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Home Builder reviews in Los Gatos

  • A
    Dean Corbella Remodel Services
    It went great. The replacement deck is far superior than the original. It is built solid as a tank, straight, clean and plumb. The project was especially challenging because the 2nd level of the deck was about 20 feet high and required massive support beams and posts to be hoisted to that height. Additionally, four steel reinforced concrete footings were built. Again, they were perfectly in line and strong. The precision really paid off when the deck finally came together. Bottom line, the decks and house look beautiful. He worked with county inspectors to get things approved without my involvement. Price was very reasonable. I took 8 bids for the project. Dean's price was among the best prices. But I hired him also because he seemed like a really good person. He was enthusiastic about the job and finished on time.
    - Michael F.
  • A
    GoodFellas Construction ��� Bay Area
    It went great. The crews were fantastic, the quality of work and materials very high and the overall project management by Nathan outstanding. I am getting nothing but compliments about how beautiful the room is and how well it works with the kitchen Goodfellas already renovated. I am so pleased with all the work done by this construction company. We got a new roof, dual pane windows, recessed lighting in the living room, our kitchen renovated and now the family room expanded. Having one company over all of these projects made our extensive plans well managed. I would recommend Goodfellas and our Project Manager, Nathan very highly.
    - Jean T.
  • C
    Chris Sands Construction, Inc.
    Executive Summary:  Excellent quality, but a complete and utter financial train wreck.
    For a more thorough write-up, as well as photos of estimates and invoices, please refer to my Yelp review of Chris Sands Construction, Inc.
    THE GOOD
    So let?s start with the good.  Mr. Sands is a great contractor, at least as far as the final physical product is concerned. The work that he did for us was, for the most part, high quality; only a handful of relatively minor mistakes were made. The mistakes that he did make were fixed on his own dime, or at least so he claimed; there was no way to actually validate this with the level of detail we were provided on his invoices (more on that in a bit).  On a job as big as this one, that is saying a lot.  Not every contractor in the world can handle a job that involves ripping out the entire foundation of a home and supporting the home so that it remains level while a new foundation is built.  Additionally, he came highly recommended by other professionals.  The work itself is 5 stars.
     
    THE BAD
    Financial
    When it was all said and done, our job ended up being 96% over budget.  For those of you who think that number must be a typo, let me write it out in words: NINETY SIX PERCENT.  To give you a clearer picture of the financial impact to us, the initial estimate for this job was $163k.  However, when it was all said and done, we had written checks to Mr. Sands totaling $329k.  We had no reason to question his estimate; $163k is a whole lot of money, right? Who hears $163k and thinks, ?Hmm, I think that?s understated by 96%??  We certainly didn?t.  In fact, we thought, ?Wow, $163k seems a little pricey, but since Mr. Sands is highly recommended, so let?s not cut corners.  Let?s hire him anyway.?  To make matters even worse, Mr. Sands didn?t even wind up performing all of the work that was included in his job estimate.  My father had to step in and take over some of the less demanding tasks toward the end of the project, since the project outlay was ruining us financially. Mr. Sands did not purchase any of the lumber for the deck except that for the joists, nor install it, nor did he purchase or install the rock veneer.  He also did not purchase or install the wood flooring for our new addition, or frame out any of the rooms in the addition.  So he managed to exceed budget by 96% without even performing all of the tasks outlined in said budget!  Now, was some  out-of-scope work performed?  Sure, but nowhere even remotely in the vicinity of 96%.  I put together my own Excel spreadsheet comparing budget costs to actual costs, and I calculated the total cost of out-of-scope items to be roughly $45k, or 28%. Furthermore, there were multiple out-of-scope items that we never would have approved had we been given a more accurate financial estimate at the outset.  Unfortunately, the grossly understated estimate led to a number of unfortunate choices during the course of this project, such as moving our propane tank and re-routing our power lines.  Neither of those things needed to be done; we only approved them because we thought the job was going to cost $163k, and therefore, we thought we could afford a couple of extras.  These were unwise choices that were based on an extremely faulty job estimate.  I have to admit that personally, I find it hard to believe that a contractor who has been in business for, say, +/- 30 years could prepare such a grossly understated job estimate completely unintentionally.  If that kind of misstatement were truly an
    accident, then as far as I am concerned, it represents job negligence.  It is unacceptable to present clients with information that flawed.  It puts the clients? financial well-being at risk. It certainly put our financial well-being at risk. 
    If I were reading this review, my reaction might be: isn?t it your job as the homeowner to rein in the contractor?  To ensure he is on track and prevent this kind of gross overrun?  I don?t disagree with this sentiment, but we encountered two problems every time that we tried to gauge progress.  First, Mr. Sands has an uncanny knack for dodging any and all attempts to pin him down or get a commitment on anything.  I honestly think he could have been a politician with his ability to answer a question without
    -actually- answering the question.  Don?t believe me?  Try it for yourself sometime, if he?s currently working for you. 
    Every time we tried to find out how long a task might take, we got this response: ?Well, it depends on X, and on Y, and on Z.?  I can?t think of a single time we tried to get a firm commitment and actually managed to get one.  It?s always ?well, there?s this, and that, and the other.?  Blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah.  I?ve never worked with anyone so squirrely before, and it drove me absolutely crazy.  Second, once we got to $150k in spending, we asked Mr. Sands for a ?Cost to Complete.? 
    He put together what was essentially a second estimate that was presented to us mid-August (when he was 4 months into the job).  At that time, he estimated that we could finish the job for $93k (this excludes his estimate for the work on the deck,
    since my father ended up doing this work).  However, between August 25 and the end of the job, we actually paid Mr.
    Sands $177k, or 90% more than his SECOND estimate!!  You?d think the estimate would be more accurate as you got closer to the finish line, right??  Well, think again.  Even now, months later, I am still flabbergasted when I think about it. 
    Ethical
    When he was wooing us as clients, Mr. Sands indicated that because he lives in our neighborhood, and would have no commute to our job site, he would be giving us a 6% reduction in his profit and overhead rate (from his normal 16% to 10%; see attached photo of the job estimate).  This wasn?t something that we asked for; rather, he offered it to us.  We, in turn, factored it into our decision to hire him.  When we received our first bill, we immediately noticed that he had invoiced at a 16% profit and overhead rate.  When I presented him with his quote, and asked what had happened to the agreed-upon 10% rate, he replied with, ?Oh that, that?s a year old.  I?m not going to honor that now.?  Umm, excuse me?  My disgust must have shown on my face, because after a pause, he then offered a pathetic excuse, something about how we hadn?t started our job in December, and he had to maintain his liability insurance between December and April. Frankly, it didn?t ring true to me, and I think it was just the first thing he could come up with off the top of his head.  First of all, we weren?t able to obtain our
    permit until December 2012.  That?s not our fault, it?s the County of Santa Clara?s.  Secondly, we never said that we would start our job the second we got our permit ? who starts a job in the middle of the rainy season?  What sort of moron would do that?  As far as I am concerned, it was a flimsy excuse offered to cover the fact that Mr. Sands simply had no intention of ever
    honoring his promised 10% rate.  I was, and still am, livid.  Had it been up to me, we would have fired Mr. Sands on the spot for the lack of ethics he displayed that day, but clearly, I was overruled.  However, I lost all faith and trust in Mr. Sands from that day forward.  I find myself second-guessing his motives for everything now, which is a lousy way to feel about somebody you are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars.  To his credit, Mr. Sands bowed to pressure from me midway through the job (when it became clear that we were going to vastly exceed his job estimate), and reduced his rate from 16% back to the agreed-upon 10%.   However, he did not do so until we had already paid him $147k at 16%, which translates to an extra $8,800 in ill-gotten gains.  Even if I buy the whole ?insurance premiums? argument that he made, I am fairly confident that his insurance premiums for 4 months were nowhere near $9k.
    On a related note, the entire practice of charging clients a percentage of total job costs strikes me as a huge racket, regardless of industry practice.  At one point, Mr. Sands indicated that part of the justification for that percentage is the fact that he has connections and can secure the cheapest subs for the job.  Not necessarily true.  I obtained independent quotes for the following during the course of the job: windows, tree work, fumigation, floor refinishing, and downstairs drywall.  In all cases except windows, I was able to obtain lower bids than those procured by Mr. Sands.  Mind you, I wasn?t scraping the bottom of the barrel, either ? I only contacted companies with 4 or 5-star ratings on Yelp, or A/B ratings on Angie?s List.  Needless to say, we ended up using my contacts for the tree work, fumigation, floor refinishing, and downstairs drywall.  I find it unsettling that I was paying Mr. Sands 10-16% of total job costs when he wasn?t necessarily even locating the subcontractor with the best value proposition.  The lesson here?  Future clients should consider obtaining independent bids on subcontracted work whenever possible.  Don?t assume Mr. Sands has your pocketbook?s best interests at heart.  If anything, there is a large conflict of interest because of the way that he bills ? the more Mr. Sands is able to invoice you, the more he takes in through profit and overhead. 
    Miscellaneous
    This is a somewhat minor, but Mr. Sands provides virtually no detail with his invoices (see attached photos). All you will get is a 1-page summary with a few line items totaling anywhere from $15k to $40k.  It?s not nearly enough information to provide clients with any way to ensure invoicing accuracy.  Should you wish to hire him as your contractor, I recommend insisting on copies of all subcontractor & material invoices, as well as time cards for him and his crew, from the get-go.  You will regret it if you don?t.  I speak from experience on this.
    - James G.
  • A
    SOD Builders
    We are extremely happy with Oren, Michelle and all of SOD crew members.
    So we have just purchased our new home, which needed serious updates to make it look like our home. We decided to start with the kitchen, which was outdated and closed, and the master bathroom that looked like it came out of the 70's. We called a few contractors we found and the third meeting was with SOD, well Oren & Michelle came and there ideas just blew us away. Michelle asked us our likes and dislikes in the old kitchen and while questioning us, really got what our vision was, her ability to point out some of the things that we couldn't see was just great. Oren was straight to the point, didn't promise anything he couldn't provide, I really liked the no bulshit approach he had. ( some of the others bidders made us feel like they would promise anything just to have us sign a contract ).
    SOD also re pipe and rewire the whole house. they also upgrade the main electrical panel to 200amp.
    Oren did an amazing job on our kitchen, opened up the space to the living room, and I just love that I can show off my new kitchen every time I host a party. 
    I must say that since day one they make sure that the house is covered with plastic, paper and they make sure to keep the site clean every day, even that we are not living at the house!
    Their crew were professional, on time and we always knew what was expected to happen. The office always updated us on the schedule on daily basis (they are using some kind of online project management software).
    Now we are done with phase one which was the kitchen addition and the next step will be master bath.... I can't wait!!!
    I must say their bid was not the lowest one we got, but it was worth every penny more we spent.
    I would update once our bathroom will be completed ;)
    Thank you everyone for an amazing job!!!
    - Lee Y.
  • A
    Legacy Construction Inc
    My wife and I contacted a few different carpenters from Angie's List to look into vaulting the ceilings in our upstairs bedrooms.  Quite honestly, Nate was one of the first people to respond.  We setup some time for him to look at the project work.  I was concerned with the old framing in our home that it was going to be a difficult job requiring structural engineering and hoops to jump through.  I was wrong -- Nate looked at the space and immediately had a plan allowing us to do the work.  
    Nate and his crew (Ernie and Tim) showed up every day early in the morning and kept busy knocking our the work.  They are all great guys and have fun working in their trade.  In the end, the final results look fantastic and the prices were very reasonable.  Nate is a positive guy and very easy to work with.  I appreciate that they have helpful solutions to propose when an issue arises.  With some construction professionals it's the opposite experience and you run into brick walls.  I can also appreciate that they take total ownership of the work and do not need guidance or input delaying the work.  For example, Nate was always proficient in getting the materials needed for the next days work.  I did not have to worry about anything as he owned it all.
    In the end, not only am I tremendously happy with the new space but I'm also pleased that their framing work bolstered the strength of the home's overall strength and support.
    Since Nate and his team wrapped up their project work, I'm already asking them about other potential project work. 
    Big thanks to Legacy Construction!
    - Martin E.
  • F
    IACOMINI CONSTRUCTION
    Dealing with Enzo was a nightmare. After the initial consultation it was impossible to reach him. The word flexibility simply does not exist in his dictionary. He was rude, unprofessional and unresponsive. So glad we found out before we sunk over $30k on our kitchen.
    - Ramaswamy A.
  • B
    Valley Home Builders Inc
    They had good references and reveiws and were very helpful, friendly, and attentive to our stated requirements.  THey listened well to our ideas and worked hard to provide us with information. They were a little disorganized and made several mistakes in communicating clearly what they intended to do and when, but were always apologetic and willing to correct errors. They took more cues from us in terms of design than offering creative alternatives. While I felt that they would have done a good job for us had we awarded them the contract, I felt that they had a bit less expertise that the other firms we had interviewed and I thought we would find it a little more difficult to get a high level of artistry in design. This is a good design/build team and would likely be a good choice for someone with a fairly straightforward kitchen or bath remodel.
    - Joyce S.
  • A
    Rodrigues Builders Inc.
    It took us 2 months to select a contractor for the project. Rick wasn't the cheapest but he was both competitive and more importantly invested the most in learning the project and its details during the bidding process.
    During the project Rick proved to be super professional and accommodating to our needs and number of change requests. We had our second daughter born 5 weeks before her due date, before the house was finished. Rick prioritized our project and did everything humanly possible to expedite the remaining work so we can move back in to the house ASAP.
    Great quality, subject matter knowledge, attention to details, "customer service" and timeliness.
    Tamir
    - Tamir P.
  • A
    Sjef Vanderpyl
    He is extremely easy to work with.  He does not charge a premium price.  He is very good about making suggestions that would improve your property.  He has been very fair in all his billing.  The quality of his work is excellent.
    - Desmond J.
  • A
    Bonsai Builder Construction
    They are close to completing the job. I would be spending an estimated amount of $200000. They are very personal and they give great attention to detail. They are very professional and very dependable. They have great craftsmanship. They are able to keep up with and track the vision that I had. They are very close to the budget that they had estimated.
    - Marie C.
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Home Builders in Los Gatos

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