work around my house and was impressed with his timeliness, cleanliness, politeness, efficiency, skill, and reasonable rates. Super nice guy - really knows what he's doing... and does it with taste and perfectionism. Really happy I found him. kristen

I must, must recommend our wonderful contractor, Haven Builders! The owner, Rick Patterson, is such a calm, knowledgable presence, so patient and always ready to explain anything/everything. They remodeled our whole kitchen and entryway, and it turned out beyond my hopes, really--just better than I envisioned. Rick was punctual, tidy, articulate, and contributed greatly to our aesthetic vision. Give him a call and give him my name--Cindy O'Malley-- His number is : 510-978-1786 and the email is: rick [at] Good luck with your project! Cindy

We used Berkeley Craftsmen (Mark and Michael Butler) for our recent work on our house. It was an extensive project and we deeply appreciated the thorough attention Berkeley Craftsmen gave us. They communicate frequently and openly. Our weekly meetings kept us up to date on all issues. Their staff are friendly, skilled and responsive and they cleaned up after they left, once we were back in our house. They worked closely with our architect and we appreciated the team approach when we had to make some tricky decisions. We have recommended them to many people and are so happy with the work they did. s_a

Gotta recommend Haven Builders. They're just a great local contractor, easy to work with, and very professional. They specialize in higher end remodels, I think. We had our kitchen completely redone. Call Rick at 510.978.1786 or I think the email is rick [at] You can email me too, actually. I have some good pix of the new kitchen. Racine

Contractor to install Flush Frame Beam - Demo

Jan 2011

Hello We live in Montclair. Our house is unique in that the walls are 8' cylinder block. We are looking to remove a small wall to open up a kitchen/living room space. Our structural engineer has determined that the wall could be taken out however a flush framed beam needs to be put in the attic (its a one story). We have an architect who has incorporated this information into plans.

Our next step is to find a contractor to help us do this job. Do you have any recommendations of anyone who is able to demo and install a flush frame beam? I am told by both the architect and structural engineer that this is not a big job therefore contractors should not be coming back with major costs on work. Anyone have any good experiences with contracts who can do this type of work? Looking for recommendation, and people who have done demo and structural examples. Thank you! Lisa

Bob Root of California Rebuilders just finished remodeling another Montclair house - knocking out a wall to enlarge the kitchen for a complete remodel and installing huge cantilevered beams for a deck that hangs out over a steep grade from the kitchen and dining area. He is very adept at adjusting anything an architect draws that needs to be 'adjusted' in order to make the plans buildable. His phone number is (510)853-1800. happy customer

Bathroom designer and contractor needed

Dec 2010

We would like to add a bathroom to our house in Berkeley and would love to know of great designers, design/build firms and contractors to help us do this. We are looking for a slightly modern look. sarah

We highly recommend Will and his company William Patrick Builders (formerly Centerline Construction). He did a design build project for us that involved expanding our master bedroom and bathroom into a master suite and remodeled our kitchen as well. Both projects went very smoothly and we couldn't be happier. Will is an excellent communicator and has a keen eye for design and helped us resolve some challenging issues with our kitchen design. His workers were polite and courteous and we felt very safe having them in our house. His number is 812-5515. Lisa

Call Sorin Feraru at 510-228-7366. He is head and shoulders about the crowd, and can help you with the design as well. He just finished a project at our house which involved some design. He provided us with the full package of design, plans and construction, which is great because it really makes a difference when the contractor, designer and engineer are a team and communicate one with another.It sure saves you the headaches. As for the construction, every single detail was great. The greatest part was that we could reach Sorin whenever we had questions, he always picked up his phone or called us right back. You can check some of his work at

My wife and I hired Marius Construction to remodel our home and add on an 800 square-foot addition. From the first day we met Marius he was courteous, professional, prompt and reasonably priced. Home construction can often be a nightmare but Marius and his crew made every effort to accomodate our family's busy lifestyle. He came into our house with an open-mind and great ideas and left us in our dream home. I have recommended Marius to many family and friends and will continue to recommmend him for any and all construction or remodel needs. Michael

General contractor for bathroom & kitchen remodel

Nov 2010

Hi-- we are looking for a good general contractor for a bathroom and kitchen remodel. Any recommendations would be welcome. anon.

I can recommend at least these two: Jay Cravagan at Canyon Design Build (formerly Federal Building Company), 510-482-0300; and Keith Alward at Alward Construction, 510-527-6498. I have worked with both contractors over the years (as the structural engineer of projects they have built) and have been impressed with the quality of their work, their treatment of their clients and their workers. Good luck with your project! Joshua

I cannot say good enough things about our general contractor, Andrew Sonnemann of Sonnemann Construction. He and his crew just finished the remodel of our fixer and we could not be happier. The quality of his work and workmanship is absolutely excellent and unsurpassed, he is reliable, honest, fun to work with, very reasonably priced, and extremely knowledgeable. He can be reached at 925.457.7710. Happy Client

We l-o-v-e our contractor, Bruce MacDermott, from Berkeley (Fine Structures, 2801 Ashby, FixIt [at] He made our house watertight when we first moved in - it was doing a stunning impression of the Niagara Falls, w/all windows flashed BACKWARDS! (really!) We're getting him back soon for the (had-to-be-postponed-to-save-up-again) remodel. :-) --high & dry

To the person seeking a general contractor, I highly recommend Darrell Rupe of Wood Horse Construction. A few years ago, Wood Horse Construction did lots of work on our house, including a kitchen and bathroom remodel. Our wish list was long and budget small. Darrell helped us prioritize and stayed within our budget. The remodel exceeded our expectations, and I credit Darrell's vision and aesthetic sense. We found the whole Wood Horse crew to be very pleasant to have around. Some friends recently had Darrell replace windows in their home; his work gave their house quite a stunning face lift! Contact Darrell at Wood Horse Construction at (510)843-4140. Still loving her 'new' kitchen, Marjorie

We have had great success working with Wood Horse Construction owned by Darrell Rupe. He is a detail oriented general contractor who does amazing work. We have had him work on some smaller projects at our house and some larger projects at the pre-school my children attend where I am on the board. He has very professional teams and they get the jobs done efficiently. He is very responsive. Keira

For your type of project, I can highly recommend Clint Reed - Pantheon Design and Construction. He is a licensed contractor and has been in the bay area for over 20 years. We have used Clint multiple times for different types of remodeling projects over the years, with great success. He knows so much and he really takes the time to thoroughly discuss projects with us. The quality of his work is high, he is a good problem solver and he is easy to work with. Added bonus, his prices are very reasonable. Clint can be reached at 510-816-9416 or cr [at] Karah

We used Bob Jones (OMB Construction, 925-382-0925) for our kitchen renovation and were very pleased with his work. He came when he said he would, spotlessly cleaned up after himself every day (even though the house was empty--we hadn't moved in yet), and our neighbors remarked that they were impressed that our contractor showed up for work every day. In their experience contractors like to start work, disappear for a few weeks while they work on someone else's house, and then come back. Bob usually does one job at a time, so he also finishes on time. His prices are middle of the road--not the cheapest, but not the most expensive. I thought we got good value for our money as his workmanship was good. We are asking him to come back to do our bathroom next. --Happy Customer

I highly recommend Dan Daigle, Berkeley Construction. As an Architect, I have worked with him numerous times and have not been disappointed. He is one of those rare contractors who can take the project and fill in the missing pieces without constantly calling in the Architect. Berkeley Construction, 510-774-3251 Andus

I highly recommend Seth Melchert (Master Builders)-he has done many projects for us, and we have always been very happy with the process and the results. His # is 510-654-2746. laura

Greg Ashton and his son Bryan are great (925-362-9211). They did a kitchen remodel that involved electrical, plumbing, new cabinets, a skylight and garden window, etc. They were neat, conscientious, and responsive to different requests and/or needs that came up as the job progressed. They worked well with painting and floor refinishing crews that were also working on other parts of the home at the same time. They completed it within the time frame that was established at the start of the job. They were EXCELLENT! Richard

In the distant past, I had had difficult and expensive dealings with a general contractor, so when I needed one to create a room in the house I just bought, build a fence, repair & rebuild outside porches & stairs, etc. I was quite nervous. My experience with Silvio Dobrovat & his company Hometelligent have been excellent. He works with Marius of Marius Construction, so I ended up with 2 wonderful contractors for my project. Silvio does high quality work at a reasonable price and responded carefully to my unique needs. He is an excellent listener,and carefully considered how to meet my requests at a price I could afford. When we came with an unexpected problem of old termite damage which had not been repaired, he made time in his schedule for the extra work, did it efficiently. His suggestions of how to accomplish my goals were right on. His carefulness with details was great as was his effciency. He and Marius are diligent workers. It is my pleasure to recommend Silvio. I am glad to give further information and references. Contact Silvio Dobrovat-Hometelligent Inc. e-mail sqs1933 [at] keper

We had a great experience with Tom Judt. He specializes in bathrooms and did a fantastic job re-doing ours. He also helped us install a hot tub and deck and a handful of new windows. The quality of his and his crew's work was great. On top of that, Tom was extremely attentive to all our questions and special requests. Hands down, it was the best experience we've had with a contractor to date -- highly recommended. His # is 510-852-4560. tomcavers [at]

Oct 2010

If you need a recommendation for a first-rate contractor, I have one for you. His name is Thomas Goetze and his company is T & G Construction. I first met Thomas in the mid-80s, sometime before he had actually gotten his contractor's license. He had done some work for friends of mine and when I was ready to get rid of my horrible kitchen, I called him. We spent many, many hours talking about what I wanted (even when I wasnC,bt quite sure what that was) and he provided me with lots of excellent suggestions that turned out to be (in fact) exactly what I wanted. He was a joy to work with, and created a kitchen that is now, 23 years later, still beautiful, modern looking and highly functional. Since that time he has also tackled a number of projects in my house, including remodeling a bathroom, creating another bathroom out of unused storage space, installing recessed lighting, painting, deck building and repair, incredible cabinetry, retrofitting, termite work, renovation of an inlaw apartment and on and on. In all these years I have never once had reason to question his taste or judgment. I have never worried that his prices weren't fair (if anything, they were probably low for the quality of work that he did). And most importantly, I have always felt totally comfortable having him and his workers in my home. From the beautiful mahogany and rosewood jewelry box that he built for me to the reconstruction of brick steps that were dangerous and collapsing, Thomas has always been there to help me out. I thoroughly recommend him for whatever project you have. Contact Information: T & G Construction tngbuild [at] 510-653-6420 (voice & fax) 510-204-9226 (cellular)

Contractor who would start at noon every day

Sept 2010

For reasons of work and sleep schedules, I am looking for recommendations for contractors to do work on my home who would be willing to start at noon every day.

I have an excellent contractor who happens to live in Antioch. I know he has done many jobs for other BPN members. Because of commute hours, he may be interested in working from noon through the evening. His name is Scott Montgomery. His phone number is 925-382-4112 and his email address is michael.montgomery4 [at] I know you would like him (everyone does). Dee

Try giving Will with Centerline Construction a call. They've done great work for us and Will was very flexible with our schedule. His number is 510-812-5515. Lisa

Jason DeAntonis is a fabulous design and build carpenter who did a lot of work for us. He's worked for a lot of families with young children, so is used to working flexible work schedules (such as starting at noon), specific quiet hours, and cleaning up after the work. He's also easy to work with. You can see pictures of his work (including some he did for us) on his website. his email is: jasondeantonis [at] He has a long list of local references he can give you upon request. --satisfied costumer

I have nothing but praise for our contractor Blake Gilmore, I am sure his crew could accomodate your schedule. Good luck with your remodeling. Gloria

Looking for a Construction Contractor

August 2010

I highly recommend Seth Melchert (Master Builders), 510-654-2746. Over the years he has redone our bathroom, kitchen, built a deck, installed windows, and other work. We have been very happy with everything he's done-he has great people working for him, he is very personable and concerned with doing a good job, and makes sure all goes as smoothly as possible. Laura

To everyone out there ! If you're looking to hire a construction contractor, we highly recommend Luca Adamache.He is a great contractor and very easy to work with. We chose him based on the BPN recommendations and indeed he stands for what he's doing. The bottom line was this: we wanted to have someone that is knowledgeable enough to handle complex tasks that our project involved, and we've been so happy to have Luca do it. Our house needed a complete foundation replacement and structural reinforcement on both levels, having in mind that is on a steep hill. Luca worked well with our team of structural engineers and designers to accomplish a project that we had a lot of reservations for at the beginning. First when we saw our house lifted 8 feet high and supported only by 2 steel beams to make the foundation work easier, we thought how in the world this project can be done as we wished, but Luca did everything for us and it was because of him that we got encouraged to move forward and now we're enjoying a great home. There are many things to say about him, but we do highly recommend him for any aspect of construction. His phone # 510-427-0585 Kate

I recommend Will Lopes for any construction needs. His company is Centerline Construction and he remodeled our kitchen for us. He and his workers were very professional and courteous and Will really helped us a lot with our design challenges. You can reach him at 510-812-5515. His website is Lisa

If you need a responsive contractor, you should call Sorin Feraru at 510 228 7366.We went through our second remodeling with him and we could not thank him enough for the work he has done. He was recommended to us by some dear friends last year when we wanted to remodel our kitchen. We were so happy with everything that we hired him again this year to remodel the rest of the house. We really appreciate the extra effort he has done so that we could have the home we had always dreamed of. Sorin has great design ideas and what we liked best it was that he's very good with organizing and planning the work ahead just to make sure everything is on schedule. Also, he really easy to communicate with and he always picks up the phone and returns calls on time. So if you want someone who can turn your home into a dream home, call Sorin Feraru. You can check out his website to see some of the work he has done, and maybe get an idea about how you might want your house to look like.

Feraru & Associates Building and Design is a full-service construction company providing excellent contracting services. They do big and small jobs from brand new construction to home remodelling projects. The work crew is friendly,efficient and professional and the project is on time and on budget. They have done work for my home and several of my neighbors. We are all happy with their work. Give Sorin Feraru a call: 510- 228-7366 alex

We were very happy with our contractor Rick Patterson of Haven Builders (510.978-1786). Our project last summer was the addition of a bedroom, bath and remodel of the kitchen. We lived in the front part of the house while his crew worked on the rear part. Not normally the best arrangement but Rick worked closely with us which included setting up a temporary kitchen in the laundry area. His finish work is very good, especially in our new kitchen. We were happy with his sub contractors and hired his concrete foundation contractor Tim Smith (510.654.7733) to redo our driveway and front walkway this spring. We had an issue with the Berkeley sidewalk Dept and with tree roots and he helped resolve the issue. Would definitely recommend them for their experience and quality of work. Mara

Reasonable contractor to add a bathroom to our house

August 2010

We are thinking of adding a bathroom to our house, want someone reasonable & reliable-- any suggestions? needing another bathroom

We used Centerline Construction for our kitchen addition and remodel. They were great! The workers were very respectful, kept the work area clean and the end product was beautiful. Will Lopes the owner is a great communicator and has a great eye for design. You can reach him at 510-812-5515. Lisa

Ernie Sangmaster (510 701 2691) remodeled my bathroom & kitchen, installed skylights and did many smaller projects for me and several friends. He is extremely reliable and made many very helpful suggestions. I completely trust him and he made me laugh when I was overwhelmed by decisions that had to be made. Satisfied & repeat customer

I highly recommend Rob Ades at M Construction. He just recently finished a kitchen remodel for us (a 1912 craftsman with LOTS of surprises) and did such a great job. He (and his team) was very professional, was on-time and on-budget (unbelieveable!). We're so excited about our new kitchen and really happy with the whole experience which we had been dreading. His number is (510) 816-0276. Tracy

I have recently used an excellent contractor for my total kitchen remodel: Feraru & Associates Building & Design. Their work is impeccable and the work crew is professional, clean and polite. The work is on time and on budget and Sorin Feraru is very reliable and helpful. He communicates with clients timely on every detail and offers solutions for any unexpected issues. Give him a call 510-228-7366 and website: alex

Silvio Dobrovat of Hometelligent was our general contractor. He and his crew are extremely reliable and professional and a pleasure to work with. Silvio worked on our Albany fixer upper and did a fantastic job renovating it. We plan to use him for additional work we have planned in the future. He is also reasonably priced! His number is (925) 383-8163 and his email is sqs1993 [at] Jeffrey

For a contractor: I can recommend California Rebuilders. They are Certified Green Building professionals who do meticulous design and build work. You can call Bob at (510) 853-1800 or email calrebuilders [at] They have a website under construction but they don't have many pictures of work posted yet. When I had them do the work on my house, what impressed me was that they did it ''the way my grandfather would have done it'' -they did it right the first time. They were meticulous in their work - like placing the best side of a piece of wood in a particular way so you could see it best. They are very observant of nuances in wood, stone and tile and very adamant about achieving the homeowners vision and meeting their needs. happy client

We have just had our kitchen and bathrooms remodeled. We used Bid Right Construction Inc - License #940885 - and we will continue to use them for any other work needed in the house as we are thrilled with the way the rooms look and how the work was done. The price was good, they were very careful about working around the children, great on communication and suggestions and the quality of the work is excellent. Their number is (510) 552-9036. KB

I must tell you that is not easy to find a great contractor these days. Sorin Feraru with Feraru and Associates Building and Design was not only prompt but he was honest and met and exceeded our expectations. He remodeled our home in Berkeley and he completed the job in timely manner, kept our house clean during the entire project and the cost was decent. It was a great pleasure working with him especially that he gave us some great ideas for remodeling. I highly recommend him to you. His phone number is 510-228-7366. You can also check some of his work at Good luck!

I am writing to recommend Paul Lashley, a local contractor who we hired recently to remodel our kitchen as well as look into a possible garage conversion. Paul was fantastic. Incredibly thorough, 100% reliable. He always goes above and beyond. He always thinks ahead, considers the million small details (so that you don't have to) that help make his projects so successful. Paul has a ton of experience, which truly shows whether in anticipating problems or locating hard-to-find products and supplies. Paul has a trusted team -- all highly skilled professionals. They clearly enjoy working together and deliver a top quality product. He works incredibly hard and is clearly passionate about making his clients happy with his work. Paul can be reached by email at goneraftn [at] or by phone at 510-910-1028. If you'd like to ask me questions about working with Paul, just ask him for my contact information and I'd be happy to talk with you. Jason

I will recommend Elco Bay Area - general and electrical contractor - I used this company to convert a 5 x 8 ft storage in to a 3rd master bathroom ,I am very happy in my huge shower with body shower and big seat bench. Call Mike 510-427-8370

We recently hired a great general contractor for a complete remodel of the two bathrooms in our house. His name is Andrew Sonnemann of Sonnemann Construction. The two bathrooms were quite challenging, both were very tiny, and very run down and ugly, and one of the rooms had issues with moisture and mold. However Andrew was very skilled and knowledgeable at fixing all the problems, and he came up with great ideas to maximize the space. He and his crew have immense knowledge, they are very polite, neat, and respectful of the owners (and neighbors). They were very reliable, both in their quality of work as well as being on the job, and they charged very reasonable prices and stuck to them. Andrew can be reached at 925.457.7710. Happy As Can Be

Dear ?Needing Another Bathroom?, I have a recommendation for you--Chris Ingenito at AspenWood Construction. He recently remodeled our kitchen and a few years ago he did an addition to our house creating a beautiful new master bedroom and bath. Chris and his crew are a pleasure to work with. They made us feel completely at ease throughout the process and minimized the inconvenience of living in a construction zone as much as possible. He worked within our budget, got the job done in a timely manner, and most importantly produced quality work. Chris was always available when I had questions and his crew was neat, polite, and quiet. He has a great eye for detail and makes wonderful suggestions. He turned an old run down kitchen into my favorite room in the house. The number for AspenWood Construction is 510.665.8526 Anna

We used Bebe Construction for the remodeling of our home in Bekeley. We re did our kitchen and also did a bathroom addition which my wife and I really liked how it turned out. He did a great job and was very well priced, I would greatly recommend on using Bebe. His contact information is (510) 566-6685. Thank, Bob

We LOVE Marius Construction; we called them after reading several other rave reviews on BPN. Before we found Marius, we had been burned by several unreliable contractors and just put off all our projects for years. Now we look forward to working on our house because we get to see these guys. They are hard-working, friendly, quiet, clean, fast, and always ON TIME and ON BUDGET. (!!!) This is a family-based business with real integrity. We've hired them 3 times now; they've built us a stunning new deck, built a gate to perfectly match our existing fencing, installed beautiful tile floors and low-flow toilets in our bathrooms, hand-cut a diagonal pattern of vinyl tiles for our kitchen, repaired some old electrical wiring and the doorbell that stumped 3 handymen, fixed a massive leak inside one of our walls, and painted every room in our house. Marius is also licensed for asbestos removal. Really, I think they can do anything! Their work is always great and their prices are reasonable . . . but the best thing about them is that they are such a delight to work with. Marius is a man of few words but the results speak for themselves. Marius Construction, 510-828-6551. Erika

Contractor for building/rebuilding a garage in Berkeley

May 2010

We have a very strange garage/carport hybrid in our back yard which needs a complete overhaul. It is right up against the property line - has an automatic garage door, cement foundation (but no drainage), electrical and a pitched roof complete with rain gutters. It is a 2 car structure. The catch is that it has no walls and is not framed for walls either. It was clearly done without permits. It is not in bad shape, but it does not suit our needs and it is pretty ugly.

We are looking for a contractor to do this for us - with permits. We want to tear down/rebuild this structure possibly using the existing footprint OR possibly reframing it, siding and dry walling the interior, and making it water tight for storage and an artist's studio OR rebuilding as a one car structure to maximize yard space.

In other words I am looking for someone creative, not too pricey and knowledgeable about berkeley zoning ordinances. Any recommendations?

Berkeley zoning and building codes are complex, and it seems that your structure was built without permits, so it probably is not ''grandfathered'' into the older codes.

Before hiring a contractor to build, rebuild, repair, you need to do a search of your property's history in the Zoning department, and learn when it was built, if there were permits, what is the ''legal'' status of the structure.

You need to be rather discrete about this. Just see your file, get copies, you do not have to talk to anyone about what you want to do, and get a ''no'' at this point.

Then go to the other side of the office, the Building Department side, and learn what are the current requirements for set backs, etc. for a garage. Just ask for general information, you do not have to disclose your property address.

You may have to spend the equivilent of several days of time to get all the information that you need. You will save yourself time and headaches by doing this yourself.

When you have a thorough grasp of what is permitted by the city, then it is time to talk to an architect, and or contractor. But you will save money and perhaps huge mistakes by doing the preliminary research yourself.

If you have to get neighbors ok (that absence of rear setback and permit is a big red flag), or even a variance (Let's hope not) you already are empowered with facts.

Do not overlook the Berkely Architectural Heritage society which has old Sanborn maps from the early nineteen- hundreds, which may also show footprints of improvements on the property. Lynn

I am recommended Curt Ferson for any building requirements that you may have. He is very knowlegable, takes great pride in his work, cahrges reasonable fees and is extremely honest in dealing with clients. I have used him for several projects that I have worked on throughout the years, and each and every client was thoroughly pleased with his work and responsiveness. He is in Berkeley, experienced with the local officials and very easy to work with. I'm throwing his name out there because I have not seen him recommended in this forum before and he does fabulous work. Contact CEF Contractors, 510-915-0814 wc

I highly recommend Terry Wilson Construction. When we refurbished our house in Piedmont (from the foundation up, it was a disaster), Terry did truly great work, on time, on budget, and exactly as planned. He has a very hard-working crew, and Terry helped us figure out how to get around a lot of sticky conceptual problems. Our house turned out so great that our neighbors across the street hired Terry to re-do much of their house both inside and out (replace windows, rebuild walkways, stairs, bathrooms, etc.) Now we get to look across the street at their beautiful house! I think you will be really pleased with him, he is a very nice man and has done a lot of work in Berkeley. He can be reached at 510-685-3290. Big Terry Fan

Great Bathroom Contractor

May 2010

Hi, I am interested in putting a bathroom in my basement. So, I need a contractor that can start from scratch (plumbing, walls, fixtures, etc). I would rather hear from people happy with their new bathrooms rather than contractors recommending themselves. Thanks!

Hi, we have used Wright Constructon for our work and he has been great. Tom Wright 510 710 3310 Tony

I highly recommend Jesse Rozay. He's worked on my bathroom remodel in Richmond and has some great case studies on his website: Contact: jesse [at] Rachel

I am very happy to let people know about our contractor that has done the three bathrooms in our house.His name is Luca, his company is Luca's Building.He is a licensed contractor and we found him through a friend of ours that recently finished a small addition using him.My friend and I are very happy how Luca and his team has done the job.The tiles job looks great ! There are many things to say about him but I summarize with these words: professional, trustworthy, reliable and he stayed within the budget. Highly recommend for bathrooms. His cell is 510/427/0585. Lisa

I would like to say, that a few years ago I had my bathroom totally remodeled. It was done by Luca's Building. Luca Adamache is the owner.He's flexible and reliable and he didn't go much over his bid. I am very pleased; the crew was great. The sub-contractors arrived on time all the time. They were neat. They did beautiful work. My very ugly, old tiles were replaced and the smallish space was opened up simply by a few design changes. I had met problems over the course of construction but Luca approached them with integrity and solved them. I would recommend Luca's Building for any type of remodeling. They do large scale remodels and smaller remodels as well as new constructions, additions, kitchens and many more.427-0585 Charles

Contractor for exterior door and stucco

April 2010

We're looking for a good contractor who knows a lot about stucco and exterior doors. We have a problem with water leaking through the door frame of a french door. We know we need to replace the door and re-stucco around the door and a few feet all around the door to replace some stucco work that was done poorly in the past. We want to find someone who can help us identify the cause of the leak, replace the door and stucco, perhaps build a new overhang over the door, and make the old and new stucco match up as closely as possible. If you know of a highly skilled person capable of this type of job, please let us know. We are looking for someone who is professional and friendly, and hopefully who has tackled this type of problem before. Thanks. rachel

We replaced our front door with fiberglass cherry finish three years ago with JB Construction, and they recommended to go with fiberglass as its low maintenance and doesn't warp, lose its color, no rots whatsoever, we are glad we listen to our contractor. Happy with our front door and service. Would recommend them again and again. Get your exterior door done with JB Construction, they are the best. Phone number for Baha (510) 735-4052 Cristina

RESPONSIVE contractor??

April 2010

We've now been through 3 contractors and are unable to find one that will return our calls! We've found through past experience that even really nice and talented contractors often can't be relied on to finish small jobs, or to communicate clearly about the work (i.e., let us know when they're coming, tell us where to look for tiles, discuss a few options for deck design, etc.) If you know a contractor who keeps the lines of communication open, does good quality work, and isn't too expensive, please let me know! It's not like I'm asking for a unicorn!! Thanks, Erika

I was quite impressed with Travis Wirt, owner of Black Creek Builders. He returned my phone calls quickly, showed up when he said he would, tried the least invasive ways to figure out the source of my leak, had creative ideas, was professional and polite. He hires good people, too. Contact info: Office 1-800- 737-7113, cell 510-774-1907, email blackcreekbuilders [at] Talia

We worked with contractor Marius Adamache (MARIUS CONSTRUCTION 510-828-6551). We originally found him through the BPN. Marius met with us several times to work out a design for a new bathroom and closet for our home. We had to gut several walls, run water and sewage lines upstairs, create new walls, repaint 3 rooms ... The workers were very considerate, timely, and skilled. They also carefully dismantled existing doorways and molding so they could be reused. When this wasn't possible, they were great about finding wood to match the rest of the molding in the house (1908). The work was completed in 4 weeks (we were hugely surprised by the speed) and on budget. We have been very happy with the quality of the work. cwr

We have had a very positive experience with Goodale General Builders (510) 205-5862 located in Alameda. They did an amazing job on our kitchen remodel! The contractor's staff is hard working and respectful, super positive experience. Ricki

I've had the same problem, especially with plumbers. Even had one show up at 8pm after saying they'd be there at 1pm. Peter Sontag is a good contractor to work with. His number is 510-760-9720. He's really easy to talk to, and does really good work. He doesn't always return calls the same day, but he seems to be pretty good about returning them within a few days. He also knows a lot about sustainable building, in case you're interested in incorporating that into your plans. He's helped us with some projects, and has always been really patient with us, explaining the different costs and design options. A. C.

In the last issue of H & G I recommended Chris Kary as a great carpenter, electrician and general contractor. I commend him again as an answer to your request for a responsive contractor. Chris is certainly that; he's college educated, well-spoken, a good writer, and most of all, he's CONSCIENTIOUS! After I bought a house in the Oakland Hills, I asked for his advice on my new homeowner's policy. He looked it over and told me that the policy replacement values were much too low. With his knowledge of residential construction in the Bay Area he was able to explain to me what it really would cost me to repair or replace my house if something awful happened. I was able to go back to my insurance company and, on the basis of Chris' credibility as a Bay Area construction expert, they agreed to revise the replacement values in my policy in accord with Chris' guidelines. Kathy His number is 510-479-6111 My number is 510-482-1629 Kathy

I highly recommend Luca Adamache as a General Contractor. He recently finished for us a big remodel project of our 1927 house. The project involved a complexity of trades and a skillful hand of a finisher. Luca handled the project beautifully and performed wonderfully. We have worked with many contractors over the years, but we never met someone like him. He was on time, on budget and gave us a great house that we really enjoy. He can be reached at 510-427-0585 or Kenneth & Linda

We love Tom Owczarzak! He is responsive, skilled conscientious, kind, and smart. He shows up when he says he will, and he makes a specific point of communicating with clients on days or times when he doesn't show up -- in order to explain what is going on. He did a remodel on our kitchen, transformed a pantry into a bedroom, and re-worked the walls and windows around our fireplace. He also built us two sturdy decks. We've gotten to know him over the course of our construction adventures and he is the most moral person I know. He charges fair rates and you know you can have faith that you are getting a fair deal. He is a classic bay area contractor in that he also has a masters in philosophy, and his background makes conversations during the long process of construction that much more interesting. His number is 510-228-5441. shona

After interviewing several highly recommended contractors, I chose Luca (Luca's Building) to do our kitchen and small addition to our house in Rockridge. He seemed the best candidate, since he showed genuine interest in guiding us, step by step through the process of remodel and building our addition. From the first meeting until the very last, we've been very pleased with the way he handled everything, very businesslike and professional. His crew is skilled and very hard working. Above all his qualities, what stood out was his affordable bid and willingness to work out and adjust anything that came up over the course of the project. I highly recommend him, Luca Adamache as General Contractor. His website is and his cell is 510-427-0585 Vicky

We just finished the complete overhaul of a five bedroom fixer-upper in Redwood Heights in Oakland, and we couldn't be happier. Before we started, I interviewed a dozen or so contractors, and we decided to work with Andrew Sonnemann Construction (Tel. 925.457.7710). Many people had told me how horrible their experiences with remodeling had been and I was quite anxious before the start, but working with Andrew and his excellent crew was a breeze and nothing but fun. Our house is a 1921 farmhouse -- the original house on a large plot of land -- and the pressure was big to preserve the original structure while modernizing the house. Andrew went every extra mile necessary to figure out how to make my ideas and wishes work. I'm a perfectionist and Andrew exceeded my expectations with his attention to detail, workmanship, and professionalism. He never told me I couldn't do something (unless it would have been a code violation), and he never tried to scare me off something I wanted with inflated prices as I have experienced from others. His prices are more than reasonable, and he has always been more than willing and happy to put in the extra effort to work out the perfect solution. He has worked with his crew, and with his subcontractors for tiling, floors, heating systems, roofs, etc. for years and they all show the same professionalism, excellence in workmanship, and pride in their work as Andrew himself. Thanks to them I wake up every morning thinking ''OMG I can't believe I get to live here'', and I can't thank Andrew enough for that. Dagmar & Tevya

Jan 2010

Re: Architect for remodel and possible addition to 1920s bungalow

I highly recommend General Contractor Dan Peters of Peters Construction operating out of Montclair in Oakland. Dan Peters 510-597-1226 dan_peters [at]

We used him almost three years ago for an extensive and complex remodel adding a 'guest suite' with bedroom and full bathroom (tile work throughout) which included a family room with kitchenette and laundry and an office. This addition also included two decks and landscape design including a retaining wall for our back yard making two large play spaces for our daughter. During the remodel he did major seismic retrofitting. He's also certified in lead paint removal which is nice for older home remodels.

Also, just last year we had him back for various general home updates in the main part of the house including the design and creation of a wood mantel piece.

He's got a great portfolio--being a General Contractor he does everything from building homes inside and out to fine woodworking, cabinetry, tile work, electrical, plumbing, painting, bathroom and kitchen remodels, and even landscape design to match your beautifully remodeled home! We've had him do all of that and more. Because of his range of work conceivably you save money by not having to sub-contract out various things.

He's honest, reliable, very good with amazingly creative design skills. He's a perfectionist in the right ways. Very detail oriented. His crew is hardworking, trustworthy and pleasant to have in your home.

I also like that he's not running a big firm with 5+ other jobs going on at once. This means you get individualized attention from him on the site throughout the job. We had bids from all different types of companies and we liked using someone with this size company the best. He?s a local owner AND he's there working on the job site. Oh, and he?s got a great sense of humor, which is nice when you?re spending so much $$ makes it easier to write that check if you get to laugh, too.(-;

Please email me if anyone would like more information. Jennifer

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Recommendation for kitchen remodel contractor

Dec 2009

We are starting to look at remodeling our kitchen, and have been given a few names of contractors by our architect. Has anyone had experience with any of the following contractors: George Murany, Lukas Kacer, Tom Budzinski, or Alan Ngan? We'd appreciate any input you could give us. N.

To add to your list of possibilities, we highly recommend Seth Melchert of Master Builders as a general contractor. He worked on our kitchen this year and was really great about keeping track of all the moving parts, making sure things went smoothly, and communicating well to make sure we understood how things were progressing and had the information we needed to make decisions. He has a long list of good references on kitchen remodels and other large-scale projects. His e-mail is dmelchert [at] Rebecca

If you want a contractor who is head and shoulders above the crowd, you should contact Sorin Feraru at 510 228 7366. Sorin remodeled our kitchen this spring.He is professional, detail oriented,plans ahead and offers a great customer service.We couldn't be more happy with his work especially because everything was done in a timely manor.Sorin was recommended to us by some dear friends who hired him couple of times in a row for different projects.Now, if we'll have another project we'll definitely hire Sorin again.If you want to see some of his work you can check out his website

Contractor for small project in 90-year-old home

Dec 2009

We live in a small 90-year-old home in Piedmont and would love to knock down a huge and clunky built-in closet in our bedroom and knock out the doorway in our kids' room to create an open space. It would be great to find someone who could help us rebuild a more space-efficient bedroom closet. Can anyone recommend a contractor who would be able to work with us on this? Eventually we'd like to do more work on the house but for now, these are the two things driving us crazy! Thanks! anon

We recently removed a wall to open up our living space. The contractor did a great job of retrofitting the ceiling since it was a load-bearing wall. He was also able to match the wall texture very nicely. The change is remarkable -- so much more light and room to move around. I wish we had done it sooner! I highly recommend Fernando Armenta. He's licensed, very easy to work with, and he does a thorough job. He can be reached at ergowiz [at] Alex in Montclair

Most definitely contact John Ferguson, owner of MTAC (More Than a Carpenter). (510)898-1332 John is a very good listener, designer, and builder. His company has been in business for nearly 25 years and has an outstanding reputation in the east bay. Good Luck! remodel ace

I used Greg Watson in El Sobrante 510-223-1541 (office) or 510-453-5638 (cell). You can't go wrong if he isn't too busy -- he's really good, and his prices are very reasonable. I call him ''the last of the honest general contractors.'' I've worked with a few over the years since I've enjoyed buying ''fixer-upers.'' They weren't all crooks, but they will change-order you to death if you aren't careful. Be sure they have insurance too! Good luck! Marilyn

As before, I have recommended Craig Reece Of Indian Rock Design/Build (craigereece [at] I worked in the construction industry for over 30 years before being disabled. Craig is a neighbour, and a competent contractor and worker. He and his crew helped me when I placed a new foundation under our house. He recently helped me in working on my chimney. (Our house is a 109 yr. old Victorian.) Lots of work, as you know! He specialises in designing and remodelling kitchens and bathrooms, but his expertise goes far beyond. Call him and see if he can help you on your project. By the way he also does bio diesel conversions. Good luck! Robert H

Hi Anon, I would highly recommend Bebe Construction. He is a licensed contractor who takes his work very serious and makes sure your happy. I was really impressed by the reasonable bid that was given to us for the work he completed. We had him completely gut out the entire outdated kitchen in our home and at the same time we also went ahead and had him remodel our bathroom. Bebe and his crew worked very carefully and made sure things were moving smoothly and on time. Bebe made sure to keep us up to date on what was going on and every time we had a question about something he was always there to answer it. After this whole process I could not be any happier on how everything turned out. I would hire Bebe Construction again for any home remodel project. You can reach him at 510 566-6685 or via bebeconstruction [at] Anne

Dec 2009

Re: fixing stucco and windows so they don't leak
With the first heavy rain this year, we suddenly had water coming in so heavily it was oozing from the wall beneath one of our windows. (We remodeled and had put in a new window there 6 years ago.) We called Dan Lynch (, as he had been recommended to us. He sent someone out the next day. His worker fixed both the flashing in the window (installed incorrectly) and also found a vulnerable area in our roof as well as with the gutters. After the brief but heavy rain yesterday, I am happy to say we are nice and dry. His phone number is 510-524-4044. Sarah

Architect and/or contractor for serious interior work?

Nov 2009

I am wondering if anyone has a recommendation for an architect and/or contractor to look at a house that we are thinking about purchasing. This estimate would greatly impact our decision to bid in a couple weeks! The tasks involve a kitchen remodel and new stairway (probably needs a new location) to the attic. I greatly appreciate any info! Sarah

I would love to recommend a general contractor we used on a large remodel of our 1935 home in Upper Rockridge. I found him after interviewing all the top recommended contractors on BPN. Luca Adamache, our contractor, and his brother, Ioseif are both highly recommended (his brother does electrical work, and we have also used him). Luca gutted and remodeled 3 of our bathrooms at once, and removed a closet and fireplace.

For our last remodel on a former home, we used Mierce Illie and had a horrible result - difficult to schedule, over budget, (also recommended on BPN) no-show on important work, bad plumbing, etc. Luca, on the other hand, is one of the most honest and delightful people to work with. He is always on time, always nice, and is very respectful. He has come by since the remodel to complete some smaller handy-man like tasks, and has always returned my calls- he even came by in a pinch to help me get an appliance installed and to shut off my water lines since he remembered our house so well. I got 5 bids and his was the most reasonable. He came in on budget and I have been very happy with the work. Call or email at lucasbuilding [at] or 510.427.0585. heather

I recommend having Jim Vivrette from Altera Designs bid your project. My parents (in their later 80's) need some work done in their home and I have been completely impressed with his demeanor, his insight, his creativity and his sensitivity to cost factors. His bids is done thoughtfully and is presented in a concise and clear form. The whole experience so far has been absolutley wonderful. He is a licensed contractor, Diamond Certified, and is a lovely man to boot. He can be reached at jim [at] or (925) 766-7070. Julie

Several years ago I was in a similar situation before I bought a house in Pleasant Hill. A friend recommended me a contractor that came and told me what do I have to do to bring the house to a livable condition. I recommend him to you because I was happy with his recommendations and also his work that he has done afterward. His name is Constantin and you can call him at 510.305.5680. He a licensed general contractor. diana

I can highly reccommend Bob Root of California Rebuilders.Their phone number is 853-1800. They did a really good job on the work on my house and his charges are reasonable and honest. They are a harworking crew. I am having them do more work on my house soon. They will work with you to design and build whatever you need whether it is a huge demolition/remodeling job or just an upgrade. Plus they are green certified and will work with you if you wish to achieve your remodel in an environmentally friendly manner. a continuing client

I went out and interviewed a couple contractors before I hired anyone to completely remodel my kitchen and bathroom in my 1960?s Danville home. After interviewing and researching I choose Bebe Construction. First of all the bid that was given couldn?t be any more reasonable for the amount of work that was done. He was very reliable about being on time and answered all the questions that I had towards the remodeling. During the remodeling process he let us know where we can pick up material at a cheaper price which actually helped us save some money. In all my wife and I could not be any happier on how the kitchen and bathroom turned out. I would definitely recommend on choosing Bebe Construction for any type of job that is needed to be completed. You can contact him at Cell: (510)566.6685 or E-Mail: bebeconstruction [at] Thank You, Bob

For your entire interior needs try Cameron C. Hable Construction at (510) 531-4090. He is located in Oakland and is fantastic. Hable Construction, Inc is an award winning company with Green Building certification You may also go to his web page and view the work he has accomplished. Simply type in his company name. Good luck. My wife and I were very happy with their work Kirk

Oct 2009

Re: Architect for craftsman style house
We are just finishing up a modern addition and renovation to our home (and deck)and have been extremely pleased with the work of our contractor, Jim Davenport (Davenport Builders Company--841-6601). He was extradorinarely careful in following the architecht's drawings and in both anticipating and communicating necessary changes and modifications. His years of experience, knowledge and connections with top level subcontractors was invaluable. His crew was very professional and pleasant--important if you will be living in the house as we did while construction is occuring. We got a number of bids and his was the best. A number of friends in the construction business have seen our renovation and have commented on the quality of the work. I am happy to provide more information if interested. truehwang

Contractor needed for modern interior renovation

Oct 2009

contractor needed for modern interior renovation/deck. Looking for someone who is reasonably priced (low end), but does good work and follows through on the project, reads the plans and details carefully, and has foresight for problems which may come up. I know this is a hard act, but I'm sure there's someone out there who does B quality work for a C/C+ price. DS

Nathan Parks 510-812-8111. Good, reliable local contractor. juliette

I can recommend this contractor. His name is Pete Williams, phone 510.798.7882. Not sure of his availability but give him a call. He's reasonably priced and a pleasure to work with. dave

I highly recommend Ron Masters. Excellent designer as well as builder. Decks are his expertise and very reasonable rates. He can be reached at 415-377-8400. Melinda

Try Greg Watson Construction 510-223-1541 office; 510-453-5638 cell. I have used him several times; everything from bathroom addition with new plumbing and electrical and foundation work to small repairs and painting. He's the BEST! He is so honest and reasonable and easy to work with. And he likes to get in and get the job done; no running several jobs at once, leaving you wondering when the heck he'll be done or when he's coming back. Great guy! Joan

I realized I didn't leave his contact info in my post from September. I'd recommend Jon Gock of Sun Construction. 510-867-4711 He does commercial and residential remodeling. He's done earthquake retrofitting, remodeled entire kitchens and bathrooms, built decks, and redone roofs. Here is a link to a recommendation for him recommendations-for And here's a link to pictures of the ''top floor bathroom'' and ''tiny bathroom'' that he remodeled. The person included before and after pictures. Alan

My husband and I hired Idan Bearman of Bearman And Sons to rebuild our deck after we saw his work on our friend's deck. We had a very old redwood deck that had to be completely torn down and rebuilt. Idan did a great job, with in the budget, and in less time than estimated. He was very clean and paid great attention to the fine details which pleased my old school dad so much he had nothing to complain about! (trust me, it's a first). Idan's phone number is (510) 830 7927. Mary Beth

I highly recomend Jeff Jensen with Jennsen construction he does quality work and he is afortable his number is (510) 453-9369 you will be very pleased. Best Regards Mr. Martinez

In June 2008, Mike came by our home to receive a down payment for the bathroom remodel. At that time, he asked when we wanted to start the project. Since my daughter was leaving for college the weekend of Sept 20, we told him that he could start as early as the Monday after she left for college on Sept 22. On Sept 22, I was sitting in my office when the doorbell rang at 7:30 in the morning. It was Mike. I was amazed. Contractors have a bad reputation for not showing up when they're supposed to and letting days, sometimes weeks, go by without making any progress on a remodeling project(and not providing clients with any indication when they might show up on the job site). Not only did Mike show up when he said he would, he showed up virtually everyday at 8 am sharp until the bathroom was finished two months later, the day my daughter arrived home from college for Thanksgiving. In a word, Mike was fantastic. Our bathroom is beautiful. The crown molding in the bathroom looks fantastic. All of the subcontractors Mike brought on were fantastic. The remodel ran like clockwork. I really appreciated Mike's willingness to look for ways to improve upon the 'paper' design instead of just following the design blueprint. He offered helpful solutions to problems that emerged when trying to implement the paper design during the construction phase. I am really looking forward to working with Mike on our next remodeling project. He is a delight to work with, demonstrates a high degree of integrity and is highly customer oriented. What a find! You can contact him at 510-427-8370 e-mail : elcobayarea [at] tim

I highly recommend Vertrees Construction for a modern construction project as well as beautiful deck. Vertrees are licensed contractors who work together and submitted one incredibly reasonable bid. They are a very small outfit who provide exceptional quality for the money. I don't know how C+/low he could be but he does A/A+ quality work. We have a remodeled 1925 home. We redid all the electrical, remodeled the kitchen and full bath, added a half bath, changed doors and windows, and so much more, also beautiful big new deck. The plumbing contractor was a joy to work with, our bathrooms are beautiful. They are hard working, honest, thoughtful, and a pleasure to work with. Their work site is clean and organized. They easily passed all the inspections.

We had a great experience with our main bathroom totally remodeled. Our house only had the one bathroom, but the plumber ensured our toilet worked every day. I checked other homes he completed in/around the Oakland Hills, San Leandro, Castro Valley... Very comforting to see the beautiful results of his work and the homeowners were extremely happy. He handles every kind of construction job well and works well with remodels. Tom Vertrees is the General Building Contractor and he is very meticulous, reasonable and fair. We love our home, and he was a joy to work with. Feel free to contact Tom at: (510) 581- 1237, he can direct you to some of those Oakland homes he's completed. Berkeley mom

I recommend my contractor, Paganelli Construction. They remodeled my entire second story, including new bath fixtures, new flooring, the bedrooms, and installing a new roof. We only moved out for 3-4 months or so. The job went pretty smoothly, even though we had several changes to the original plan. Good luck with your construction project. 510-633-9007 wilson

I would love to recommend a general contractor we used on a large remodel of our 1935 home in Upper Rockridge. I found him after interviewing all the top recommended contractors on BPN. Luca Adamache, our contractor, and his brother, Ioseif are both highly recommended (his brother does electrical work, and we have also used him). Luca gutted and remodeled 3 of our bathrooms at once, and removed a closet and fireplace.

For our last remodel on a former home, we used Mierce Illie and had a horrible result - difficult to schedule, over budget, (also recommended on BPN) no-show on important work, bad plumbing, etc. Luca, on the other hand, is one of the most honest and delightful people to work with. He is always on time, always nice, and is very respectful. He has come by since the remodel to complete some smaller handy-man like tasks, and has always returned my calls- he even came by in a pinch to help me get an appliance installed and to shut off my water lines since he remembered our house so well. I got 5 bids and his was the most reasonable. He came in on budget and I have been very happy with the work. Call or email at lucasbuilding [at] or 510.427.0585. heather

We are just finishing up a modern addition and renovation to our home (and deck)and have been extremely pleased with the work of our contractor, Jim Davenport (Davenport Builders Company--841-6601). He was extradorinarely careful in following the architecht's drawings and in both anticipating and communicating necessary changes and modifications. His years of experience, knowledge and connections with top level subcontractors was invaluable. His crew was very professional and pleasant--important if you will be living in the house as we did while construction is occuring. We got a number of bids and his was the best. A number of friends in the construction business have seen our renovation and have commented on the quality of the work. I am happy to provide more information if interested. t.

I highly recommend Jim Davenport and team (Davenport Builders Company, 510-841-6601)for any renovation project. Jim helped me with the design of converting a ''basement-type'' TV room and old, rough 1/2 bath into a beautiful, useful, and practical new den and full bath. Beyond the design work, Jim and his team are highly detailed craftsmen with excellent skills in all aspects of their work. They are also pleasant, easy to talk with, and very open to on- going feedback and ideas during the duration of the project. Please write or call (510-748-9320)if more details or pictures would be helpful to you. Pat

I can highly reccommend CALIFORNIA REBUILDERS in Albany. Call and talk to Bob Root. He and is crew did an amazing job rebuilding a 40 foot bridge in my back yard, a redwood fence, installing hardwoord in my DR and entry and slate in my entry. I still am having them do electrical upgrades and other work. They are green certified and will work with you to design and build what you need and to meet your expectations. These guys get 5 stars. Their phone number is 853-1800 Cindy

I strongly recommend Jim Davenport ( for your remodel. I've hired Jim three times over the last eight years to work on projects on our Craftsman home. I've also recommended him for a major remodel of a friends house after a fire and for an Albany addition. No complaints. Like us they found Jim to be talented, fair, and easy to work with. His subs are great and stick with him for years. You couldn't do better. David

Contractor for basic framing, windows, and sheet rocking

Sept 2009

We are looking for a contractor or very skilled handyman for basic framing, help with window/door installation, and experience doing sheet rocking for a small house project. Please email me directly if you know someone who is good and affordable! Thanks in advance. layla

I can highly recommend our contractor, Chuck Below. His company is called Norstar Construction but he is a one-man operation. He is licensed, bonded and insured. He has done a number of projects for us, including replacing windows, pouring a patio, sheetrocking a room, and a major renovation of two bathrooms. His sheetrocking is suberb and he has a lot of framing experience, but he is also very good with fine finishes. He approaches each project as if he were doing it on his own house and will have to live with the consequences for years. I cannot recommend him highly enough. You can reach Chuck at 510-333-9399. Satisfied Customer

I highly recommend Robert Dorner. He has done lots of work for me, my brother and my mother. I appreciate his thoughtfulness and attention to detail - he also keeps the site very clean. He does a lot of the work himself, so I know the quality is good. He does a range of projects - from small to big, plumbing to electrical - which comes in handy. I am an architect, and have worked with lots of contractors, so I feel I can recommend him with some authority. His phone number is 415-828-3442. kate

We would highly recommend Bay Area Pacific Construction for any size project. They are a family owned company, working on remodeling and construction projects; they remodeled our two bathrooms and kitchen. All the family members are very passionate about their work. They always respond quickly and communicate clearly what you can expect through each step of the process. You can reach them at 510 484 5765 or can check their website . If quality matters to you, this is the contractor you want. Meg & Kevin

For a contractor, I had excellent experience with MGO Construction, headed by a young up-and-coming Matt Gober. He's very personable, understood my tight budgeting and timeline needs in building out my kitchen within 2 months, and worked hard to help me keep costs down while providing the seismic upgrades my home needed. His number: 510-847-5950. Tell 'em Verna sent you!

For those of you looking for an excellent, honest, conscientious general contractor who does very beautiful work locally, I recommend Tom Banfield. He does kitchens, bathrooms, windows, doors, skylights, walls plumbing, wiring, and any home repairs.

I've seen his work in a dear friend's house. The kitchen, bathroom, and garden room had rustic, hand-plastered walls, a curved barrel-vaulted ceiling in the bath, and wonderful juxtapositions of rustic plaster, shiny granite, and ceramic tile. My friend told me that she had seen a kitchen that suggested a new kitchen in an old stone house in Provence and had obtained the name of the contractor. She met with Tom a few times, hit it off, and came up with a design, a price, and after some dusty weeks, some wonderful changes to her home that are both beautiful and functional.

Please call Tom, Banfield Design and Construction, if you have any questions, at tel # 510 558 8848. Also, you can check out his website: Good luck with your project! Melissa

We'd would suggest contacting our contractor, Augustus Bituin (call him ''Augie'' for short). We highly recommend Augie, he is our ''GO TO'' guy for projects small and large. He has remodeled a total of 5 bathrooms for us in 2 very different types of homes. He has beautifully resurfaced a ceiling, patched walls back to new, painted exterior and interior spaces giving them their luster back, etc. He has done quite amount of similar work for friends that we have referred him to as well.

Augie's workmanship is detailed, meticulous and neat. His recommendations and suggestions are pragmatic and practical, but he can go high-end as well if that is what you want. His pricing is reasonable and fair - that is one of the many reasons why we like working with him. Call him directly if you need work done! He is in the East Bay. Augie Bituin 415-793-4137 E.L., a Happy Customer

I use Eric Laul at 5109329876 cell, or email at EricLaul [at] He is licensed and do very good remodeling, kitchens, baths, decks, doors, dryrot, drywall and esp good at plumbing. Kenny

Contractor to replace garage wall and re-frame roof

Sept 2009

Our garage shares a wall with our neighbor' garage. I need a contractor to replace the shared wall and remove and reframe the roof. I'd like to get this done soon. Any recommendations? jn

Ernie Sangmaster has done several projects on my house---skylights, completely gutted and rebuilt the kitchen and bathroom. He always has excellent suggestions that improve upon a designer's plans. He is honest, trustworthy, always on time and he is a pleasure to work with. Several friends have also hired him and all have been thrilled with his work. His number is 701 2691. Nancy

We were so lucky to find Sorin Feraru. We called him after reading all the wonderful things people said about him on this website. When our remodeling project was completed we could say all those great things we read about him were true and we recommended Sorin Feraru to everyone we knew. Since we picked his name from this website, we wanted to give something back and let people know just how pleased we are with his work. Sorin is detail oriented, provides a great customer service and the project was completed in a timely manor.You can reach him at 510 228 7366 or check out his website

Lead abatement - kitchen cabinets & window replacement

Sept 2009

I've got a 1930s house with some big projects. I'm looking for a responsive contractor to do lead abatement & repaint our basement and the drawers/cabinets in our kitchen. One issue is whether it's worth the cost to have someone sand off the original paint from the kitchen drawers & cabinets, or whether we have to replace them. We weren't planning a full remodel quite yet... We are also replacing our old windows, and need to find a contractor who will take out the dry rot and replace the stucco siding. The windows are old, and are likely to have lead issues as well. Any suggestions? We've had trouble finding people who'll follow through on their commitments and make sure the job is done right. Separate recommendations for painting and window replacement companies are fine as well, as are recommendations for women-run businesses. New(ish) Berkeley Hills houseowner

I read your post and had to tell you about this contractor I've used. I call him the last of the honest general contractors. He probably isn't the ONLY honest one around, but he's the only truly honest and competent one I've ever found. His name is Greg Watson 510-453-5638 (cell); 510-225-1541 (office). Now he's the only person I call for ANYTHING! If he can't do it, he will give you the name of someone good who can. He was born and raised in El Sobrante, and he has been in the trades for over 30 years. He doesn't advertise; just gets all his work from referrals. NICE GUY! I hope he can fit you into his schedule. Good luck. PS: He has all the licenses and insurance too. I don't know about you, but that is very important to my husband and I. I'm married to an attorney :-)

If you need a responsive contractor, you should call Sorin Feraru at 510 228 7366.We went through our second remodeling with him and we could not thank him enough for the work he has done.He was recommended to us by some dear friends last year when we wanted to remodel our kitchen.We were so happy with everything that we hired him again this year to remodel the rest of the house.We really appreciate the extra effort he has done so that we could have the home we had always dreamed of.Sorin has great design ideas and what we liked best it was that he's very good with organizing and planning the work ahead just to make sure everything is on schedule.Also, he really easy to communicate with and he always picks up the phone and returns calls on time.So if you want someone who can turn your home into a dream home, call Sorin Feraru.You can check out his website to see some of the work he has done, and maybe get an idea about how you might want your house to look like.

Editor Note: recommendations were also received for Window Installers

Contractor/handyman for various home-improvement tasks

August 2009

Has anyone ever hired someone to supervise a number of repairs/home improvements ranging from small, one-day tasks to larger tasks. How did it work out? What was the financial arrangement? Please, no self-referrals. old house in berkeley flats -- needs work

Description Of Work: Complete bathroom remodel, including combining two small bathrooms into one large bathroom. Mike (Elco Bay Area)also remodeled the bathroom hallway. Mike sourced and acted as general contractor for all subcontractors(plumbing, shower hot mopping, floor and shower tiling, and drywall installation). Mike obtained all permits, scheduled and appeared on the job site for all inspections, and personally completed all electrically wiring and finish work including installation of crown and baseboard molding, lighting fixtures, shower fixtures, faucets, toilet, cabinets, cabinet hardware, towel bars, etc. In June 2008, Mike came by our home to receive a down payment for the bathroom remodel. At that time, he asked when we wanted to start the project. Since my daughter was leaving for college the weekend of Sept 20, we told him that he could start as early as the Monday after she left for college on Sept 22. On Sept 22, I was sitting in my office when the doorbell rang at 7:30 in the morning. It was Mike. I was amazed. Contractors have a bad reputation for not showing up when they're supposed to and letting days, sometimes weeks, go by without making any progress on a remodeling project(and not providing clients with any indication when they might show up on the job site). Not only did Mike show up when he said he would, he showed up virtually everyday at 8 am sharp until the bathroom was finished two months later, the day my daughter arrived home from college for Thanksgiving. In a word, Mike was fantastic. Our bathroom is beautiful. The crown molding in the bathroom looks fantastic. All of the subcontractors Mike brought on were fantastic. The remodel ran like clockwork. I really appreciated Mike's willingness to look for ways to improve upon the 'paper' design instead of just following the design blueprint. He offered helpful solutions to problems that emerged when trying to implement the paper design during the construction phase. I am really looking forward to working with Mike on our next remodeling project. He is a delight to work with, demonstrates a high degree of integrity and is highly customer oriented. What a find! For any remodeling call MIke - Elco Bay Area - 510-427-8370 Monique

For anyone needing a contractor, jobs big or small, rush immediately to your phones and call Jacob Blei at 415-225-3557. He just finished doing a major remodel at my house - kitchen and removal of several supporting walls and, not only did he do a superb job on a miniscule budget, he is a joy to have in your home. Jacob has tremendous integrity and a sterling work ethic and a heart of gold . I honestly can't recommend him highly enough. He didn't always check in with me on esthetic calls and that meant that I often didn't like his choices. He would always redo anything at his expense, but i encourage you to be detailed in your instructions about what you want. Feel free to call me if you have other questions. Margaret

I saw the post and had to take a moment to recommend Gigi Mocanu of Mocanu Construction as a very reasonable, capable, honest, and experienced contractor. He was recommended to us by a friend--himself a skilled handyman--who'd just had Gigi complete a 3 room addition on their house in Oakland. Gigi's bid for that job was far, far lower than the alternatives and after seeing the final result we were sold. Gigi is currently completing the second of two bathrooms in our home after installing a new driveway and custom gate, integrating two external sheds into the exterior of our house (they look original), installing a tankless water heater, replacing several windows, etc. The attention to detail is very good and Gigi has been great to work with and very flexible. Several of our neighbors are already angling for his services. Mocanu Construction Phone: 510-919-9093
Stuart Street Dad

I would definitely recommend Paganelli Construction for all your remodeling needs. I had used them for a second story addition, and I loved the finished product. The quality of work was excellent, and they were always calling me with any updates or recommendations that would be best for my home. I really enjoyed working with them; I thought they were extremely attentive and professional. There are many construction horror stories out there, but I have only good things to say about Paganelli Constuction. Give them a call. 510.633.9007. Camille

Need San Leandro Contractor to build Mother in Law unit

August 2009

I need a reliable and trustworthy contractor in the San Leandro area who is reasonable in price and familiar with my local permit requirements and zoning. I have a one room studio attached to my one car garage in the back of my house. The studio was recently remodeled, but I am now wanting to add a bathroom and incorporate the garage as part of the living space in order to make a mother in law type unit. Would also consider adding a kitchenette if possible and affordable. Any suggestions or recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks- Becky

We are so very pleased with the work Silvio did on our home! It was not just the quality of the work, it was the way he managed a variety of unanticipated jobs... in difficult weather conditions...and kept his team on-task. What started as a simple job of replacing a leaking window frame & door quickly escalated into a much larger series of jobs, once we found out that the sills on the windows and doors needed replacement. then we needed work done to repair & replace parts of our roof that were contributing to the problems. As the problems mounted, not only were they able to work in difficult weather, but were able to find competent and trust-worthy men to complete a variety of tasks...on-time & on-budget. Four months later with the next rains, there was another leak, Silvio responded quickly(next-day)and professionally to get that job done. If we ever need work done again on our home, surely Silvio of Hometelligent Inc. is the firs person we will call. Silvio can be reached at 925-383-8163 or sd [at] a.e.a.

This spring my parents bought an 1100 square foot unit in Rossmoor in Walnut Creek and needed a contractor to totally remodel it. I interviewed a number of contractors and settled on Bebe Construction. He is a partner with Marius Construction and I'd read a number of positive things about them on the BPN, including one woman who wrote that she would miss them when they were gone. It was the best decision I made. Bebe gutted the unit, taking it down to the studs. He put in a second bathroom, totally remodelled the kitchen and main bathroom, added closets, and completely redid the electrical and plumbing. He changed every surface in the unit, including the patio and back steps. He was joy to work with from start to finish. His bid was incredibly reasonable and we are delighted with the workmanship of the final product. He easily passed all inspections, both with Walnut Creek and Rossmoor. He is honest, hardworking, and just about the nicest guy you could have on a job. My parents grew so attached to him that he was a guest at my father's 80th birthday party last week. They love their unit and would gladly show it to anyone who is interested: just email me and I'll arrange it. Bebe lives in Castro Valley and can be reached at (510)566-6685 or by email at bebeconstruction [at] Ruth

I can recommend Frank Martins of Veridian renovations. He does a lot of work in the San Leandro/San Lorenzo area. His phone number is: 510-755-4075 cj

Call Horizon Building for your new addition. They can do everything from foundations to the roof top. Very helpful, great advice for money saving tips and reliable. Call them at 1-510-415-7641 or check out their website at Niel

Wow, I think it's excellent that you are going to build a mother in law unit. I would use Paganelli Constuction. I used them for a second story addition a while back and have recommended them to my friends for their remodeling needs as well. The work looked great, and I really trusted them with my entire home. Give them a call. 510.633.9007. Camille

Re-AFFORDABLE Mother in Law unit: If you are looking for a licensed contractor, I am compelled to highly recommend Vertrees Construction. They are licensed contractors who work together and submitted one incredibly reasonable bid to completely gut and remodel our 1920's spanish style home. We have taken the entire unit down to the studs, redone all the electrical, remodeled the kitchen and full bath, added a half bath, changed doors and windows, added an inlaw unit in the back, & much more. The plumbing contractor was a joy to work with, our bathrooms are beautiful. They are hard working, honest, thoughtful, and a pleasure to work with. Their work site is clean and organized. They easily passed all the inspections.

We just had a great experience with our main bathroom totally remodeled. Our house only had the one bathroom, but the plumber ensured our toilet worked every day. I checked other homes he completed in/around the Oakland Hills, San Leandro, Castro Valley... Very comforting to see the beautiful results of his work and the homeowners were extremely happy. He handles every kind of construction job well and works well with remodels. Tom Vertrees is the General Building Contractor and he is very meticulous, reasonable and fair. We love our home, and he was a joy to work with. Feel free to contact Tom at: (510) 581-1237. Sharon (I research everything to death)

Reasonably priced contractor to install french doors

June 2009

I am looking for recommendations for good, reasonably priced contractors for installing interior french doors. rachna

We have used John Kulacz, licensed contractor #879568, for extensive work on our home, (new kitchen, new bath due to a water pipe leak, new windows, doors, etc.)He is very skilled and knowledgeable and absolutely trustworthy. He will also tell you the unvarnished truth about plans, options, etc. FYI, he has a thick Polish accent and speaks quickly, but doesn't mind if you ask him to repeat or slow down. Great guy, great work. His phone # is 415-378-8810. Joan

I have an amazing contractor! His name is Glenn Larsen and his number is 232-9122. He's the only contractor I've ever met that is all these things: smart, sweet, kind, funny, and SO professional. The guys he works with are fabulous too. Mailisha

Chris Walters, owner of Redpoint Builders was the foreman on a small addition of ours. We trust him for small or large jobs. He seems trustworthy, his work is nice and his prices are reasonable. Cell (415)515-9487 or (510)658-2581

Contractor needed for high-end bathroom/kitchen remodel

June 2009

I would appreciate some recent recommendations for a contractor who specializes in high-end bathroom and kitchen remodels. Thanks much,

Dear Friends- I highly recommend Marius Construction (828- 6551). I have had him do major work on my home including a beautiful new bathroom. My daughter was hooked on the notion of an Arte Deco suite and Marius really came through. He milled wood trim on site to exactly match pre-existing woodwork, did a marvelous old world tile job, and managed to discretely get the retro look up to present day code. His work was reasonable and he kept on time and on budget. His crew was polite, clean, and never intrusive. Marius is from Romania and it may be that craftsmanship is still honored there, but I have never in 25 years had such a trustworthy contractor who could do such artistic and solid work. Marius is a real local treasure who can lovingly restore older buildings or manage brand new building. Please do give him a call. Susan

I would like to recommend the design-build company, Custom Kitchens at 6624 Telegraph. Go to the website ( for a sample of their work. They remodeled our kitchen/breakfast room/laundry in '06 and we have been so pleased with the result that we are now working with them on our master bedroom. They did a masterful job of converting our 1926 kitchen into a beautiful, space-efficient room which harmonizes well with the vintage of the house. The design phase was lot of fun--they were responsive to my ideas (and quirks) and considerably improved upon those ideas. The construction phase went smoothly and actually ended a week ahead of schedule--they really know what they are doing. If you'd like to discuss, you can reach me at 506-2471. Jane Jane

Hi - your post said you wanted a recommendation for a contractor for a high-end bathroom remodel. Well, I have just the guy for you - his name is Jim Wallen, of UnCommon Spaces. UnCommon Spaces is a design/build firm, and I used his company to do a whole-house remodel plus 350 square-foot addition in the Berkeley hills. He is very detailed oriented, very creative, and very pleasant to work with. We came in on budget and on time, which is amazing because ours was such a huge project (my family and I had moved out when the demolition started and we were back in our all new house in seven short months! By comparison, my mom had a kitchen remodel done by someone else, and it took nine months to complete.) Jim has extraordinary taste. We wanted simple lines with an emphasis on functionality. We got that and more - our home is a product of quality workmanship and has a quiet elegance to it (he put granite in the kitchen and marble in the bath, but it doesn't look overdone or gaudy). Call him at 510-834-8400 (office)and tell him that Karen referred you to him! Karen

We just completed a bathroom remodel project and couldn't be happier with the result! We used Marius Construction. Marius and his crew are lovely fellows and like others who have posted on BPN in high regard to Marius, we kind of miss them... which is really saying somthing, since we only have the one bathroom and the project took over 4 weeks. Aurel and Osmond (who did the bulk of the work) were here every day at 8am sharp and would stay until 6pm. Marius came to check on the progress periodically and would also touch base with us via email. All involved were mindful of the common goal. We had some serious leakage and were concerned about possible dryrot, so they demo'd down to the wall studs and sub-floor. We wanted some extra storage space so they put in some open shelving and a pocket door. End result is a vintage style bathroom with every modern luxury/convenience. And, most important, we stayed within our budget. But really, most important, we love our new bathroom! We will use Marius for future projects (he also does kitchens, and decks, foundations) and have recommended him to several neighbors and friends. You can reach Marius at 510-828-6551. maureen

I highly recommend Kees van Leeuwen of CVAN Builders,415-847-7878, email: kees [at] We have used him for our kitchen and were so pleased we had him do our bathroom too! We have an old Craftsman house in North Berkeley that had some tricky challenges. We remain impressed with Kees's attention to detail and his craftsmanship. We especially appreciated that he kept us informed of the project's progress on an ongoing basis. I am particularly sensitive to the disruption caused by construction, and I was pleased that his workers were fastidious and made living with the construction bearable. They were courteous as well as meticulous. I enjoy my kitchen & bath so much more knowing it was such a good experience getting it! leigh

We had our entire house remodel by Feraru Building and Design.We just love the way our house looks now.Everything was made high-end.Sorin Feraru and his crew did an amazing job all through-out the entire project.We highly recommend Sorin Feraru, he is honest, reliable, very creative and easy going.We feel that it was worth the money and we would gladly hire him again whenever we get the chance.You can reach him at 510 228 7366 or at Tiffany

I hired Sorin Ferraru to do a remodel project for me recently. He and his crew were very personable and easy to interact with. However, the job overall was not carefully or thoughtfully done; he tends to take short cuts and use quick fixes. I wouldn't rehire him, at least not for a job that requires planning and precision. Disappointed

HI, call Mark Shure with (Shure design and Construction) He is one of the best for kitchens and bathroom work in the Berkeley and Oakland area. His home number is 510 526-5802 and his cell number is 510 847-8900 His shop is next to Truitt and White in Berkeley that number is 510 540-1952. Good luck Kirk

We recently had a wonderful experience with Bebe Construction. He's located in Castro Valley, but arrived routinely at our home before 8am. He and his crew helped us convert our downstairs laundry room into a beautiful second bath/hallway/laundry closet. He and his crew were hardworking, quiet, considerate and clean. The estimate was accurate and Bebe finished the job within the time period specified, which was critical as our second son was born mid-May. Bebe did all the framing, electrical and plumbing himself - he is a highly skilled worker. I highly recommend calling Bebe to perform any home remodeling project. He can be reached @ (510) 566-6685. Jonathan

I didn't see the original message, but I can absolutely recommend our contractor, Marius Adamache (adamache [at], 510-828-6551) He just completed a huge house remodel for us in Rockridge, adding on 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, seismic retrofitting, replacing electrical on the whole house, remodel 1 bathroom-it was a huge job and he and his team were incredible. He is VERY affordable (his bid was $200,000 lower than the other bids! I'm not kidding) but his work is out of this world. he is responsive, trustworthy, careful, his men are clean and professional and do excellent work. In addition, they completed the whole thing in 4 months, rather than the 8-12 months other contractors proposed. He passed every inspection on the first go-round, and came in on budget and basically on time. This is one of those cases where ''if it sounds too good to be true it probably is'' is JUST WRONG. He is the reason our wonderful remodel happened and I would recommend him for any job. I would use him again in a heartbeat. amanda

I would like to thank Silvio and his crew for the outstanding job they did on our bathroom remodel. The crew was polite, neat, and showed up on time daily. Their workmanship was excellent. Our 30 year old home turned out to have some very out of square framing which required extra time and materials to square up which made the final job beautiful. They even did a few extras to the existing plumbing and electrical which was not discovered until the old drywall was removed. Dimitri did a beautiful job on the tile work in the stall shower. Silvio also checked the jobsite daily, gave regular scheduling updates to us, provided some layout and design tips, and flexed his schedule to allow us time in between for painting. I would not hesitate to recommend Hometelligent Inc. to others. His # is 925-383-8163 Brad Pleasanton, CA

Replacing windows, siding, and steps

June 2009

Help! I'm in need of completing several home repairs before the next rainy season, & need help figuring out 1) how to coordinate what needs to be done, and 2) who to hire who will do excellent work & can provide suggestions on alternative ways to approach everything. First (and most urgent), the wooden siding on my 1970's Berkeley hills home is compromised or damaged in many places, the worst around parts of the foundation, where water has damaged the siding & probably leaked under it. I'm seeking someone with expertise in repairing/maybe replacing wooden siding. I'd also like to know if there's an alternative to this type of siding, one w/ lower future maintenance needs. Secondly, I would like to replace the wood-framed composite steps on the walkway leading down to my front door. Here especially I would like someone with the imagination to suggest alternative ways of approaching the project. Third, many of the double-paned windows in my house have condensation between the panes. And I have sliding-glass doors to my deck that have never worked very well. I'm looking for someone to offer suggestions on how to proceed, & how to coordinate with the siding issue. Last, I want to replace my existing double garage door & install a new garage-door opener. Anyone who's faced similar problems, with recommendations on specific contractors or other workers? I'd also appreciate ideas on how to proceed, i.e., what to do first if I go with individual work people instead of a general contractor. Thanks--Carol

I own a large Queen Anne Victorian which needed major work: complete kitchen gutting and remodel, cabinetry, bathroom replacement, front porch restoration, window replacements, hard-wood floor replacement/repair, molding matches, tiling.... i could go on and on about what had to be done. Contractor Carl Gaard artfully handled the entire chaos, and gave me a new house. As far as i can tell, there is nothing he can't do, from carving out new space to hanging doors, Carl has an artist's eye with more than 30 years experience in the trades. And best of all, Carl won't stop till his clients are satisfied. He is a great value: designer/contractor/handyman, all rolled into one! i whole-heartedly recommend him! His cell is: 510-410-6812 Elisa

Hi Carol, With regard to your posting on BPN: I recommend contractor Dave Vieten 415-279-7927 formandrythm [at] My husband started working with him about a year or so ago and since then I have seen him do all kinds of work from roofs, to decks, to kitchen/bathroom remodels. He is professional, personable, timely, and very choosy about the people in his hire. He currently does a lot of his work in the houseboat community so he is used to thinking outside the box already which I find to be a big plus. Best of luck! lila

Bijan Mizani is a General Contractor that is very conscience and responsive. His work is thorough and he is really easy to work with. His phone number is 925-352-4526. Marie

My partner and I bought the worst house on the block - literally whose owners hadn't maintained it in 20 years - and Neagu has transformed it into the nicest house on the block. He and his team have literally done everything - new exterior walls, new interior walls, plumbing, heating, electrical, hardwood floors, windows, cathedral ceilings, roof, gutters, and even a new front garden wall that is solid enough to serve as the foundation of a new house!

Not only did Neagu build everything on time and on budget, but he also let us know if he found any unanticipated problems that would cause changes in time line or budget so that we could make a decision in advance as to whether we wanted to make this change or not. He always gave us different alternatives to any situation, and gave us terrific advice as to which approach he would take. Unbelievably, he also threw in a range of items (be they extra cedar for our closet or extra sheer walls even when the structural engineer didn't put this on the structural plan) at NO COST to us. I have never heard of another contractor doing something like that.

Before we hired Neagu, we checked references: he gave us 10 numbers, I spoke with 7 (who were all glowing), and then 2 more took the time to call us back to provide references. That means a lot to us - and now that we've worked with Neagu we understand exactly why. He is a man of his word, he is experienced, reliable, and drama-free. We have already recommended him to our friends, and we would definitely use his services in the future. His contact info is Viorel Neagu, 2136 WEST AVENUE 136th SAN LEANDRO, CA 94577 Phone: 510-351-1236 Mobile: 510-909-7247 E-mail: office [at] URL: Massimo & Barak

Architect/Contractor needed for 2nd floor add-on

April 2009

We have a 1924 Craftsman bungalow, and with a growing family, we'd like a little more space. We're very interested in adding a 2nd floor to our current home. Can you recommend an architect and/or contractor to help us with the design and construction? Also, if anyone has done this and has advice for us, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Thank you. -Katie

Dear Folks- I hope you will give Marius Construction a call. He is an old world master craftsman who can make an addition/remodel blend seamlessly with the original part of your home. Just as importantly, he makes a bid, writes the contract, and then STICKS to the price. No ''overruns''. And he gets the work done on time! As an example, I have struggled for years with disappointment in the contractors that came into my Elmwood brown shingle and did shoddy work for high prices. Marius mills trim on site to match the original. He builds bathrooms that look like original period work-yet they are all to code and updated to modern standards. He's a problem solver-I had a flat roof on the 1960 add-on that had never been insulated. He was able to work with the original interior ceiling and ultra new products to insulate the bedroom. My old basement door was crumbling, but it was a wierd size and custom would have been prohibitive. He worked with a new steel door-cut it to size-rebuilt the jamb and trim-after it was painted it looked like it was original to the house except now we are safe from breakins! He has done some very large jobs for me and some minor ones and all in all, I can't speak enough to his honesty and artistry. He is a real treasure! Marius Construction's number is:510-828-6551 Susan

We had the best experience ever using Marius Construction for our 2BR/1BA 2nd story addition; quality work, on time, and on budget. The only regret we have is not having met him 5 years ago to do all our other work. You can reach Marius at 510-828- 6551 Stefan

I'm sure you'll be more than happy if you call Sorin Feraru at 510 228 7366.He is a licensed contractor and he does an amazing job.Sorin has put together an addition for our home.The project was finished on time (there were a few delays but only because we didn't decide fast enough), the price was fare, and everything turned out great.We love our new addition.Sorin and his crew were careful with the rest of the house and our children.They left the job site clean every single day, and they have build dust barriers so that the rest of our home would stay clean.We can not thank him enough.We will hire Sorin Feraru and his crew whenever will need some work done to our home.Give him a call, I guarantee you will not regret. M.

Having done an outstanding job on several projects of our home remodel, I highly recommend Kees van Leeuwen of CVAN Builders, 415-847-7878 Kees has provided creative solutions to some of the unique challenges restoring our turn-of-the-century Craftsman in North Berkeley. We hired him for our new kitchen, bathroom and other restorative work. We remain impressed with Kees's meticulous attention to detail and the impeccable craftsmanship of his crew. I am sensitive to the disruption caused by construction, and I was pleased that his workers were fastidious and have made living with the construction bearable. He is very professional, timely and budget conscious in ways that felt he is looking out for our best interest. It is rare to find a contractor with these qualities and for these reasons, we will continue to use him and recommend him. He is a general contractor who works in the East Bay as well as Marin. Best of luck to you! leigh

In regards to a contractor, I highly recommend Marius Construction... They did an outstanding job on our new addition in El Cerrito, all while we were living there, and with a very competitive price. They do high-quality work, on-time, and are very friendly and easy to work with. Please e-mail me for further recommendation if needed. Marius Contstruction (510/828-6551). Thanks, Sarah Sarah

We recently did a major remodel on our 1920's home in Albany. David did an amazing job with the construction & was a pleasure to work with him & his crew. The scope of the project was quite large; foundation work, roof, windows, part of the house was remodeled & part was new construction. The work was done ON TIME & within budget. He was very accurate as far as pricing any upgrades we wanted. He's extremely professional & did great site protection throughout the project. The finished work is beautifully done with lots of care & talent. We know have a 4 bed/ 3.5 bathroom home that we love! We highly recommend working with him! He does jobs throughout the bay area. He can be reached at 510-381-2554. uner

Licensed contractor for Martinez/Rodeo project

April 2009

I am looking for a licensed contractor who has a good rapport with someone at the Martinez Building Permit Office. I am in need of a contractor to pull permits and split my water, gas and electrical lines at my property in Rodeo. Who can do this type of job? jw

I live in Moraga and had also some problems with my plans. I built an addition, extended the garage and remodeled the entire house. The contractor that I hired was in good relation with someone at the building department and everything went smoothly from there. He even got the plans approved over the counter. His name is Constantin and you can contact him at info [at] or 510.305.5680. Diana

I would recommend Bay Area Pacific Construction to anyone desiring quality construction, and a team that not only works for you, but works with you. I have been impressed with the honesty that they had when dealing with us. They are very trustworthy and I am glad to know and work with them. You can contact them at 510 484 5765 or through their website Stuart

I interviewed several contractors before starting the remodel of my kitchen, laundry and bath in my 1920s Berkeley house. I chose Marius Construction (Tel: 510-828-6551) for several reasons. First he's a licenced contractor with all the right insurance, licenses etc. Second, given my rather low budget, he suggested places to purchase the tile and the cabinets which has saved me thousands of dollars. Third, all the work is done by his ''guys'', so there has been no waiting around for sub- contractors to show up. Four, his price for all the work would allow me to stick to the budget..and Five: they started work last week and have been here every day promptly at 8, and leave the area clean at 4:30. Finally, they're a very nice group of guys. Susan

Our experience with Marius Construction (lic. #861235) was absolutely fantastic. Their work quality and integrity was amazing and we would use them again in a heart beat and recommend them to anyone. Marius can be reached at 510-828-6551. Stefan

If you are looking for a licensed contractor, I cannot recommend highly enough Marius Construction and Bebe Construction. A couple months ago, I used the BPN to find them and I'm very, very glad I did. They are both licensed contractors who work together and submitted one incredibly reasonable bid to completely gut and remodel my parents' condo in Rossmoor. We have taken the entire unit down to the studs, redone all the electrical, remodeled the kitchen and full bath, added a half bath and laundry room, changed out all the doors and windows, and much more. Bebe and Marius have been hard working, honest, thoughtful, and a joy to work with. Their work site is clean and organized. They are easily passing all the inspections, meeting both the city's and Rossmoor's requirements. I am particularly impressed with how they handle challenges; the unit is one of the oldest in Rossmoor and there were no original plans to tell them where anything was. They have proceeded very carefully to ensure they would not make a mistake and unnecessarily disrupt the lives of the tenants living in adjacent units. Like another BPN member who wrote them a recommendation, I will miss them when they're done. Feel free to e-mail me if you want more information. Bebe can be reached at (510)566-6685 and Marius at (510)828-6551. ruth

I would like to recommend an excellent contractor for remodeling jobs large and small: Stephen Shoup of Building Lab.

After interviewing many contractors in Berkeley and Piedmont, we decided on Building Lab because of the quality and style of their previous projects, and also because of the very clear bid which spelled out everything and the percentages of contractor markup. It made budgeting easy and negotiation less awkward. We chose to purchase most of the fixtures and tiles directly in order to save money. We would rather spend on the highly skilled labor which was worth every penny. Stephen also offered a guranteed maximum price which helped to reduce our anxiety in these very uncertain times.

Our recent remodel involves stripping a 1960's bathroom to the studs, excavating and expanding into the crawl space and creating a master bath and an additional small bath for our son. The lead carpenter Chris Rogers has the rare combination of design understanding, professional competence, and a willingness to change and adapt to unexpected conditions in an old building. His perfect work with glass tiles turns a windowless space into an elegant retreat. Team members Jenny and Marciel were hardworking, considerate, and polite. They cleaned up thoroughly each day which was important when we all had to share the one remaining bathroom for 2 months.

We had other remodels done over the years but never one so painless. Now, we are hoping to save enough for a kitchen remodel in the near future. Contact Stephen Shoup at 510-420-1133 H. Chan

April 2009

We have a dry rot problem on one side of our house by a window. A while back we had a larger problem on a different part of the house and we were not completely satisfied with our contractor who did the repair work. Can anyone recommend a contractor with experience in this area that is dependable and reasonably priced? Anonymous

I am recommending a very experienced European Contractor. He has been trained in the European style with great work and moral ethics. He is very experience and will explain things very, very thoroughly. He is honest and has lots of integrety. He has been in business for 25 years and can present lots of references from the Berkeley Hills area. I was so happy to have found him and his prices was fair and competitive. I learned that choosing the right Contractor for any job is an absolute must. I had dry rot along my garage wall which he corrected and at the same time he retrofitted that side of the wall. I am very happy with the job and he was great at trouble shooting which you will not find in every Contractor to be able to think multi dimensional. Call him you will not be sorry! At least meet him, there is no charge for consultation. His name is Fritz and he can be reached at 510-685-9338. Good Luck!!Ms. Wright

I know a GREAT contractor. He has been in the field for many years and keeps his customers extremely happy! I know many people who have raved about his integrity and quality. I haven't had a job to hire him for at this point, but I'm sure he can competently help you out with your dry rot problem. His name is Frank Silver at FMS Projects. His cell phone number is: 415-722-9805. He lives in the East Bay and works in the East Bay all the time. Good Luck! Leah

I'd like to recomend Jeff with Jensen Construction for you dry rot repairs. We used him for a kitchen remodel last year in which excess amounts of dry rot were uncovered. He was able to deal with it quickly and for a reasonable amount of money. His contact info is Jeff Jensen 510-453-9369 Thelma M.


I would like to highly recommend Fortier Builders (510-772- 9196). Marco Fortier and his team are extremely professional, timely, reasonably priced, and most of all do excellent work. Marco and his men recently completed an array of work (including dry rot repair) on our 1950s ranch style home that had been poorly updated by a previous owner. One of the major problems was a major leak on our driveway bridge that various contractors (both licensed and not licensed) looked at and tried to fix with no success. Marco and his team came in and found the source of the leak and fixed it in one day. While working on the leak they encountered a considerable amount of dry rot in our siding. They treated all the areas, put in new siding and repainted the side of our bridge in 2 days. They are very efficient and trustworthy. I would recommend them for any job, whether it be small in scale or a major remodel. Cheryl

Feb 2009

We have just bought a house in Berkeley witch needs major remodeling. It requires updating the kitchen and 3 bathrooms, changing the windows and doors, installing floor, plus we are thinking of adding another room and a deck. Just the thought of coordinating something like that makes me cringe in terror. But it might actually worth if I can find a good contractor. Has anyone went through a remodeling like that? Can anyone recommend a reliable contractor? Barbara

I have a great contractor you should call. His name is Andrew Sonnemann & his # is 925-457-7710. I've known him for years and all the work I've ever seen him do is impeccable. He recently did a room addition for us and we couldn't be happier. Finished ahead of schedule and right at the cost projected, which is a rarity. I can't say enough good things about the quality of his work. Feel free to contact me if you have other questions... lw

Dear Barbara- Run, don't walk to the phone and call Marius Construction. He has done MARVELOUS work on my 1910 Craftsman in The Elmwood. Some of the important factors to consider are: Marius is licensed for a number of specialty jobs, including asbestos abatement. Marius submits a written contract for every part of the job and sticks to the price. There are never any ''overrruns''. If you want something extra, he writes an addendum contract. He gets the job done on time and it is not lengthy. We all seen jobs with one guy fooling around for what seems like months. Yuck! His crew is polite. There's no loud radios or cursing which is great help in relationships with the neighbors. Lastly, he is an artisan. His work is the most beautiful, careful, thoughtful creation yet he charges FAR less than the major rip off companies and is FAR more reliable than some guy working alone with doubtful recommendations. Try looking him up in the past postings on Berkeley Parents Network or on the web. Marius' number is: 510-828-6551 Susan

We just had Marius Construction remodel our bath and reface our fireplace. Wish we had found him before we did our kitchen remodel. The craftsman he assigned to our job was top notch! He was reliable, on the job everyday, a pleasure to have in our home, highly skilled and he and Marius worked with us every step of the way. You can contact Marius at 510 828-6551.

Three words: Big Red Construction. They are in Lafayette ((925) 962-0145). We have done multiple major remodels in two different houses over 20 years, using various contractors. We were lucky and most were good, but the best, absolutely best, experience we had was with Big Red. It is a woman-owned business, and Kathy Kovall, the owner, is a gem. She has great job-site managers, subs who have worked for her for 10+ years, and is tremendously responsible and responsive. Big Red did a major kitchen remodel for us, and replaced windows and doors, in 2005. We lived in the house during most of the work, and the crew was punctual, neat, honest, and considerate. We trusted them so much we went off to Europe for two weeks and left them with the house. It was trust well placed: The job was competed on schedule (one day late), on budget, and with tremendous care. They scheduled the bedroom work (taking out old windows, replacing them with French Doors and other windows) so it would be begun and finished while we were gone. Voila! We returned home from Europe to a gorgeous, freshly painted bedroom and mostly finished kitchen. The work was beautiful and the kitchen is drop-dead gorgeous. Any problems were resolved immediately, without fuss or expense. Kathy has done roof work and painting for us since then, and now is our go-to contractor for everything. A colleague used Big Red for a kitchen remodel on our recommendation, and was also very happy. Big Red is not cheap, but you get what you pay for. A major remodel is not a time to take a chance on the low-ball bidder. Tell them Leslie sent you. Big Big Red Fan

I would like to recommend Simon Wooley of Toucan Construction phone number 415-297-4224. He is a talented, hardworking and reasonably priced contractor. I am an architect specializing in home remodeling and we have worked together on several projects, including my own home in Oakland. Over the lifetime of my career I have worked with many contractors and I feel that Simon's strong points are: he finishes projects on time, is reasonably priced, has a lot of integrity and a strong work ethic, and is design and detail oriented. Please feel free to call or email me for a referral: 415-819-4811. sandy

John Bates, Plumb & True Builders is an excellent general contractor who is creative, resourceful and looks out for his clients' interests. His prices are fair and he is incredibly hard-working and reliable. He does everything to code and knows most of the city inspectors in the area personally. Although he is my husband, all of these comments can be confirmed by his 25+ years of satisfied clients. He will provide you with names and phone numbers of recent clients who will candidly speak and invite you to tour their remodeling project. Good luck. John Bates 510 334-2548 Carolin

I highly recommend Jeb Bunker from Jeb's General Construction. Jeb just worked on our kitchen remodel, and we couldn't be happier. We have worked with several general contractors so we had previous experience to compare against our experience with Jeb, and he is by far the best contractor that we've worked with. He has great ideas, he is very patient, he has a great team that works for him, and he was also great with our 3 year old son. Jeb is based in Lafayette, but he has done several projects in Berkeley and Oakland. His number is 925-260-7579. Jen

I would recommend you contact Rick Patterson of Haven Builders (510-978-1786; havenbuilders [at] He is doing a complete bathroom remodel for us right now and we're very happy with how it's coming along. This is not the first job that Rick has done for us so we're already familiar with his attention to detail and skill at problem-solving. He's a pleasure to have around and very easy to work with. Feel free to email with any questions. Good luck. Ruth

I would highly recommend Eugene Paletta (Paletta Builders). He is meticulous, considerate, and honest. Extremely high quality work, and great at communications, not something you find in most contractors. Not the cheapest, though, but most of the time you get what you pay for. You can contact Gene at (415) 377-0356 or sunkyng [at] Brenda

I must tell you that is not easy to find a great contractor these days. Sorin Feraru with Feraru and Associates Building and Design was not only prompt but he was honest and met and exceeded our expectations. He remodeled our home in Berkeley and he completed the job in timely manner, kept our house clean and the cost was decent. It was a great pleasure working with him especially that he gave us some great ideas for remodeling. I highly recommend him to you. His phone number is 510-228-7366 Connie

We just completed a major remodel on our home in the Oakland Hills. We opened up the kitchen, put in new cabinets and a vaulted roof with skylights. Also - we added a master bedroom and home office. Lots of other little things too. We are extremely happy with the work done by our contractor, Lorick Design. Not only was the work incredibly high quality, it was also done AHEAD of schedule. Yes - you read that correctly. We were told that this never happens (we are still being told that this never happens). In any case - the staff we worked with was terrific: Pete, Brian, and Gigi. If you want to ask questions, feel free to email me. Lorick is in Oakland - call Gigi at (510) 336-2508 or you can email her at glorick [at] It's worth having her come out to look at your home and walk you through their process. I'm sure she can also work-up an estimate for you, so you can do a comparison with other contractors. hil

We hired Bay Area Pacific Construction 9/08 for work at our residence. Kitchen remodel; 2 bathroom remodels; electrical work including recessed/canned lighting throughout and panel upgrade; and drywalling of our garage all for the cost of what Home Depot and several other construction company bids were for the kitchen alone.

Excellent work to code, good communication, very clean/neat, respectful of your home, meticulous work indicative of craftsman-like passion and old-world pride, plus they finished the job over 2 weeks ahead of schedule! We cannot recommend this company enough. You can reach them at 510 484 5765 (Emmanuel or Alan) or you can check their website Stuart

I strongly recommend BauWerk, a design/build construction firm in Berkeley, We have used them for two large remodeling jobs and we can't be happier with the quality of their work and the seamless integration of the designs into our existing home. I like the design/build aspect of their firm since it allowed us to really understand what we were getting and make design/cost tradeoffs.

The first job was a bathroom and two bedroom reconfiguration and addition. They had to build new foundations and upgrade everything. We are very happy with the results! We hired them again four years later to do a complete kitchen redesign and new roof insulation. They still had most of the same crew from four years before! They did a beautiful job and their billing is very transparent. They are very easy to work with. Besides all that they keep the job site tidy. I really LOVE the end result. happy client

The best contractor ever is Matt Munchnick of ROC Construction (510.910.7321). We recently completed a second-story addition and complete remodel of the existing downstairs with Matt as our guy. He was not the cheapest bid, but he was well worth the additional money and I'd bet we ultimately saved money, since the work was done right the first time, and the house is BEAUTIFUL. Matt strives for an egalitarian relationship with his clients, he is honest and fair with his prices and changes, and he and his crew are incredibly skilled. He also does almost everything in-house, and the subs he does use he works with all the time and has a great relationship with them, so they show up on time and do great work. The only thing I would say is that he has much going on and doesn't always remember specific things you want. He will usually call to double (and sometimes triple, or quadruple) check how you want something done, so if you only want a single conversation, make sure he writes it down. I'm sure that if you call him he will send you to our place so you can see an example of his work, and I can tell you more then. Good luck! Summer

I highly recommend Constantin Gott. His company is C G Builders. If you need a reliable, honest, trustworthy, knowledgeable person to do your job, then he is the person to do it. I completely remodel my house in Moraga (I transformed a single family home with 3bd/2bath into a elderly care home with 6 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, 4 half baths, one office, plus 260 square feet garage addition - now it is rented to a business). He has integrity and a real sensitivity to the needs of homeowners. He is on time every single day with his teem, he communicates with the client, he is flexible and understanding. He let us know right away when our changes might affect the budget or the time frame. It is for these reasons that I highly recommend him. I could say more, but don't want to take up too much room. If you are in the market for a reasonable and skilled contractor Constantin's number is 510-305-5680 diana

Call our fabulous contractor, Tom Judt. Tom just finished a major remodel of our craftsman home and he did beautiful work. He is meticulous and a great problem solver, worked seamlessly with our architect (which saved us alot of headaches- Tom caught some problems in the plans upfront and addressed them). Tom is always on the site working alongside his crew. His crew was awesome and also highly skilled- no rotating, random day workers. And he finished the job on time and in budget! We love our ''new'' home and we love Tom. Tom Judt: tjudt [at], 510-852-4560 Feel free to email if you'd like more info about the scope of our project. Good Luck! Kris

Dear Barbara, My wife and I live in Berkeley near the Star Market. We worked with a wonderful contractor who redid our kitchen, added a new bathroom, built a large deck, and has replaced seven or eight windows, including some very large ones. He does excellent work, he is extremely considerate, and his prices are reasonable. We recommend him very strongly. His name is Zachary Pine. His phone is 415 217-9544, and he lives here in Berkeley now. Sincerely, Fred

Hi there, I have had a great deal of heartache using unlicensed contractors (in my early days as a home owner), so my first recommendation is to find a licensed and insured contractor (duh. :) Second, I recently did a fairly major remodel and used Black Creek Builders. I can't say enough about these guys. They were professional, super knowledgeable, respectful of neighbors (and of my home and pets) and very affordable. I couldn't be happier with the end results. The owners both have over a decade of experience and I swear they knew the answer to every obscure question I could come up with. Their number: 1-800-737-7113 irene

I'd like to second the recommendation for Jeb Bunker. I've worked with Jeb on a couple of projects now and have been more than happy with his work. He's honest, easy to work with, and pays great attention to the smallest details. In my experience, he does what it takes to make his clients happy. Take a look at his web site ( ) and give him a call 925-260-7579. Bill Engelhardt Engelhardt Architecture 415-572-8895

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for helping us out with choosing a contractor for our remodeling.It's so great knowing we can count on someone for a good recommendation.We have called most of the contractors who were recommended by you guys.We has some appointments and received bids for our remodeling and finally we came to a decision.We have chosen Sorin Feraru.We think he is the most appropriate for our project.We have already seen some of his previous work; which by the way is amazing. Thanks again everyone. Barbara

We had a job done this past year that can often be quite stressful: the addition of a new story to our house, with 2 bedrooms, bath and deck. We interviewed a few contractors (and their clients) and got several bids, and selected Dave Collins of Albany. People he did work for told us an unlikely thing: that he works on schedule and sometimes ahead of schedule. That was exactly what happened in our case. There were no breaks in work just constant rapid progress. He set up a plan of six months to finish the project (same as the architect envisioned), but finished in just over five. The other remarkable thing was that he stuck to his bid precisely. Another person who bid for us, a respected builder, said that costs were always exceeded by 10 percent. But not in this case. The quality of everything is flawless and workmanship of high quality. Dave also has a very positive and friendly demeanor that makes it a pleasure when phone calls come at 7:30 in the morning to discuss the day's work. That may come from his having three very active daughters. We grew to trust him implicitly, and feel we are a real exception from all those horror stories one hears about contractors. He can be reached at 510-381-2554. John

Looking for a ''green'' contractor to do a small bathroom remodel

Jan 2009

Looking for a ''green'' contractor to do a small remodel, update of my small bathroom. Not looking to replace everything, but want it to look fresh and great.

Hi! I can recommend Rick Patterson of Haven Builders wholeheartedly. He is smart, easy to communicate with and keeps a very tidy jobsite. He helped us with several projects (kitchen and bath) at our old house which I think were critical in helping us sell it quickly. He made the whole thing easy. His cell # is 510-978-1786. Best, Kelly

Once again I recommend Craig Reece of Indian Rock Construction and Design, 510 -841-3607. He specializes in kitchens and bathroom remodeling. (See the above recommendation for ''General contractor needed for major remodeling.'') Robert

You should give Tom Judt a call. He just did a major remodel for us, including 2 baths- he does beautiful work. He'll come up with a plan for you to fit your budget- he has great suggestions of where to get fixtures, etc. and is creative at working in the features that you already have. If he's available, he does really nice work. Tom is the nicest and does it all- tjudt [at], 510-852- 4560. Give him a call and get it done! Good luck! Kris

I just finished two bathroom remodels with a company by the name of DC Custom Carpentry. I came to these guys with a long list of desires, no space to do it in and no budget to do it with. What I got was artistry. I had two tiny, moldy bathrooms with no light and no space to sneeze and brush your teeth at the same time. Through the use of built-in's and better layout, bigger windows and better paint, I have way more space without replacing any of the major fixtures. I am beyond impressed. I was originally a little skeptical of their Time and Materials billing (vs. bid), but they came to me on a referral and seemed very honest so I practiced a little good faith and it was well worth it. They came in under the estimate provided and I couldn't be happier. They are a husband wife team. David is the Carpentry (and everything else) and Amber is the design. (510) 849-0793. Good luck to you! Try not to drown in the noise and dust. Jessica

Do not call dc-customcarpentry! I could go on and on about the disaster with my bathroom remodel but I'll try to keep it short and sweet. Of course they are going to give you excellent references, they'd never suggest you'd call me for a reference (actually, mid project they gave out my name & number as a reference and never asked my permission to do so). 'correctly executed work'- that wasn't my experience. 'FREE DESIGN SERVICES' - sounds great, but has no training in design services. And talk about unprofessional, while he was working he would get CONSTANT calls from her interrupting him for long periods of time every day! Always stick with referrals from the customers, not the company owners. Bobbie K.

George Matthews did an outstanding job on our bathroom. Instead of gutting it, he suggested that we salvage the shower structure and tiles and update with new glass doors, toilet and a new vanity, paint, etc. It looks amazing, was ''green'' and saved us thousands. He's really nice and has a great design sense. VW

Sorin Feraru and his crew worked on a number of projects for my house. They remodeled my outdated bathroom and refinish my basement. Any project they worked on they did with professionalism, honesty and friendliness. They have fantastic design ideas and I truly loved the results. The house was left clean every single time.It was worth the money. If you want a reliable contractor Feraru & Associates is the company to call. Call them at 510 228 7366 Jeff

Dec 2008

I am looking for a good remodeller who is interested in a diverse project and able to handle most of the work himself (electrical, plumbing etc) as I have a number of items in the house that need some attention- kitchen remodel, perhaps a small addition....I looked at the BPN and have seen Paul Lashley's name. A friend also recommended him. Has anybody had any recent experience with him and know his contact information?

Give Tom Judt a call! He just completed our remodel, which included electrical, plumbing, et al. He does beautiful work! Tom is at: tjudt [at] 510-852-4560 kris

Try giving Haven Builders a call--they're a great--albeit smaller--outfit that really impressed me. I had a fireplace mantel totally created and intalled by the owner, Rick. He generated design ideas and worked with me to get things just right. I thought the first finish was a little dark for my tastes and Rick completely refinished it, with no complaint-- insisting that I get exactly the color I want. I got his name originally from the BPN and I think he does bigger remodels too. Phone: 510-978-1786--or rick [at] melvin

I recommend Tim Smith of Smith and Company. Tim has done several jobs at our house from small to quite large and has always had the best in workmanship. For example, he remodelled our den but also helped with a smaller job of just installing some cabinets. He is as honest as can be and just a great person to work with. His crews are respectful and careful and always clean up after themselves. I give Tim and his company the highest of recommendations. You can see his website at or email him at info [at] Phone number is 510-594- 9099. Also feel free to contact me if you would like more details on the projects he has done for us over the past 10 years. Shannon

Dec 2008

Hello - we are getting ready to do some work (kitchen remodel and small addition) to our craftsman. Once we get the plans ready we want to have the person who will do the work ready to go... we got several recommendations (a LOT!) for Paul Lashley and his team, and the reviews on here seem to be great, too. Anyone care to chime in? Recent work? Is he getting too big and too busy? We haven't called him yet but we like what we read here and what we've heard. OK thanks. sm

I heartily recommend Paul Lashley as a contractor. My husband and I are long time home owners in San Rafael. Over the past ten years, including the summer of 2008, Paul Lashley and his expert team have performed three major remodels, including kitchen, three bathrooms and a new master bedroom suite. Paul's team includes excellent carpenters, tiler, plumber, and drywall workers. Paul is honorable, fair, hardworking, and organized. He is justifiably very proud of his team and their standards. You can reach Paul at 510-910-1028. Bonnie P.

Dec 2008

Hi, we're looking for a contractor who has experience doing additions in Albany. We'd also like someone who understands the special needs of a family with small kids. Thanks. Stefan

Robert Leitz with Decade Construction is awesome. He can help you with design and has a couple of young kids himself so he'll bring some useful ideas. They show up on time and clean up after themselves, really key when you are living amongst the remodel! 925-938-2410 geraldine

I just posted about my excellent contractor, Paul Peczon, in response to ''Remodeler Needed'' below. What I can add to it, in response to your request, is that Paul has young children and will completely relate when you ask for ''someone who understands the special needs of a family with small kids'': People who need remodeling or building should call Paul Peczon of Acme Builders before they choose; 510-388-8100 paul [at] Jessica B

I don't know if he has worked in Albany, but Mike Costello / Costello Construction did our 2BR/1BA addition last year in Oakland and his team was great. We have 2 small boys who were very curious about the construction process and the whole crew was very good with them and super-conscientious about daily cleanup, safety of the little ones, etc. We lived in the house for the whole year it was under construction. Oh, and their work was good, too! We love how our addition turned out. There's contact info at JP

Based on our experience with him as well as our experience with other good contractors I highly recommend Curt Ferson of CEF Contractors for your addition. 510.883.0740 mail [at] Good luck with your project. Neil

John Bates of Plumb & True Builders is an excellent GC with 25+ experience in all aspects of remodeling and additions. His high quality craftmanship and attention to detail means that your addition will blend beautifully with your existing house. He has many local references that would welcome you to see the work he has done on their homes. He worked on one friend's house in Albany while she was 8 months pregnant with a 2 year old and scheduled his ''quiet'' work (finish carpentry, spackling, sanding, etc) during naptime so as to disrupt as little as possible. He also keeps a very clean and safe jobsite so there is little worry about little ones finding screws and nails to play with. I suggest you call him right away as his schedule is filling up. John Bates, Plumb & True Builders, 510 334-2548 Good luck! Carolin

We did a remodel project last year and used Jeff with Jensen Construction and could not be happier with the results. He was very professional kept every thing neat and clean(better then we expected) and they finished our project ontime. I think our curious kids were more of a hassel for him, than he was for our kids. His contact info is Jensen Construction 510-453-9369 or email jeff [at] Feel free to ask if you'd like more info. Thelma

I can highly recommend that you contact Tom Judt. Tom did a fantastic job on our recent remodel- he is thorough, a great problem solver and just does beautiful work. He brought the job in on time and in budget, too! I'd be happy to share pictures or more info. Tom is at: tjudt [at] 510-852-4560 Good luck! Kris

I highly recommend Eric Manou. He has his own contracting company, Manou Renovations, based in Oakland. We used Eric to handle our bedroom/bathroom/home office remodel. His work was extremely high quality, he pays great attention to detail, and his price was very reasonable. Most importantly, however, he took our concerns as a family with small children into account. At the time, I was pregnant with our third child. Eric worked tirelessly to finish the job ahead of schedule, working nights and weekends to make this happen. He was also very careful to clean the job site well when he was finished because we had concerns about our children returning to a house with remnants of construction dust. We've recommended him to our friends in the neighborhood for their various construction needs and they've been uniformly pleased with his work. I think his email address is ericmanou [at] Happy to provide more info about our positive experience. Stacey

Imd like to recommend our contractor, with whom wemve worked on projects of all sizes for the past 25 years: Robert Malone at BAYWOOD BUILDING AND DESIGN. Robert has seen us through endless home repair and small-scale remodeling jobs in our first home; the construction of a small office building from the ground up; and, most recently -- over the last year and a half --an extensive remodelling of our new home . Whether the job is big or little, Robert, his office staff, and his crew are invariably responsive, hardworking and a pleasure to to work with. Their work is consistentlyhigh quality and their services timely . I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are located in Emeryville and their phone number is 510 - 595 -4231. Kathryn

I highly recommend Marius Construction for any large or small contracting job. We live in Albany, but I know he has done jobs in many parts of the bay area. I actually found them previously on BPN highly recommended and am glad to have chosen them. His team is incredibly professional, honest, experienced, considerate and well-priced (almost too good to be true!). Marius checks in with us daily to update us and touch bases, which is extremely reassuring and helpful. They are tidy after a days work and do above and beyond to try to minimize the disruption to daily life - which we really appreciate with little toddlers around. Their workmanship is not only outstanding but fast. I attribute it to their experience, teamwork, and efficiency. I personally think he undercharges his clients, as his bid was the lowest by a substantial amount, but I am not really complaining that much. If you are looking for a quality contractor now, you should definitely look into Marius Construction. You will not be disappointed. He can be reached at (510)828-6551. Linda C

HI - in 2007-2008 we rebuilt and doubled the size our Rockridge Oakland home - we used a FABULOUS CONTRACTOR!! His name is Eli Israel, his company is Integrity Remodelling, and it's the perfect name because Eli is honest and fair and reasonably priced, and does BEAUTIFUL work too. His is able to be very collaborative with clients, takes input well, is a great problem solver, never had an issue working out anything with him, and BEST YET...he came in ON TIME (actually quote us 9-12 months and we moved back in 9 months to the day!) and he was ON BUDGET. We felt like we hit the contractor lottery! Cannot recommend him or his wonderful crew more emphatically! Eli is a Rockridge resident but works all over the bay area. His cell is 415-302- 0829. Maxi

Nov 2008

We are looking for someone to create a pocket or sliding door in a what is now an open doorway. We may also need a few other non-major construction tasks around our house, and we are on a time line as this needs to be completed by the end of the year, before our baby is born! Can anyone recommend a builder/contractor/handyperson for this sort of thing?? We are in an older craftsman in Berkeley. THANKS!

We had a pocket door installed as a solution in our remodel and loved our contractor, Joan Weir (''J.J.'') of JJ Design & Renovations. She's in Albany. The door is beautiful and all of her subcontractors (we had electrical, drywall, plumbing and tile work done)are experts in their trades. Very neat and considerate overall which matters when you live around the work zone.She herself is a carpenter in addition to being a GC. Her # is: 510.524-0581 or email [at] Best wishes, Julie

Give Tom Judt a call- if he's available, he'll do an awesome job for you. He just did our remodel (including creating a pocket door for our bath) and did a fantastic job. tjudt [at] or 510-852-4560 Good luck! kris

Twice I have used Ernie Sangmaster (701 2691) for a variety of projects around my home: installation of skylights, remodel of laundry room and kitchen (including tiling) insulating walls and attic, designing pull out closet shelves and more. Ernie works with Gene and I can't say enough about both of them. They had creative ideas, were always on time, hard working, and trustworthy. I wholeheartedly recommend them---no one can believe how easy they made this total disruption of my life! Nancy

I recommend Tim Smith of Smith and Company. Tim has done several jobs at our house from small to quite large and has always had the best in workmanship. For example, he remodelled our den but also helped with a smaller job of just installing some cabinets. He is as honest as can be and just a great person to work with. His crews are respectful and careful and always clean up after themselves. I give Tim and his company the highest of recommendations. You can see his website at or email him at info [at] Phone number is 510-594- 9099. Shannon

Oct 2008

I am looking for someone to do a small bathroom remodel in an older home in north Berkeley- essentially a facelift as I want to replace original fixtures, flooring, shower tiles, mirror cabinet, and paint but not change the placement of fixtures or change the size of the bathroom. Does anyone have a recommendation for a great contractor for a job like this? Thanks. Kate

Paul Lashley did our bathroom remodel (January 2007) and we were very happy with his work. We chose the fixtures, and ordered the cabinets, etc., and Paul and Jason did the installation and Serge Vilnet (510-848-2837) did the tile. Paul also did our kitchen remodel in about 2002. There are photos of our former house and his work still up at: Paul is hard working, honest and reliable and fun to have around. His contact info: 510-910-1028 and goneraftn [at] Dan H.

I have a GREAT general contractor who specializes in bathroom remodels. He has remodeled my kid's bathroom, my guest bathroom and is currently remodeling my master bathroom. Needless to say I am very pleased with his work. I especially like the fact that he does almost all the work himself...electrical, plumbing, sheet- rocking, cabinetry, tiling.... The only other contractors involved are for the marble installation and custom shower door and mirror. His name is Scott Montgomery. He is young, personable, good at design, fast and a perfectionist. I guarantee you will be thrilled with the end result. You can reach him at 925-382-4112. Please tell him that Dee Coil recommended him...Dee Coil Dee

We had Rich with Red Boot Construction do a remodel on our small bathroom. He did an excellent job, was timely and professional. 510- 534-3616. I recommend his work with no hesitation. Heather

I'm recommending you contact Todd Tews for your bathroom remodel. Todd recently did our kitchen remodel (installation of kitchen cabinets, plumbing, a gas line, and a glass tile backsplash). It's gorgeous! I know that Todd has done bathroom remodels too. Prior to the remodel, we obtained several bids and found Todd's to be the most reasonable. Todd was willing to work with our budget and was always available to answer our home repair questions, even if it had nothing to do with the project at hand. I especially liked that he was responsive to our emails and phone calls and he always did what he said he was going to do. I've heard stories of homeowners looking for their contractors -- never the case w/Todd. Best of all Todd is a perfectionist and so everything in our kitchen was done with such care. i.e. the countertop installer complimented Todd's precise work on the cabinet install. Todd is also a licensed general contractor (#865804) which is something you should lean towards hiring so that you have someone to complain to (the CA contractors state license board). Todd Tews' phone number 510.472.2228. Tell him Sean and Crystal recommended him on BPN. Good Luck!

Robert Leitz from Decade Construction- they do amazing work- always show up and always deliver, they can do just about anything. I highly recommend them. 925-938-2410 cell: 925-864-2907 decade [at] rachel

Call Tom Judt- he's the world's best contractor. He just finished doing a remodel for us and did a stunning job (on budget and on time, too!). tjudt [at], 510-852-4560 kris

We used Sorin Feraru associates, per a recommendation on this site, for our small bath renovation, and he was great. Worked quickly and cleanly, did good work, flexible, easy to work with. We currently plan to use his firm for our kitchen remodel. Highly recommended. John A

Give Andy Frasheski a call. He recently did our kitchen, and he was great to work with -- very considerate and resourceful with helpful suggestions. He did great work, and was always really easy to get ahold of and communicate with. We were very satisfied with his work. You can reach him at 510-644-3711 or at afrasheski [at] Sarah

We heartly recommend Sorin Feraru of Feraru & Associates from Berkeley. We recently underwent a major home remodel. Work included complete tear-down to bare walls throughout 1100- sq-ft house, new kitchen in new location, one new/one redone bathroom, new electrical and plumbing, new central heat, on- demand water heater, new plaster, sheetrock, woodwork and cabinetry throughout. We first became familiar with Sorin Feraru's workmanship and work ethic 4 years ago when he worked as a contractor on a second-story addition to my parents' 1920s home q a difficult job on a tricky site, requiring considerable foundation work, a steel moment frame, and complicated framing. It's rare to find a contractor with such broad and deep understanding of construction. Plus he has an architectural and engineering background. His number is 510.228.7366 and you can see some of his work on his website at ~Saira Saira

After a bit of hesitation about submitting a negative review, I am posting to caution you AGAINST hiring Yanay Shik of YS Construction, who did my small bathroom remodel late last year. In the spirit of BPN's policy ''just the facts'' here is some of what occured: leak under sink, toilet installed without proper parts, no hot water in shower, towel bars not properly anchored to wall, floor tile cracking, countertop unlevel, bathtub unlevel, tile uneven, light fixtures uncentered...and so on. Additionally, the contractor has NOT been cooperative in fixing his mistakes and continues to deny responsiblity for completing/fixing the work he and his subcontractors did. I did not find this contractor on BPN, and in hindsight I wish I had relied on BPN suggestions instead. :^( Unhappy owner of newly remodeled bathroom

Bay Area Pacific Construction finished our bathroom remodel on time and on estimate. The Beres family are all competent craftsmen, meticulous in all the trades necessary to complete a project properly. They were unfailingly on time, polite, and extended themselves beyond the contractual requirements without complaint. I will use them again. David

Oct 2008

Has anyone had any experience with ''Best Value Home Improvements'', a contracting/home improvement firm in Oakland? They were going door-to-door yesterday in our neighborhood and are coming over this week to give us an estimate on new windows for our house. I was just wondering if anyone had feedback about them; their website is and the owner is Frank Ghorban. Your help is much appreciated. Thanks! tegan

BVHI does do good work, but they act as a project manager and hire contractors to do the work. Nothing wrong with this, but you may just end up paying for another layer of service. You may decide to go with BVHI as they provide a service many busy consumers don't realize. Check out some of the gen. contractors listed on BPN too and get multiple estimates! Anon

Oct 2008

I think I need to hire a general contractor, but am not sure. Here is the scope of work. At least some of the foundation or foundation footing needs to be replaced or shored up. Along with this, we will probably eliminate 2 doors in the house and replace them with more wall and more windows. House has a crazy amount of doors. Not sure why. Additionally, a retaining wall needs to be replaced as well the front stairs and because of this, it will necessitate a re-do or updating of the front lawn. Can you please recommend a contractor who is honest and reliable. I also need some design help. I am sure about some aspects, but not others. I am not looking for the cheapest. I am looking for fair prices and excellent craftsmanship and work ethic. Thank you in advance.

I can, without ANY reservations, recommend a GREAT contractor: GF W Watson Construction in El Sobrante. I have remodeled a few homes over the past 20 years, and used several contractors, but I've never had such a pleasant experience as I did with GF Watson. They are really honest, reliable, and competent. The phone number for Greg Watson's cell phone is 510-453-5638. He's the BEST! Good luck! Sincerely, Marilyn Marilyn

Tom Judt is a general contractor- he just finished a remodel for us and did a wonderful job, it included interior and exterior work. He also works with really good people- at one point we needed a structural engineer and Tom's guy was great. Our project was on time and on budget. He's a genius at problem solving. I can't recommend him more highly, he was a pleasure to work with. tjudt [at], 510-852-4560 You may need an architect to do drawings for you to pull permits- if you're changing any exterior doors or windows, it will probably be required. If so, the architects we used were also really fabulous- Architect: Gary Struthers (Struthers/Dias Architects) gstruthers [at], 510-205-7535 Good luck! kris

I would happily recommend a skilled craftsman and experienced general contractor, who has helped us improve our house and solve multiple problems over the years. His name is Clint Reed. On a professional level he is knowledgeable, pragmatic, highly skilled and patient. On the job, he is clean and efficient, trustworthy with kids, pets and? our budget. He offers good design suggestions and is a great problem solver (both much utilized with our projects!) You can reach Clint at 510-816-9416, cr [at] Karah

I can recommend a great contractor, Eric Manu 510-928-3060. He and his crew are experienced , thoughtful and cost concious. He told us about various alternative materials and encourages you to go green. He also did the hardscaping for our yard, laying down the stones and paths as well as the fence and sod. He does both small and large jobs.

Oct 2008

Re: Contractor for Entry Door Issues - El Sobrante
I highly recommend Macrae Builders for any type of home remodel. Brian and Lilly MacRae, the husband and wife team who run this full-service contacting business, oversaw all aspects of our 6-month home renovation in 2007. From the bidding process through the final inspection, the MacRae Builders were clear, honest and timely. (And the stakes were high, because at the time of our remodel I was pregnant with our second child and needed to know that the agreed upon time line was realistic in order to finish before the baby arrived!). It was a real pleasure to work with them. And all of the work was completed with care and attention to detail. The work that their crew did, as well as the work of all the \x93subs\x94 they hired, was great. And we really appreciated that they were able to \x93trouble shoot\x94 or come up with creative solutions when the challenges of melding existing construction with new construction proved tricky. We love our new and improved home, and are always getting comments from friend and family about how great it is. MacRae Builders can be reached at 510-604-3661 or on the web at Anna F.

August 2008

I am looking for a carpenter or contractor to build and install a cantilevered trellis to attach to my stucco house. The placement is about 12 feet above ground level and is about 14 - 16 feet long. I have drawn a simple straightforward design. Most trellises I have seen are connected by posts to the ground but that is not possible here. Any suggestions? Laura

Call Andreis Filtis, 415.867.2258, an all-around excellent contractor and carpenter, very reasonable, and very nice. Terry

I highly recommend Curt Ferson of Berkeley based CEF Contractors (510 883-0740 or mail [at] for your contracting needs. Curt and his crew recently specified and installed a Marvin door between our master bedroom and a balcony in our 1910 Berkeley house. He also repaired our kitchen ceiling that had been damaged by a roof leak, as well as replaced a window in my daughter's bedroom.

This was the second time we had the ceiling in our kitchen repaired since we had wrongly identified the source of the leak prior to first repair. As a result I had the opportunity to directly compare Curt's work to that of another good contractor we had used previously. There was really no comparison. The seams around the installed sheetrock panel were feathered out meticulously and once painted the repair was invisible.

All work was expertly done. Equally important, there were no surprises. In fact I chose his bid over a lesser bid from another good contractor we had used previously because it was clear that Curt had the better eye for the details of the job in advance of the actual work. Getz

We have a lovely cantilevered trellis in our backyard. Our house is also stucco. Our trellis sounds like it a little bit bigger/more elaborate than your design, but here are the particulars. It was designed by Bruce Jett (Bruce Jett Associates - 510-628-0998). It was built and installed by Roger MacGregor of MacGregor Construction (562-2095). Roger has built many very nice fences and gates in our area. Contact me if you're interested in coming by to see our trellis. Good luck! Tamara

We have a great contractor who built our deck and has done various home remodel projects in the East Bay. He is great, honest and friendly with a very responsible crew. His name is Eric Manu 510-928-3060 We had a major remodel in the past with other workers and now know what to look for when hiring a contracotr. I highly recommend Eric. Virginia

June 2008

We have a large closet in our bedroom that we would like to turn into a bathroom -- most likely a half bath as that seems like all that will fit. Anyone have experience with this type of project? What kind of permits do we need for this? We are looking for recommendations for someone who can look at the space and help us figure out what will actually fit...and then maybe do the work too. thanks

we had the very small closet in our masterbed room made into a bath by a local contractor. Paragon Remodel was the contractor. They put in a corner shower because there wasn't room for a tub. Last I remember there were pictures of our bath on their web site, its probably the smallest bathroom. Heres the contact number 510 390-0616 website Steve in Oakland

June 2008

Hi, I would like to rip out my existing vinyl tub/shower in the master bedroom and put in an open shower with gorgeous tile. Can anyone recommend a designer for ideas and a contractor for the work? Thanks! Keri

We recently remodeled our bath, ripped out the tub and put in a shower with tile work. We worked with Marius construction and were very pleased with their work. Marius Adamache is a licensed general contractor who works with his crew. They do all the work, including tiling. The quality of their work was excellent and they finished the job on time. They were professional and honest and we would use them again. We did not use a separate designer and chose to design the bathroom ourselves. You can contact Marius at 510-828-6551. Asha

I remodeled both of my bathrooms last month and I hired Emanuel of Bay Area Pacific Construction to do the work. In one of my bathrooms they built a custom shower pan with 2 built-in shelves, installed the ceramic tiles on the walls and on the floor and also installed the shower door and all the bathroom fixtures. The shower looks amazing and I am really impressed with the work they did. They are very clean, trustworthy and they pay great attention to detail. Emanuel is working with his father and brothers and I would highly recommend them for a bathroom remodeling. You can reach them at 510 484 5765 or Edward

I highly recommend Marius Construction. He and his crew recently completed a dormer/bathroom/closet project for our 1906 Berkeley home and did a great job. We got several bids, and his was the most reasonable. He and his experienced crew were extremely pleasant to work with q always prompt, professional, and completing the work efficiently. They were also very patient as the Berkeley permitting office took its sweet time and added additional requirements. I was just postpartum during the project (perfect timing, I know), and the crew was incredibly kind, quiet and respectful. Marius is a very lovely man and honest contractor who does high-quality work, and we plan to hire his team for future projects. He can be reached at; adamache [at] or 510-828-6551. deb

June - August 2008

Can anyone recommend a reliable contractor for a major remodel/addition we are planning for our older home (1912)? We would like to work with someone who understands the craftsmanship and design of older Berkeley homes, and hope to find someone who is honest, straight-forward and has a pleasant crew. Thank you. Stephanie

I would recommend Peters Construction for your home remodel. Dan Peters dan_peters at 510-708-1226 Dan Peters of Peters Construction did a large scale remodel at our home in 2007. We are always getting comments from friends and family about how wonderful everything looks. Plus, there's so much you CAN'T see like the foundation work, earthquake retrofitting, electrical, plumbing, etc. that was done so well. We couldn\x92t be happier.

All of the work was completed as agreed upon and was done with the highest level of quality with great attention to detail. Dan\x92s many years of experience in the industry (design and construction, both interior and exterior) along with his perfectionism make for a completed project that looks beautiful. Not only is Dan highly skilled, but he is also a pleasure to work with \x96 he adds so much to the project in terms of design and brainstorming; not to mention his wonderful sense of humor\x85and believe me, when you\x92re spending that much money a good laugh here and there is SO important! Additionally, his crew is polite, safe, quiet and all qualified. Jennifer

I recommend Bob Cruz. We've subcontracted with him and he really knows his stuff. Very experienced and nice to work with. Also experienced with green building. Cell: 798-8663, cntrktrcrak [at] Susan-Jane

Dear Folks-I cannot commend highly enough the work of Marius Construction. I have now hired them for the third time and the results are always the same...high quality craftsmanship, polite behavior by all on the job, very reasonable cost and work that is consistently done on time. Speaking to the craftmanship...I own a 1910 early Craftsman home in the Elmwood and I have never found anyone before Marius who not only was WILLING to mill trim to match the 100 year old stuff, but preferred to do so and had excellent suggestions for restoration! His number is:510-828-6551 Susan

On the Beam Remodeling does excellent work with attention to detail. If you need help selecting products, they go with you to help you find just the right product/material you have in mind. They've done extensive work in the Berkeley/Oakland area. The contact person is Lisa Schliff, 510-412-9964. rishida

We went through a major remodeling with Sorin Feraru of Feraru & Associates. We live in Albany and he was recommended to us by our dear friends in Berkeley. He did a splendid job remodeling our kitchen, one bedroom and the patio (new tiles, new design, etc.). He's extremely professional, extremely clean and respectful. He's Romanian and he works with a very good crew. His phone number is 510-228-7366. His website address is and email is office at C.

I would highly recommend Bay Area Pacific Construction. They are a family owned business and they did a beautiful remodeling job to my home. Emmanuel, Marius and Allin are three brothers working with their father Ambrose on their remodeling projects. They were very pleasant to work with, and we felt very comfortable having them in our home. Their skilled craftsmanship made our ideas for the remodel come together, and the finished remodeled house looks wonderful. You can reach them at 510 484 5765 or you can check out their website Thank you again guys for a job well done! Janice

I'd second the recommendation for Dan Peters - He did a small job for me, and a very large job for my neighbor. Both of us were very pleased with him and his crew. Very honest, knowledgeable, and a nice guy to work with. What more can you ask for in a contractor? Carrie

John Bates, owner of Plumb & True Builders, Inc. is a highly reputable General Contractor with over 30 years experience in extensive remodeling and building projects. His experience, high level of craftmanship, and creativity are par none.

Beyond managing the project, he considers himself as his client's advocate--looking out for their best interest, insuring they get the highest quality at the best and most realistic cost. John will take the time to review your project completely, work with architects, engineers, and yourselves to identify cost savings, omissions or improvements to the overall design.

He worked on a friend's sub-level addition (dug out below the first floor)and scheduled the ''quiet'' work (such as paint, finishes, and plumbing) to be done in the afternoon so their toddler could nap at home!

His projects range from ''simple'' kitchen remodels to complex structural integration of new additions to old craftman homes, to modern San Francisco Magazine show piece properties.

Contact him directly at 510 334-2548 for an opportunity to talk to him, schedule a time to visit some of his past jobs, and talk to his past clients. If more than one BPN person could sign this letter, it would include many BPN members who would without reservations, give their recommendation to work with John Bates! Good luck, Carolin M

Huge shout-out for Jim Davenport. He did a large, complicated, multi-step project for us in Rockridge. Super-nice guy, uses very good subcontractors. Really high-quality work, did fantastic interior carpentry and finish work. Neighbors and strangers stop on the street to tell us how great the house looks after our remodel. Worked with us on green building materials and techniques. Fair. Responsible. Tall. Big truck. He has no enemies. He's got a cute kid. I'm not his brother-in-law. He'll give us as a reference. Davenport Builders Company 1011 Keith Avenue, Berkeley CA 510 841 6601 davenbuild [at]

We highly recommend Jim Davenport for any large home project. He expertly handled a very complex reconstruction of our front porch and stairs which have wood framing with stucco and tile. We were really happy with his knowledge, responsiveness, and craftmanship and also found him to be wonderful to work with. We are considering a future project to double the square footage of our house, and we would definitely go forward with Jim again. His number is 510-841-6601. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. Chi and Chris

Jim Davenport - can't say enough good things about him / Davenport Builders. He completely renovated our 1929 house: adding a 2d bathroom, moving a staircase, replacing all 2d floor joists and flooring, fixing a sinking foundation, replacing masonry chimney with gas fireplace and new mantle, building a deck, etc, etc. Jim returned my calls right away, got things done in the promised time frame, and was flexible whenever we (inevitably) changed ideas. He's efficient, fair priced, creative and kept his crew and the subcontractors happy and productive. I lived on site and saw the quality of the work first-hand. My wife and I recommend Jim with absolutely no reservations. Neil

I just finished a large remodeling project on my Berkeley craftsman home and would highly recommend Clifford Roddy who managed the job and also did much of the work.

Clifford did an excellent job finding and motivating workers; then working with them and on his own on other aspects of the job. He showed his competency in all aspects of building from framing to finish, doing much of the sheetrocking, tiling and carpentry himself and doing parts of the electrical and plumbing.

Clifford also has multi-media skills: videography, photography, and website construction which can help to document the work. Clifford is a pleasure to work with. He can be reached at (510)725-0305

I'd like to recommend Haven Builders--Rick Patterson, the owner, is meticulous, calm, and thoroughly reliable. He did a kitchen remodel for us and every day I left for work, I felt complete faith in Rick's skill and vision. When I returned, the house was cleaner than I had left it and set up neatly for the next day's phase of work. They are a smaller company, so I'm not sure how big of a project he would consider undertaking. The e- mail address is: Rick [at] The phone# is 510-978- 1786 Constance

We recently added a third child to our family and as a result, needed to carve out an extra bedroom in our petite Berkeley home. With a rough idea for enclosing a small playroom, we found Mac Rae builders. Brian and Lilly Mac Rae are a dynamic team; Brian is the craftsman-builder and Lilly is the behind-the-scenes brains. Together, they brought our ideas to life. We ended up with a magnificent partition wall/library/hallway and a small, but totally adequate bedroom with built-in shelving. Our fear was that the room would look like an after-thought, but Mac Rae made the end product look both beautiful and as if it had been there from the beginning. Mac Rae's subs made them shine. We had excellent experiences with the electrician and the painters - professional, detail-oriented, and tidy. Rates were what we expected; not cheap, but totally reasonable. Tali

We would highly recommend George Matthews ( We recently had our kitchen redone down to the studs and we couldn't be happier with the completed beautiful work. George is a skilled craftsman but with the soul of a poet... meaning that he doesn't just accomplish the task, he makes sure it's done with beauty and balance--he can't help but do it that way. One of his main things is energy conservation/green awareness. He sprayed foam into all the kitchen walls and it's now as tight (thermally) as a drum. He likes to buy American whenever possible. George is fast, thorough, and economical. He's eminently trustworthy... and fun to have around too. Mitchell R & Stacy H

I highly recommend Farid Alami , 510-520-0207 ; Farid has done extensive work in our home in the past year: designed and built a new entrance, replaced all windows, doors, put a new roof, exterior stucco, electrical and did some foundation work. He is an excellent craftsman, intense on details, honest, reliable and polite. We did go and see his previous work at three other houses before we hired him as our contractor and it was of the same high, consistent quality. The carpentry work he delivers is outstanding; he has a good eye for details and an architectms perspective. We have gotten so much praise about how beautiful our house looks. Despina

I want to highly recommend BauWerk, a design/build firm, We have used them for two large remodeling jobs and can't be happier with the quality of their work and the seamless integration of the designs into our existing home. The first job was a bathroom and bedroom reconfiguration. I am so happy with the results! When I heard they had a small opening in their construction schedule I nabbed them again for a complete kitchen redesign. I LOVE their work. happy repeat client

May 2008

I'm looking for an experienced, licensed contractor to help redesign part of my garage and create a small extra sleeping area on a smaller budget. There is a half-bath and I might want to add a small shower as well. So, there would be some creative design features as well.

Our contractor, Andy Frasheski, is an excellent contractor, he did the most fabulous job on our complete remodel in the Richmond View.Two bathrooms and the kitchen plus removing a wall-everything.Very creative at problem solving-the wall was his idea.He has all the resources for reasonably priced cabinets, granite countertops, etc. Attentive to detail and easy to work with. He also does many small jobs like replacing a simple dry rot panel in the siding. Highly recommended. Please contact him at 510-644- 3711 or cell 510-318-2258 Ana

I recently had Andy Frasheski do some work on our garage (demo a sagging portion and rebuild a wall, including electrical and all finish work.) He and his team had the lowest bid by far and did quality work on time. We're very pleased with the finished product. I know he's also done bathroom remodels so I assume would be able to do that portion of he work. You can contact him at: afrasheski at or 510-644-3711. emily

I highly recommend Guillaume Canivet of Canivet Construction. His website is Tel: 510-528-3700. He and his crew just finished a major remodel of my house in Berkeley Hills. Canivet Construction takes both large and small jobs. Guillaume is honest and hardworking, as is his crew. We interviewed quite a few contractors before deciding upon Guillaume. Not only was his bid the most competitive, Guillaume takes pride in his work and genuinely wants you to be happy with the results. Happy with my contractor

Feb 2008

I am looking for a contractor to build a porch and stairs into our backyard from my second story. We live in Richmond Annex, and I really want to work with someone who has experience with our planning dept. Any reccomendations? Anon

I have a very dear friend who happens to be as good a contractor as you'll find anywhere. He lives up in the foothills, but comes down to the Bay Area for work. He recently finished work on our home in Berkeley, doing our earthquake retrofit, installing a tankless water heater and dishwasher, moving our washer/dryer to the garage, moving our thermostat, installed new phone and electrical jacks, etc. He can do any job, big or small (replacing your roof, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, foundation repair, stucco, painting, etc.). He is licensed and bonded. If you are looking for a VERY trustworthy contractor who can't do a half-a**ed job out of principle, you need look no further. He will give you a good rate, though he would be a bargain for what other contractors charge $100+. His name is Ozzie Oswald (yes, that's his real name) and his e-mail is ozandeve at . If you wish to contact me about him, I am more than happy to answer any questions you have. Jonathan

The contractor that we used in the past for quite a few projects (kicthen remodeling, deck, etc), Sorin Feraru, just finished a room/bathroom addition for my parents in Richmond. They just needed more room for their grandkids, so Sorin did a beautiful job. He worked very well with the designer and my parents are really, really happy. The was on time and on budget. They also provide very good customer service, very responsive by both phone and email. His number is 510-228-7366. anon

The Owner MARK SCHMIDT (out of Oakland) gave a good first impression but once the work began he displayed extreme hot temper and even anger towards any necessary changes or corrections, in addition to starting late every day and leaving promptly by 3:30-4 or mid afternoons. We as the clients were even sent around to buy rough materials for him when he was running out of time. He collected weekly payment promptly sometimes before one week's work was completed. In the end when he had 3-4 jobs on hand or lined up, he simply abandoned the much-delayed current job and even wanted to blackmail us for more upfront money by taking away products he special-ordered and already delivered to the home site.

Beware of Clayton Construction
We just had the worst experience with a contractor on our house and are writing to warn any others from hiring this contractor. Clayton did extremely poor quality work, was never on the job site to supervise his crew which were inexperienced and unable to read plans, thus many mistakes were made. Work that he did needed to be torn out and re-done, and he did not pay subcontractors who had done work even though he was paid by us and our construction loan. We encured double the costs on this project due to all of these mistakes and having to pay for work twice. Please, be warned and be very careful about any contractor you hire - especially this one!! disappointed and broke

I can recommend the contractor that has done several works at my house (electrical, tiling, plumbing); I found him on BPN a few years ago. Reasonable prices, very reliable. His name is David Ruiz, you can reach him at 510 368 0177. His English is a little hesitant but more than sufficient for the purpose. cathy

Beware of hiring Tex Mex Building systems out of Benicia -- Brent Murray. He has a great talk but doesn't follow through with his word. We were quoted a price for a fence. Well, after he realized that he under-bid us, he asked us for more money. We paid part of it and agreed to pay the rest upon completion. He never came back, avoided our calls and cashed our check. Four months later, we still have an unfinished fence and all of our supplies that we paid for are gone. I did get ahold of him once and he said that he would finish but we never heard from him again. We found him on Craigslist. His ad usually says, ''redwood gates, arbors and fences.'' We want to save you the time and money we lost. Still with half a fence.....

I want to recommend our contractor, Eli Israel, of Integrity Remodeling - we feel like we hit the ''contractor lottery'' - he is amazing, reliable, honest, great builder, amazing crew, reasonable pricing, and also we are about 2 months AHEAD of SCHEDULE on adding our 2nd story. Not sure if he has experience in Richmond, but I cannot imagine doing a remodel with anyone else - please consider him! Eli Israel of Intergrity Remodeling 415-302-0829. Maxi maxi Feb 2008

We have a crawlspace under our 1922 N. Berkeley bungalow that we would like to have expanded into a cellar area with a concrete floor for storage. There is already a small door leading under the house. We don't need it to be legal height, but at least five and a half feet. If you have had this kind of work done and can recommend someone for the job, that would be great. We are hoping to do this without redoing our entire foundation. Feel free to e-mail me directly. Thanks! sarah

We have an AMAZING and VERY reasonable priced builder that can do both small and large jobs and would be perfect for you project. His name is Chris Wilke - email me and I'll put you in touch! Best, Christy

We just had Tony of the Red Hot Handyman (510.444.0303) do a bunch of fixup in our crawlspace. He did a great job and is very versatile; was able to cover everything from seismic retrofitting and structural work to reconfiguring plumbing and electric. The finish work was also excellent. Tamara

An excellent contractor for this crawlspace as well as all other building and remodeling work is Luca Adamache. Luca has just completed a complete model of my Oakland home and has done an excellent job. While his work is very good, his integrity is even better. He is straightforward and fair, is strong at problem solving, has a great crew that can do all work from foundation, to framing, electrical and plumbing in house. When the unforeseen happens, Luca is great at figuring out reasonable ways to address the issues, and he will work within your budget to solve problems. I have done 4 building and remodeling projects thus far, and Luca by far is the best contractor I have worked with. Should I do more projects, Luca is the Contractor that I will work with again. His number is 510-427-0585, his web site is Luca larry

Jan 2008

Hi. I live in the Oakland-San Leandro area and I think I am in need of a contractor. We bought our little bungalow about 4 years ago knowing it had dry rot in one area but have done nothing about it. Well, with the recent rain we're seeing water coming in through that area. I would like to find a trustworthy contractor with reasonable prices (if that even exists!). Thanks for your help! anon

I want to recommend a general building contractor with 30 years of experience who specializes in remodeling but can do everything. He and his crew are honest, clean and hard working plus being reasonable when it comes to the price so I suggest calling him for an estimate. He is located here in Berkeley but he works all over the East Bay area and has many local references. Everybody I have recommended him for has been very happy with his work. Call Andy: 510-644-3711 or cell: 510-318-2258 You can also call me on my cell for any questions 510-418-4609 Ana

Jan 2008

We need a good contractor for a kitchen and bath in our house in Oakland. Somebody local in the oakland area that can possibly do both projects at the same time. Ingrid

I highly recommend Enrique Rodriguez at 510-232-1899. He has done both exterior and interior painting for me, and does high quality, reasonable work. laura

Although the main recommedation site may have been recently updated with contractor recommendations, I noticed that Sorin Feraru is not listed. We used Sorin last spring (kitchen) and this fall (bathroom) for remodels and were very happy with his work. His prices are fair and he is good about returning calls and keeping you informed of progress or hurdles. You can email me if you have specific Qs. --Jodi

I used Don Waters Construction for my kitchen remodel and he and his crew did a great job. Don's phone number is 558-8629. His prices are very reasonable, he can give you references too. Rebecca

I highly recommend Sorin Feraru with Feraru & Associates. Kitchens and baths are his specialty and he's very patient and hard-working. His number is 510-228-7366. My entire family is extremely happy with our new kitchen and bath. Thea thea

For any remodeling jobs, I would like to recommend a designer/ contractor whom I have been working with. Her name is Kari Grosz from Lamorinda Construction and Consulting, and her number is 925-899-7201.

I live in Moraga and had two projects with Kari. Both experiences were wonderful. My last project involved a major remodeling of my house due to the water damage. Kari would spend time to explain different options and to take me to different stores and help select materials (appliances, faucets, cabinets, tiles..etc). Kari would work within the budget the homeowners want to spend, and she was very creative in coming up with ways to save money. Although this project was complicated due to the involvement of my insurance company, Kari was very helpful and stood by me from the beginning of the process all the way to the end.

In my opinion, Kari did so much more than a normal contractor would have, and she has made my awful experience of going through this water damage less painful.

Kari is talented, creative, resourceful, and most importantly honest and produces high quality work. Also, despite her busy schedule, she is always very responsive and very pleasant to work with.

My recommendation of working with Kari Grosz is without reservation.

We have used McCutcheon Construction several times to work on our 1912 Berkeley Craftsman including a kitchen remodel and two of our bathrooms. Their work is top notch, they hire highly skilled craftsmen, and they guarantee their work. You can't really go wrong with McCutcheon. G

For kitchen and bath remodels, I recommend Paul Lashley 510-910- 1028. He does EXCELLENT work! I wish I had been able to have him remodel my bathroom, but he was too busy at the time with another project, and I wanted things done right away. I wish Imd waited because I was later REALLY impressed with the quality of the work when he spent a couple days doing other projects on my house (installing railings in a loft, for example) in anticipation of selling my home. Rahel

We've had a great job done by Paragon Remodel, just so happens that our neighbor is having them install a new bathroom this month. Our bathroom that they did a few years ago still looks beautiful. They also helped us with a kitchen update last fall, it wasn't full remodel, new countertops, lighting, sink etc. We are very happy with the results. The contractor's number is 510- 390-0616 and the website is Amanda

Cameron Habel is a fabulous contractor with vision, taste and honesty to boot. We have used him for 5 separate projects -- most recently a large scale kitchen/living space remodel -- and have always been thrilled with the results. He is different in virtually every way from other building professionals with whom we have dealt. For example, his attention to detail, appreciation for aesthetics, unsurpassed workmanship and design ability place him in a class of his own. Unlike most contractors, Cameron Habel Construction takes on only one large project at a time. The days of disappearing contractors and lengthy delays are gone when one uses Cameron Habel Construction. Good luck! Bekki

I heartily recommend Dan Peters, of Peters Construction, for your kitchen/bath remodel (or anything else contractor-related, for that matter). He did an extensive remodel on our neighbor's house, and some smaller work on our house (porch and chimney remodel, earthquake retrofitting, etc). I was very pleased with the quality of the work, thought Dan was a pleasure to work with, and his crew was terrific. I know our neighbor was pleased with his work as well. Dan can be reached at 597-1226 - give him a call! Carrie

Dec 2007

We have a interior wood staircase that needs replacing. We would like to find someone who could design and build a custom staircase. The steps themselves are fine, but the handrails, balusters, etc are loose and we want to replace them with wood in a design that suits the craftsman style of our home. Any suggestions/ advice on who could do this type of project? Sarah

I recommend Jason Stearns at Kunstbau & Kids. He has a design/build contracting business which he has newly launched. His credentials include 14 years as a carpenter and foreman working for one of the Bay Area's finest residential remodel contractors, an undergraduate degree in architecture, and training in traditional Japanese woodworking. He specializes in fine hands-on woodworking and has extensive experience in residential remodeling, especially in restoration projects in the Bay Area, including Craftsman and Edwardian style restoration. He also has a committment to using green/renewable materials while paying attention to the bottom line cost, and he is a nice guy and good communicator. He can be reached at 415-420-3185 or kunstbau at Ilana

Nov 2007

We bought a fixer in the Elmwood part of Berkeley and would appreciate recommendations for a licensed contractor for a number of smallish projects (windows, garage repairs, deck repairs, etc.). Thanks! -anon

Sorin Feraru (Feraru & Associates Building and Design) did a great job by doing an addition to our home. We wanted to add a bedroom and a bath. Sorin and his workers were very professional. Before signing the contract, we wanted to see other projects he worked on in Berkeley and we were very impressed by the finish work, design, etc. The homeowners were very happy with him and the work. Our addition was completed earlier than what we expected. Sorin communicated with us all the way about every detail. The workers were very considerate about our home, space, kids and pets. The price was right. They left the job site clean every night. Everything they installed works perfectly and we're very happy. His number is 510-228-7366. cindy

I'd like to recommend our contractor Sorin Feraru of Feraru and Associates, at 510.228.7366 or see Sorin and his crew (which sometimes includes his Romanian parents) are hard-working, friendly to us and our young children, and a pleasure to have in the house. Despite the various snafus our project has faced, he does not get upset but just tries to figure out how best to solve unexpected problems. We've found him a pleasure to work with, and his work is of the highest quality--another post called him 'a true European craftsman' and I'd agree. Our only recommendation to first time remodelers: hire a designer and/or get ALL your materials beforehand, because otherwise the project can be unnecessarily stressful for all parties involved, and the decision-making can feel endless. Feel free to email me if you want more info. Sara

Oct 2007

Hi, we are berkeley homeowners with a large beautiful older house -- circa 1916. We are in need of a pretty thorough remodel: kitchen, bathrooms, rooms rearranged etc. windows and exterior work. Does anyone have any recommendations on contractors who can handle this type of job and are fairly practical/efficient. My spouse and I have a limited amount of time and are looking for someone who does quality work is trustworthy and has a get it done attitude. Thanks anon

Try Berkeley Design Build at 205-7196. They do beautiful work from the beginning of the project to the end. Mike and Chris are both architects and contractors so they have a really good sense of design with practical application. Their appreciation for the historic nature of old Berkeley homes makes their renovations truly wonderful. It is refreshing to find people who understand the way design and craftsmanship used to be done, and how that can be integrated into a renovation today. Good luck, enjoy the process. Old Berkeley Home Visionary

I wholeheartedly recommend Jim Gallerani, general contractor. He has built his own home and has remodeled many others. He did some smaller jobs for us -took a wall out and put in a deck, but we're looking forward to having him redo our kitchen when money allows. He's honest, reasonable, has great ideas, responsible about time, and is easy to talk to. Everyone I've recommended him to agree. Jim Gallerani 650-557-9749 (Despite the (650) area code, he works all over the Bay Area -he worked for us in Lafayette and SF.) Heidi

Haven Builders remodeled our bathroom--they aren't a big outfit so I'm not sure if they have the resources to do such a big project but I can't say enough about the great work they did for us. The owner, Rick, is very calm, knowledgeable, and patient. He walked me through several decisions I had to make during the remodel process and never seem hurried or frustrated by my vacillation. Our friends had him make a real art piece of a kitchen island so he's capable of realizing that sort of vision too. His phone number is: 510-665-9777 or his cell: 510-978-1786 cindy

McCutcheon Construction did an extensive remodel four years ago on our 1912 Craftsman and we were very happy. We did an attic conversion, substantial earthquake retrofitting, and a kitchen remodel. They also did three smaller jobs for us at other times - last year a small laundrr room floor replacement project. They are extremely organized and efficient and specialize in high quality work. I am picky but I could trust them to make the right choices and follow-up on any potential problems. They guarantee their work, basically forever. When my kitchen faucet came loose three years after the kitchen remodel, they sent a guy over the same day to fix it, no charge. Two years after the kitchen remodel, when we noticed a leak from the floor above, they came over the same week, tore out the wall and identified the problem, fixed it, and put it all back, no charge. If you are looking for a company that you can trust to do the right thing, these are the guys. Ginger

Oct 2007

We are thinking about building an addition on to our small Berkeley Bungalow. We are at the very beginning of this project and are trying to figure out what we can afford, best financing options, who to hire, what to do ourselves, etc. We are wondering if there is such a thing as a consultant or advisor you can meet with prior to getting a project underway to help you figure out the answers to these questions and more and who does not have a vested interest in what you decide to do? If there isn't -- seems like a good idea, doesn't it! thanks for any recommendations... 2 bdrm & 1 bth and hoping for more

I HIGHLY recommend Mares & Dow Construction in Martinez. They did an extensive remodel in our home 2 years ago and are now doing an addition for us. We remained/are remaining in the house both times. I know they have done a few homes in Benicia as well. Check out their web site at On both occasions they have done a lot of hand holding with us as far as working w/ the architects/engineers/ and County (permits) - their ability to cut through the red tape and beyond slow motion pace/constant excuses at the county has been invalable. jean

Oct 2007

I can highly recommend a licensed general contractor we've been working with, Luca Adamache. Luca has done a wonderful job on our project. He and his crew are polite, careful, efficient, and thorough. They arrive every morning at the appointed time and get right to work; we have been amazed at how quickly the project has moved forward. Luca is respectful and very easy to talk to; he asks before doing anything that might cause damage or inconvenience (e.g. taking out a plant), answers all of our questions clearly, and strives to be sure we are completely satisfied with the work. When things need correcting he does it promptly and graciously, and he is always easy to get on the phone if he's not on site. Luca is Romanian and has lived in the U.S. for many years; he speaks English flawlessly. His prices are very reasonable and spelled out clearly with no surprises; he carefully prepares the initial estimate, schedule of payments, invoices, and any change orders that need to be done as things are added. Luca is a great contractor and a lovely person. We will certainly hire him for any future projects and recommend him to anyone. Luca Adamache can be reached on his cell phone at (510) 427-0585 or by e-mail at lucasbuilding[at] He also has a website,
Satisfied Customer

October 2007

I highly recommend Catherine and Dan at Custom Spaces to anyone looking to remodel a bathroom. When we needed a budget- friendly makeover for a compact and challenging Jack-and-Jill bath, they came forward with fantastic ideas. They were able to find attractive fixtures that were not only within our budget but also met the size specifications we needed to leave enough clearance for swinging doors. They also chose clean, tasteful, and very budget-friendly finish material, such as floor and wall tiles, lighting, faucets, and a medicine cabinet. Our tiny bathroom now looks fresh and beautifully updated. happy client

Sept 2007

I live in Fremont and am planning a complete (all new fixtures, flooring, tub & shower, but in the same locations) remodel of our master bathroom. Does anyone have a contractor they have used (prefer license and bonded) to recommend? Our tastes run middle of the road, not high end. Thanks! Judy

We remodeled both of our baths in January, 2006 and hired Rick Patterson of Haven Builders to do the work. Rick met with us a hand full of times before starting the project and started and finished the project exactly on his projected dates (two weeks from start to finish) as well as staying within our budget. He also worked around our family needs (such as a working toilet at all times!). I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do and Rick advised me in areas I was unsure of with great product and architectural idea recommendations. The rooms turned out gorgeous and Rick was completely professional. The phone number for Haven is 510-978-1786. felicia

We had Paul Lashley remodel both our kitchen and bath this summer. He was fantastic. And his work was stellar. He was super efficient and is very open and trust worthy about the work. I highly recommend him. Paul Lashley 510.910.1028. jvincent

For the person looking for a contractor for a bathroom remodel, I'd highly recommend our contractor, Marius. My husband just posted an unsolicited review of Marius and his crew, as they are just finishing up our house this week and are installing our jacuzzi as I type this. I have no reservations about recommending Marius, Sorin, Niko and Johnny. They've exceeded our expectations and strange as it sounds, we're going to miss them. Email me for pictures of our project or questions. You can even come check out our bathroom if you like - we live in Kensington. Marius's email address is marius[at] lseaman

Sept 2007

I would like to offer this unsolicited recommendation of Amir Sharabi of Aviv Construction; amirsharabi[at]; 510 541 1357. I have worked with Amir on both office space projects as well as renovations on my home. I have also referred him to family and friends who've used him in the past. His work is of very good quality and his prices are reasonable. He is responsive and respectful. His workers are clean, conscientious and courteous. Most importantly, he is honest and trustworthy. I am happy to answer specific questions about Amir by email. Howie

We have used Rick Patterson with Haven Builders for several recent remodeling and renovation projects. He is extremely reliable and talented in all aspects of building and contracting. His e-mail address is havenbuilders[at] and his cell phone # is 510-978-1786. He runs a very tidy jobsite, too! Kelly

If you are looking for a good, licensed general contractor, I would like to highly recommend Haven Builders. Rick Patterson, the owner, is totally professional, patient, creative, and thorough. He walked me through our project and explained things each step of the way. Having no prior remodel experience, I felt wary of the whole process and unsure of what questions even needed to be addressed. Rick took over for me, anticipating aspects of the job I hadn't known to expect and making sure I felt comfortable all the way along. The project turned out beautifully--even better than I had imagined--and most of this is owing to Rick's subtle eye and unflagging efforts. His cell phone number is: 510-978-1786 and I think their office number is 510-665-9777. kitty

July 2007

We would like to turn a large bedroom closet with a sink in it into a bathroom and have no clue where to start as we are new to home ownership/renovations. Do we need a bathroom designer or will a contractor be enough? Where should we go to pick out tile, fixtures, etc.? We want a bathroom that's pretty basic, goes witht he rest of the house (built in 1907), with quality fixtures/etc. that won't go out of style when we are selling the house in a few years. Thanks sarah

Sarah, Please give Jim Wallen a call on his cell phone: 925-209-6209. We hired Jim for our whole-house remodel plus addition in Berkeley. He's a one-stop shop - he can design your space and build it. He's really great to work with and has great attention to detail. He can show you fixtures and materials that would be appropriate to the rest of your house. He does very high quality work and we are very happy with what he has done for us! Karen

Hi Sarah, I live in an Oakland fixer home built in 1922, and since I feel like I am 'design-impaired', one of the things that I do is look through home magazines for ideas of what I like, and then mimic those ideas--and this has always worked well for me. Good luck with your remodel! Abby

July 2007

Hello, We have a problem!! Our shower is leaking ( understatement) and we need someone to remove the tile, replace the damaged subflooring and then waterproof and retile. Do I need a contractor, a tiler? Is there someone out there who can do this kind of job? I would be eternally grateful and much cleaner if anyone out there could point me in the direction of such a person. Smelly and in need of a shower!!

You might try Yvonne Kettels of She Custom Building & Remodeling, if she's not too busy -- 510-520-0295. She is skilled, experienced, responsible and great to work with. Also is very knowledgeable about green products and makes great creative suggestions. Has done lots of various kinds of work for me and friends, families at our school -- everyone very happy. tlfitz

Rick Patterson of Haven Builders remodeled our bathrooms (we have two--one big and another smaller half bath)and did an absolutely wonderful job. He was fast--very clean (everyday he left the job cleaner than before he started it--amazing considering the demo and construction)--and considerate. His number is 510-978-1786 remy

July 2007

I'd like to recommend the contractor my husband and I choose to remodel the bathrooms in our house. The job consisted of installing a shower downstairs, installing an exterior tankless water heater, completely remodeling our upstairs bath, and replacing our existing plumbing. We choose Larry Guillot not only because his bid was one of the more reasonable ones we received, but also because he provided us a bid and scope of work document within 24hrs of meeting with us and was ready to start right away. His team removed our water-heater tank, ran pipes, and installed a new exterior tankless heater in one day! This was real important to us since we have 2 little ones and a momma who needs her showers. The only issue we had concerned one of Larry's tile subcontractors, we called Larry and he came to our house on Memorial Day to take a look, agreed it needed to be addressed and called in a good friend of his to help us out the next day. The entire project took about 3 weeks. The guys worked so fast I found myself scrambling to buy fixtures in time for them to install! We would not hesitate to call Larry again, and feel so relieved to have found a dependable contractor with a great crew for a reasonable rate. Larry Guillot larry[at] 510-558-3299 Amber

June 2007

Jim Zwaal is an amazingly creative bathroom remodeler. We asked him to just replace a sink & tub and he asked us what we ideally wanted, (which was a master bathroom we didn't think was possible). He then came up with a plan which created 2 full bathrooms where one and half existed, ( with no apparent extra space). The building inspector was very impressed with the plumbing solutions he had devised, and commented several times on the high quality of the work. He was able to fit everything in by creative thinking, and he has a very artistic as well as practical side, always considering attractiveness and appearance as well as function, including with tile work. He is very busy and it may take a while to hear from him, but he's worth the wait if you need a creative design plan and good workmanship. His phone # is 652-8258. Joan

July 2007

I want to recommend Steve Maffin for any large or small general contractor needs. We have used him over the years to rebuild our garage that was full of dry rot, install a dishwasher, and repair a wall with dry rot. All jobs were completed efficiently and professionally. Steve is also very pleasant, always on time, always returns my phone calls even when he is out of town. He is also a really good problem-solver because most of our issues have required thinking ''out of the box''. Currently, we are working with him on a stalled kitchen and bath remodel. He has shown me examples of kitchens he has done, which are outstanding, especially the tilework. And, he is an artist, long-time Berkeleyan, and eco-friendly. Steve Maffin, 510-882-5050 e-mail:[at]

We highly recommend Luca Adamache of Luca's Building for your General Contractor needs. He built a gorgeous deck for us, but he also builds additions, does remodelling, etc. His estimate was among the lowest, but his approach was open, honest & very professional. He provided us with a detailed estimate, then followed up with an even more detailed contract. He really thought about the job, too. We had a couple of design decisions to make together and he always had terrific ideas - backed by experience and knowledge. His manner was always polite & unobtrusive. He left the job site spotless every day & finished in the exact number of days as quoted. We are thrilled to recommend Luca to you all - and, nope, we're not related! Here are his particulars: Phone: 510-427-0585 Email: lucasbuilding[at]
The May Family

If you have any construction project in mind, contact Marius Adamche. He and his crew did all the work on our remodel in Albany and did an excellent job. He is competent, reliable, keeps you informed as the project evolves, works with you and listens to your needs, and is very cooperative. In many cases Marius went above and beyond. The delightful surprise was how reasonable his prices were yet, his work is excellent and beautifully done. His work easily passed permit inspections and the finished product could have cost us several thousands more. He helped us turn our once rented home (that had become a frat house - rats and all) into a sale of well over $1,000,000.00 If you have questions, please e-mail and I'll be happy to give you any specifics to see if our project includes elements that would match what you are looking for. You can reach Marius at adamche[at] Marius and his crew are from Romania where craftsmanship is honored. Pat

July 2007

I am looking for recommendations for a general contractor. I need someone who can build walls, even out flooring, do interior painting, and do some basic plumbing and electric. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Mo

I have a fabulous contractor to recommend. He is Skip Bowser of Bowser Construction. He significantly underbid our other bidders to do a full addition and small remodel of our home. He began and ended on time and on budget, and had some great money-saving suggestions. The guys were great to have around and our neighbors were impressed and asked for their contact information. They were all fast, clean and great workers. We can't say enough good things about them. Contact Skip Bowser at 510-815-7131.

April 2007

Hello BPNers! My husband and I just purchased a house that has mold/rot in two outdated bathrooms (one is usable, but we were told the other is best to stay out of until it's fixed). Since it will be $7k or more to remove and replaced damaged framing, subfloor, and stall shower pans, we figure we might as well remodel the bathrooms at the same time. Can anyone recommend someone they have recently worked with to redo bathrooms? Money is definitely a consideration for us, and we're in Oakland. Thanks for any help you can provide! Amanda

Hi Amanda, Congrats on the purchase of a new home! I would like to recommend Mark Schmidt. He is a licensed general contractor who typically operates in Oakland. We have used him over a period of 5 years to redo 2 bathrooms in our house and then most recently our kitchen. He does amazing work, I love every room in my house that he has done. He will actually call you back when he says he will and shows up on time. He is also very neat and organized which makes life a little easier to tolerate in the midst of construction. Give him a call and I am sure he could help you out with your projects. His number is 510-914-0020. Good luck to you! Karen

We recommend our contractor Paul Lashley. He recently finished our bathroom and has previously done our kitchen. In both cases, we did the design and bought most everything. Paul (and Jason and Richard who work with him) did the demo, the framing, the electrical, and cabinet installation. Paul's cell is 510-910-1028. We always enjoy having all these guys over. We had the cabinets built by Hayward Cabinets (510-783-2444) and the tile work done by Serge Vilnet (510-848-2837). All highly recommended. Dan H

April 2007

We are looking to expand our house in Berkeley and wondered if anyone had recommendations/disrecommendations for Designer/Builders. We were looking at Federal Building Company, Levitch, BWG Baileyworks Group, Distinctive Builders, McCutcheon, and More Than Construction. I would love to hear from anyone who has information on these companies or others. Thank you!! Vicki

I can enthusiastically recommend McCutcheon Construction. We've been working with Michael and his crew for over 20 years, and they've helped make our 1885 Victorian a livable modern home that retains its original charm. I'm sure you can get it done for less, but you can't possibly get it done better. McCutcheon really stands behind their work, too --for us, that has included their replacing the entire center foundation on our home FOR FREE. (While they had originally designed and built it to meet city codes as a replacement for a failing Victorian foundation, an engineer hired years later for the next project down the line said it should have been built 15% bigger.) Honest and reliable to the extreme! Chris B

We hired Levitch twice. They were great. Not perfect but very very good (no one is perfect). Maurice and crew are very honest. They are not cheap but you do get what you pay for. Their crew and subcontractors and office staff and designers were a joy to work with. They also understand building permit issues. They work well with neighbors (my neighbors adored them, especially after another neighbor had some not-so-respectful contractors do work that dragged on and on and on). You need to do your own work like you would with any contractor, architect or design-build firm: communicate what you want clearly, make your decisions on time, keep track of decisions, keep track of time lines and work due dates, communicate any concerns as you go, and be reasonable. I would hire them again if I ever needed more work done. We had our work done four years ago and then the other job 2 years ago. We love the results! Berkeley home owner

April 2007

Aaron DeMuynck is a highly skilled licensed contractor who has done wonderful work for my family. He specializes in granite work and I consider him a true artist at this. He is fair, timely and can turn what looks rundown into a showcase! His phone # is 510-566-1141 beevs

I'd like to recommend ''Marius Construction'' (Lic# 861235, 510- 828-6551 or ADAMACHE[at]COMCAST.NET) to meet any of your home improvement needs. When we needed all new appliances installed, Marius was recommended by a neighbor & we've been very pleased. Marius has been very knowledgeable on all work to be done, on the updated codes, etc. & was able to handle all the plumbing, gas, & electrical work related to the installation. We've also used him for some other small jobs, as well, & hope to use him for larger projects ahead. Feel free to contact me w/ any questions! Beata

Last May (2007) we began the project of the remodeling and renovation our 1913 Craftsman in Albany. We were frustrated and upset that our original contractor, Mercia Construction, subcontracted our work to Marius Construction. It was not long, however, before we REJOICED about the change. During the five month process Marius and his crew demonstrated that they are well qualified and thorough. They kept us informed each day of the progress, answered questions and interfaced with the city officials on meeting permit requirements. They are courteous, friendly and cleaned up at the end of each day.

When the kitchen and bath were complete, there were many projects that presented new challenges which we turned over to them. In each case Marius priced the job reasonably, kept to the agreed schedule, and went above and beyond many times.

Marius and his crew are recent immigrants from Romania and are well qualified in the many aspects of home remodeling - inside and out. If you have any questions or would like further details, we are happy to respond via e-mail. You can reach Marius at 510-828-6551. mountainpoole

March 2007

I highly recommend Marius Construction for remodeling and additions. Marius Adamache is an incredibly fair and honest contractor. His crew arrived every day on time and they were always very conscious of keeping the disruption to our family at a minimum during construction. He came in on budget every time and was very helpful and willing to address additional requests. Marius and his crew built a stairway, a new bedroom and did some plumbing work in our basement. They did a great job on all and we were very pleased with their work. I would use Marius Construction again with no reservations whatsoever. We are lucky to have found them! You can reach Marius at Marius Construction 510-828-6551.
Mary E

We wanted to recommend Javier Gonzalez. We used him initially on a series of small handyman type jobs but recently he did a major remodeling project for us. He did an amazing job. Javier and his team are the best. They are reliable, show up when they say they will, stay on budget, finish on schedule and are absolute perfectionists. I can't say enough good things about Javier and his team. Javier can be reached at 510-599-0272.

Feb 2007

Does any one have any recommendations for an awesome contractor to do a complete remodel of a small bathroom? (tiles,plumbing, fixtures - the works!) We are willing to pay more for someone licensed and insured. Also a working knowledge of ''green'' building practices would be great. (Recycled material, low energy lights, low-flow plumbing etc). Thanks for any advice!

I would like to recommend a designer/ contractor whom I have been working with. Her name is Kari Grosz from Lamorinda Construction and Consulting, and her number is 925-899-7201.

I have had two projects with Kari, and my current one involves a major remodeling for more than half of my house due to water damage which includes remodeling of 2 full bathrooms and one half bath.

Both experiences with Kari have been wonderful. She would spend time to explain different options and to take me to different stores and help select materials (appliances, faucets, cabinets, tiles..etc). In my opinion, Kari has done so much more than a normal contractor would have, and she makes my experience of going through this water damage less painful.

Kari is very talented, very resourceful, and most importantly, she can work with any budget the homeowners want to spend. Also, despite her busy schedule, she is always very responsive and nice to work with. My recommendation of working with Kari is without reservation.

We used a contractor listed in the Reviews & Recommendations sections of BPN, Paragon Remodel, for a full remodel of our masterbath. After first contacting via email, the contractor called and was actually working on a bath remodel in our neighborhood. I went to see the project and was impressed by the work, which looked really good. What I liked was that I was able to speak personally with the homeowner and confirm our decision to hire that contractor. Our bathroom turned out nice, just one delay with the wrong sink faucet we ordered online. I would recommend Paragon Remodel, their website or 510-390-0616

Feb 2007

We are ready and hoping to begin work on our house this spring/summer and would love recommendations for reliable and preferably affordable (of course) contractors to do some exterior structural work and interior renovations. The structural involves removing stucco, repairing old termite damage, hopefully some earthquake retrofitting, and new stucco. Interior work would be removing windows and adding french doors, ripping out and old bathroom and replacing it, and possibly other work if we can afford it. My husband is incredibly handy and construction-smart, but limited on time and manpower, so we would love to hire someone willing to allow my hubby some involvement (even if only verbal planning and no hands on). We are in the east Oakland foothills. Thanks for any recommendations and input! wants the house to be done!

We just had a wonderful experience with a (licensed) contractor and I'm happy to recommend him to you. We hired Sinh On (510-882-4494) a few months ago to do a pretty extensive job on 100 yr. old Victorian in Oakland; not only did he do the work within our budget (about $30k) but he did the bulk of the work within a week of the time estimate he had given us, which was quite aggressive (instaed of 5 weeks it took 6 weeks). His crew completely gutted our upstairs, starting with the front hallway. They removed all walls and ceilings and old electrical. They put in new electrical (with permits!) new phone/DSL lines, new insullation (walls and ceiling). They added a subfloor to our attic, as well as a pulldown staircase, so we have a ton of usable storage space that we didn't have before. They installed central heating. Then they put up new sheetrock, new molding, did a gorgeous paint job (with non-toxic paint that we purchased ourselves from the eco-home store on San Pablo). Along the way, they threw in some extras that they never charged us for -- hardwired smoke detectors, extra sconses for our hallway, etc. For that same price, they also moved our furniture in and out of the house, made some repairs to our deck, and replaced part of a missing fence. No contractor is perfect -- a few times I had to ask him to tell his crew not to smoke upstairs, and there was a giant pile of debris that sat in the front yard for a few weeks, which didn't do any favors to our garden, but from all the stories I've heard, this was the smoothest remodel in history. The best part was, Sinh (pronounced ''Sing'') almost always answered his cell phone when I called with a question or concern, he was always pleasant, and his crew was incredibly hard working (usually 6 days a week). If we had to do it all again, I'd hire him in a heart beat. happy home owner

Jan 2007

We would like to add our names to the list of happy Berkeley Parents who have highly recommended Ron Masters. After getting his name off the BPN, my husband and I engaged him and his assistant, Dan, to design and build a deck in our back yard, which was a difficult space to engineer. What they built is the most beautiful deck I have ever seen! They gave us an estimate for the project, then finished it a week early and under budget, so we put them to work finishing up our kitchen, a project my husband and I began ten years ago. They finished up our kitchen and took it to a level of professionalism we hadn't dreamed we could afford. We are so pleased with all their work - all we can say is that the Bay Area is lucky to have these two artisans who are so skilled, generous, and honest. Ron can be reached at H 510-352-8763, And C 415-377-8400. zoe

Hello All - I am writing in order to tell everyone how happy my wife and I are with the home renovations performed by Aviv Construction and Mr. Amir Sharabi (owner). This was our first foray into any type of work such as this, and as we quickly learned, we had a lot of renovations to do. We basically gutted the interior of our house, completely redoing the kitchen, two bathrooms, electrical, plumbing, flooring, molding, etc. My wife and I didnmt have previous experience with the scope of work or know what to expect, and we couldnmt have been happier with Amir. Not only was the work excellent, but Amir would help us through the process. He would explicitly explain what needed to be done, how they wemre going to proceed and let us know when we had to have certain items (i.e. q kitchen cabinets, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, etc.). Additionally, Amir would rely on his years of experience in order to help us make decisions and give suggestions. He was very patient and accommodating, which is a wonderful trait to possess during a stressful remodel. Amir was always on time, finished his work on time and on budget, and always cleaned up prior to leaving. Wemve all heard the horror stories of contractors, and my experience couldnmt be further from that. Based on my experience with Aviv Construction and Amir Sharabi, I cannot give a higher recommendation. He is wonderful, and his work speaks for itself. If you are in need of a contractor, I highly suggest that you contact Amir. His cell phone number is (510) 541-1357. Alyse

I would like to refer Patrick Ridge of Ridge Builders; 510-701-5093 (cell), or 510-965-1689 (office) as a great licensed contractor. After interviewing a number of contractors to work on our kitchen remodel, we chose Patrick and we are so glad we did. He takes great pride in doing a job correctly, beautifully and well. He is reasonably priced, he has an excellent and professional group of subs working for him, and was responsive to our questions, able to make suggestions, and ready to make things work. On top of all that, he was fun to be around and I looked forward to him coming to my house! He turned our 50+ year old kitchen into a beautiful and functional work place. I plan on using him for any contracting work we do in the future. elen

I wanted to recommend a contractor, David Ruiz and his crew. Just before Halloween I was giving a barbeque at my house for my work. I have an old cottage and I looked around and saw that I wanted some things fixed, painted, spruced up and projects completed! And, of course, I waited practically until the last minute.

David, even though he had a number of big jobs going, had one of his crew come over to take direction from me. He painted, fixed, completed. I kept him working a few days longer than I expected, yet David was very flexible and accommodating, even though he needed his worker for a different job. I was completely happy with the beautiful work that was done, and surprised that a couple of fix-up jobs turned out better than I expected.

In the past David has fixed an outside deck railing, laid a cement pad for a hot tub, etc., etc. I've always been happy with his work.

I would like to highly recommend David Ruiz and his crew for any contractor work you might have, his number is 368-0177. I'll give rec'ds, too. April

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Nov 2006

I am looking for a contractor to repair or rebuild my wooden front staircase of about 8 steps. I am in the North Berkeley area. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much! Jane

For the people looking for contractors and carpenters, I had a small remodel and other jobs at my home and Glen Larsen has taken care of them all. *He returns phone calls! *He'll come out on Saturdays! *He's honest and competent! He not only did a beautiful job on the remodel but also solved some plumbing and electrical problems. He doesn't do carpeting but has some references for that. Glen Larsen - 510-232-9122 jessica

Marc Shure [at]847-8900 was excellent during our remodel. Very skillful, professional, timely etc. Good luck! Franny

Nov 2006

I used a contractor recently who had advertised his services on berkeley parents a few months ago. The leap of faith paid off and now I wanted to post a positive review of Larry Guillot, who is fairly new to the bay area. He handled the following for us: two bathroom remodels (one partial, one full), installation of a new heating system and new piping/plumbing and a few other smaller home projects. I found Larry to be very responsive (replied to calls and emails in a timely manner, gave me a comprehensive, detailed bid) and I was pleased with the final outcome of all the work. Larry's prices were reasonable and fair. Just a side note, Larry oversees all the projects but does not do the work himself. He has an experienced group of guys who work with him. Larry and his team do mostly small and medium projects, but he has a lot of experience with large things too (new constuction, additions). Larry can be reached as follows: 510-558-3299 or on email at larry[at] Happy Oakland Homeowner

Oct 2006

I am thinking of having an addition ( new bathroom/bathroom/deck ) done by Lorick Design and Construction. Does anybody have any good or bad experiences to relate about them. Gigi seems great but I would like some additional feedback if any one has used them for their house projects. Thank you

We hired them for an addition and immediately liked, and felt comfortable with Gigi. Once we signed on it became apparent that we were a small project in a large pond of bigger dollar clients. We were assigned to a project manager, who was nice enough, bit was inexperienced. We had a clear budget and were told we could achieve our goals with that budget. We had to set up meetings with Gigi and the project manager to get updates- costs and plans. Only till we pressed for an itemized budget of the plans we had did we find that the job was $100k plus over budget. So we dissolved our relationship after too many clear signs it wasnt right. The drawings they gave us were unusable for our new architect seeing as they werent CAD. From a personality standpoint we realized that Gigi never admitted when she erred but rather would blame her project manager or her clients. In retrospect: to compare our current architect with Lorick we made the right decision to terminate. disillusioned homeowner

Three years ago I used them when they were Fredrickson-Lorick Design & Construction for a leak in my garage (on a steep hillside) which no one else could fix and they did fix it. Because I was so impressed I had them do some small work on the terracing of my back hill which eventually cost me $150,000 to correct as a result of their workers undermining the whole hill. The workers abandoned the job leaving all their tools and and even their microwave (to heat their lunches). They never returned and I never heard from Lorick again. A very unhappy homeowner

Oct 2006

I am so pleased with the results of my bathroom remodel, I wanted to share the name of my contractor - Luke 510-618-1228. Or his cell 510-918-8336. He did it all - plumbing, electrical, beautiful tile work, sheetrock, etc., in my totally gutted bathroon. Would be happy to show my new bathroom (I'm in central Berkeley). Luke made great suggestions throughout the construction. Luke is Asian, and I had a little trouble understanding him on the phone, but in person there was no problem at all. Great guy, talented, experienced and knowledgeable at all builing trades. Tell him Cassandra in Berkeley recommended him. Luke lives in San Leandro Cassandra

The first clue we had was when they put the slab for the garage in the wrong place... we got about a month into the project, the owner ''fired'' who we were told was his business partner, a month later we found out that the owner had moved from Berkeley to Aspen, CO. The site forewoman was unable to read plans or find the notes we provided, even after giving them to her 3-4 times. She put the supporting wall in the wrong place, then the bathroom wall, but put the stairs in the right place, but since the bathroom was now in the wrong place we had a stairway going through the shower. The real bad part is that I had to tell her this. Things pretty much went along like this for a year, then work came to a halt, for some reason, still don't know why. They would not return calls, charged us for work twice, were not paying the subs, for work we had paid ''ECO'' for. Christopher Jacobson is a great salesman but.... DO NOT HIRE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTRUCTION OFFICE (ECO)!!! Chuck

Sept 2006

I've called all of the contractor recommendations listed in the archives (most recent posts are over a year old) and gotten a call back from ONE. Perhaps some are out of business, etc, but I was wondering if anyone out there can recommend someone they've used more recently? We are doing a ''sort-of'' kitchen remodel - no structural changes, but we're replacing all the the cabinets, adding a dishwasher, copper plumbing, disposal, countertop. Much Thanks! Catherine

I am not sure exactly where you are located, but I had Jay Cravagan from IMAGINE General Contractors recently do some work for one of my clients, and his work was amazing. Great attention to detail, communicative, and responsive. He is located in El Cerrito. jaycravagan[at] 510-526-2100. Good luck! Kimberly

My contractor gets booked up but he has always called people back when I have referred them. His name is Uwe Schorkopf 925-933-0625. He is great! Jennifer

I haven't personally hired Mackey Builders but I have seen some of their finished projects and they have turned out really nice. You may want to give them a call--they are still in business and will return your call. The number is 510-533-3456 Anita

Sept 2006

My family and I will soon be moving into a duplex unit that we now own. The previous owners rented and the place is trashed, dirty, broken, mismatched. We need to fix-up/re-model the kitchen, improve on the bathrooms, replace broken/ corroding windows, and do work on the now shabby finished basement including replacing the flooring down there. This in addition to the basic cleaning, floor work and painting. I'm new at this. Where do we start? Do we call an architect? a designer? who? We want to make the place nice but not extravagant and money is an issue! Advice and recommendations are appreciated! Overwhelmed

For any remodeling jobs, I would like to recommend a designer/ contractor whom I have been working with. Her name is Kari Grosz from Lamorinda Construction and Consulting, and her number is 925-899-7201.

I have had two projects with Kari, and my current one involves a major remodeling for more than half of my house due to water damage. Both experiences with Kari have been wonderful. She would spend time to explain different options and to take me to different stores and help select materials (appliances, faucets, cabinets, tiles..etc). In my opinion, Kari has done so much more than a normal contractor would have, and she makes my experience of going through this water damage less painful.

Kari is very talented, very resourceful, and most importantly, she can work with any budget the homeowners want to spend. Also, despite her busy schedule, she is always very responsive and nice to work with. My recommendation of working with Kari is without reservation

Sept 2006

We have just completed an extensive kitchen remodel and I would like to wholeheartedly recommend our licensed contractor Marius Construction 510 828-6551. Marius's crew was very expedient and produced high quality results for a fraction of the cost that we were quoted by others. We lived in our house with our two young children and the crew was very considerate of our space. They consulted with us on a regular basis about the process, stuck to the budget, and if something needed to be changed they were very accomodating. Marius made the entire experience perfectly manageable and I would recommend him for any job. mandk

I am writing in hopes of helping others avoid a nightmarish experience with a contractor we hired to oversee the remodel of our 100+ year old craftsman home in Berkeley. We hired Xin Jin of MX Builders to coordinate the new roof, cedar siding, exterior insulation, update all electrical systems, install new washer and dryer hookups and a tankless water heater, and other jobs related to our renovation. On the contract, we clearly stated that he would obtain all permits and inspections. The work seemed to proceed with only the usual hitches. However, almost a year later after noticing some odd features of the electrical updates, we learned that a permit had never been obtained for the electrical work, which was conducted while the entire house was stripped of siding and prior to insulation being blown in. We hired another electrician to survey the work and learned that there were multiple problems that were not to code and not safe. After consulting with an attorney, we gave Xin Jin a chance to correct the problems. In this part of the process, he failed 3-4 inspections with the city and demonstrated that he did not know the electrical codes. We also learned that he never fully executed permits on the roofs, siding, and plumbing appliances. Upon threatening legal action, he tried to correct things, but failed multiple inspections and could not even figure out how to install the water heater to code. He blatantly breached our contract by not getting permits. Likewise, he clearly lied to us about this (we asked him whether he was getting all permits during the job) and other things during the project. Finally, nothing he did was to code and all had to be redone. I strongly encourage you to find someone other than Xin Jin of MX Builders and do lots of reference checking. Also get copies of the permits and talk to the inspectorsm office to make sure permits are fully executed and work inspected. Feel free to contact me. Mallory

We'd like to recommend Berkeley Craftsmen Builders as top-notch contractors. They recently finished adding two bedrooms and a bathroom to the back of our house in Berkeley. Their bid was somewhat more expensive than other contractors, but they communicated with us very well, understood our goals and limitations, had great ideas, and provided the most detailed cost estimate and work schedule of any of the bids we received. The project was completed right on budget and very close to the estimated end date, despite working through a very wet winter. Our addition includes a number of ''green'' products, including FSC-certified lumber, hardiplank siding, radiant heat, bamboo floors, zero-VOC paints, among others. Our project managers suggested a number of sustainable products, and were very enthusiastic about incorporating materials that we requested, even when it meant learning new techniques. They were very sensitive about minimizing impacts on our living space, even going so far as stopping hammering during our daughter's naptime. Every member of the crew was friendly and professional. The quality of the final product is exceptional and we couldn't be happier with Berkeley Craftsmen's work. Their website is:
Eric and Becky

Miguel Garcia of Garcia Construction, 510-915-1965 (cell) is an excellent finish carpenter/contractor/engineer by education....He worked on my house for the last year and made many improvements...He built decks from scratch, installed lights, put together and installed a new front door, fixed dry rot outside the house...The results were beautiful...He is trustworthy, honest and a man of his word...I highly recommend him. Gail

August 2006

I'm a structural engineer and have worked with Ersch Construction on several projects over the last several years - the first of which was my own home. On my own project and others, Ive found that Eron Ersch's technical expertise and the skills of his crew are top notch. Eron also has the communication skills necessary to make a project run smoothly for his clients. In large part, this often means making a job run smoothly at the permit end, with the City. This is no small task. Eron's crew was considerate and respectful. When you put it all together, this company is a pleasure to work with.

June 2006

I would like to recommend Jeff Miles. He is an excellent contractor. He and his crew of two replaced my steps and porch recently. They did a terrific job. He is pleasant to deal with. He follows through. His price is fair, but not inexpensive. He has done work for me in the past as well. I highly recommend him if you need a great contractor. His cell phone is:(510) 815-5692 Rob

Contractor/Handyman recommendation: We just had a great re-model of a utility room turned into a playroom (hiding the washer/dryer and water heater in a small closet) done by Brian Bartsch. Brian's number is (510) 693-3947. Brian was very flexible, affordable and creative. He was very helpful suggesting ways to save money. He was able to do lots of things including painting and carpentry. We would highly recommend Brian and use him again in the future. Zak and Julie

May 2006

I would like to recommend a contractor I used on a bathroom remodel. His name is Jim Tyler. Hems a licensed contractor that will work closely with you on small jobs and also has the expertise to work on large remodels, additions or new construction. I didn't use a designer or architect on my job and he was extremely helpful, patient and his tile work is beautiful. He has strong communication skills is very reasonably priced and his work is top quality. Jim can be reached at 510-672-4031

I have used Glen Larsen and his crew for many projects. One of them was designing and building my deck. I had a much different project in mind when he came by my house but he helped me design exactly what I needed for my use. We came up with a smaller deck that was the perfect size for my needs. He has good design ideas and attention to detail. And the ended up being cheaper since it was smaller. I have also had Glen install a redwood deck, a flagstone patio, bath and lighting fixtures, do inside and outside remodeling and repair, and he painted my house inside and out - he has a great color sense and helped when I chose all the colors. Glen Larsen - 510-232-9122 (and he returns phone calls)

Mike Wilson recently completed a remodel of our kitchen and laundry room. We are very satisfied with the results and had a great experience working with Mike. Many people who knew about our kitchen project asked about unexpected delays or additional costs, but we really had no surprises. Mike did a very thorough estimate and identified some areas where he might find additional work once he got in to investigate, so we were well prepared. His estimates and invoices were detailed and very clear. He keeps a low profile and we found it comfortable to have him around. Our kids and cats really took to him. Mike is very responsive and a good communicator. And he has made good on every detail that needed additional attention, even at the end of the project when some folks disappear. Highly recommended, a rare find. Mike Wilson (510) 559-3461 Dara

I'd like to add a recent recommendation for a contractor. I found him on Berkeley Parents so this is like a double kudos. We got estimates from three contractors we found on Berkeley Parents and, due to our strict budget, went with the lowest bidder, thinking, even if they left something out, they were so much cheaper, it would still work out. We used Marius Adameche and his team (Vali, Soren, Dan) for our bathroom remodel. They were respectful, arrived early every day of working on the job. The quality of the work was great. Our only frustration was that it took longer than they said (initially, they said 10 days, but it was really 14 days), but it was due to problems with running out of tile (my fault) and having to buy more, rainy days making things take a bit longer to dry than their negligence. Also, Marius stuck to his bid. When he had to do a couple of extra things with plumbing, he called me to let me know ahead of time and it was just a couple of hundred bucks over the original bid so I did not feel nickeled and dimed. He supervised the work, but his team really worked well independently. I'd use them again. Marius Adamache, 510-828-6551

April 2006

We recently used a great builder for our remodeling job. Goran came highly recommended from a friend and certainly lived up to the recommendation. He is a pleasure to work with, communicative, detail-oriented, and friendly. On our job he did almost all the work himself, including structural and drainage as well as interior finishing. We're first-time homeowners, and Goran made our remodel seem easy! He does smaller jobs, as well. Goran's cell: 510-913-2739 Jeff

I want to recommend our general contractor, Leland Drysdale of Drysdale Douglas Construction ( He did our complete kitchen remodel last year and he is extremely honest and takes pride in his work. Our job was done on time and on budget. Our next door neighbor is an architect and was really impressed with his work and his tidyness. His crew is really nice as well. Our kitchen is the second one on his website. Julie

To Anon looking for design/build
We live in the Berkeley hills and just finished a whole-house remodel and addition. It was a huge job - we relocated the kitchen, and laundry room, knocked down walls,and added a bathroom and an office. We worked with Jim Wallen, who is exceptionally pleasant and reasonable to work with. His crew does excellent work and keeps the job site very clean. Jim has excellent taste and was able to design with our vision in mind with thoughtful features added to suit our lifestyle. Best yet - he has no ego at all. Our house remodel came out 10 times better than I thought it would. The house looks fabulous, and the process was not stressful. It was actually fun! I can send you some photos if you wish. kk

I noticed a number of people are looking for great contractors right now. I know of a superb contractor: Will Lopes with Centerline Construction. Will and his partner Howie Miller run expert crews and are extremely versatile. Intelligent and really fun to work with, these guys definitely know their stuff. They are super professional, will be honest about timelines (given that weather and permits can change the outcome, they stick close to what they estimate) and will work hard to make you happy. I find these men to be VERY detail oriented, as well as experienced. I have found all of the work they have done for our family and friends (I have sent Will to many friends who have been really happy) is top notch. And I just really like these guys. They are super nice. Call Will Lopes: 510-812-5515 and Centerline construction will hook you up. Good luck everyone! A happy customer!

I would like to highly recommend Gordon Reese as a general contractor. He has done two major projects for us in two different homes, and we're about to start a third project with him. We completely redid our kitchen while I was pregnant and he finished on time and on budget. He's done a second major job for us at another home and we are completely satisfied with him, his work, and his crew. He's honest, reliable, fast, reasonable and does great work. He's also very patient which was great, especially while I was pregnant. His contact information is listed below. Gordon Reese Home Remodel, Repair and Design 510-912-1316 cell 510-268-0990 fax/office homeimprove[at]

I highly recommend Berkeley contractor YANAY SHIK, who is dependable and makes sure the job is done right. He has two decades of experience in the Bay Area; he also does foundation and drainage work on homes. Tel: 510.527.7456 rachel

March 2006

I wanted to pass on a name of an excellent contractor, Brent Murray of JB Building Systems. He is extremely competent, reliable, and hardworking. He used to have a partner and they are going seperate ways and he is looking to build his client base in Oakland. He redid our kitchen, turned our old run down garage into a cute backhouse/playroom, and many small miscellanious items here and there. Any problems I had he always listened and fixed it immediately. In short, he is a good honest guy who gets the job done and done well.His work number is 510 575-7273. kathy

Paul Hollenbach just remodeled our new home in Berkeley. We were on a tight budget and had a tight timeline. Paul is an artist, a professional, and an all round great guy. Throughout the project, he was reliable, responsive, and communicative. His workmen were all top notch & equally professional. Paul came up with creative solutions and noticed & corrected problems we hadn't seen, all the time keeping within our budget. This morning he stopped by our home, weeks after his work was completed, to check on a leaky faucet. We just can't say enough good things about him. You can reach Paul at 510-502-8108. KW in Berkeley

Yvonne Kettels (510-520-0295) just did great work in my home and yard. She 'built-in' shelves and a window seat in my daughter's room, installed a skylight, kitchen counter tops, and moved a wall. She also did some painting, repaired my deck and raised my yard fencing with framed lattice. She didn't cut corners, was easy and fun to work with, and had wonderful design ideas. She is also a single mom. happily home repaired in Berkeley

In response to a request for a great contractor who can handle wiring (and I think they asked about pocket doors)I think that Centerline Construction is a fantastic choice. These guys are efficient, very professional and lots of experience. Will Lopes is the best contractor I have ever worked with. His crew is exceptionally fast and Howie Miller, his business partner, is an engineer and renaissance man extraordinairre. Between the two of them and their crews, they can solve intricate problems, offer creative solutions and battle the permit office.

I am speaking from personal experience. These guys have not only worked on my home. They were amazing and respectful of our need for space and quiet. But now, they are helping to renovate a commercial building. Every week another weird twist emerges. Will showed up in the pouring rain to hop on a ladder and jump on the roof to figure out where the leaks were coming from. Howie popped by to figure out how to reroute some wiring and create moveable walls. These guys are great to work with. They are funny, smart and great folks. I recommend them highly. Tell them Molly sent you! Centerline Construction:530-5515 Molly

Feb 2006

Great Contractor for bathrooms
Would like to recommend a contractor we found on your website, Rebecca Fulton. She and her crew did a bathroom remodel for us this past fall, we are extremely happy with the results. The tile work turned out really beautiful, and we love the shampoo areas they installed into the wall. Her phone number is 390-0616, also she has a website, which helped us in the beginning to make our decision on which contractor to hire. it's Thanks, Kim

I'd like to second the recent recommendation for Marius Adamache. We are currently working with Marius also on an extremely large project. We recently bought a home with extensive water damage. We opened all the walls and drew up plans to reconfigure the interior of the house. Marius has reframed the home, installing a new bathroom, modifying the existing bathroom, creating two bedrooms out of an awkwardly large space and completely remodeling the kitchen. Additionally, hems installed all new plumbing, a new furnace and new doors and windows throughout the house. This is our second time working with Marius. He remodeled the kitchen in our first home while installing all new plumbing and electricity.

Marius has been great to work with because he works at or below budget, he passed each inspection the first time, he is fast (while paying attention to detail) and he has an excellent work ethic. Moreover, Marius is personable, dependable, reliable, patient, respectful and understanding. We probably would not have bought our second home without the confidence of knowing that Marius would be our contractor.

You can email him at adamache[at] or call him at 510-828-6551. Jamila

East Bay Contractor: Haven Builders
I want to let my peers in the Bay Area know about Haven Builders! My husband and I had them remodel our kitchen recently and we couldn't be more pleased. Rick Patterson, the owner, is not only meticulous in his workmanship, his modest demeanor belies an impeccable work ethic and an outstanding ability to undertake and complete a project in a calm and positive manner. Rick works with clients and subs without condescension or impatience and is able to see through the client's eyes when it comes to a design suggestion. My husband and I felt, throughout our work with Rick, that he understood and cared about our particular aesthetic vision and was particularly concerned to translate this vision in a beautiful and precise fashion. Our kitchen has become the focus of family activity and our friends are already looking at their homes with an eye to making similar exciting improvements. Again, I can assure you that working with Haven Builders has been one of the high points of the last year! Rick Patterson: 510-665-9777 Tali

Jan 2006

Hello -

I wanted to pass on a glowing recommendation for my contractor, Marius Adamache and his brother (electrician, Josif, the latter has been written up on these posts before.

Marius is everything a contractor has never been for me - under budget, on time, respectful, has a sense of humor, has kept our house spotless in the non-construction areas and says what he tells me he is going to do, etc... This is in addition to the fine work they have been doing.

It has been very reassuring having them work on our project - which is large remodel/addition that took about 4 months in length (just a few weeks left). We added 3 bathrooms, a bedroom; closets - with substantial detail work.

You can email him at adamache[at] or call him at 510-828-6551. He can reach his brother if needed, and Josif's # is elsewhere on these pages. Jason, Berkeley

I would like to post a NEGATIVE recommendation for R.J. Clark & Company #732414. We hired Ron Clark and his crew to excavate our basement and replace our foundation last June. His contract specified the work would take 6-8 weeks to complete; it took 18 weeks. We had many problems with his service and lack of professionalism.
- One of the foundation walls his men created was extremely curvy and faulty from the exterior of the house. Back in November, he gave us his word he would fix it or pay for it. By December, we had to hire another contractor to correct the problem and to this day, he still has not reimbursed us for that cost.
- On Christmas, our basement flooded. He sent his foreman to look at it but never got back to us with a response on the matter. When we called to inquire, he lost his temper, used many expletives and abusive language to express HIS frustration at the situation and then hung up on us.
- The drain pipe his men put into our curb was 1 inch too small. He refused to replace it with a larger pipe, claiming the curb was not big enough for a 3 inch. We hired another contractor to replace the pipe with a 3n pipe at our own out of pocket cost of $300.
- He ordered a portable toilet in front of our house but never paid for the service. After 2 months, it got foul. Finally, it was I who had to call the company to get it towed away.
- Then he never got another portable so his men started to relieve themselves in our backyard. I witnessed it on two occasions and when I confronted the men, the lied straight to my face.
- Not least, he dealt with the wife on most days about these issues. I found Ron's demeanor and tone of voice patronizing and demoralizing. There are plenty of good, honest, professional and timely contractors out there. RJ Clark is not one of them. We learned this lesson the hard and expensive way. Dec 2005

I would like to recommend our contractor, SORIN FERARU, who finished a difficult job in our house. We had to remove 800 sq ft from our house, pour a new foundation and rebuild the family room, the kitchen and a bathroom. Sorin and his crew did a fantastic job, they worked very fast, excellent quality, very pleasant and courteous. The job was finished on time and in the budget that we agreed on. We had a couple of change-orders for which we paid a fair price. Bottom line - we are more than happy to recommend Sorin.His phone number is (510) 228-7366. P.S. Thank you, Susan, for posting his name on this site - it was very helpful. Cindy.

We live in an 1906/1915/1970s Berkeley bungalow. (The house was added on to twice.) The house needed some serious work & we had a great contractor-Derek Wilson (415) 485-6776 (cell). He was recommended to us by my in-laws who used him 10 yrs or so ago to remodel their Berkeley Hills home. Our project was done over 4 yrs in 2 stages. Each stage took several months. Stage 1 of our project involved a complete remodel/rebuild of our kitchen & main bath/laundry area. Stage 2 involved the rebuild/remodel of our masterbed/bath & breakfast nook as well as foundation work & installing a concrete/brick patio. (His concrete guys are the best!) Derek finished each job on schedule; he's willing to work within a budget; His crew was great to work with (his foreman practically became family). The crew was friendly & always cleaned up at the end of the day to the extent that it was possible. Good luck to all remodel projects out there. Debbie

Nov 2005

RE: Design/Build Contractor - Modern/Contemporary Home
I recommend James Carpenter. His office is in Oakland, and his cell phone number is 510-325-9704. He and his workers are just now finishing up a major remodel of my family room and entryway. (More than down to the studs, they actually completely removed and re-built the walls.) The house is a 1959 structure that was poorly built in the past, and we've been gradually making it more mid-century modern. Although we had a wonderful architect to draw up plans for improvements (I recommend them too: Envelope Architecture and Design), James also has an excellent eye for modern design as well as the skill to pull it off. In addition to heavy-duty building, they did some beautiful clean-lined finish work. (He doesn't need to hide his work behind big hunks of crown moulding!) Also, he's trustworthy, tidy, polite, and a good communicator. Please feel free to email me as a reference. Nicole

Sorin Feraru recently renovated a bathroom for me in my old Berkeley house (based on BPN website recommendations). I'd like to recommend him further. He was a great choice for this job: All plumbing fixtures were replaced, hexagonal ceramic tile laid (looks great), new fan, lighting, paint, etc. He's hands on & versatile, and w/this small job was able to do a lot of the work himself to manage costs. He was responsive, professional& careful about the quality. He proposed cost effective solutions. He hauled away a large cast iron tub from upstairs without incident. As a bonus, he offered to do a number of other small jobs (new kitchen fauctet, replace undercounter kitchen light, etc.) while he was there--for less money than it would have cost to hire a plumber or electrician on one-off basis. He's also a nice person, with a great disposition and a sense of humor. Based on our conversations, I believe he also has experience with much more extensive projects than what he did ! for me. I highly recommend him. His phone number is 510-228-7366. Chris M.

RE: looking for contractor
I can strongly recommend Michael Follstad at Journeyman Construction as a contractor. He's fast, reasonable, does a great job, and is very easy to work with. He can be reached at 510/847-9951 (cell phone). A & S

Carpenter - Contractor
I\x92d like to recommend Dee Stansbery for most any building project. Dee is a very experienced craftsman, his website is: He is just completing a 900 foot garage conversion for me. He did everything except the plumbing, but including the electrical (with supervision by Jeff Cohen, a very reasonable electrician, tel 234-4903). Dee did the framing, substantial concrete work, bathroom tiling, installing skylights, a Berkeley-required fire sprinkler system, finish work.

I would be very curious to compare the work of the other high-end craftsmen with the work Dee has accomplished. I am a big booster for him \x96 in addition to the quality work, he has made good suggestions about design which made the project better, and the process became more interesting and fun. Also, for my friends, he has built a porch, and a new bathroom, their names are below for references.

As Dee is not a licensed contractor, I saved a great deal of money. However, he knows how to build, from rebar to shingles, learned from 30 years experience,. Take a look at his site and you can see how talented he is. His preference is for finish work, but he can do it all. Dee\x92s email is dee[at] and tel is 510-234-4069. paul

To the folks looking for a contractor, I recommend Guillaume Canivet at 915-3225. Not only is he a skilled contractor but he is 100% trustworthy, honest, and kind. He won't leave you stranded with walls missing or something terrible like that. Good luck! Elizabeth

Oct 2005

My husband and I would like to recommend Sorin Feraru, our contractor,from Feraru & Associates, for any addition or remodeling you might have. He's working on adding a deck to our house, here in Berkeley. He also remodeled our bathroom a few months ago, including wall demolition, moving the sink and toilet on another wall, replacing the tiles, paint,appliances,etc. He and his crew are almost done with the deck and it looks just great so far, plus he didn't increase the price as the job progresse - I heard that's what other contractors use to do .We're very happy with his workers, with him, with the price and the time of completion. His phone number is (510)228-7366 or (775)232-3819. Berkeley home owners

Sept 2005 in addition to the quality work, he has made good suggestions about design which made the project better, and the process became more interesting and fun. Also, for my friends, he has built a porch, and a new bathroom, their names are below for references. As Dee is not a licensed contractor, I saved a great deal of money. However, he knows how to build, from rebar to shingles, learned from 30 years experience,. Take a look at his site and you can see how talented he is. His preference is for finish work, but he can do it all. References are: Paul Weismann (me) 510-848-8808, Robert Vranka 510-531-1687, 510-740-1702, Luisa Llovet 510-653-7305. If you wish to see the work first hand, pls call me, I

We are nearing the end of an extensive remodel/addition to our small Albany house, and would like to recommend our contractor, James McCarthy, with no reservations. He is great to work with. I think he normally specializes in Kitchen/bath remodels, and has done everyting from building a new deck and fence for us, to window replacements (and an in-law unit for my mom) over the past 10 years.

July 2005

If you are looking for a productive, efficient, creative contractor/master carpenter (plumber, electrician), I suggest George Woodward. I bought a former crack house in N. Oakland. I asked George for his assistance, having seen some of his work in the home of a close friend. Here's what I found: George looks for an economical, but nonetheless perfectionist solution to all issues, whether questions of design or structure. I am happy to send people before and after pictures, and the changes to this now happy, bright, colorful home. In good part, thanks to George Woodward. You can reach him at: badger[at] or 510-547-2307 elizabeth

I just wanted to put up a referral for a General Contractor who I have done extensive work with this year. His name is Eddie Barna and his company is Complete Precision Builders. They redid my kitchen, and then several months later converted my run down garage into a guest house. Eddie and his crew are reliable, efficient, and very personable. Both of my projects were completed on time and for the quoted price. With no hassles. I've worked with many contractors in the past and these guys are superb to work with. I've referred them out to two friends who were also extremely happy with the results. Good contractors are hard to find, so I had to refer them to this site. Their number is 925-984-9327. Kathy

Just wanted to share my great contractor experience.  I was lucky enough to find (through an excellent real estate agent) Milan Petrencik, who did a terrific job doing a huge, cost-effective remodel on my house working on a tight budget. Some of the work was more in the nature of lcleanup,n but he also designed a pretty cherry/slate/granite/stainless kitchen at half the cost of other contractors I spoke with, did quick and effective face-lifts (and structural repair) of two bathrooms, and turned the upstairs back of the house (which was a large ugly room, a long, dysfunctional sun porch, and a damaged darkroom and toilet) into two bedrooms, a hallway, a small kitchen and a half bath. He also reinforced stairs, updated electrical/plumbing, fixed windows & doors, installed new lighting, and built a new, very practical and nice utility room. He worked with me to make the best decisions for me, wasting no time or money, and leaving the reins in my hands. He let me know at every point exactly how much additional items I chose would cost. He has degrees in civil engineering and is completely knowledgeable about all aspects of contracting. (He is not really a designer, but is quite creative and adaptive with all aspects of using space.) (I had different crews working on floor refinishing, painting, carpeting and gardening.) He and his capable assistant work quickly and safely, price fairly (and then some), and do what they say they will do. He's pleasant, considerate and easy to work with, loves his work, is open-minded, and gets the job done fast and reasonably! Not incidentally, he has a high level of integrity and personal responsibility. Highly recommended. His email: m.petrencik[at] Phone: 415/531-4639 Judith

Amazing Contractor!
I would like to highly recommend an amazing contractor for any job you might have, Mike Tuttle. He recently remodeled our kitchen- demolished it down to the studs and he did all the work himself- cabinet installation, plumbing, drywall, floor tiling, painting, baseboards... He does exceptional quality work, prices are reasonable, he's incredibly prompt,reliable, considerate, neat, generous, fair, honest, hard working and will even play with your kids! He was a true pleasure to work with and have around the house. He also built a beatiful banister for our entryway stairs and completely redid a bedroom for us. On top of everything else, he finished all jobs on time and within budget. Mike's cell is (707)889-0096 and home is(707)792-2272. I am happy to answer any questions you might have. Jocelyne

Great Contractor
I would like to recommend Marius Adamache and Moise Neagu of Marius Construction ( Lic#861235). They just completed renovating 3 bathrooms, fixing dry-rot, building out a travertine fireplace, upgrading electrical, etc. They work fast and efficiently, are true problem solvers and have an amazing can do attitude. They are prompt, clean up perfectly and communicate problems and options very well. They are jacks of all trades & can handle carpentry, plumbing, & electrical. We feel truly blessed to have had such a great experience. They are such wonderful people we actually miss our crew now that they are done. Phone numbers: Bus 510-483-1012, cell 510-828-6551. Cindy

I had an extremely bad experience with Odin's Hammer over a year ago and have honestly been too mad to write about it until now! We originally had a firm who was going to do a small bathroom remodel in my house for $18k. I had just had a baby and was not working and we needed to get the bathroom completed ASAP in order to refinance. At the last minute the contractor bailed on us so we quickly got bids from a few other companies. We had just previously finished an addition to our house and were at the end of our budget, but we opted to go with Odin's Hammer as the people seemed nice, honest, and described themselves as good craftsman. The project manager gave me an estimate of around $24k to complete the job, but the contract was based on time and materials rather than a straight bid...something I will never do again!!!! Anyhow, the project manager went on vacation as soon as our project started. 1/2 way through the job our tab was at $26k! for a 8' x 10 ' basic bathroom remodel. We had found very inexpensive but nice materials so these costs were kept very low - but we were still on the fast track to a $52k bathroom when we barely had enough to cover what they had originally quoted us for the job! During the time they were here the carpenter had to redo much of the work that was done improperly and failed to turn off the water when he was working and ended up flooding the house. We ended up firing them when we reached the $26k mark and a friend helped us to try to finish the majority of our Frankenstein bathroom. A year and a half later the bathroom is still not totally finished. If you are a millionaire and don't care about money and are attracted to Green Builders, you might like them.

June 2005

Great Independent Carpenter/Contractor
If you're looking for a super capable independent carpenter I cannot recommend a woman named Dixie Briggs highly enough. I worked with her for years in the trades and now that I have left the trades she is the person we hire. Her work is amazing. Dixie has over 13 years experience available with everything from small to large jobs. Her background includes remodels, kitchens, framing, interior/exterior trim, restoration, decks, fences... Residential and commercial. You name it, pretty much.

She's really sweet, efficient, organized, has an unbelievable attention to detail, and amazing abilities executing just about anything having to do with wood (and other construction materials for that matter).

Dixie's Cell # is 510-604-3765 Her email is dlb_ablaze[at]

I don't post my email but I can speak with you in more detail as a reference if you're interested. Just ask Dixie for my number. Bill

I would like to recommend our contractor, George Woodward, for anyone interested in renovating his or her home in the general Berkeley area. We hired George and his team to gut and rebuild most of our downstairs, including our kitchen and one full bath. He did a fantastic job, provided great ideas with the overall design and also paid close attention to details and aesthetics. He finished just a week and a half late, but fully within the price we had discussed, which was very reasonable in the scheme of things. His team was polite and did excellent work; communicating with George was easy and he always got back to me about my questions/comments quickly. George Woodward 547-2307 pleased customer

Just wanted to add a positive review for a contractor we recently had remodel our run-down bathroom in Oakland. The company is Paragon Remodel, the project began and ended on schedule and the price was fair. We actually found them on craigslist and wanted to share the information here on the Berkeley Parents Network. Their number is 510-390-0616, plus they had a website with before and after pictures Amanda Graeber Amanda

We have had extensive work done on our home including a complete bathroom and kitchen remodel together with a room added with a deck on top, sheerwalls, french drains and other substantial repairs by Sorin Feraru [775 232 3819]. Sorin is an excellent European craftsman with a skilled construction crew.They were a joy to have working in our home .Every day they appeared on time, were highly professional and had great ideas and suggestions, the work place was clean and tidy throughout the job. The completed project is every bit as beautiful and complete as we dreamed it would become. It was a great experience. We highly recommend Sorin Feraru. Ann

April 2005

I'm writing to give a glowing recommendation to Guillaume Canivet, who has done much of the remodeling in my parents home (most recently two bathrooms), some work in my home and at my business. He's a contractor who does excellent finish carpentry, plumbing, electrical--almost anything. He'll tell you if it's beyond his scope. He is top-notch; his prices are reasonable; he's completely reliable and honest, and he's a super-friendly, wonderful guy to boot. At the moment he's doing a kitchen remodel in a spectacular Joseph Esherick home on Marin just above Grizzly Peak. If you are contemplating doing some work around your house--large or small--or just have something that needs to be done that you've been putting off--I highly recommend that you call him: 915-3225. Francesca

I'm pleased to recommend Feraru and Associates to do remodels, build houses and other contracting jobs. I had Sorin Feraru and his crew remodel our house this year and I'm very pleased with the results.The remodel included extensive structural upgrades, electrical, new walls and floors, new windows and stucco, new heating system and ducts, a skylight, a new bathroom, new kitchen in new location, one new/one redone bathroom, new electrical and plumbing, new central heat, on- demand water heater, new plaster, sheetrock. I'm very happy with this european craftsmen. Cell: 775 232 3819 Paula

We just bought a house in the Oakland area and it needed the old bathroom remodeled. We found a great contractor that does bathrooms, also I think they do kitchens. My husband got the recommendation from a co-worker that had his bathroom remodeled last year and we actually made a special trip to see his bath. We were impressed and did hire them to do ours, the name of the contractor is Rebecca Fulton, her company is Paragon Remodel. They finished as promised in two weeks, and cleaned up everyday after themselves. Our bathroom looks really nice and we are very happy with the work. So we would like to recommend contractor Rebecca Fulton, her phone number 510-390-0616. Her website is Jody

April - June 2005

Hi, can anyone provide a referral for Mircea Ilie on recent work he has done? The last postings for him are somewhat dated. Thanks in advance. Ken

I am adding to the list of encomia for Mircea Ilie. He has a crew of old world craftsmen working for him, and their skill, attention to detail and work ethic are amazing. If Mircea sees anything someone else did in a shoddy way, he will gladly fix it.

Mircea did a lot of designing as well as building to renovate the main floor of my Oakland hills home. The work included adding a full bath, installing exterior wood French doors, laying a beatiful Brazilian cherry floor, refinishing ceilings walls and adding crown molding and wainscotting, finding interior French doors to match existing ones, installing a new hood after moving the range to a better location, installing a skylight, adding many recessed halogen lights, gutting and remodeling an old bathroom with honed marble and new fixtures...

I could say more, but will conclude by saying that Mircea has been the most aesthetically aware and detail oriented of any contractor I have encountered in many years of remodeling. He is always available for questions and responsive to any concerns, and will make changes without a quibble. His workers are polite as well as skilled, but amazingly will work weekends and evenings to get the job done. He arranged to install two toilets in my daughter's home on a Sunday. He is obviously a man of great integrity who is proud of his work. And, as orther contributors to the Berkeley Parents' Network have said, his fees are extremely reasonable. My husband, who is an engineer, is delighted with Mircea's work, too. Marion

We hired Mircea Ilie as a contractor recently, and despite the many positive recommendations previously posted here, were not satisfied with his work. There were many items both small and large that did not get completed in a satisfactory manner. These were items in the contract, either not done, or done improperly, which we have to pay (again) to have completed. The money and the inconvenience are both substantial; of course there are always things you'll need to let go of during a remodel, but these were big items, messy and expensive.

We had also been quite taken by the number of previous positive reviews (look at them carefully though; about three are from the same person), and were surprised and disappointed to have such a negative experience. Only one previously posted review of Mircea's work has been negative; possibly because a negative review is so much harder to put out. However, we noted were two, maybe three, jobs going on at the same time as ours that were also having problems of some sort w/ Mircea's work. Our suggestion would be to look/ask around a bit more for another contractor, and not to use Mircea.
Unhappy w/ contractor Mircea Ilie

Re Mircea Ilie posting - we agree too. We noted that there were many very positive postings re Mircea Ilie and therefore had them come in for a quotation. What bothered us was the general attitude that - 1) our project was too small to be bothered with - and 2) their recommendations for many useless necessities to have a dream home. Moreover, he didn't even look carefully at what was to be fixed. We are not fly-by-night home owners but we wish to have a pragmatic approach to home remodeling esp w/ a large mortgage on our backs! After talking with many contractors, we would rate Mircea Ilie amongst the lowest due to the attitude and trying to push unneccessary things on us too. ANON Anon in Piedmont

We recently had the front porch of our Berkeley house, circa 1914, totally demolished and rebuilt. The job entailed the creation of a new foundation and roof line for the porch, re-enforce the existing roof, completely rebuild the enclosed porch, and re-roof the whole house. We used licensed contractor, Mircea Ilie (Ilie Construction, 510-459-55025 or 10-430-0470 We found him through recommendations in the Berkeley Parent Network. We selected Mircea for project based on his bid (best price of three), talking with his references and seeing the quality of his work. We have been extremely satisfied with his work. The project came in on budget, he met the construction deadline and both the quality of work and his eye to detail were excellent. We feel we got great value for our money. All of his workers and subcontractors (roofers, carpenters, painter, electrician) were skilled craftsmen. He kept the worksite clean and organized and the workers wer e very courteous and considerate. We will use him again. We highly recommend him.
Suzanne and Ross

We just finished a great remodeling project in our Rockridge home, (kitchen and 1 1/2 baths) designed by Carroll Moore of Right Design Lab and contracted by Mircea Ilie. The job came in on budget and only slightly over time (cabinet shipment was delayed). Mircea's crews were curteous and very hard working. Everything from demolition to finish work was handled professionally and Mircea made sure that our expectations were met. Carroll and Mircea steered us to new cabinets and a more streamlined layout with under-the-counter washer/dryer and a deluxe air bubble tub enclosure. Mircea also corrected some previous work by replacing a 3 wastepipe with a 4 one and made some trim recommendations that were right on. The granite subcontractor did a fantastic job on our counters and tub top and the installations, woodwork, painting, and the rest was done with great attention to detail making everything come together beautifully. We made sure we were available for decisions as ! they worked quickly and needed prompt answers to questions that came up. We would highly recommend both Carroll and Mircea for quality, integrity and an excellent working relationship. Howard and Kathryn in Oakland, CA Howard F

While the remodel Mircea Ilie did for our house came in on time, it went way over budget; plus, we had four leaks, one of which has caused huge health problems for us. In response to our queries, Mircea hired an attorney. Troubled 

We hired Mircea Ilie Construction in December 2004 to remodel our kitchen and convert a deck in our garage to an office. Several comments: - Although they were quite fast to begin the work, it took weeks for them to finish the little odds and ends. And at the end, we just decided to do some of the last things ourselves. - Similar to another posting, we too ended up buying and paying for several items (such as tiles, plumbing and railing) that we were not told about at the beginning. - The order by which various parts were done made little sense; as a consequence, we got dents on the floor and bumps on the walls that they did not repair or repair properly. Also, there is a 1/2 inch gap between the stove and the counter, where water, crumbs, etc. seep through, and it just looks bad anyway (he says the stove is not right, but it is a very high end product of a top manufacturer; the problem is, he did not measure properly before installing). - It took literally several weeks before they met the inspector who had some comments. (Infact, he even scheduled an inspection, and never showed up to meet the inspector!) It then took another several weeks before we gave up and contacted the inspector ourselves for the final inspection. Overall, our experience was not as positive as some others listed on this site. RM

March 2005

I would like to recommend my contractor, Sorin Feraru. He is a young Romanian trained, very talented, hardworking and meticulous. He does kitchen and bathroom remodels as well as small jobs. He works with his father and another man. They work very hard, clean up, respect your property, ask questions and do a very high quality of work. He did a remodel of my bathroom in a record time of two weeks. (775) 232-3819 Susan

Feb 2005

High recommedatiom for Jim Davenport who recently constructed our common house and unit on top in our cohousing community in the Temescal. He is thorough, communicative and has a sense of humor. Great subcontractors. Finished job on schedule and on budget--how often do you hear that?? And we LOVE the result. Can be reached at 841-6601 Karen

We want to recommend our friendly contractor to other east bay parents. Xin Jin (first name pronounced shin) built a deck for us this past summer, and not only were we very pleased with the work he and his employees did, he was also incredibly easy to communicate and deal with. His bid was the lowest, and the work was completed in a timely manner. Call Xin at (510) 375-1091. E-mail us for a reference. Leslie and Brian

Last Fall I used this newsletter to find Paul Lashley to remodel our kitchen. He did such a great job at a reasonable price that we had him do the bathroom, too. Paul is unlicensed, but did all of our work up to code. He is honest, hard working and intelligent. In fact, we really miss having him around! He's the perfect choice if you want to help contribute design ideas or you are highly skilled and want to do some of the work yourself. We have a friend who helped Paul do finishing work, and they got along so well that Paul hired him to help with his next job, too. Contact numbers for Paul: 510 243 6640 (H); 510 910-1028 (Cell). Jenna

Jan 2005

There is a wonderful general contractor named Efton Masters (510) 569-3355 that I would highly recommend for bathroom or kitchen remodels (or anything else that needs to be done in those rooms), and for tiling. He has over 15 years experience and does amazing work. He also has extensive experience in decks and fences. Great work at a great price! caribbeanmommy

I would like to make an unsolicited recommendation for the contractor that we just finished working with: His name is Will Lopes and he owns Centerline Construction. Will was one of three contractors that bid on our kitchen remodel and room addition. Not only did he come in the lowest, but his bid clearly detailed the individual costs that we would incur, including supplies and labor, as well as a timeline for payments. I found this to be very useful. His crew was friendly and respectful of our space. They made sure that I had a working refrigerator and a microwave at all times so that we could eat (we lived in the house during the construction). There were times when my kids (ages 1.5 and 3.5) really needed to nap and they worked on ''quieter'' things. They cleaned up every night and even swept! The work that they did was exceptional; and I consider myself a tough critic. Will is like a plastic surgeon to the stars--but for houses. Along the way, there were complications--we decided that we wanted to add another window, we ordered the wrong refrigerator- -and Will was always flexible and understanding. He let us know right away when our changes might affect the budget or the time frame. I found him to be honest, dedicated and easy to work with. It is for these reasons that I highly recommend him. I could say more, but don't want to take up too much room. If you are in the market for a reasonable and skilled contractor, Will's number is 530-5515. If you would like to know more about our experience with him, please feel free to contact me. Lisa

I had a contract with Will Lopes to do remodelling. Unfortunately he walked off the job and I had to arrange to finish the job myself. Ripped Off

Nov 2004

Does anyone have any experience of using Jesse C Young (there are 2 Jesse Young's out there apparently). We are thinking of having him bid a kitchen remodel. loraine

I can highly recommend the Jesse Young with telephone number 510- 527-8153. He lives in Albany. We have used him for a bathroom remodel and a back deck and hot tub replacement. He has always been reliable, done beautiful work and been wonderful to have around. He has done extensive work for a friend with a much larger house and standards perhaps more knowledgeable than ours. All his work is beautiful.

Nov 2004

I would like to recommend a wonderful contractor Jim Tyler. He just finished a downstairs remodel for me that was turned into a studio/inlaw unit. I found him through months of searching. I had come from a contractor gone bad scenario and interviewed many from this network before finding Jim from the designer that had drawn rough plans for me. Working from these plans he asked many questions, being an east coast transplant added to his eye for details as well as thinking about cost. His communication skills throughout the project were excellent. Jim can be reached at 510.655.9643

Oct 2004

We would like to recommend our general contractor Luca Adamache for construction and home repair projects big and small. We first became familiar with Luca\x92s workmanship and work ethic when he worked as foreman on a second-story addition to our 1920s home \x96 a difficult job on a tricky site, requiring considerable foundation work, a steel moment frame, and complicated framing. Luca did a stellar job and formed excellent working relationships not only with us, but with the architect and structural engineer as well. Later we hired him as our general contractor to handle a number of details around finish work, and he and his crew installed trim, designed and built a window seat and a hand rail for our new staircase, waterproofed and built a mortar bed for our shower, installed plumbing fixtures, handled stucco repair and more. Luca priced his work fairly and was intent on making sure we were 100% satisfied. He can be reached at 510/427-0585. To learn more, visit

Re: Driveway Contractor
I heartily recommend Pearson Construction. Cecil Pearson has 30 years of experience with remodeling, including concrete work of all kinds, so he can do projects efficiently and cost-effectively. He remodelled an investment property for me in Montclair, and put a foundation under my residence in Berkeley. I've been so impressed with him and his crew that I'm partnering with him on some other projects as well. It's rare to find a contractor with such broad and deep understanding of construction, and who has integrity and a real sensitivity to the needs of homeowners. He's not the cheap unlicensed guy but he does really quality work and earns fair compensation. His office # is (707) 554-9950

Sept. 2004

I'm pleased to recommend Davenport Builders Company to do remodels, build houses and other contracting jobs. We had Jim Davenport and his crew remodel our Victorian flat last year and we are very pleased with the results. (Work included complete tear-down to bare walls throughout 1100- sq-ft flat, new kitchen in new location, one new/one redone bathroom, new electrical and plumbing, new central heat, on- demand water heater, new plaster, sheetrock, woodwork and cabinetry throughout. Phew!) We worked closely on everything from overall concept to final details (he was a finish carpenter for years, so really knows his stuff when it comes to making new fixtures look great in a 100-year old house!). Jim is responsible, hard-working and has a great crew and local sub-contractors for electrical, plumbing, etc.

Jim also built a ''common house'' for a No. Oakland cohousing complex recently and all six families are pleased with the result. He prefers larger jobs but will also do smaller ones, and is available this fall for the next projects. Call him in Berkeley at 841-6601 or email jim.davenport at Nicole

August 2004

I highly recommend Neil Teixeira of Piedmont Construction (510-658-9938). During the winter of 2003 he reconfigured our upstairs, removed some walls and added some new walls and doors downstairs, remodeled our kitchen and added a half bath. He is reasonable, honest, experienced, and great to work with. Contact me for more specific details about the project or working with him, if needed. Jennifer

I'd like to recommend Clint Reed and Ed Wenger from Pantheon Construction. They recently completed two projects for us: a kitchen remodel and a drainage project at our home in El Cerrito. They did a superb job with both. The quality of their workmanship is excellent, they are resourceful in solving problems, have top-notch sub- contractors, reasonable rates, and are a pleasure to work with. Clint can be reached at 510-816-9416. Feel free to email me for more information. Kim

July 2004

We are doing a house addition and remodel and we are using Berkeley Craftsman Builders/Construction and we are thrilled with their work, advice and guidance! Doing an addition or remodel can be an overwhelming experience and it is wonderful to having talented and caring contractors to see you through it. All of their crew and the sub contractors have been skilled, kind and FAST! We highly recommend them! John & Jennifer Marks 526-0420 - for a more detailed reference. Berkeley Craftsman Builders 815-0123 jennifer

I want to recommend a contractor who was helpful in my home remodeling. I live in an older home whose walls were in bad shape, with cracking and poor maintenance. He took the walls down to the studs. We installed new windows and replaced the electrical system. He and his crew did a beautiful job in putting up and finishing the new sheetrock, and installing the trim. He then did the painting and the finish work and neatly cleaned up. The only thing he left was my elegantly refinished home. I heard about him when i saw his work up the block where he was finishing a new fence in front of a well-done garage conversion. I would highly recommended him for remodeling work, including the electrical and plumbing. His name is Glen Larsen and he can be reached at 510 -232-9122 Warren

We recently underwent a major kitchen remodel; I offer the following in response to recent postings. Contractor: We used a local contractor named Karl Mulligan who was great. Our project included moving bearing walls, installing a header beam, moving a half staircase, installing floor, etc. Karl is very skilled and knowledgeable. He was also flexible about how we needed to do the project. And he made one design suggestion that was key to bringing the whole project together. I do not have his number handy, but if interested, send me an email and I will pass it on.

I am in the middle of a remodel of my small bathroom and my contractor is Barbieri Construction. I like them and they are getting the job done in the time they said they would at a bid of under $7000. Susan S

Hi, just wanted to recommend Ward Construction to you. We had them come and do a french drain drainage system for us when we moved into a new house and knew there was seepage into the basement which we wanted to be able to use in the winter. They did their work on time (actually finished early), on budget (was the mid-range of the bids we got), and best of all we have had no drainage problems for the last two years since the work was done. Hope your work goes well. Luisa

I can recommend WA Rose. They recently did some insurance work for me related to water damage from an overflowing sewage ejector. While they contract out every piece of the project to subcontractors, each sub contractor did a fine job. I want to mention Joe particularly, who returned months later when I had a concern and spend a couple of hours here for free trying to address my concern, even when I felt it wasn't really strictly WA Rose's problem. They were always prompt and responsive. I was told, however, by the insurance guy, that they tended to be a bit more expensive so consider getting another bid or two. kate

I strongly recommend our contractor, Peter Hirano (510-655- 0489). In 2003, he did our major home remodel of our 60- something year old house. Peter is licensed and the project was done with permits. The remodel included extensive structural upgrades, electrical, new walls and floors (this part of our house was semi-finished or not finished at all -- dirt floors..), a new deck, new windows and stucco, new heating system and ducts, a skylight, a new bathroom...

Peter was excellent to work with. Terrific workmanship, honest and ethical, and a nice guy! He did a lot of the work himself and his subs were all great. He was there almost all of the time for the 3.5 months that the project was in full gear. He was also flexible with us, letting us take on some parts of the project (ie, demolition, painting..) to avoid his overhead. Change orders were very reasonable.

Before deciding to hire Peter, we also met with a couple of larger companies in Oakland and Berkeley. They both seemed very good but the price would have been considerably higher for us and we're very happy we went with Peter.

I wish we would have hired him for the design part of our project instead of hiring an architect. Dan

Re: Kitchen Remodel
We used a local contractor named Karl Mulligan who was great. Our project included moving bearing walls, installing a header beam, moving a half staircase, installing floor, etc. Karl is very skilled and knowledgeable. He was also flexible about how we needed to do the project. And he made one design suggestion that was key to bringing the whole project together. I do not have his number handy, but if interested, send me an email and I will pass it on.

I would just like to corroborate what everyone else on this list has already said. Mircea Ilie Construction ( does a really fantastic job at a very fair price. We turned a very dank garage (complete with sloping, cracked concrete slab and water damaged walls) and turned it into a sunny, beautiful and level garden cottage with full bath and kitchenette. We talked to a number of contractors who were very nice, but either had out-of-control prices or seemed not to have a lot of experience in ALL of the areas that we needed (adding lots of plumbing, flooring, walls, gutters, etc.)

Mircea also had really great design ideas, which saved us a lot of money, and were much better solutions in the long run. We had a number of major changes during the construction and I was surprised at how little he charged for these. He gave us great contact information on where to buy flooring, tile and granite. These places were much cheaper than the ones we had researched. His crew worked very fast, showed up on time and left the whole area very clean. In racking my brain for something that went wrong q I would say I spent a lot of time at Home Depot and other stores buying stuff. I donmt know how this could have been avoided, because I doubt any contractor can select your tile, paint or light fixtures for you.

I was 7 months pregnant during the 1 month construction and I could imagine the process being much more stressful than it was. We are very, very happy with their work and the price. If you would like more info please email me. Michelle

I would like to recommend our contractor, Michael Chavin. He did a huge second floor remodel as well as installing central heat and upgrading all electricity and plumbing in our former wreck of a house. He is a master carpenter himself, is incredibly detail oriented, and is a very ''hands-on'' contractor, i.e. he does much of the work himself instead of primarily sending subcontractors. Feel free to email me with questions. Michael's number is 415-488-9618. efrankel

I would like to recommend contractor Luca Adamanche, who just finished a small but difficult job on our North Berkeley house. We had a drainage problem, and Luca was able install a long channel drain in an existing slab of concrete which solved the problem elegantly. Luca is very polite and highly focused on customer satisfaction. It was a pleasure to work with him. We met Luca through his brother Josif, an electrician who has been praised on the Berkeley Parents page as well. Josif completed a couple of small electrical jobs for us during the past year, and he does good work at a very reasonable hourly rate. Luca's (cell) phone number is (510) 427-0585, and he can usually be reached between 7am and 6pm, M-F. Gregory

June 2004

I highly recommend All Seasons Construction. Steve Sanchez is the owner and has many years experience with all sorts of building projects. He works a lot with foundation, drainage, dry rot, and construction. 510-685-0046

May 2004

Re: contractor for addition
I highly recommend Burle Southard. He is nearing retirement and is passing on his work to his able ''right hand man'' Kelly. They did a great job on many projects at our Thousand Oaks 1936 home: adding a bathroom and two rooms with built in bookcases and overhead storage compartments, adding a bay window and window seat to our living room, new walkways, decks, a door from my son's room to the deck. He helped with design, took us to see other similar jobs he had done in the Hills. Everything was done neatly, on time, on budget, with pleasant, courteous workers. Kudos! His number is 707-552-3222, cell 510-685-1186. kathryn

We are just finishing a pretty major remodel with Mike & crew (second story addition, new kitchen, etc.) When I entered this process, I was very apprehensive about finding a builder that cared about what they were doing and weren't going to do a shoddy or so-so job. Mike and ALL the subcontractors we've worked with have been first rate and are more of the craftsman-type - they obviously care about what they are doing and want to do a great job. I also believe it is an added advantage to work with a person who is an architect AND builder, because if something comes up, it's one less person to coordinate a meeting or discussion with, plus there's much less possibility of mis-communicating decisions. I also value the fact that Mike actually does a large part of the framing and carpentry himself, along with Chris Linville (also an architect!) This is truly design and construction the way it used to be and the way it should still be. Feel free to contact me - you can also come by for a tour - we'll be moving back in early next month. brij

We decided to contact Mircea when we noticed how punctual and hard-working his people were at a house extension project in our neighborhood. We have had good experiences with him and his specialists in various projects in 2002-4, including a garage conversion, plumbing conversion (to copper), computerized dual tankless water heater installation, hot water recirculation, bathroom remodelling, window installation, french drain installation and a number of others. He can refer you to various other specialists too, such as roofers and gutter installers, who have all done good jobs too. I strongly recommend Mircea and his team for these types of work. His phone number is 510-459-5502. erik

Re: Contractor for Kitchen Remodel
I highly recommend Neil Teixeira, Piedmont Construction (510-658-9938). He was referred to us by our realtor. He completed a complete kitchen remodel (down to studs including moving bearing walls and changing windows), tiled floor, installed all cabinets, appliances, and lighting. He also added a half-bath, moved our W/D upstairs, and reconfigured several other rooms. He does all of the work himself with his able right-hand man at his side. He moves quickly, works hard, and most importantly he's reliable, thoughtful and trustworthy. I hope he can help you. Contact me further info. if needed. Jennifer

April 2004

This recommendation is written on behalf of Mircea Ilea, contractor, and his crew. We hired Mr. Ilea to convert our downtrodden garage into a bedroom for our daughter. With vague plans and a tight budget we hired Mr. Ilea and his crew in November 2003 and by the end of January 2004 the project was completed ahead of time and on budget. Mircea accommodated all of our special requests with his trademark comment lno problem, what else?n We also hired him to do a number of additional projects ranging from installing a french drain to removing a wood burning stove to building a new closet. All these tasks were completed quickly and professionally. His crew were extremely hardworking and nice. He seemed to have a crew member able to accomplish any task we could think of. Now that the work is done we are thrilled with the room. It is a beautiful and bright space. We would highly recommend Mircea Ilea and his crew. larry & patty

Berkeley Craftsman did a wonderful job on our remodel a few years ago. Mark and Mike Butler, third generation contractors and all-around great people to work with, turned our 1916 California bungalow (aka rabbit warren) into a spacious, lovely home. They also re-built our garage. Call Mark Butler at 510-815-0125 mbelcher

I would like to offer an unsolicited recommendation for the General Contractor I am using right now: John Kreibahl of K Construction. 510.375.5656 (his cell)

We are delighted with his knowledge of materials, good building techniques ( I was a GC years ago), and his craftsmanship. He works at the site everyday, or gives you the reason why he will not be there. He and his partner come well-equipped and put in an honest day's work. He is quite reasonably priced, beating my next bid by over 25%.

He works to the finish level that is appropriate for your home. He came recommended to me by an old-home rehabber who does Craftsmen homes and exclusively uses John. But my home is a mixture of poorly done updates, so fine finish work was not my goal. I wanted well-built but fitting to my home. John found the right level of materials, and is doing an excellent job. I will use him for all future work. You can write me if you need additional information. Loni

March 2004

I would like to recommend Matthew Muchnick, ROC Construction, for remodels or additions. We finished a kitchen remodel and porch on our Berkeley Craftsman home end of last year. Matt does great work and most importantly q he is VERY HONEST. He is also meticulous and thoughtful. As you can imagine, not everything went perfectly but Matt proactively took responsibility for issues on his dime. He knows the codes and is a licensed contractor. He can be reached at 510-638-5284 or hon600F at aakinder

We highly recommend Lusk Construction in Berkeley. Joel Lusk built a gorgeous deck for us; he is a real craftsman, with an eye for detail, and he worked with us on the design. He did other construction in our house (built 1925) as well, all of which matches seamlessly. He also does a lot of solar work (though we didn't have that done ourselves). Lusk Construction phone# (510 ) 872-0556 mchavigny

Ilan Savion just completed a basement remodel for my mother in Berkeley. She LOVED him. She asked me to post a recommendation about him on the Parents Network website, and then, what a coincidence, I saw a post asking about him. He was wonderful with my mother, and she just can't say enough about him. Feel free to contact me and I'll pass your email along to her for a more specific recommendation. happy camper

We just finished six weeks of construction with Mircea and his skilled crew of men. They took over our project from another contractor we were not happy with for several reasons. Mircea and his crew performed in any aspect wonderfully - they completed a half-finished retaining wall right before Christmas not minding the rain, replaced half of our foundations while we lived in it (and had a new-born baby), upgraded our house with a complete seismic retrofit, added beautiful new wood siding and a very handsome new wooden entrance stair with handrails, re-graded our front yard and added a new concrete driveway. All this happened during the rainy season without big impact on our lives. His crew was very courteous and well-skilled with great respect of our privacy. Mircea is a man that keeps his word which is very important to us. We are both architects with a very high level of expectations in terms of quality and a limited budget to work with. During the process we discussed scope and details constantly and he responded always great, eager looking for the best solution possible to any given little detail. Our project still keeps growing, since it is a great pleasure working with him and his crew. Please call us with any question at 510.843-0216 (Elisabeth Sporer and Nathan Ogle). Elisabeth S

In November 2003 I hired Mircea Ilie to replace a flexible storm drain pipe which had sagged & filled with dirt, replace rotted 4'' x 4'' pillars on my house wall, & repair a foundation that had crumbled when water from the storm drain undermined it. Mr. Ilie's men replaced some of the 4'' x 4'' verticals with 2'' x 4'' boards but didn't nail the siding boards to the new verticals. They left some rotted verticals in place so the siding wouldn't fall off. They replaced the foundation, but it is getting cracks in it now. They replaced the flexible pipe with a stiff pipe but put 2 right-angle bends in the pipe, forming a dirt trap. So now water flows over the top of the foundation, down the wall & turns dirt below into mud, which piles up against the wooden side of my house. Mr. Ilie wouldn't give me a written statement of what he intended to do, saying at first that he'd forgotten to bring it, then saying I didn't need it, he'd told me verbally what he would do. There's no written guarantee on his work. He wouldn't write receipts for any money I gave him, so I wrote the receipts, which he signed with an illegible sqiggle & a show of disgust. He also pushed his way into my house & went through it room by room, an invasion of my privacy, though all work was to be done outdoors & in the crawl space. Now I must hire someone else to correct his work. Camille

Correction to posting on Mircea Ilie #2

Mr. Ilie came to my house with some workmen who nailed the siding to the new vertical pillars holding up my house's deck. Although rotted 4'' x 4'' pillars were replaced with 2'' x 4'' pillars, a neighbor confirmed that the 2'' x 4''s are close enough together to meet code. My neighbor also helped me understand that the reason why rain water pours over & under my house's foundation is that another neighbor's concrete deck is angled to dump water into my yard and the concrete deck is cracked, so water goes down the cracks & under my house's foundation. I need to talk with the absentee owner of that house about having her deck repaired. Mr. Ilie said the 2 right-angle bends in the drain pipe are to slow the flow of water. My neighbor agreed that's a good idea & that the right angle bends do not trap dirt, as I'd thought. The drainage problems are caused by my neighbor's cracked concrete deck, not by Mr. Ilie's work. Camille

I recently hired Mircea Illea to repair flood damage to my downstairs in-law apartment. Several other contractors turned down the job because it was a ''Patch'' job. Mircea was enthousiastic- he showed up to look at the place within an hour of my first call to him! He and his team finished the job quickly, were responsive to all my construction requests, and charged me a fair place. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a reliable contractor. To reach him, call 510-459-5502. Jeaemmash

I would like to recommend Mircea Ilie (510) 459-5502 as a contractor for anyone planning some home renovations. We asked him for a quote on our bathroom last year, and then went with someone else much to our disappointment. We asked him to bid on another project, bay window rebuild, last fall. He did that work for us, AND fixed the things we don't like about the bathroom done by a sloppy and slow contractor. Mircea's crew is hard-working, on-time, respectful of home space, and AFFORDABLE! We have been very pleased with the quality of the work. His bids are very reasonable, and we look forward to having him do more work for us. Laura L

Jan 2004

In response to the following requests from the last Household Digest, I can happily recommend Glen Larsen without reservation - 510-232-9122 Glen and his crew did extensive work on our house - new windows, electrical, new fences and portico (which he designed), flagstone patio, painting inside and out. Also, Glen has extensive experience with mold - he and his wife have had serious health problems from it.

''Can anyone recommend a carpenter to build a small deck and repair outside stairs and fencing?'' ''Can anyone recommend a good contractor to replace windows?'' ''We are looking for a general handyman to build shelves, remodel a small bathroom, generally do some small projects at our house in Rockridge.'' ''looking for recommendations on builders/contractors to rebuild a deck and the stairs to it.'' ''Help. I had a large flood while out of town for two weeks. Translation: My downstairs rental apartment was under 2 to 4 inches of water for 2 weeks. I need some drywall and baseboards replaced and I have a problem with mold growing down there.'' jessica

Just one experience to add to the mix... We hired Mircea Ilie Construction in November of 2003 for a small and a medium sized bathroom remodel, based, in part, on some nice reviews we read of his services here. Here are some thoughts now that the job is finally done (January 2004): - Mircea bid only for the labor of doing the job. We had to pay for everything -- from the cabinets and water heater, to screws, caulk, and even drill bits (!). They presented us with receipts for what they spent and we reimbursed them along the way. Overall, while I thought I was saving a lot of money over other contractors' bids, the amount of time I spent running to the building supply store to pick up supplies, coupled with the unexpected amount of reimbursements made the project go about 20% over my budget. My opinion is pretty mixed about Mircea. The good work that was done was fairly satisfying, but for future projects, the expense would make me reconsider other contractors. Steve

We live in upper rockridge and we just did a major land scaping job with three large stucco retaining walls, tile patio, outdoor ''kitchen'', stairs, custom railings, and lots of serious drainage. I highly recommend out contractor Greg Kempton 415/516-8064. what once was a useless hill is now a beautiful and useful play area for adults and kids! Greg's bid was very competitive and his crew is very professional and nice to have around. Plus they were fast! if you want more info you can contact me. alison

One of the contractors recommended in a recent post, Ron Masters, was listed with an incorrect phone number. I contacted him through the e-mail address given. His correct phone number is 415-398-8496. I have spoken with him, but have not worked with him yet, so I cannot give a personal recommendation one way or another at this time. He seemed friendly and knowledgable on the phone. Wendy

2003 & Earlier

Dec 2003

My gifted friend has left his cabinet company for a better and more independent life so I would like to share his talents with everybody out there who is in need of help! First of all, he is a licensed contractor who has over twenty years experience in carpentry, electrical and plumbing, AND he has specialized in consulting designing and installing cabinetry for home offices garages and closets for the last twelve years. If you have limited space and want to design a home office, need to organize storage in the garage or closets, he is the one you should see. He has helped us with foundation and front yard drainage issues, yard landscaping and irrigation system. He is always quick to respond, very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. I highly recommend him for ANY types of house related issues/works. You can reach Clint [at] 510-235- 8575 or email him [at] clintrd at

Jay Cravagan did a $150,000 job on my bungalow. The foundation needed work, and I completely gutted and redid the kitchen, bathroom, back deck, and driveway. He did what many contractors do, which is start the job by doing all the demolition and then leaving to start another one. The entire job took far longer to complete than I'd expected, but part of that was due to me not being assertive enough. I also felt that he charged on the high end for his services, but they had been fairly estimated and weren't too out-of-line, because the quality of the work was superb. His crews were always polite, responsible, and pleasant to have around. I hated having to deal with the person who was doing all his billing and administrative work. Don't know if she's still involved, but I found her extremely unpleasant to deal with. I can't imagine higher quality work than Jay's, and he is honest in all his dealings. Anon

Mircea Ilie Construction recently completed a remodel of the main second floor rooms of our 1911 craftsman style home. Nothing had been done to the space since 1911 when it was only partially finished as an attic/storage space. Mircea's was the low bid. The work done by him and his fine workers/craftsmen was equal to (if not better than)any I have seen done by more expensive companies. Mircea worked from an architect's plans and contributed good ideas of his own. Mircea is a man of his word; his workers are expert, polite and cheerful people interested in doing the best job. Recommended without hesitation. Contact Mircea Ilie: office 510-430-0470; cell 5101-459-5502. Louise

If anyone is looking for a contractor to complete remodeling projects, I can recommend Ron Masters at mastersr6[at], or 415 098-8496. Ron remodelled our stairs us this Fall. He was courteous, responsive and very pleasant to work with. He had his bids turned around to us promptly and the work was scheduled and completed on time. He was also was very helpful in planning the work and offered suggestions and alternatives to improve the project and/or decrease the cost. His costs were competetive and he did a great job. Greg

Nov 2003

Re: kitchen remodel
I would like to recommend Kim Cobb for any one doing an addition or kitchen remodel. Kim was a pleasure to work with. No nightmare stories to report. Showed up everyday, easy to talk to, beautiful work. Email me for more info on her if you want to. Her number is 569-4508. Karen

I would like to recommend a good independent contractor. .He does from carpentry to plumbing. He is very honest, really cares about doing a good job. He is very respectfull of your place and reasonnable.His name is Mike Hodson at 986 1335. Elisabeth

I used Big Red Construction out of Lafayette for a room remodel in our North Berkeley home. I can not give enough praise for this quality company. We have had our whole house rebuilt, so we are familiar with nightmare contractors. Big Red is the complete opposite. They were always on time, their work was excellent and they kept the jobsite very neat. The crew are very pleasant and enjoyable to have in your home. The owners name is kathy and her number is 925.210.1953 jennifer

This past year I have been fortunate to work with two different very good and very honest contractors.

Mike and Mark Butler of Berkeley Craftsmen (510/815-0125) created a bathroom, created a organized closet, reframed doors, finished a basement room and built-in shelves in our oakland house. They are all of the above plus they have a very good creative vision and were very helpful in making design decisions.

Greg Kempton 415/771-9629 Did a huge landscaping job with massive retaining walls, drainage, irrigation, railings, concrete steps, a buit-in ourdoor kitchen and more! He created a fantastic multi-purpose yard where once there was just a hill!!!

Also, both companies have very professional and pleasant working styles and crews. I have done a lot of this kind of stuff and I can't stress enough how important it is to have pleasant people around during contruction. alison

Oct 2003

I want to recommend my contractor, McCutcheon Construction. Two years ago they remodeled a small bathroom for us, and this summer they have been doing an attic conversion on our 1912 house, which includes seismic reinforcement of interior and exterior walls, as well as a kitchen upgrade. McCutcheon is a large company with many projects going on at once. You have an onsite carpenter/site supervisor who is there all the time, and then a project manager who oversees the whole thing. Our project managers have been very experienced men who keep things running smoothly and worry-free for me. I also like that one of McCutcheon's project managers is a woman. Stuart Fox, our site supervisor guy, is smart, skilled, and artistic - he used to build furniture for Berkeley Mills and he is amazing. I am very picky about details like wood finishing and hardware and Stuart has consistently produced exactly what I envisioned or sometimes, something even better. The firm's owner, Michael McCutcheon, is a personable guy who does the preliminary work of talking and discussing and estimating, and has been right on the money in giving us an estimate for a big complicated job. Actually everyone I've worked with at McCutcheon, and all their subs too, are people that you don't mind having around your house, which is good, because they are there every day when you remodel. As to workmanship, I have high expectations and their work has consistently been better than what I expected. They pay attention to details that I don't even notice. They really do take pride in doing good work - these guys are at the top of their art. The subs they use are top notch too. Cost-wise I think they are somewhere in the moderate-to-high range. There are costs associated with a bigger firm that you won't have with a small operation because of the administrative layers. To me it is worth it though because I get a team at my house that works efficiently and quickly with minimal stress for me. They have a lot of experience working with various local sub-contractors which saves me money and stress because they make sure everything is finished and in working order. I feel that their pricing is fair, and they have been great about suggesting creative alternatives when some piece of it has gotten too expensive. I highly recommend them for a small job or a big one. Email me if you want more info. Ginger

We are in the home stretch of our kitchen remodel, and even though the last nail isn't in, we would recommend our contractors, Bradbury-Luce Building & Design. Our project involved tearing everything out in an original 1908 kitchen and starting from scratch. We also used Ikea cabinets (big mistake in terms of damaged goods, lack of customer service and general Ikea-induced headaches and irritation - but that's another story). We chose Bradbury-Luce after interviewing several others because they had experience, understood scope of job, were on target with their estimate of cost and time, and we felt comfortable with them. It's all gone smoothly, despite unforeseen structural issues and Ikea. They can be reached here: Brandon Luce cell: 510-816-0647 Vlado Bradbury cell: 510-816-0653 Fax: 510-769-0985

August 2003

We are hoping to expand our kitchen and remodel it in the upcoming year. In order to make our kitchen larger, we would like to move the front wall of our house. Consequently, a new roof will need to be put in as well. Can anybody recommend a good general contractor who can take on such a project for us? Kelly

I have a small basement remodel including bathroom expansion and I need recommendations for a contractor. I have read the archived postings but they are very sparce. Thanks for your help. patricia

I would like to recommend Martin Alday for all your general contractor needs. He works out of Concord, but works throughout the Bay Area. He does every type of job. His phone number is (925) 680-0711 ARA

I highly recommend Karl Mulligan, a general contractor. He works (preferably) in the East Bay and specializes in remodels, decks, finish carpentry and more. His craftsmanship is excellent and his rates are reasonable. He can be contacted at (415) 871-8398. Leslie

July 2003

I would like to recommend Mircea Ilie as a general contractor for jobs of all sizes. He recently rebuilt the front terrace of our house in Richmond. This terrace sits directly above our garage, so proper drainage was an issue and it was important that it not leak. The job involved removing the existing tile surface, digging out dry rot that had affected the subfloor, beams, and railing, shoring up exising support, and laying subfloor, waterproof membrane, mortar base, and new tile. Mircea and his crew were very efficient and did excellent work. They were fast (they finished ahead of schedule), they kept the area clean, and they were cheap. Mircea's bid was the lowest of all the contractors we interviewed (some bids were twice as high as his!), despite the fact that he proposed to do a more thorough job than any of the others. In addition to all this, he was friendly (though quiet) and a pleasure to work with. Hans

June 2003

Re: contractor needed for kitchen remodel

I highly recommend Big Red Construction. It is a women owned business and they do a wonderful job. Kathy's crew is on time, neat and does great work. They are very pleasant and very reliable. The jobsite is left very clean each day. She is just finishing up a job for me now. Her number is 925-210-1953. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. jennifer

I just saw a recommendation for Big Red Construction, and wanted to offer another opinion. We recently had a major remodel done by Big Red, and it ended up being a huge problem, for several reasons. The biggest issue was that they did not install our materials in conformance with the vendor's guidelines, and the result is that we're having big problems with parts of the job less than a year after it was completed. The crew was very nice, always on time, and we were initially very pleased with Kathy and the crew, but once we ran into major problems the relationship deteriorated significantly. To finish up our punch list, a new crew member came in, and he told us that several of Big Red's recent jobs had ended with very unhappy clients, like us. We would definitely not work with them again, and would steer other people away from them.

April 2003

If you are in need of any of these services, we highly recommend Ron Masters. We found his name through the Berkeley Parents Network a few months ago and hired him for a large deck restoration job. Ron was very reliable,conscientious, professional, and friendly. He helped us add a few modifications to the architectms plans that truly enhanced the end result. We have continued working with Ron on other projects around our home such as installing a new bathroom cabinet and sink and building a garage storage system. Ron is open and communicative, making him very easy to collaborate with. He is knowledgeable and value conscious and helps get the most out of ones budget. Also, he always returned our calls in a timely manner. You can contact Ron Masters directly at (415) 398-8496 or (415) 377- 8400. Nancy and John

April 2003

Re: Contractor/Architect
We used Jamie Carlen as contractor (510-970-7977) and were more than pleased with their work. Good luck on your project. Monica

March 2003

Re: Remodel of Small Bathroom
I can highly recommend Karl Mulligan, a general contractor, for the remodel of your parents' small bathroom. He does quality work, has reasonable prices and has experience working with the only bathroom in the house. Recommendations are readily available. He lives in Albany. Contact him at: (415) 871-8398. leslie

March 2003

I know a good contractor for all kinds of projects. I gutted and remodelled a ranch house in Montclair with Cecil Pearson of Pearson Construction as an investment property, sold it and just put a new foundation in a little Bungalow off Hopkins St. I respect Cecil as a builder so much that I've gone to work for him as construction coordinator. He has built everything from bridges to air force bases to custom homes worth millions. He's old- fashioned in that he believes so strongly in doing things well and with integrity. He doesn't cut corners and that means that he's not the lowest bid. But I've accompanied Cecil enough times to look at people's houses that were done cheaply and now they have to be redone... He's respectful of your relationship with neighbors, keeps the worksite clean, never missed a day of work that I saw, and likes to focus on one job at a time (he won't disappear for days at a time with the project in limbo). I am proud to work for him. Evan

Feb 2003

I can strongly recommend James Troupe of Troupe & Sons construction for almost any contracting, remmodeling or repair need. He has done two additions on my home, including a one bedroom in-law unit, and adding an attic bedroom. He has also remodeled my kitchen and completed countless other repairs. His bids are fair, he is friendly, knowledgeable and efficeint. He can be reached at troupe AT jmv

Dec. 2002

We have found a great contractor, Will Hoyt. We have only used him for small handyman type jobs around the house, but he's excellent and very nice and dependable. His phone: 524-8629 Toby

Dec. 2002

We recently hired Tom Owczarzak, a licensed contractor, to demolish and rebuild a second floor deck off our upstairs bedroom. His price was very good, his work impeccable, and his communication skills excellent. He can be reached at 510-872-0523. I would recommend Tom to anyone. terbot

Nov 2002

I recently wrote about winfield contractors and was asked for more specific info. They were 3 months behind schedule on a 5 month job. Their workers were careless, (they left all of our windows wide open when they left work one day), their work, especially the painting was a very low quality and they failed the structural inspection from the City. We had a terrible experience with them and truthfully, they were not very accomodating or pleasant to work with. We really would not recommend them, even if their price is low. ruthy

Oct 2002

I am writing to caution anyone contemplating hiring a general building contractor to beware of contracting with Baycraft Construction, owned by Alan Brennan, based in Oakland. I contracted with Baycraft to do an extensive renovation of my home in July 2001, with estimated completion in May 2002. As of 9/26, the job is not finished. It has been necessary to have completed work torn out and redone and in many ways much of the work has been substandard. Although I am scheduled to move very shortly, due to the contractor's delays the utilities meters have not been installed and the house will therefore not have gas (stove, water heater, heating.) Newly installed telephone lines, embedded in the walls, are non-functional and will require rewiring. This is only a short list of the ongoing problems encountered with this contractor. I have found it necessary to retain legal council and strongly caution anyone considering hiring a general building contractor to beware of Baycraft Construction. -Muriel

Sept. 2002

Re: Contractor / Concrete Person
I noticed in the last Household Digest that two people were looking for recommendations - one for a concrete person/stamper and one for a Contractor (Well I believe this guy does both). The one that worked on my parents house was great. He was a nice guy, did great work, was reasonably priced and cleaned up after himself. My parents originally found him from a recommendation and they weren't disappointed. His name is Roger Bergin, the company is Curragh Construction. You can contact him directly on 415- 640-7963 or 925-957-9047. He works both East Bay and San Francisco. Good Luck! Stephanie

July 2002

Re: deck
We highly recommend Wilbert Lyons of Lyons Construction to build a deck. We had a large 220 sq ft approx 25 feet off the ground custom redwood deck built. It was custom because it wasn't just a rectangle, it is curved and rounded. Most contractors told us our design was ''unrealistic'', ''would double our labor'', and various other annoying remarks. His response was ''no problem''. His crew was polite and hard working. They cleaned up their mess everyday and at the end of the project. They also built a fence and a beautiful gate for us. Our neighbor is having them do her entire house remodel and she is thrilled with their progress, and I quote her, '' I adore Wilbert''. He specializes in additions, remodels, etc..but we only used him for the deck/fence so far. The best news, his prices are reasonable. He has children and is very conscientious about safety issues while work is being performed. Wilbert Lyons 510-866-8347 Deck-happy

July 2002

I would highly recommend Ron Masters for any remodeling you may need at a very reasonable price. He is currently booked for the next few weeks on a remodel job where he is installing bathroom tiles and a hardwood floor in an Oakland loft. He can provide you with references. The best way to reach him is on his cell phone. 415-377-8400. Melinda

June 2002

A few years ago, I had my bathroom totally remodeled. It was done by Federal Building Contractors. Larry Hayden is the owner. They are great. The sub-contractors arrived ON TIME. They were neat. They do beautiful work. My very ugly, old tile was replaced and the smallish space was opened up simply by a few design changes. I would recommend Federal Building Contractors for any type of remodeling. They do large scale remodels and smaller remodels. They have pictures of their past work for ideas. Nora

May 2002

We would like to recommend Eric Manou (Manou Restoration and Renovation). He rebuilt two sides of our backyard fence for us in less than 3 days, which was a necessity with two dogs. His price was very reasonable, and he was great to work with. He removed and hauled away the old fence, and cleaned up the area. My husband is a structural engineer and was very pleased with the quality workmanship. His number is 510.597.1790. Patty

May 2002

We have been working with a super contractor for the last year. He does all levels of remodels, worked well with our budget and is very creative. He redid our basement into a playroom, bathroom and office, added a new outside door to our son's room and is now building a custom bay window with mahogany trim into our living room. His name is Berle Southard, cell 510-685-1186. Klevenson

May 2002

Re: drainage problem
We had drainage issues in our home due to faulty work of a prior contractor. We hired Karl Kardel to fix it and his company did a great job. His number is (510) 261-4149. If you don't get a reply to your message, call them back. They are very busy but my experience was once they started on the job, they kept at it and finished quickly. Because I was expecting to deliver a baby in December, they also juggled their schedule to do our work before my son was born. They were just terrific.

Feb 2002

I have had extensive experience with Rutherford and Singelstad and I can easily recommend them. They are great! Peter Singelstad worked on my old house years ago adding on a Craftsman-style second-story deck and creating a study for me. In our new house, a large Victorian, Rutherford & Singelstad have done a big kitchen/dining/family room remodel for us. They had to move a load-bearing wall, take out a wall, change window placements, remove a fireplace, create trim to match existing and more. They did everything beautifully. Now, we have a wonderful space. I would be happy to share the full experience.

Feb 2002

We used Dick Rolander for a major kitchen remodel and were pretty happy with him. He's flexible and reliable and the he didn't go much over his bid. You do have to push sometimes to get him to think outside of the box when problem solving. Also make sure you are really clear on what the subs are providing and their quality. We ran into some problems but Dick did take care of it with no added costs. I guess these things have the potential to happen with any contractor - and Dick handled them amicably and always keeping costs in mind. Lisa

Feb 2002

We just had some work done by a great contractor, Will Lopes. He's reliable, kind, funny, reasonably priced.Your basic good human being. He does suffer from a mild case of contractors-calendar disease, where they say they will be done before they are actually done. That said, he did work on the outside of my house in the POURING rain one day just to get finished on time. This guy is good stuff, I never felt like he was ripping me off and I always enjoyed talking with him. He also takes good care of the people who work for him which is important to me. Anyway: his name is Will Lopes and his company is called Centerline Construction. His phone number is: 510-812-5515. Tell him Molly and Chris told you to call. We think you will be happy with him. Good luck!

Feb 2002

I am currently working on a project with the nice folks at Baywood Building and Design and cannot recommend them enough. Contact the owner, Robert Malone at 510-595-4231 or feel free to email me with your specific questions. Kreber-Mapp

Feb 2002

Hi. I have an excellent referral for the person looking for a contractor in Pt. Richmond. Anthony Murphy, A.Murphy Construction 510-233-2545. He lives and has his office right there in Pt. Richmond, does excellent work. (I work for him, but have only just started so my recommendation comes from having seen his work and known a good friend of his for several years). Karin

Sept. 2001

If you are looking for someone to take on the small projects that never seem to get done, you might consider Michael Lehman. He's a licensed contractor and can handle everything from implementing remodels to reconstructing decks. He's even completely remodeled an entire house (plumbing, electrical, staircase, foundation, deck and roof). He turned my garage into a fabulous home office with an new floor, windows, roof and beautiful lighting and ceiling fans. He also managed all the other contractors on our house while it was being fixed up for our move in, including plumbers, electricians and heating and air guys. You can contact him at 510-655-6620. -Susan


I would like to highly recommend Daryl Walker of Walker Construction Co. He remodelled our kitchen in the last year and did a fabulous job, delivering it before the rather fixed deadline of the birth of our baby! He kept the job site clean, was easy and pleasant to work with, did very good work and made the entire process very easy. His contact information is: Daryl Walker, Walker Construction Co., 15921 Wellington Way, San Leandro, CA 94578 Tel: (510) 278-3258 Fax: (510) 317-WALK. His web site is www.walkerconstruction .net. Please feel free to mention my name. -Katrine

I love my contractor (even after building a whole house!!) He may not do remodels, but he may be good for a practical consultation of how much things would truly cost and what makes sense. His name is Doug Hudson, (925) 283-8204. Linda

When we were moving into our house last year, East Bay Structural (aka Winfield Construction) in Emeryville put in crown molding, baseboards, and picture rail moldings throughout and did a great job. Concurrently they were doing structural work under the house. We've subsequently had them install some custom windows. I highly recommend them. - Jody

I would NOT recommend the contractor Home Savers (Robert Vallentine) based in Lafayette. They made many careless (and serious) mistakes on our house and much of the job turned out amateurish. Barbara

Do not know if he is available, but we were very pleased with Jesse Young, 527-8153 -Sherry

I just met with a building/design contractor, Robert Malone of Baywood (see whose strength is attic conversions. I have not worked with him yet, but he came very highly recommended by an excellent roofer. Robert's number is 595-4231. From: Margery

We have used Levitch Associates for many projects on our 1920 bungalow. They are a design/build firm which means they provide architectual design and actual building services. This arrangement leaves room for flexibility. We like them so much we wouldn't go anywhere else again. They did 2 bathrooms, a new upstairs, 2 bedrooms, a gorgeous arts and crafts staircase, foundation work, a kitchen deck and more. This company has been around for more than 30 years, so you know they are doing things right. They are not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for. Their finish work is beautiful and they make sure your home is respected and the worksite is kept clean during even major projects. I recommend working with Maurice Levitch. 845-6941. -Nuckypuff

I'd like to recommend Bruce Roberts, 653-8575. He can do about anything, especially carpentry, and all the projects you listed. He prefers medium to small sized residential projects. He's experienced and has references. -Vicki

We have had good experiences with Ken Winfield of Winfield Construction Company --652-4712. They did a nice job in our bathroom remodeling including tile work. All the workers were prompt and considerate, always cleaning up daily after themselves, arriving on time to do the work or calling me if schedule changes were anticipated. -owetsu

Architect-Contractor Georg Buechi, a talented architect who has a contracting business & is also a great person (644-1990) designed & remodeled one of the kitchens a few years ago; it has held up beautifully. This time we contracted the work ourselves because we didn't plan far enough ahead. We learned: Use a professional contractor if the job is big! 644-1990

Our contractor, Don Ahlert, has been wonderful to work with, efficient, orderly, dependable, and skillful. He drew up plans, obtained permits, found excellent subcontractors when necessary, etc. etc. And his charges are very reasonable. Right now he seems to be booked up into the summer, but we can recommend him warmly. His number is 925-283-7688. -Linda

We have just completed a two-month series of home improvement projects: retrofitting, french drains, and the remodelling of a completely raw basement space into a home office and half bath. I never thought we'd say this, but we miss our contractor -- Mircea Ilie (pronounced meer-cha illy) -- and his crew! Mircea's bid was very reasonable and he'd done lots of work for some friends of ours -- so we took the leap with him. We couldn't be happier with the results, and the process was generally agreeable. I work at home and have a young baby, and the sometimes 10 plus men who were in and around my house all day could not have been more courteous. A number of unforeseen needs came up during the course of the project -- a broken, ceramic sewer pipe that needed to be replaced and a front porch in dire need of reinforcement, to name two examples. In all cases Mircea was willing to do the work at very low additional cost. He accompanied us to Home Depot to pick out various items, toting our four year old around on his shoulders while my husband and I struggled with indecision. A few very small projects that came up during the course of their tenure here (a kitchen tap and porch light fixture that needed to be replaced, for example) he attended to for only the cost of materials. He does both large and small jobs (recently remodelled a closet and did minor roof repairs and electrical work for some friends). We recommend him highly. If you'd like to speak to us about the experience -- after all, every job has its stressful moments! -- feel free to call us. Mircea can be reached directly at 459-5502. -Diana and Ben

I would like to recommend Mircea Ilie for general contracting. He recently remodelled and upgraded an old house that I bought. The work included painting, laying tile, fixing hardwood floors, laying carpet, building a bathroom and laundry room, upgrading the entire electrical and phone system, installing lighting etc. His crew worked quickly and did a wonderful job, all for a very reasonable price. Call him for a free quote at (510) 459-5502. -Anushka


For a general contractor who can help convert a garage to an office, you may try Hector at Build Right Construction, 845 5169. He has been in the Bay Area for almost fifteen years and has excellent references. He is very meticulous and extremely responsible. Good Luck. Lorane (4/00)

I would strongly advise you *not* to hire Winfield Construction. Though they always returned calls and had reasonable prices, almost all of the work they did on my house last year needs to be redone this year. Jenifer (4/00)

We've had quite a lot of work done on our house by Ken Winfield Construction and have always found them to be prompt, efficient and reliable. They get the work done well, on time and without going over the estimate, yet they have always been responses to changes we wanted. I recommend them highly. Cheryl (4/00)

We highly recommend Don Schallerer of Straight Line Construction at 510-261-5686, who has worked on our home(s) on various projects since 1989. He is conscientious and meticulous when he approaches his projects. He listens, makes suggestions, and does whatever is requested. On our former residence, he has remodelled our kitchen, replaced windows, put in new electrical paneling, built simple to stylish fences, repaired a fence, put in new tile floor and toilet, installed a drainage system. On our home that we recently bought, we asked him to do some work that the home inspector and lead inspector recommended: he took care of our porch that had lead-based paint, installed a door, installed thresholds, cut in vents in the furnace area and water heater area, corrected many of the electrical problems that were not up to code, and more. S. (4/00)

See also: Hispanic Referral Services (formerly, Manos)

David A. Thompson is a Licensed General Contractor who has been doing residential remodelling in this area for 18 years and can provide numerous glowing references. He is dependable and a pleasure to work with, and can help with design. The one drawback is that he is often booked ahead though so it's best to contact him a while before you need the work done. He can be reached at (510) 843-5100. (11/99)

Ronald Rivers, ph 510-2906036, is a general contractor who renovated my home and is now working on renovating a friend's 4-plex, unit by unit. He is reasonably priced and lives in Berkeley. (11/99)

Mar 1999

We used Construction Effects to do our kitchen. The owner's name is Mitch Filbert. He is a really nice person to work with, and extremely detail-oriented. He does have two or three other people working for him, and while he was redoing our kitchen, he had to take a break a couple times to take care of other jobs. I consider this a normal and understandable part of being a contractor. He was very open about the situation, and we knew that he would check in a couple times during the day to make sure that his people were doing things to his own standards. I know that you explicitly do not want someone who works this way, but let me assure you that in Mitch's case, it's not a problem.

As is usual for renovation projects, there were surprises. Mitch and crew were able to take care of a sagging support beam in the ceiling(!), an electrical problem unrelated to the project, a leak from the bathroom upstairs... Needless to say, this impacted their schedule, but Mitch was very open about explaining that those extras had to be charged at a higher rate, and were not covered by his estimate.

For the main body of the work, however, we felt that his estimate (in retrospect) should have been revised as he got into the project. It's my suspicion that he may have lost money on the job. In other words, he didn't charge us enough!

Mitch takes time to make sure he understands what you want. He does NOT try to push his ideas or give you the kind of free advice so many others are fond of giving. On the other hand, if he knows (from experience) of a better way, he is not shy about pointing that out. He works with you, especially in the planning phase, to make sure he understands what you want. The Building Inspector was impressed with his work, and caught one little token thing on the whole project: One of the GFI circuits needed a sticker on it saying it's a protected circuit - a three second job ;->

If your project is not the kind of thing he wants to work on (perfectly reasonable) then Mitch will explain that. He is not the kind who just gives an outrageous estimate in order to get rid of you, or who just never calls back.

The only snag in working with Mitch is that he is busy. He may have a lot of work on his hands and so will be unavailable. But he will tell you that, and not give you the run-around.

As I recall, he lives in El Sobrante, and works mostly in Berkeley/Oakland. He has all the right licenses, etc. His people work for him (i.e. are employees, not sub contractors) and they do *everything* themselves so the Mechanic's Lien Law is not an issue.
The info: Mitch Filbert Construction Effects (510) 758-8830


Bob Bernal does his own work, very meticulous, very nice person. (510) 525-7345 Kitchen /Bathroom contractor

Mar 1999

We used Winfield Construction for another major construction project and can report that while we were delighted to find a contractor that actually returned our phone calls promptly, there was room for improvement in the overall quality of the work [our architectural drawings weren't followed very well (such as the depth of the concrete pour, hard to misread!), and we had language problems with the workers who were actually on-site]. By the way, this is a good forum to extend a warning to all remodelers: Even though the City of Berkeley may initially approve your plans, you may be forced to spend a LOT of money altering the finished product once built. This is because, we were told, the public wants it this allows projects to begin quickly. Our new front deck conformed to state codes but not to local city codes, and although the plans were approved by Berkeley's planning department, the finished deck failed to pass inspection. Apparently we're supposed to rely on our contractor to point out local code violations (Winfield didn't). So if you don't spend the money on a local architect, be sure your contractor is VERY familiar with local building codes.

From: Stephanie (5/98)

We recently hired Michael Reardon and his daughter to build a fence and tool shed in our back yard. Their work is beautiful and they are two of the most ethical and friendly people I've ever met. They far exceeded our expectations. In addition to these two big projects, they have also done odd jobs around the house (aka fixing doors and windows, minor plumbing jobs, etc.) You can call Michael at 510-805-0907.