Deck Building and Repair

Parent Q&A

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  • Deck stairs placement change

    (1 reply)


    We have a deck on the second story of our house, right above our backyard. The stairs connecting the deck and our backyard cut right in the middle of the yard (they run parallel to our front and back property line), and we would like to move them to the side of the house. What considerations should we think about? How much space do we need to leave between the stairs and our neighbor's property line? Any recommendations on someone who could help us fix the deck (move the stairs)? Thank you. 

    I don't know the answers to your questions, but I would suggest talking with Christopher Stoehr. He's quite knowledgeable and has done work on two decks for us that had stairs.

  • For some years now we've been watching water slooowly seep under the paint to the wood on our porch, and now the wood's warped and exposed, so, sigh, time to figure out what to do next before any of us stick our foot through it...Anyone had success in replacing/repairing steps that they loved working with and thought did a great job? Cheers!

    Hi there - we replaced our cracked concrete steps and porch with Green Diaz Construction (ask for Julio). His estimate was fair and he got the job done in the time he said he would. Project went a little over budget but that was due to unforeseen rot that we had in another part of the porch that needed replacing (our house is 100+ years old so not super surprising). One thing I appreciated is that he was always available to chat - never left me hanging. They did a good job in the end and we're very happy with how the porch turned out (happy to send pics too if you want).

    Contact: greendiaz705 [at], 415-933-4115 - feel free to mention that Michele referred you

    I highly recommend Chepe Siliezar (415) 515-4974 for repairing/replacing your porch wooden steps. I referred him to a friend for just such a project and they are very happy with the outcome (and have since hired him for many other projects). For me, he has repaired a fence, built a new fence (you are welcome to come see them), and remodeled a kitchen (tiling, painting, new appliances, etc). Wonderful to work with, hard worker and reasonably priced.

  • Recommendations for slate deck replacement

    (2 replies)

    We moved into Rockridge this summer, and recently had a termite inspection. We found that the underlay on our beautiful slate deck is covered with fungus; it’s basically disintegrating. There’s also evidence of bug damage on one side, so we’re not sure if some of the support will also need to be replaced. 

    We’d like to rebuild the same slate deck and would love recommendations for contractors who can do this kind of job. I couldn’t find any recent posts, especially for stone porch vs. wood. Thanks so much! 

    We recently had similar work done to our house in Oakland:  rotting wood under tile deck; had to remove old tile and rotten wood, replace wood, put in new tile deck.  

    I got a guy who's not a licensed contractor, so he's a little cheaper, but he does great work, fully capable.  Jacobo Pablo, aka Jacob, 206-488-4527.  You can see reviews for his work on

    Schafer Construction rebuilt my porch and stairway, replacing the old tongue and groove porch with brick. They did a great job, were responsive, helpful - everything you would want:

    Schafer Construction Inc: Deck Builder & Repair Contractors ...

  • Patio Deck

    (2 replies)

    We are looking to build a small deck on our patio, any recommendations for a contractor that can build one in Alameda?

    Hello, NorCal Craftman, does beautiful work. They built a Batu deck for us a few months ago. Dan Heinz the owner very organized good communicator. The crew Francisco and José really know their craft. Couldn't be happier!

    We used Christopher Stoehr to replace our deck a couple years ago, and we are very pleased! He covers a lot of the east bay.

  • Hot Tub Install/Deck Addition

    (1 reply)


    I'm contemplating adding onto my deck and installing a hot tub. Anyone out there know of anyone who does this kind of work?


    I recommend Frank Say. He built my deck and it's solid.  He's reasonably priced, honest and will give it his full attention.   (510) 827- 7841 or Franksay61 [at]  

  • Refinish and re-roof deck

    (1 reply)

    Hi, I live in Oakland and I’ve got an approximately 20 foot by 20 foot (400 sq ft) covered deck in my backyard  that needs a new roof and needs to be re-finished (sanded down and painted). It’s a detached deck with a hip roof.  I’m looking for a recommendation for a contractor that can do this (ideally both but will take recommendations for either/or). Also, if you’ve done something similar before, what was the average cost per sq ft that you paid? Thanks!

    hello, I can recommend Zeus Design/Build, Jesse Rozay, (510) 390-1245.  Jesse has completed many projects with/for me over the past 15 years, including decks both refurbished and new.  he has experience doing his own roofing, although at that size he may prefer to hire a sub.  best---ac

  • We live in a two-story house on the west side of the street on a hill and are considering building a balcony/deck off our living room on the second floor- view side. So many people seem to have these balconies around us, but I don't see them getting much use (privacy? weather?), so that gives me pause. I have also heard a balcony can make the lower level of the house quite dark. 

    Does anyone have any experience making the decision about installing a balcony like this that they could share? If you loved the person you went with for design or construction, we would also appreciate recommendations.     

    I love my deck and I am glad I have it, but I don't use it much. Too much glare for a book or a laptop. If I have a conversation with someone I have to assume that the neighbors are listening. But I love to step out with a cup of tea and watch the grass grow or listen to the crickets. And it is a good place for a messy project. You may want to consider an aluminum deck, because of fire danger. Embers that sit on a flat deck are more dangerous than other embers. 

    We have had balconies or decks off the bedroom of the last three or four houses we have lived in. We never used them. We found ourselves constantly using outdoor space that flowed off of the LR, DR or kitchen. Never the bedroom -- too much trouble carrying food/drink up the stairs and too bright for a laptop.

    And yes, one of them did make the room below it dark.

    Wild and crazy balcony thought:

    Many years ago I knew an old lady in Germany who had a wonderful balcony with a glass-brick floor.  During the summer, she took her naps on top of the balcony.  In fall and spring, when it was a bit chilly but not cold, she would nap on the sun-warmed, sheltered patio beneath the balcony.  There were glass doors out to the patio, and thanks to the glass bricks the room below lost very little light.  i believe the framework for the balcony was metal.

    New glass bricks aren't cheap but you can buy salvaged ones, or maybe use heavy sheet glass.  The glass will get scratched up, but you can ameliorate this by starting with sand-blasted glass.

    We have a glassed-roof awning over our north-facing deck doors, which are also glass.  The awning is one of the nicest aspects of our house.  If our house had two stories, I'd love to have a glass-floored balcony!

    I think it's so wonderful to be able to sit outside even if only for a few minutes, to look at gardens or trees, to just get some air. (although right not, that's not a good idea!).   Our deck makes our house special.   We worked with Ken Winfield Construction.   Ken is not cheap BUT you need a first-class job for safety AND you will want to get a permit from the city.   That's what may jack up the cost.  Please don't do this under the table---it can be dangerous.  

    We live in Montclair, but closer to town. Our deck is a wrap around one from all the public spaces of the house. Not only we use it all the time, but visually it becomes an extension of all the rooms and it makes it look bigger.

    We have been trying to find solutions to lighten the lower floor, that yes, it seems too dark. That idea of the glass brick, that someone in this chat mention seems great. I'm a Realtor and have seen so many houses around, with decks, I have never seen a glass one, but I'm sure there is a solution. Go for the deck if you have the money to spend and it adds value to your property, more now that our outdoors have become essential in our lives.

  • Deck Builders

    (3 replies)

    We have to redo our deck and are looking for advice from folks who have recently done any major work/repair.

    Thanks in advance.

    Zeke Pratt has done great decking work for me. He is a licensed contractor, but will also do unpermitted work on something as harmless as a deck. My favorite thing about Zeke is that he has an eye for design, and comes up with improvements on what you thought you wanted. (Though he is also easygoing, and will never try to impose his will over yours.) He is just finishing up a wonderful cabin on my property, but will be available soon. His number is 510 289 5107.

    An aside -- there is now more permanent material for decking than wood. It looks like wood but doesn't rot. I would go for this, over conventional wooden decking, so you don't have to replace the deck, like, ever.

    We just did extensive work on our house via Andrew Gregor and Blue Dog Construction and Renovation. You can find his work on Houzz under "Find a Pro" in add'n to his website. While they did not do our deck they did a lot of exterior work and was able to comment on my existing deck (built by someone else a few years ago) with how it could have been improved. Given the craftsmanship and overall experience, if we were to rebuild our two-story deck (that overlooks a treacherous down-slope in the Oakland hills) I would have his team do the job. Good luck!

    I used Urban Botanics in San Leandro and they built me a beautiful deck in just two weeks. It surpassed my expectations by far. 

  • Berkeley deck penalty

    (4 replies)

    We have explored building a deck with permits in Berkeley. We'd like to know what the consequences of building a deck without permits would be. We understand that penalties could be imposed. Specifically how are penalties assessed? Can they be assessed at any point in the future ? Thanks for the information.

    Seems like almost every house in Berkeley has had work done without permits. One of the consequences is that the work might not meet code and will therefore be dangerous. If your neighbors turn you in or the city finds out, I think they double the permit fees. If you want to build without permits, there are several basic rules to follow in order to get away with it. Observe quiet hours. Hide all building materials from those driving by. Don't rent a porta-potty. Be nice to neighbors. 

    So you are basically asking what might happen if you deliberately decide to break the law.  Double permit fees if caught without a permit may be the least of your potential problems.  How about total personal and negligence liability if there is a failure in the deck system or any part of the deck and railing is substandard and someone gets hurt for whatever reason? The City of Berkeley takes all this very seriously since the balcony failure a few years ago where a number of visiting Irish students fell to their deaths.  Getting a permit means your deck and railing have to be designed and engineered to meet safety, structural, and seismic codes, are checked by the City for compliance before approval, and inspected in place by the City to make sure the work as constructed conforms to the plans and code.   Why you wouldn't want to do that to safeguard your friends, family, and visitors and protect yourself from liability is beyond me.  Or you would potentially prefer getting sued in a personal injury law suit and explaining at the deposition that you thought it would be ok to ignore the law and save some money on permit fees.   You would also be potentially criminally liable in case of serious injury.  I would suggest you ask your homeowners insurance agent about what you planning on doing and get his or her opinion.  Constructing an illegal deck would probably be justification enough for your insurance company to drop your coverage in a heart beat, and they wouldn't defend you if there was a lawsuit.   

    I live in Berkeley and have done a lot of work on my house, all with the necessary permits.  I wouldn't build a deck or anything else without permits. Here are some of the reasons why: 1)  If for any reason the city discovers your unpermitted deck, they could make you tear it out and re-do it with permits 2)  Reputable contractors do not build without permits.  If you have one who is willing to do unpermitted work, there's a good chance they are not licensed, have inadequate knowledge of structural and safety requirements, will cut corners in other ways, and will not be responsible if anything goes wrong. 3) Unpermitted work reduces the value of your house. Given house prices in Berkeley it doesn't make sense to cheapen your property with unpermitted work, even worse if the work is done by unlicensed contractors.  When you sell your house, you are legally required to disclose work done without a permit and you can be sued if you don't.  I personally would not buy a house that had unpermitted construction. Especially not a deck where there could be serious liability issues. 

    I'm going to be the wicked one on this thread. My struggles to get permits do do things legally (which I have always done before) have been epic. The City of Berkeley simply doesn't have its s--t together. You can wait a year. More.

    For this reason, I know perfectly reputable contractors who will build something like a deck without a permit. (But they build it to code.)

    You can be sued for any reason, even if your house's permits are perfectly in order.

    The question is, how friendly are you with your neighbors? Will the deck impede their sight line? Will the construction noise make them hate you? I'd consult with them about what you want to do, and why. If they say, go with God, then nothing bad will happen. You then buy them each a case of wine.

    However, an illegal deck is something you absolutely have to disclose if you ever sell the place. Generally, folks don't care, but you just want to cover your bases.

    I know people who WORK for the City of Berkeley who have done things like this. It will stop when the City revamps its permit department. Not before. Believe me, I want the City to have the money!

  • We are looking for recommendations for either design-build firms or separate architects and contractors who would be willing to work on a deck project done with permits in the city of Berkeley. Because we want to do the deck with permits, we will need actual plans to bring to the city so can't use just a general contractor. We have reached out to a couple people who were recommended on bpn including John Grivas and Matt Horn. Apparently the city of Berkeley permitting process is rigorous and turns contractors off. We were turned down by multiple people. We also contacted Canyon Design build firm and they said they don't do any projects under $75,000. !! We definitely want to do the project with permits for a variety of reasons. We know we may have to wait many months to a year in order to get on the books with someone we like and we are fine with that.

    I can highly recommend Erol@North Berkeley Design Construction

    You can check out his website. I bet he can help you.

    He did work for me and I could not have been more pleased with it.

    We just had our decks (two levels w/ stairs and cable railing) designed and built by Omar Arauz of A+ Construction and would recommend them for another deck job w/ permits. Our backyard is a steep downslope so this was not a straight-forward job but they handled it very well. Phone: (415) 323-8421 Website:

  • Deck for Steep Yard

    (1 reply)

    We're looking for a deck builder for our steep yard.  We would like to build terraced decks out of wood or composite materials.  The decks would not be attached to the house.  We know there are lots of people out there who can build decks.  Please only reply if you have actually built or had someone build decks on a steep incline.  Thanks!  Send replies to bpnrequest [at]

    Hi. We live on a property that backs onto a canyon in San Diego. We ended up doing something entirely different, just sharing it in case you wanted another option besides cantilevered decking. We created landfilled terraces supported by keystone walls. Then we put astroturf on one of the terraces for a seating/fire pit area. It's worked quite well because we were able to plant drought resistant, native plants (Mexican daisies, coyote brush, sage, cacti, etc.), and we don't have to worry about termites. Yes, I know termites don't eat composite, we elected not to use it because it gets very slick when wet and decomposes in direct sunlight and gets too hot to walk on. The keystone walls have helped curb the signficant erosion that was occurring, while also giving us a pretty and comfortable hangout space. We put up wood fencing on top of the wall on the last terrace, for safety and privacy, and we essentially only cleared and replanted the bottom half of the canyon wall that we own. Just throwing in my 2 cents, sorry I don't have a contractor referral to offer. Good luck with the project!

  • Deck refinishing / repair recommendation

    (0 replies)

    Helllo, we are looking for a person or contractor who can do a great job on refinishing, and also a small repair to, our medium-to-large sized backyard deck. The recommendations posted are a few years old, so we're seeking another one. Do you have a recent, good experience you'd like to share?  Seeking someone who does quality work, but at a fair price. Thanks for any help you can offer. 

    No responses received.

  • Contractor for deck

    (3 replies)

     Seeking a competent, professional contractor with reasonable rates who may be willing to take on a large repair of a small redwood deck. North Berkeley or Berkeley Hills.

    I have had horrible luck with contractors, but this seems to be a job that a skilled handyman could take on.  I cannot more highly recommend Jimthebrit Handyman services.  He's quick, fastidious, trustworthy, highly skilled, and very reasonably priced.  He repaired my deck and put in fencing around my backyard.  Jim's phone number is (510) 205-6529 and his email address is jimthebrit [at]

    FYI -- I only got one answer to my similar question. If you find anyone good, I'd really appreciate learning who you worked with. We've been asking all our friends and calling anyone referred to us, without having much luck. Many thanks!

    I recommend Walter Nix, who builds beautiful decks, fences, etc.  He rebuilt a deck and fence for me, he knows his stuff and has been a carpenter for many years.  He made solid recommendations which led to good choices on my part.  The work is high quality and is holding up well.  Highly recommended.  510-504-0670

  • Deck / stair builders

    (1 reply)

    My husband and I are looking for a licensed contractor to replace a three story exterior
    deck and stair system. We live on the Oakland / Emeryville border. Does anyone have any recommendations? Many thanks!

    Call Servando of Bayscapes at 510.334.1304 or bayscapes [at] He built a fence and gate for me and not only is it beautiful but it is strong and will last forever. I would certainly hire him to replace my deck and stairs when I need to.  -Karen

  • Deck restoration

    (1 reply)

    Hello parents,

    I know few months ago, someone posted a recommendation for a handyman person that paint and fixed a deck... but I can't find it.

    We need to repaint or maybe restore our deck.

    Thank you!

    Give Gene Wiens a call at 510-845-3516 as he should be able to help you. Good quality carpenter who takes pride in his work and does it right. I have hired him many times.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Deck Rebuild

Jan 2013

I am looking for recent recommendations on deck rebuilds. We have a redwood deck that is in need of a complete rebuild. I am looking for someone that can help with general design ideas, is professional, and does a thorough job. I would also love it if the person had landscaping experience. Thanks BPN! deckless

I can highly recommend Thomas Wheast for your deck rebuild. He has undertaken several projects for us, some from the foundation to the roof. He is friendly, reasonable in his prices, reliable and is an excellent craftsman. We cannot speak more highly of him. His number is: 510-891-0365. Roger

You need Ted the Handychick. She's done several of these in San Francisco and is a dream to work with -- professional, affordable, and reliable. Call her at 415-713-6974. Monique

Dear Friend- If a high-quality deck restoration done with the care of an artist at a fair price is what you want, try Marius at Marius Construction. He is on the web and his phone number is 510-828-6551. He covers the entire Bay Area. I actually discovered Marius when he was building a deck/outdoor living space next door. The work was out of Sunset Magazine. I had dealt with SO many flakes and cheats over the years I was thrilled to find a contractor that worked on a strict contract-no overcharges ever, had a responsible, hard-working quiet crew, and finished the work on time. He has done many jobs for me and several neighbors that involved rebuilding decks and fences. He is specially licensed and trained for just about any construction, but his woodwork is always 'above the clouds'..a real vision. suzymc

You need Ted the Handychick. She's done several of these in San Francisco and is a dream to work with -- professional, affordable, and reliable. Call her at 415-713-6974. Monique

Try and call Bay Area Pacific Construction at 510 484 5765. They rebuilt us a lovely redwood deck with a large stairway going to our backyard, as we had to replace a 20 year old deck; they rebuilt the frame as most of it was rotten and added a couple of concrete posts to reinforce it. They are more than fairly priced, always on time, magnificent craftsmanship; they definitely take pride in their work. I highly recommend them! Greg

We recently did a big deck and backyard overhaul. We chose Matt Horn, who was highly recommended on BPN, and we were not disappointed. Matt is an arborist and landscape designer by trade, but his knowledge of deck building was clear from the beginning. He also has an experienced crew including carpenters who can provide additional technical know-how, and he is not afraid to defer to their expertise when necessary. He is very meticulous and detail oriented. He is also very knowledgable about all the different options and how they impact all aspects of the project: structure, aesthetics, cost, safety, maintenance, and the environment. He and his crew were always a pleasure to have around. His customer service was outstanding. He would spend hours going over details and options with us. As they always do on projects of this scope, there were issues that arose, but they were resolved fairly and with a positive outcome. We are delighted with the deck they built. In the end, to save money and strengthen family bonds, we chose to complete the rest of the backyard overhaul ourselves. However, Matt provided us with tons of invaluable advice (and even some tools) that made it possible for us to do it successfully. Matt's phone and email are 658-6088 and matthornlandscaping [at] Tom N

Cost to add on a Deck

Sept 2012

Hi, we live in the Dimond district and have a couple deck projects we would like to complete. The first would be to build an upper level balcony deck on top of an existing roof surface, aout 350 sq feet. The area currently has walkable roofing with a metal balcony railing. We'd like to make this into a nice deck with redwood, ipe, or composite materials. The current estimate we received from a local design build firm came in at around $25K, and that does not include permits or design, only construction.

The second project is to add on deck to the lower level, coming off of our kitchen. It would be about 435 sq feet, multi-level, with a couple short staircases down to our yard and we'd like it to feature a nice overhead trellis in one corner. We would need to remove a window in our kitchen and add french doors. The estimate for this project came in at $54K.

So we're looking at spending upwards of $80K to complete these two projects, according to this firm. When they initially came to look at the house, they gave us a verbal ballpark estimate of around $10K for the upper deck and $30K for the lower. This was about $5K higher than the other estimates we received from other contractors, but we thought it would be easier to go with a design build firm so everything could be handled by one business, and they would take care of getting all the permits from the city - but now I'm doubting our decision. Once we actually started working with them, we received the much higher estimates.

These numbers seem insanely high to me. I'd like to hear from others who have added decks on to their homes, how much did you end up spending? If we walk away now, we have already paid them about $3000 for design work. Since we paid for them can we now take those designs elsewhere and see what someone else quotes us? need some concrete advice

We are in the process of our building 300 plus sq foot deck. We are very happy with the people that are putting it in. They are called H and have given us great recommendation on the design and construction. Call Muneer at 510-376-3019 or Chris at 415-328-8811. Happy Customer

Those numbers do seem high to me, but I do not have enough information to really pass judgement on that. The site might have difficult access, there could be soil issues, etc. Also, I'm not a contractor - just an architect. As such I often see construction costs that vary incredibly on the same project. You are entitled to prints of the design work that was done. However, the originals belong to the designer. IOW, you won't get original tracings or computer files, but you should be able to get their read-only files. Andus

We got estimates for between $8500 and $11,000 for a medium-sized deck partly depending on the quality of the wood. We went with the mid-range (paid $9500) and are very happy. The redwood has some 'high heeled size' knots in it but who wears high heels out on a deck, anyway, so who cares? Wendy

Need Deck and Fence Builder

March 2012

I need a small fence and deck rebuilt. It isn't a big job, but I would like a professional who won't charge an arm and a leg. Any recommendations? anon

Dagoberto Garcia (Dago's Gardening) has done numerous jobs for us over the past few years. He has replaced fences (beautiful work) and repaired another one. His rates are fair. He's honest and great to work with. My husband and I highly recommend his work. You can contact him for free estimates at garciaysna [at] or 510 233-1569 or 510 604-7555 (cell) lmac

We had Dan Martinez and crew build our redwood fence and two-level deck. He was professional, thorough, thoughtful, and everything was done perfectly! Absolutely no complaints with his work. Done on time and on budget. After years of home and garden renovations, he is the only contractor I will ever use!!! -Jen

I have used Martin Ceja for many jobs around my home (he came recommended to me from a co-worker as well as another friend). He does EVERYTHING and is reasonable and very professional. He has built a fence for me, completely taken down and insulated a ceiling, built a new foundation, plastered walls. He can do anything, is quick and pleasant to work with. I highly recommend him... Martin Ceja 510 387-9418 Lexine

Try, 510-759-8536. Frank does lots of wooden fences and decks, and doesn't mind if it's small. If you want a professional job with a quirky sense of humor, he's the man. . Andus

Hi... I have recommend John Grivas and his crew of Bay Area Deck & Remodel before, and I will again! They are precise, honest, friendly and affordable. Great yelp reviews which I found to be true. (510) 533-6131. I'd hire them again for another deck project! Sun on my deck

Deck person for mid century house?

March 2012

We have a mid century modern house with a large, almost original deck that is an essential part of the house design. Does anyone have a recommendation for a deck builder or contractor who can do repairs and some rebuilding? We don't want to make any changes to the design -- just repair/replace some support beams, relevel, and replace rotten wood. Any suggestions? Anon

Lucien Salyk, is a reliable, trustworthy, affordable and licensed contractor. He has built and renovated decks of all sizes using a variety of materials. He will not try to sell you on anything you don't want. He simply listens to what you need and makes it happen as effeciently and affordably as possible. His email is lucien.haulinoaks [at] Molly

I highly recommend Luke Hammack for your job. He's a very skilled builder who's efficient, creative, and easy to work with. He rebuilt my mom's entire house last year and did an excellent job. In addition to being really good at what he does, he's an all-around nice guy. lukehammack [at]

Hillside Stairs & Deck

Oct 2011

We are looking into replacing the stairs from the street to our house and rebuilding the deck on our house in the Berkeley hills. We are seeking a recommendation for someone who has experience working in the hills on a steep grade.

Hi, I would ask John Grivas and crew. They did our deck and it was fabulous and from my understanding, that is their specialty. They are Bay Area Deck and Remodel (510) 533-6131 and good yelp reviews too sara

I can highly recommend Bob Root of California Rebuilders. He has done several projects for us and recently completed a major deck project and remodel on a house in Montclair. His phone number is (510)853-1800. He has a very good eye and is very willing to work with his clients to achieve their goal. His email is calrebuilders [at] Good luck on your project! happy client

Small Backyard Deck needs rebuilding

April 2011

The deck behind my house has lots of rotten wood, and alas, I believe needs to be rebuilt. Please recommend a reasonably priced carpenter you have had success with. This is a small job. Thanks! Albany Mom

I can highly recommend Mark Feinberg (Mobile: 510-282-7472 mark [at] as a handyman/carpenter. He recently rebuilt a cupboard for us in our garage. It was a miserable job. He had to work in a very tight space that required much measuring and realigning. Mark diligently tackled the project, giving us a space that we now are very happy with at a reasonable rate.

His skills include general interior repair (plaster, drywall, painting and all related carpentry); trim carpentry (installing decorative moldings, hanging/correcting/trimming doors and windows, installing baseboards); installing cabinetry in kitchens and baths (general 'remodeling' so long as the projects are not too large for him to do alone); building and repairing stairs and decks; hanging mirrors and paintings; working with plumbing and electrical fixtures but only those that are 'in the room' as opposed to installing new plumbing systems or rewiring inside the walls (both of which should be done according to code by licensed/insured contractors).

Feel free to contact me if you have questions about Mark and his work. lmack

Hello! John Grivas of Bay Area Deck and Remodel is your guy. He took his time on our deck project and listened to what we needed. He is reasonably priced. He can do small projects. He has great Yelp reviews too! He was referred to us and we weren't disappointed. (510) 533-6131 Sara

We had very old dry rotted back yard deck, with several steps replaced as it was getting more unstable and wobbly. We found JB Construction, License #908631 in BPN by one of the parent's recommendation, and we are glad we did. They were friendly, fast and reliable from the time we have contacted them. Highly recommeded to get your project to be taken care of. You may contact them directly: Baha(510) 735-4052 or E-mail: powerlabor [at] Cristina

Dave Wingate is the quintessential handyman. My sis-in-law recommended him, and the results of his work exceeded our expectations-- not our budget. He has a great eye for the little things that need work in and around a house. We used him for a variety of small projects: leaky sink, diverting water from our shower to prevent a soft/moldy wall, finding a solution (that still works) for our towel rack that had fallen out of the wall at least 5 times prior, etc. He's a good guy, a dad, and so easy to work with. Have I said enough good things about him? Here is his email address: savvydavid [at] Jesse

Hello, if you haven't already found someone, I highly recommend Jose Maravilla (510) 381-0399. He's got a great eye and does great work so I'm sure he'd do a great job for you too. He's done all my outdoor work from building a deck and pergola to laying flagstone. He even helped with my bathroom remodel. He's fabulous and reasonably priced. Best of luck love my garden

Looking for deck contractor

March 2011

We are looking to build a small deck off the 2nd story of our home in El Cerrito. The deck will extend over a patio so we need a contractor that can deal with that. If you've worked with a deck contractor in the past year or two that you would recommend, we would love to hear from you. Would also be interested in hearing from you if you've had a bad experience with a deck contractor so we know who to avoid. Thanks.

I could recommend JB Construction fro my own experience. They did great job on our deck project. Everything was done on time and they advised us on the decking materials, and kept our cost down, well below our estimated budget. E-mail them at: powerlabor [at] or call: (510) 735-4052 Highly recommended licensed contractor. Cristina

We worked with Sorin Feraru and his crew for our deck. Among other things they build a deck for us. We are very happy with this work experience and highly recommend Sorin. He is trustworthy, knowledgeable, detail oriented and easy to talk to. We've found Sorin on Berkeley Parents Network, some other people were recommending him, and after working with Sorin we can say that now we know why he has so good reviews. Sorin is the best contractor you can find. Call Sorin at 510-228-7366.

I would like to recommend Silvio Dobrovat and his company HomeTelligent. We reached Silvio via Marius Construction, which received a very good review on Berkeley Parents Network. Marius's owner vouched for Silivio's excellence and he was not mistaken.

We had to rebuild our deck and was initially getting bids that would use composite material for its low maintenance aspect. Silivio actually recommended we use wood and pointed out various cons that composite material would have, and that low maintenance was not always the case. This was appreciated since none of the other general contractors pointed out them to me.

After taking out the old deck, we found issues on the wall and they had to be addressed. It added to the overall cost but Silivio was always straight forward about it and there was no sudden, unknown increase in the cost.

His crew members were very polite and courteous, working very diligently. They were prompt every day and left without leaving a mess. My two young sons were very comfortable around all of them.

I can recommend Silvio and his company wholeheartedly. happydeckowner

2008 - 2010 Reviews

Redwood, Trex or Ipe for deck?

Aug 2010

Hi: Am replacing a redwood deck with afternoon exposure. The question is whether to replace with redwood, wood composite (Trex) or Ipe, which may be too heavy. Like wood but concerned about the maintenance of redwood. Trex has some negative press for mold and breaking down after several years. Would like to hear from those who have replaced decks with any of these materials, and esp. those who have used wood-composite, like Trex, and if it is holding up (or not). If you could do your deck again, which material would you choose? Anon.

I installed a west-facing, afternoon sun-heavy Trex deck 7 years ago. I couldn't be happier and if I had to choose again would certainly go the same route. There is absolutely no maintenance involved and that is the best part. There are also no splinters for small kids to worry about - a major bonus if you have kids. Color held up nicely, there is no splitting, breaking, or anything else so far. My understanding is that this material is supposed to last about 20 years. My only regret - I decided to save money and did the fence from the regular ready-made wood pieces you can buy from Home Depot. These do require maintenance and every time I have to do it I look wishfully at the rest of the deck. Love my Trex deck milena

Arbor or other shade structure for deck

April 2010

We have a small house with a good sized back deck (about 20' x 15'). We'd like to use the deck more, but it's south-east facing and very hot and sunny much of the year. I love arbors and so am especially interested in building an arbor over the deck, maybe w/ some out door cloth/blinds incorporated to keep the sun exposure under control. I'm open to other shade structure ideas, as well (shade sails installed on posts maybe?). The deck itself needs repainting and might need other repair work. Can anyone recommend a good person for this job? I hope to find someone who has ideas for how to make this space more livable and comfortable for us, and who can also do the design and construction work required. Shade seeking mama

Oh! I have the perfect guy for you, also for the request for recommendations for someone to build a fence and a responsive contractor: Glen Larsen glenlarsen [at] Why? Because Glen designed and built:
* a beautiful entrance to my yard with an arbor over it, and two internal seats (along with building the fence);
* an arbor over my small deck.
It's in character with the house and is charming. He planted wisteria and night-blooming jasmine which grow on the fences and arbors. jessica

hi- we had an arbor built for us two years ago by tim ridolfi. he did a great job. we were looking for a structure to provide shade also, but we had grape vines and we wanted the structure to support them so that they would provide the shade over our existing deck - about a 10'x12' space. tim worked with us to determine exactly what we wanted and then he let my husband help (he wanted to) with the work- so it ended up being a fun project and resulted in precisely what we were looking for. tim is great/easy guy to work with and we love our arbor! tim ridolfi 510-295-7510, tcridolfi [at] julie

I'd like to refer you to Deborah's Home Repair. Deborah is very capable to do all ranges of home repair as well as help you to create new ideas according to your needs. I needed some carpentry at my home & was so pleased with her work, I thought I'd respond to your posting. Deborah also teaches to homeowners at Building Education Center in Berkeley, which attests to her competency & abilities for versatility. She has a portfolio of previous jobs. You can call her at 510.520.2007 or e mail her at fiddlehigher [at] yahoo.vom dognose2

Garden Architecture in Berkeley might be a great match for you. They built & designed my arbors & decks and I love them! They will also completely design and install your garden and other hardscape if you like. They will listen to all your concerns (budget & otherwise) and do their best to make all your dreams come true. (510) 525-9517 lisa

Deck builder/contractor needed

March 2010

We need our deck extended and possibly a small office built under it. We are interested in using sustainable materials. Any recommendations? We are in Oakland. meera

I highly recommend Classic Construction run by Brooks Weitzman. He did some deck repair work on my house and did a major deck addition for my friend. Very reliable and responsive. Kim

As far as a local contractor who has a fair amount of experience W/ the oakland inspectors [assuming that you are getting permits] and does a good job on small projects - I would recommend Hans Schuchmann of solid state construction [solidstate3 [at]] in berkeley. We are local designers and have used Hans on a number of small projects [and bigger ones as well] and have been happy with the quality / cost of the work. Hans is not the cheapest but his prices are fair given the quality. - feel free to email me direct if you have additional questions

Meera - I just read your ad and if you haven't chosen a contractor yet, I'd like to highly recommend Scott Montgomery. He has done several both small and large for me and all of them have turned out better that I could have hoped for. And, I know building green is a passion of his. So, if you're still in the market, I'd give him a call. His phone number is 925-382-4112 and his e-mail address is michael.montgomery4 [at] I know you won't be disappointed. Please feel free to call (925-945-7747) or e-mail me if you want more information...Dee

I recommend contacting Zander Brennen of Zanderbuilt. They do wonderful work from additions, remodels, and custom cabinets, as well as decks. They are very thorough, detail-oriented, and efficient. Zander's number is 510-524-9790. Alyssa

I have worked with Luca Adamache for over six years on a variety of projects. These have ranged from large house remodels, additions, and new construction to a major office- building remodel. In all cases Luca has performed beyond expectations. He is a very rare contractor, one that is honest, hard working, and skilled. In all our work he has been on time, on budget, and reasonable regarding changes and redesigns. As a person he is a pleasure to work with and his excellent team has the same characteristics. They are hardworking, very skilled and always cooperative. I would give them my highest recommendation in all aspects of construction and contracting. His phone nr. is 510-427-0585 or Peter

I want to recommend Chris Kary to you as a carpenter and general contractor! I have known Chris for a very long time. My former husband was a general contractor, and I can tell you that Chris is the real thing: smart, honest, and very hard working. I also know Vic Bartolotta, a San Francisco homeowner, who said this of Chris: ''Chris was the general contractor on our kitchen and laundry room remodel. He's honest, forthright, plainspoken, and very competent. Our job required moving our furnace and water heater as well as extensive electrical work. Chris managed the various subcontractors adroitly, and our remodel is everything we wanted. It still looks new, and we receive compliments to this day. I knew Chris many years before I owned a home or considered a remodel. We selected him because through years of personal contact I knew him to be intelligent, competent, sincere, and very dependable.'' Chris' phone number is (510) 479-6111 and mine is (510) 482-1629. Kathleen

Hi- Peter Sontag is a carpenter who can build a deck for you. He's methodical with his work, and really easy to get along with. If you hire him you'll probably make a new friend along with getting a new deck. His number is 510-760-9720. Good luck with your project! M.L.

Sorin Feraru with his crew build your deck last summer and we couldn't be more happy.He is very considerate, reliable, easy to talk to and has the greatest ideas. Call him at 510 228 7366 and also check his website

I would recommend JB Construction. They are licensed and experienced contractors. Not a big crew, but fast and efficient. Owners name is Baha His e-mail: powerlabor [at] Phone: (510) 735-4052 Cristina

Small job - deck repair

Feb 2010

I just noticed there are some rotting boards in my front porch and would like to get this done well but as inexpensively as possible. The deck repair/build recommendations are from 2008. Any more recent experiences pro or con? Thanks. Kathy

We have had our deck built, as well as our bike shed this past year by Phil Atkinson. He is perfect for small to large repairs. While he's over, he'll even help you with those pesky honey-dos that we have piled up over the years. I've recommended Phil to lots of friends, who will happily give you their referral by phone if you ask. If you want more info from me, feel free to email me: mgales [at], and I am happy to sing his praises and tell you what he did for us. I really can't say enough good stuff about this guy. He will sit down with you and take the time to help you figure out what really needs to be done, then he'll get you the best prices he can find and he is very reasonable. We never thought we could afford the small deck he built for us, but he made it happen. He is also a real craftsman, who takes great pride in his work. He even used redwood plugs to cover the nails on our deck! He is creative and will help you maximize your space, and he will always do what you need him to do, without pushing you to do more than you need. Here's his info. email:phillipatkinson1 [at] and his cell:(510) 292- 8091. Good luck with your project Molly

I would highly recommend Colin Groth for deck repair. He tore down our old back porch and built a completely new one out of both old (reused, recycled) wood and new redwood decking. He found the best prices around for materials, showed us all the receipts for his purchases (so we know he's honest), and made us a VERY reasonable quote compared to others that my husband had gotten. The deck was the biggest job he's done for us, but we have also paid him hourly for painting, drywall and ceiling repair, some cabinetry work, and installing a fold- out staircase to access our attic. He's a hard worker and a super nice guy. He goes above-and-beyond; every time he does work for us we end up with something nicer than we even envisioned for less than we expected to pay! Also (perhaps of interest), he is all into sustainability and green building philosophies (I think he might be LEED- certified). His e-mail address is colin.groth [at] Sarah

Contractor to Design Deck/Garden Area for Toddler Play

Jan 2010

We have two connected small garden spaces that we would love to have designed as a toddler play area. This would probably involve leveling the yard, deck construction and designing the area to accommodate a sandbox, splash pool, space to run etc. Any recommendations of contractors who may be able to do this for us would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

I've had Idan of Bearman and Sons replace my old redwood deck with a new one and couldn't be happier with the process and the result. Idan was highly recommended by a friend and turned out to be a wonderful craftsman and a very pleasant professional to work with. I've hired him for other remodeling project and am always very happy with the outcome. Idan's number is 510 830 7927 I hope you enjoy the transformation of your yard, Mary Beth

Try Decade Construction - they recently remodeled our house in Piedmont, and did an outstanding job. Great guys, and a pleasure to work with. Call Robert at 925-938-2410 Nicki

We had fairly extensive work done in our backyard to put in a deck, stone patio, and toddler play area in our backyard. We actually did two jobs (one on the upper level of our yard and the second to turn our slope into a terraced area, including a large flat space for a play structure. The first project we did with Lazar Landscape, who you have probably heard of. They are quite expensive, but no question amazing at what they do. They require you to first meet with an architect and draw out your project. This costs a bit more than just moving forward with the contractor, but it pays off in the end. The 2nd project we did with Daniel Rivera. Daniel worked for Lazar when we did our first project but went out on his own along with one of the fantastic architects from Lazar. They charge 20% less than Lazar and do the same amazing high quality work. We were equally happy with both projects. Lazar can be reached at 510-444-5195 Daniel Rivera is at 925-691-1024 Best of luck to you

Contractor for decks, concrete stairs, retaining wall

Dec 2009

Our house is on a steep slope and we need a low retaining wall (either wood or concrete) built along the front slope, and concrete stairs and railing added along the side of our driveway. Also need to childproof our decks by adding tension-wire style railings. Can anyone recommend a good contractor that does quality work for fair & reasonable prices? Nothing extravagant or fancy. Our house is small, so we don't want to spend a disproportionate amount of money improving the outside of the house, but we need to build these things to make our house more safe & accessible. Need someone who is reliable and returns phone calls and keeps appointments. Someone who has good design aesthetics would be nice too.

for handyman/building projects, we've had great results with perez construction. excellent quality work, reasonable rates, nice guy, a pleasure to work with. they can handle anything from small projects to entire remodels. try will perez 415-806-3859. oaksmoke

We highly recommend Licensed contractor Jeff Jensen with Jensen Construction and Painting he is highly experience and is really competitive with the pricing, his number is (510) 453-9369 Give him a call you be glad you did.

I highly recommend Scott Montgomery. His phone number is 925-382-4112 and his e-mail address is michael.montgomery4 [at] He built a beautiful deck for me and I know built a retaining wall for a friend of mine. Not sure about the concrete steps, but if it is beyond his capabilities (which I doubt) he will be honest and tell you. I trust him completely - have never worked with a contractor (and I have worked with many) who I felt had as much talent and integrity as Scott. I know you won't be disappointed. Also, he has done a lot of work for other BPN members. If you'd like more info about Scott, please feel free to e-mail me or give me a call at 925-945-7747...Dee Coil Dee

I have recommended Greg Watson in El Sobrante to a few of the BPN people, and they really like him. I think he's the best contractor I've ever worked with, and I've been remodeling homes for years. Greg has done extensive work for us. His number is 510-223-1541 (office) and 510-453-5638 (cell). I hope he isn't too busy to do the job for you. If he is, I say ''get on his list!'' It would be worth the wait if he's too busy to do it right away. Good luck, Marilyn

Deck builder wanted

Jan 2009

We're looking to have our old, poorly made deck replaced with a new, well made deck twice the size. Any recommendations?

Try Greg Watson Construction 510-223-1541 office; 510-453-5638 cell. I have used him several times, and he built a fabulous deck for some friends of mine in Richmond Annex. What I like about him is that 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! And he's licensed and insured, which is important to me. Joan

I highly recommend Spencer Wolfe of Wolfe Landscape Construction. He does the best quality work of any small business landscape contractor I know (I'm a landscape architect and have worked with many contractors). He is meticulous and will never try to ''hide'' things or skip procedures thinking that you won't notice until later down the road. He has a small crew who are all fully insured (higher than the required minimum, so better protection for you) and bonded, and they are well-mannered (no swearing or tossing garbage around, no blaring boom-boxes) and super clean, always cleaning up at the end of each day. Definitely contact him

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 can highly recommend our contractor, Andy Frasheski. He is licensed, bonded and insured. He has done a number of projects for us, including building a deck, he has build more decks within our neighborhood as well. He also has remodel our kitchen and done a major renovation of two bathrooms. He is very creative, and has great ideas for problem solving. He approaches each project as if he is doing for his own house. I cannot recommend him highly enough. Please contact him directly (510) 644-3711 or afrasheski [at] Ana

The Dan Lynch Co. replaced our small poorly designed deck with a small deck that was carefully constructed for stability and drainage. They are great to work with and follow green building practices. I highly recommend them. Phone number is 524-4044, Satisfied

Repair/upgrade deck?

Aug 2009

I have an 17'x25'aging deck (over a carport) that I would like to either repair or turn into a Japanese styled, gravel garden. If you have done something similar or have someone who knows their stuff , trustworthy and reasonably priced you can recommend, would love to hear from you.

I'm a member of BPN and I have a terrific recommendation for you. Our go-to guy is Phil Atkinson. He built our bike shed, that had a tricky layout and made it look like a beautiful mini-barn, with a roof and mini-gutter that will last longer than our own house.

We have a small backyard with numerous trees and a hot tub, creating a difficult space to create a private space that didn't feel claustrophobic. When we moved in, there were 3 fences that allowed that privacy, but they were not well built and they were an eyesore. He rebuilt them. He replaced only what needed replacing. And he eradicated the bamboo in the corner of our yard (courtesy of our neighbors) once and for all and built a beautiful fence in that very spot, allowing for a bit more space and lots more light. But that's really only the small stuff.

Remember the small weird space? He design and built our redwood deck. He designed a beautiful deck, creating special pieces designed to dazzle folks (including making redwood plugs to cover the nails in the deck). He made holes and creative adaptations for our trees. And to top it off, the man built us a small arbor to allow us to grow some vines for a bit of privacy.He is an amazingly talented man. He is very reasonable. He will work with you if you have any budget concerns (he gave us so many choice estimates for materials). I can't recommend him highly enough. Phil's phone number is 510- 292-8091. Please feel free to email me with any questions! Molly

I am updating my original recommendation- and phone number- for David Honey (510-355-4795). I want to make sure you can find him. David built a large, complex deck for us two years ago. We recently sold our house, and everyone who went through the house said how much they loved the deck. David is now completing a deck for a friend who agrees that David is a skilled craftsman.

David is meticulous (measures 5 times, cuts once), opinionated (sometimes grumbly), and experienced. When we got our bids, his price was average. His attention to detail amazing. You won't be disappointed with his work. Kim Kim

Contractor needed to install Ipe deck

April 2009

We are thinking of putting in a small deck, and so far think we would like to get Ipe wood. Has anyone had a deck built with this type of wood that came out great. We are looking for a contractor with a high level of attention to detail. Thanks!

you cannot be wrong with Constantin. He is a very good carpenter with a very good eye for detail. all he needs is that you know what you want. Contact him at 510.305.5680 or info [at] I am very happy with the work that he did for me. He is a licensed general contractor. Diana

We used Rolander Construction to do our hardwood deck, which was just completed last month. It turned out beautifully and we had them install the boards from underneath so no nails or screws show from the top side. They also did a great job on installing a cable railing and LED lighting underneath the hand rail. Their employee Jason is very experienced with decks and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. It was truly a pleasure having him work at our house and their bid was very fair, and they were reliable and prompt. Feel free to email me if you want more info at marylinda_email [at] You can reach Rolander Construction at 510-339-3655 and their website is at Mary-Linda

Sometimes you look around for a contractor that pays attention to details and you cannot find him. Other times you just pick a contractor hoping that he is going to do a good job without any trouble on the way. That's what happened to me. I had to build among other things one deck that had to go around some trees that I have around the house and he did a very good job. Constantin is a licensed general contractor and you can contact him at info [at] or at 510-305-5680. Jessica

If you need a contractor who is head and shoulders above the others and detailed oriented, you should call Sorin Feraru.His phone number is 510 228 7366 and website has build a deck for us, and we could not be more than happy with everything.Sorin will help you decide what kind of wood to use and will give you great ideas during the project.We were very impressed with his meticulous attention to details.Sorin and his crew were also careful with our home.I think the most important thing there is about Sorin is that he is fare (he did not tried to rob us), always there when you need him, and basically a miracle maker.We will never hire anyone else again but Sorin Feraru and his crew. Tiffany

We started thinking Ipe but ended up using Garappa, which is also a tropical hardwood with similar qualities (not as high fire retardancy, etc. as Ipe but close) and much cheaper, plus P.A.L.S. in West Oakland has a lot of it and it is all FSC-certified.

For making the deck I can't recommend Karl Matthies (510-259-8499) higher -- very thoughtful, with great attention to detail. He has done other projects (bathrooms, a backyard shed) for us as well as for friends. George

Deck and landscape contractor

Jan 2009

We live in Orinda in a wooded, sloped site and are trying to capture additional useable outdoor space. We are working on plans for a backyard project to install a hot tub, extend the existing deck to partially surround the hot tub, stairs, planters/retaining wall, replacing pavers and a play area. This project may be split into two phases depending on contractors and cost, although ideally completed all at once We would appreciate any referrals/recommendations. aj

Hi, I would like to recommend Jose 510-381-0399. He did my whole backyard remodel [decking, pergola, stone, water feature]. He was a real pleasure to work with and I felt his prices were reasonable. He went above and beyond to make sure I was happy. He's reliable, experienced and had some great ideas on how to make my layout the most efficient. I'm sure you won't be disappointed =) Aurora

I have worked with Matt Horn for over a decade on projects ranging from major landscaping, construction of a perimeter fence, extensive tree sculpting, lawn replacement and irrigation systems. Our property in Alameda is the size of a football field and Matt has transformed it from a mess to a showcase. He installed a marvelous brick patio and completely reconstructed the largest dock on the Alameda lagoon using sustainably-harvested Brazilian epee lumber. It is so well constructed that I'm sure it will last longer than I will. I would be pleased to let serious clients visit our property. The phone number for Matt Horn Landscaping and Tree Care is 510 658 6088. The e-mail address is matthornlandscaping [at] Mark

We love Carl Kudernac at Bushveld Construction. He has built three decks for us, built trellises and installed a hot tub -- all beautifully done. We have only used him as a carpenter (his favorite work), but he has done beautiful hardscape work for friends. Carl is meticulous, very responsive (always calls back, immediately) and a fine craftsman. He also is the only contractor I know who worries more about my money than I do. (During the projects, he was always thinking about how to economize and kept calling with ideas on how to shave dollars off the budget here or there.) He also followed up with a supplier when (several years later) it turned out some of the materials he had gotten from them were defective, and got them to replace the defective material for free -- even though there was nothing in it for him. He can be reached at (925) 210-1953. Leslie

I can recommend Michael Lizotte of Lizotte Construction. I worked with Mike at a local high-end residential construction firm. He worked as a forman and has 30+ years experience. You could certainly call him a master carpenter. I believe that you would be very happy with his work. I am recommending him as a friend and as someone who worked with him on multiple successfull projects. His number is (510)967-1032 Admiring Co-Worker

I used Lara from Bountiful Botanicals for my deck and I loved the experience! You can reach Lara at 415-290-6609 or bountifulbotanicals [at] Feel free to email me any questions as well. I'm happy to help where I can. Betsy

I HIGHLY recommend Josh Kemp phone 717-4271 or kemp.hardscape [at] He did our front yard, fence, and back deck and stone patio. He is an excellent carpenter, landscaper, hardscaper - he does it all! Very professional, reliable, and reasonably priced. He is also very creative with a lot of good ideas. Let me know if you have any more questions or want to see the work he did at our house! ub

My husband and I highly recommend Josh and Ian Kemp of Headwaters Hardscape (510) 717-4274. They installed a deck with amazing built-in benches and flagstone pathways. We could not be happier with the result and they were a true pleasure to work with- very fair on pricing, very timely, honest and extremely personable. Please feel free to email me with further questions. hkr

I can highly recommend the Bluhon Planning Group (contact Peter Bluhon, 510- 841-3255 or peter [at] We hired Peter to implement a design plan for our front yard. He did an amazing job! He was able to evaluate the plans with a critical eye, suggesting changes to create a more functional and beautiful space. He approached each decision with great thought, care and precision. Peter has a great vision for overall site planning, materials and plants. He also took into account the budget we were working with. Our project included hardscape (stone steps and walkway, cement driveway, stucco), planting and irrigation. His group of workers were highly skilled and hardworking. We will be using Peter's full range of talents, design and build, to landscape our backyard. Peter is a perfectionist, which shows in his work. It was a pleasure to work with Peter and his group. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions. Nancy

Headwaters Hardscape (in Richmond, 510-717-4274) is owned and operated by Josh and Ian Kemp, brothers and East Bay natives. We did a project with them at our downtown Berkeley home in Spring 2008--we can't imagine a better contracting experience, nor a better outcome. Josh and Ian combine outstanding design sense, knowledge of plants and materials, and draft and construction skill, with remarkable timeliness, attention to detail, congeniality, collaboration, and joie de vivre.

Our job involved taking a 500 sq foot background--barren and dusty-- and completely developing it with a combination of redwood decking, exquisite stone patio and walks, plants, and other features including a beautiful fountain and lighting. We had no definite plan for any of it, just some ideas and general sense of how we would use it. No problem--Josh worked with us to develop a beautiful design with great features, workplan and estimate, and as the work got underway and evolved (including our finding cool weird Indonesian wood screens and posts and asking him to incorporate), Josh adapted the design and plan. We of course paid for the modifications, but he calculated these with flexibility and alternatives, exact costs, and with our complete understanding and agreement.

I could go on and on, but suffice to say that from end to end (about 8 weeks worth of work, and with no unreasonable delays) Josh and Ian were a joy to work with. We've all heard about or had awful experiences with contractors--Headwaters gave us the exact opposite experience. Not only did the work exceed expectations, but Josh and Ian are remarkable people in their own right and worth getting to know. We highly and unequivocally recommend Headwaters Hardscape. Enjoy..... Mark

I was recently faced with the construction of a deck. I had a number of people take a look, and I wasn't happy with any of the choices. I called Sorin Feraru because he had build a deck for a friend of mine, and he came and re-designed my old deck build by the previous owner. He and his crew were nice and professional. The work was done in a timely fashion, and he was able to put a finish on the deck as well as finish the existing stairway. His crew did a variety of work, and were able to repair stucco damage, take care of electrical work, and put in new doors that led from the house to the deck. I highly recommend him, he can be reached at 510-228-7366 Donald

Someone to build a deck - maybe Ipe?

April 2008

We have plans for a deck but no one to build it. Can anyone recommend someone to do the actual construction? We are thinking about Ipe or trek type for the flooring. I know that Ipe is hard to work with, requiring predrilling and I am not sure about any long term issues with the trek like flooring. so comments on this would be welcome as well. Virginia

Andy Frasheski,did the most fabulous job on our complete house remodel, including a beautiful deck, two bathrooms and the kitchen plus removing a wall-everything. He is very creative at problem solving. He is very attentive to detail and easy to work with. He also does many small jobs like replacing a simple dry rot panel in the siding. I highly recommend him; he has very good references. You can call him at 510-644-3711 or cell 510-318-2258

I HIGHLY recommend, Jose Maravilla 510-381-0399 (Maravilla Landscaping. He is great, reliable and cost efficient. I had him come in and install drip irrigation for my yard and fell in love with his style of work I had him build me a deck and I will say he gave me exactly what I wanted! He was a pleasure to work with and really made me feel like he was listening to my ideas [as far fetched as some of them may have been]. Aurora

Good inexpensive deck builder

March 2008

Can anyone recommend a good contractor to build a deck and fence? We live in El Cerrito and are not, alas, looking for an artisan to compliment design as much as a good, childproof and not expensive outcome. Please email me directly if you know any honest builders, also we would like to do it ''Green'' if possible. Thanks! aimee

Have used Peter Gill many times to install windows, wiring, plumbing, sheetrock, and, best of all, finish carpentry. Peter works full time repairing houses in the Berkeley area, for an insurance company, so he knows how to deal with older houses the right way. He is available for small jobs on Saturday and Sunday. We have found him to be careful, methodical, reliable, and good company. pbgill [at] or phone 510-773-3940. Suzette

We recently had an old rotting deck completely replaced by a fantastic contractor we found through recommendations in the Berkeley Parents Network archives: Carl Kudrnac of Bushveld Construction in Walnut Creek; phone # is 925-465-4398. Carl does both small and large jobs in the greater East Bay, from deck repairs to major contracting projects. We found him to be extremely conscientious, honest, knowledgeable, and skilled. His price was quite reasonable and he even replaced and rerouted some broken drainage pipes he found under the old deck at no extra charge. We highly recommend Carl for his high quality work at a reasonable cost. Maria and Paul

Tony and his small crew do a great job with decks, stairs and the like. They just did a bunch of work for us and are very versatile, good with the details. He's at 510.444.0303 Tamara

Need deck repair/paint

Jan 2008

Looking for a reliable deck repair/painter person. Fixing railings, replacing wood, repaint that sort of thing??? Sarah

Try Yvonne Kettels of She Custom Building - 510-520-0295. She does great work, is skilled, experienced, responsible. Has done lots f work for me (fence, deck, shelves, window seat, painting), friends and families at our school. tlfitz

I'd like to recommend Atlas Power Washing for any type of deck repair- I got them via a BPN referral as well. On short notice, we had them stain our upper & lower deck, replace some rotten boards and also, extended our deck when we took out the hot tub. They did a fabulous job and I couldn't be more pleased. They are based in Santa Rosa but didn't have a problem coming to Concord where I live. The owner's name is Steve Conroy and he can be reached at his cell# 707-494-4468. He's a pleasure to do business with & will use them again in the future. Cheers, Susan

Francisco Ramos is an excellent carpenter who has provided my aunt and me household construction services over several years. In my auntms house, he carried out substantial projects, including sheetrock and tiling for a major bathroom remodel, brick paving, minor plumbing and carpentry such as installation of doors. He can do stucco and concrete-form work, and install siding. He has worked for a large home- construction firm as a finish carpenter. He has built and repaired fences for me, and has been very easy to work with, for example, in following my request that he reuse sound building materials when possible, something I found other carpenters have been reluctant to do. His work is very attractive and his rates are quite reasonable. Over the years he has worked for my aunt and me, he has been prompt, responsible, and very trustworthy. I highly recommend him. Please call him at (408) 564-7921 (home) or (510) 304-7659 (cell). Please email or call me if you want more information. Kate

I don't know of anyone to recommend, but I would like to recommend against using Steve of Atlas Power Washing. We hired him to repair and paint our deck in early October. By mid- December his team had worked less than two days and with nothing to show. By mid-December it was too cool and too wet to continue the job. Steve was very unreliable and his team was not careful. On more than five occasions he set a date for work and did not show up. His team broke a jar of nails on our patio and did not pick it up and they used our fountain to soak their paint rollers. very disappointed

2005 - 2007 Reviews

Composite Deck

Nov 2007

hello! i am helping my parents rebuild their current rotting redwood deck. i am leaning towards trex this time around due to its maintenance advantages but i fear the aesthetic disadvantages. i would like to invite your input on composite decking as well as possibly take a peek at your composite deck- it would help my final decisions on color, etc. Judy

We built a deck using Millenium Decking ... it's great! After 3 years, it's held up very well: despite spending every day in sunlight, it looks fine. Quite easy to install, made completely from recycled materials, and zero maintenance. At the time, Ashby Lumber carried this decking, and we chose it in preference to Trex. I don't know if they still stock this brand. see their website at
North Oakland sun deck

Sept 2007

Josh Tomlinson of Dialogue Design-Build just completed a gorgeous deck for me. I heard of him through the Berkeley Parents Network, called all 5 of his references (all of whom had nothing but glowing things to say), and contracted him to construct a backyard deck. I highly recommend his services. A true craftsman, he is professional, very knowledgeable, with great attention to detail, incredibly reliable, very easy to communicate with, and a pleasure to have around. Happy New Owner of a Brazilian Ipe Deck!

Do you love your deck?

June 2007

Have you had a deck built and LOVE it? We are looking for some deck contractors to get estimates from & are having a hard time. Can you recommend yours? Thanks. Alison

David Honey (510-355-4795) built our deck last Fall. We LOVE it! He built it in a challenging space (over existing multiple levels and fitting into existing brick stairs, etc). He is meticulous (it took a few weeks longer than expected), he works alone when he can (''I don't want to hover over anyone to have them get it right''), and he is opinionated (he built our deck with Trex and grumbled the whole time: ''This isn't anything like wood- it's plastic!''). Our friend saw our deck and didn't even bother to interview other people. Their (Trex) deck looks great too. We found him through BPN (a builder listed here passed our job on to David). His price was average. His attention to detail amazing. You won't be disappointed. Kim

Susan Miller is a terrific landscape architect for Lazar Landscape in Oakland(510-444-5195). Their company does very nice work and they are contractors. Their expertise includes stonework, decks/carpentry,irrigation,plantings-everything outdoors. Susan is very nice, professional and easy to work with-and she has 20 years of design/build experience. Give her a call ! amy

Need a reliable, reasonable and responsible deck builder

June 2007

We need a reliable, reasonable and responsible builder for a DECK. We are near Lake Merritt. Any suggestions? sophie and virginia

I'd like to recommend Thomas Banks of Bankstown Builders for decks, building and remodeling. He has built a studio in my yard and I saw a fence he made for a friend. What I like best about him is that he won't finish until you are satisfied, but won't put the cost on you. His number is 510 978 5679. doctorsydney

Deck Builders Great deck builders are HDR remodeling located on Sacramento Street in Berkeley. They do great decks at reasonable prices. While you may be able to get a less expensive deck from a handyman, they have a lot of experience with decks, they stick to the budget or projected cost estimate and have the necessary support to deal with design or permits if necessary. Good Luck

You might try Yvonne Kettels of She Custom Building & Renovation - 520-0295. She is very skilled, experienced, responsible and reliable. Also nice to work with. She has done lots of work for us and for friends & families at our school Everyone happy! TLF

Someone to rebuild cantilevered decks

April 2007

We are looking for an experienced, licensed contractor to repair/rebuild the cantilevered decks and bridge driveway on our Montclair home. We are eager to receive more recent recommendations as well as any warnings about recent problems with contractors. Thank you for your time.

I'd like to recommend a licensed contractor for deck work. We had Josh Tomlinson (510) 325-1917 build us a new deck in January, and he did a great job. His estimate was lower than our others and his work was really skillful. His approach to buidling is mindful and he's very good at communicating, especially when there are new developments or changes in the plan. He also stayed more or less on schedule. Heather

Feb 2007

I would like to give my strong, positive, recommendation for Charles Seames of Sequoia Pacific Construction. Mr. Seames built a deck for us with which we are very pleased. It came out beautifully, and during the course of the construction he offered a number of additional ideas that we accepted and were later glad we did. The price for the labor was extremely reasonable. I think that the following areas deserve particular mention.
- The deck was made of ipe, which is a very dense Brazilian hardwood that is heavy and very hard on tools. It requires special techniques and considerable extra work.
- At our request, we were allowed to pay for the material using our own credit card. This is unusual but of importance to us because of frequent flyer miles we accumulate.
- Mr. Seames always returned calls promptly, kept us informed of the status of the job and of materials, and met every schedule he set. With other contractors on other projects, communication has sometimes been a problem.
- We went in with the idea of \xecwe want a nice deck,\xee without knowing what we really wanted. Charles essentially designed and built the deck, presenting ideas to us for our consideration. He showed excellent judgment in consulting us about changes or design features. This has not always been our experience with other contractors.
- We thought that the price was extremely reasonable and we did have a considerable amount of competitive bidding to compare contractors. We could have gotten a cheaper deck, but, as the expression goes, \xeccheaper and worth it.\xee In my opinion, we got the best value from Mr. Seames and Sequoia Construction. We are extremely pleased with the deck and the contracting experience. Please feel free to contact me if you would like me to email digital photos but, in my opinion, they wouldn\xedt do the deck justice. Charles can be reached at 415-378-8031 or by email at Charles.Seames[at] Gabriele

January 2007

Ron Masters built 2 beautiful decks for us a few months ago and the workmanship is outstanding. He used Brazilian ipe wood and custom designed a curved railing that no one else anywhere is doing. We have a great view and he suggested a stainless steel cabling system to preserve our view. Initially we were hesitant, but after living with it for a few months, we really like it. Ron also removed a large window and installed 12ft wide sliding glass doors that really frame the upper deck beautifully. He was able to remove the window and replace it with the door all in one day which was a godsend since we have 2 children. Ron and his helper Dan are very easy to work with, friendly and just good people. Ron was also able to start working within 2 months of contacting him and the timing worked out perfectly for us. Ron's direct contact info is mastersr6[at] or 415-377- 8400.

2002 - 2004 Reviews

Sept 2006

I just wanted to post the strongest recommendation for my deckbuilder, Will Roberts. Two other contractors balked at the hilly site but Will quite literally just dug right in. His work is the highest quality. He works predominantly with brazilian ipe, a gorgeous, sustainably harvested hardwood that will likely outlast the plastic composite stuff that everyone else seems to be pushing these days. He also uses an undermount fastening system so there's not a screw in sight. Apart from the quality of his work, he also shows up on time and is extremely reasonable. This guy should be booked solid for six months but was actually able to start work only two weeks after giving me a quote. His website has all the info you need and plenty of pictures of his work. Check out for more info. If you're reading this Will, thanks for the great work! We've been enjoying dinners on the deck every chance we get and the really good weather should be just around the corner. Jim

June 2006

Hi - I've searched the archives for recent deck builders but see little. Any recommendations? Thanks! Deck in Serious Need of Replacement

We just had a deck and a gate built by a Berkeley-based landscape woodworker, named William Roberts. He did such a great job that we wanted to post an updated recommendation. (We originally found him in an old listing on BPN under Bill Roberts.) His number is 841-8830 and his website is He was extremely responsive to our needs and desires, gave us excellent suggestions, and built the deck in epe (a Brazilian hardwood) beautifully and sturdily. He showed up exactly when he promised and finished a few days earlier than expected... all for a very fair price. Cindy

June 2006

Will Roberts replaced our decks in summer 2004. He did a great job. Good design, efficient team, cost effective. Walt

June 2006

For those looking for fences, decks and general handyman recommendations, I recommend DD's Fences and Decks. Don works by himself, so smaller jobs are his specialty. He does beautiful work, and is very reasonably priced. He can be reached at (510)207-2087. kiki

May 2006

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) Jessica

April 2006

If you are ready to build a deck, I highly recommend Ron Masters. He has great design ideas and can recommend the best materials for your budget and space. He has excellent references and sample pictures of previous decks he has completed. He and his assistant are reliable and easy to work with. You can contact him directly at 415-377-8400 or e-mail him at mastersr6[at] He just finished a project and has a rare window open. Melinda

What kind of material for low-to-the-ground deck?

Feb 2006

We are deciding what material to use for a large low-to-the-ground deck in our back hard. At the moment we favor Ipe for strength, durability and looks. I have read a lot about it on the net and think it's characteristics sound perfect, but we went down to Truitt and White in Berkely the other day and a person (unfortunately with a rather obnoxious delivery style) who worked there began to tell us how it would rot if we didn't build the deck at least 16 inches off the ground, that it would splinter like redwood and that it was really high maintenance - needing to be restained or oiled every year. Basically he contradicted everything I have read about it to date. Is he wrong? Has anyone had an ipe deck which didn't live up to expectations? What should I expect from this material? What are the pros and cons. ? Will it rot if it's built in a spot which doesn't get full sun all day?
want a beautiful deck

We had an ipe deck put in two years ago and we love it. It needs to have another coat of sealer after 6 months, then a year later, and after that, you shouldn't need to do anything at all. That is if you use the correct sealer. The sealer is difficult to find, but it works. Ipe has no splinters - it's an extremely dense wood. Our upper deck is two steps off the ground. If you want more info, feel free to email me. Katherine

We have an ipe deck (certified FSC) and love it. We used ipe for the deck floor, stairs, and railing, but less expensive redwood for the upright parts of the railing (and even cheaper non-arsenic pressure-treated for the joists underneath). The wood is incredibly dense and hard (your builder will wear out a lot of bits pre-drilling holes), and it doesn't seem to absorb water at all. In fact, the only thing I might have done differently is too have them build a very slight slope into the deck so water will drain off rather than puddle on top. I guess it's never a good idea to have a deck sitting directly on the ground, but I can assure you that ipe will last far longer than any redwood currently available. I wouldn't say it never splinters, but definitely much less than redwood. Like any wood, how nice it looks as it weathers is a matter of preference. Ours has been in for about 5 years now, and we've re-sanded the surface of the railing only once. Never the floor. I t! hink it looks nice, but maybe a little grayer than when it was first installed. If you'd like to look at ours, e-mail me. rkonoff

I do not have a IPE deck, but we considered using this wood, and, my next door neighbor did build an IPE deck. You cannot hammer into it; the wood is so durable that each hole needs to be drilled first. Labor installation nightmare! The wood is not supposed to be slippery, but when I climb my neighbor's stairs, I have slipped. Yes, it does need to be re-stained. Hers has definitely lost color and it is 3 YO. We went with Concrete and Steel. LR

March 2005

I would love to recommend Will Roberts for deck building. We found him via this forum. He was a pleasure to work with and built us a wonderful ipe deck. He was accommodating and did little extras here and there which really made the difference. We took several bids, and the single item which stood out the most was the he WANTED to work w/ ipe, where as other contractors tried to almost talk us out of it as it would be cost prohibitive due to additional labor. We couldn't be happier. Thanks

Jan 2005

We give the highest recommendation to William Earl Roberts, phone 510-841-8830, for deck building. Will replaced a set of broken down cement stairs on the back of our house with a beautiful deck of his design which he carefully crafted to fit the style of our 1920's California bungalow. His pricing was more than fair q we had other estimates which were double his price, but no one could beat the quality of his design and craftsmanship. Will was a pleasure to be around q warm, witty, both respectful of our privacy and communicative when needed q always keeping us up to date on the projectms progress. We would hire him again in a minute. valerie

Nov 2004

We're looking for a contractor to repair/restore existing decks and exterior stairs, as well as significantly add (1000+ sq. ft.) to our decks on a downsloping lot. Our construction needs also include dry rot repair to wood siding and framing on our house, fence building and repair, and adding an exterior door. We also plan to do some landscaping, so additional related carpentry work will likely be needed. We're beginning our search for the right contractor for our large project and appreciate any input. mike

We have had the most wonderful experience with Carl Kudernash (sp??) at Bushveld Construction. He came to us courtesy of our landscape architect to build a deck. Then we had him fix the extensive dry rot on another deck. Carl is one of those rare contractors who keeps in touch, comes when he promises, charges fair rates, stays on budget, and does great work. He is very attentive to cost, and comes up with creative ways to cut costs. If anything, he can be a bit too fussy. He worries about small details, and calls when he fears a budget overrun of even just a few dollars. But I'd much rather have that than the alternative. Carl can be reached at 925-299-8701 Leslie

I've used Manuel Gutierrez, and he's great and reasonable. 848 4972. Linda

Redwood or Composite Decking?

Sept. 2004

We are trying to determine which material to use for a new deck. We find ourselves torn between the natural look of redwood and the virtually maintenance-free benefit of composite decking (we would get the kind with a wood grain, not the cardboard-looking old Trexx style).

We live in the El Cerrito hills which means that during the summer we get mostly foggy days, but also a few Indian summer days. We also get pummeled in winter as we face the Bay and there is nothing to buffer the often strong winds and pounding rain that comes with it.

We are leaning toward composite decking only because it requires so much less maintenance and would hold up well in our weather, but we are very concerned about it retaining heat. We have a toddler and plan to have another child and we want them to be comfortable. A recent Consumer Reports letter to the editor posed the same question and the response was that composite decking is no hotter than natural wood. But my experience at my in-laws house (who live in Union City, where it is significantly hotter) is that the single board of composite decking that edges their pool is much hotter than the surrounding redwood.

Does anyone who lives in the Oakland/Berkeley/Kensington/El Cerrito hills area have any feedback for us on how hot your composite deck gets? On a normal sunny day, not Indian Summer, is it too hot to walk on with bare feet? Please also let us know what brand/color you have and what you like/dislike. We would like to go with something similar to redwood in color. Also, I've heard that composite decking easily gets grease stains (we plan to BBQ on the deck) which are very difficult to get out. Is that true?

Any pros or cons would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance. maya

We just went through the same process of figuring out what to use for our new deck. We wound up using ipe. We chose it because it needed less maintenance, it's a gorgeous color, it does not rot, is insect-resistant and fire-resistant (same rating as concrete), and you don't have to worry about splinters.

It's not that expensive of a wood, but because it is so dense, it takes a lot more man-hours to put together. Nails don't work on it. Holes have to be pre-drilled (and it wears down many bits in the process) and screws used. (There is another way to put it together with special brackets, but we didn't go that route.) The end result is fantastic. There is a lot about it on the web. We hadn't even heard of it before we started talking to contractors.

More info from It's an environmentally responsible choice which naturally resists rot, decay, insects, and mold without the use of toxic chemicals used in other decking products. It is naturally fire resistant and has been awarded an 'A1' rating. It is an incredibly strong, dense wood, harvested from naturally sustainable forests only. It has very high wear durability in daily use, and is resistant to splintering and checking. It has been awarded the best decay resistance rating available - ''HIGH 25+ years'', however it has been known to last longer, there just isn't a higher rating! Katherine

Just something to think about -- sometimes it is better to use products that ultimately decompose, like redwood for instance. I worry about all the Trex decking that will live forever in the landfills when people decide to renovate or remodel to stay with the current design fads in the future. another view on trex

July 2004

I was recently faced with replacing an old deck. I had a number of people take a look, and I wasn't happy with any of the choices. I called Glen Larsen because he had built a deck for a friend of mine, and he came and re-designed my old deck built by the previous owner. He and his crew were nice and professional. The work was done in a timely fashion, and he was able to put a finish on the deck as well as finish the existing stairway. He was handy because he did a variety of work, and was able to repair some stucco damage, take care of electrical work, and put in new doors that led from the house to the deck. The thing that impressed me the most was that I had a problem with the door sticking a few weeks later, and he came out right away to take care of it. I highly recommend him; he can be reached at 510-232-9122 Warren

June 2004

Last year, my wife & I hired Live Oak Landscape to design & build a deck, and do some other work in our back garden. We decided to hire them after reading a couple of positive reviews here, & meeting with the owner Neil Collier who impressed us as pleasant & competent, & his price was good.

There were a number of things that happened during the course of the job which concerned us. Although the price given was quite fair, it turned out that it did not include several items that we had asked for & thought had been included. We then had to pay additional for those items. We were never quite sure when to expect the crew as Neil was moving them around between several jobs, & when they did come they would rush around in a great hurry. Since none of them spoke good English, if we had a question we had to phone Neil or his foreman (who was sometimes on the job with the crew but not always, & we had some questions that he was unable to answer anyway). We felt quite frustrated with the overall communication & it seemed that things that we had talked with Neil about were not thoroughly passed on to the foreman. We also began to notice that there were details left unfinished or done sloppily that we had to call Neil's attention to. It became exhausting to have to check on things so closely. Although Neil got the proper permit for the deck construction, we realized a couple of months after the job was finished that the he did not get a permit for building the arbor on the deck, which makes no sense, & puts us in the position of having to disclose that when we sell the house.

We think that we were too eager to get a ''good'' price & that we should have talked to more designers/contractors. In the future, for any home projects, we will work with a smaller company where the owner works on the job him/herself so that there is easy communication & hopefully, better quality control, & we'll pay more for the right person. live and learn

March 2004

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

Jan 2004

Can anyone recommend a carpenter to build a small deck and repair outside stairs and fencing? Karen

I highly, HIGHLY recommend Frank Ciccarelli (382-9179) for any carpentry work you might have. Frank built a fence for us 15 years ago that still looks great and has needed no repair in all this time. Over the years we have hired him to do many projects including hanging doors, rebuilding the back porch and stairs (this past summer), and I know he builds a lot of decks for people. He's smart, reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable, extremely skilled, and a pleasure to work with. Having him work around my home is completely stress-free because I know the job will be done well. Feel free to contact me. Stacey

Sept 2003

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

August 2003

We just had a deck rebuilt by Carl Kudrnac and are very happy with it. Carl is extremely contientious and had some very helpful suggestions about what would and would not work. He is also redoing walkways and retaining walls for us. His number is 925-299-8701. Theresa

May 2003

We have had the most wonderful experience with Carl Kudernash (sp??) at Bushveld Construction. He came to us courtesy of our landscape architect to build a deck. Then we had him fix the extensive dry rot on another deck. Carl is one of those rare contractors who keeps in touch, comes when he promises, charges fair rates, stays on budget, and does great work. He is very attentive to cost, and comes up with creative ways to cut costs. If anything, he can be a bit too fussy. He worries about small details, and calls when he fears a budget overrun of even just a few dollars. But I'd much rather have that than the alternative. Carl can be reached at 925-299-8701. Leslie

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 architect's 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. Please feel free to contact us with any questions at (510) 528-4408 (evenings/weekends), or you can contact Ron Masters directly at (415) 398-8496 or (415) 377- 8400. Nancy

Feb 2003

We didn't have a great experience with JV Fence when they built a fence and deck for us about 2 years ago. They took a couple of shortcuts that let to some kludgy work. First, a step they built into our deck was wobbly and it took a lot of prodding to get them to fix it, which they did in a kind of half-a**ed way. The other was a fence post that they made too short and fixed by gluing another piece of post on top. Most people who see our fence and deck think it looks great. They used good quality wood and the angles are neat. But it really irks me knowing about these little shoddy details when we paid so much money. I saw that another person on this list was happy with their work; I don't know if they had a better experience or if they haven't scrutinized for the kinds of shortcuts that we found them doing. n Ilana

May 2002

I am looking for someone who can build a deck in my backyard, at a reasonable cost. It's a fairly straightforward design, nothing terribly elaborate. There was a recent recommendation for a Bill Roberts based in Berkeley but no phone number was given. I have also looked at the archives for carpenters but was unsure how many of these also do decks. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. - Mary.

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

In response to someone looking for deck guy, I am using Bill/William Roberts in Berkeley to do our deck. He has completed our back deck-- I have found him to do impeccable work- quality-wise. He has a real attention to detail, his work is top quality for all his clients. He's very creative and made some changes to our plans that really improved the overall design. He is a real artisan that we just don't see enough of in the States; he has real pride in his work and it shows. He's also very reliable, comes when he says he's coming and very responsive in talking with owners about potential design issues before he does the work. I couldn't recommend him highly enough.
March 2007 update: The phone is 510-841-8830 or 599-1757 and his website is:

I know a great deck builder: Tom Owczarzak 510.658.2138 Julie

2001 & earlier


Hi, any recommendations for someone who could build a high deck (above 4 feet) in a contemporary style ( and which won't break all the piggy banks in the house?) Limor

I had my neighbor build me a deck last summer. It is two levels, the top tier is about 15 feet high. It was expensive, but has provided us with so much enjoyment, it was worth it. Fred Dudley is who built the deck. I'll check with him about posting his number if you are intersted in hiring him. My deck was $12,000 and is very elaborate. He does excellent work and is the cheapest I've found. Good luck.

May 1999

Regarding Deck Construction: We recently had a deck built (as well as our kitchen remodeled) by Vinny Ernano . The deck is beautiful. Vinny's # is 308-2420.

April 1999

We had our deck refinished last fall by Omni painting and are very satisfied with it. I think it cost just a few hundred dollars, but then again it was rolled into the big estimate for exterior paint for the whole house. They used a power water-washer, and then did waterproof untinted stain over all. Good luck! Meg

Oct 1998

My friend had a deck built this year and she's practically evangelical about the praising the contractor. His name is Harold Holmes , 415-523-8595, and apparently he's built about 900 decks in his lengthy career. I'm told he's exceptionally capable and conscientious, and a pleasure to work with. Kelly