general contractor in napa ca

Finding the Right Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project

What to Look for When Hiring a General Contractor

So, you’ve decided to hire a contractor to remodel your home or business. As exciting as the renovation process can be, hiring a general contractor can either be a walk in the park or a recipe for disaster. If you don’t fully vet the person before you hire them, you could get stuck in a rabbit hole of unnecessary stress and grief. Finding the right contractor is like finding a nanny for your child. You shouldn’t let just anyone fix up your property. Get the results you intended by hiring someone with the right experience for your specific project. Use these tips when hiring a general contractor for your home or business.

Confirm that the Contractor Is Licensed and Insured

You shouldn’t hire anyone unless they’re fully licensed and insured to work as a contractor in your neighborhood. Ask to see proof of insurance and their contracting license before you sign on the dotted line. A license shows that the contractor has passed the state exam, ensuring their knowledge of building codes and workplace safety. If you hire someone without insurance, you could be held liable if any accidents occur on your property. You should also contact the Better Business Bureau to make sure that your contractor has a strong reputation in the community.

Choose a Contractor with Experience Related to Your Particular Project

Every remodeling project is different. From small businesses to extravagant historic homes, contractors tend to specialize in certain types of home improvement projects. Almost every contractor that you contact will tell you that they’re the right ones for the job, but the truth is usually a little more complicated. If the contractor doesn’t have any experience working on historic homes, they probably shouldn’t be rebuilding your family’s 18th Century estate. Contractors also have a flair for a particular architectural style. Ask for work samples and see if your contractor has the experience to create the look you have in mind.

Finalize the Details with a Written Contract

Never underestimate the complexity of a remodeling project. As straightforward as the task might seem, things can quickly get out of control. Surprises and complications could be hiding around every turn. To make sure that you and your contractor are on the same page, request a written contract for the work order. This should include a general timeline for completion, materials used, a list of all subcontractors, as well as the scope and size of the project. Having a written contract in place will help protect you as a consumer. If the project runs over schedule or over budget, you can renegotiate the price with more authority and aplomb.

Don’t settle for a subpar general contractor in Napa, CA. Contact the professionals at CRC Builders for a consultation today!

residential contractors in san francisco

What to Expect During Your First Remodeling Consultation

When the time comes for you to begin a remodeling project, you’ll want to begin with a consultation with a Bay Area contractor to get everything off to a great start. Your first remodeling consultation should be an exciting time, with plenty of questions and answers – from both you and the contractor. You should feel comfortable (and encouraged) to ask questions, offer your honest opinions, and take all the time you need for such important decisions.

The best residential contractors in San Francisco will have the experience you want in a professional – you’ll find that when you’re working with the right contractor, you’ll be excited, trusting, constructive, and ultimately positive about the experience. But what can you expect during this exciting first step toward your project?

The Remodeling Consultation

Before you schedule a consultation, be sure you are aware of the cost of it; what you will pay will depend on the scope of the consultation. A general discussion over the phone or a visit from a contractor won’t usually incur a charge; however, if a consultation will include detailed design work, several visits, or anything else extensive, the contractor may charge you. In addition, you might also be asked to sign a design agreement before you see drawings of work. This cost can range from $200 to $1,000 depending on a few factors set by the professional.

During your consultation, you’ll want to decide on the scope of a project and a budget for it. Start with a conversation on the phone, then move to a walk-through consultation so the contractor can see the area you want remodeled. They’ll ask questions and give you their thoughts on what they see and what you are looking for. A good Bay Area contractor will take a very detailed look at everything, from the overall layout to the utilities and how everything affects everything else.

It’s recommended that you plan your budget with a bit of a cushion, just because surprises and unexpected things do happen. During the consultation, you might be shown samples of previous work done by the contractor, but most of the time should be focused on a site analysis and a chat about what you have in mind for your space. You might also be able to look at product samples, as well.

The Value of Your Bay Area Contractor

Be leery of bids for your project that are very low; with something at hand that is as important as your home is, you’ll want the best of the best working for you! While you should certainly have every opportunity for your contractor listen to everything you want for your project, remember to also keep an open mind; when you and your contractor work as a team, the final results will be everything you hoped for!

If you’re planning on starting a remodeling project soon, be sure to contact us about joining your team to make your dreams a reality! Contact CRC Builders today.

A Better Way to Build

Why the System for Custom Home Construction is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It

The predominant paradigm for residential construction today is based on intense competition and limited responsibilities among the parties involved in a custom home construction project. This results in a lack of trust, greater conflict and a final product which is often compromised in design and quality. There is another approach which I call “Collaborative Construction” which creates a more efficient design process, a cost effective construction project and a final product that is often superior to what was originally designed, while also creating quality relationships between all of the parties involved.

Under the traditional “Competitive Construction” approach, an architect designs what the client thinks they want, but not necessarily what they can afford. Once the architect has completed this design, they feel obligated to put it out to bid to three qualified contractors. However, the client is generally not willing to pay for enough detail in the plans to make them actually biddable which results in the architect presenting incomplete plans to the bidding contractors. As a result, the contractors are forced to make their best guess on what it will actually cost to build the custom home. In this competitive bid process, the contractor knows that the client will probably choose the lowest bid so this encourages him to be overly optimistic in his pricing. The client then generally chooses the lowest priced, most optimistic and most unrealistic general contractor to build the custom home. Often times, the cost of the project comes back higher than the client expected. This forces the client to give up part of their dream home in order to build something they can actually afford. With this process, the client starts in a state of disappointment knowing they can’t have what they really want. It’s like test driving a Mercedes all day and then buying a Kia! They are never really going to be happy with the Kia because they didn’t get what they actually wanted to experience in a car.

The original plans are now incomplete because the client did not want to pay the extra architectural fees to spec out every detail. This forces the building process to become a series of change orders and ongoing negotiations filled with conflict until the project is completed. Each party is defending their position in order to build the custom home while maintaining their own financial interests.

Under the traditional “Competitive Construction” approach, the project evolves amid this very stressful process that can damage the relationships between all of the parties involved. In most cases, the custom home project goes over budget and exceeds the schedule as well. This is a broken process and needs to be changed. All the parties involved can be great people with good intentions, but by the time they finish building a project using this process, they’re stressed and exhausted, with relationships permanently damaged. There is a better way.

An approach which I call “Collaborative Construction” is used by many design build firms but is still not the industry standard in custom home construction. This collaborative approach is based on trust instead of fear. Using this approach, the entire building team is chosen at the onset of the project. This team consists of the architect, the builder, the interior designer, the owner’s representative and the client.

One key team member that is often overlooked is the Owners Representative. Even if the homeowner plans to be actively involved in the process, they usually lack the experience and ability to navigate a custom home construction project. Often the other parties think the Owners Rep role is covered by the project managers for the architect and the builder, but this is not the case. The Owners Rep plays a critical role in advising the homeowner, guiding their decisions, managing their expectations and uniting the entire team in the Collaborative Construction process.

In this approach, the client states up front how much they want to spend on the project, enabling their budget to drive the design process. The Owners Representative is the team leader who manages project costs and with input from the builder, ensures that the architect does not design something that the client can’t afford. The design is completed with every detail and real pricing for all materials, labor, supervision, profit and overhead. In other words, the project is completed before it started.

In this “Collaborative Construction” process, the team is committed to using their creativity, both individually and collectively, to ensure the client can get the very best product for the lowest possible cost. Custom home projects following this process almost always come in on budget and on time, while maintaining positive relationships between all the parties involved.

The building industry is full of talented people with wonderful ideas and great intentions. The competitive process they are forced to use, because it is the industry standard, brings the worst out in everyone involved. I think it’s time that we change the industry standard to something that simply makes more sense. I have used the “Collaborative Construction” process very effectively for over 15 years in the construction projects which I have been involved. I have many happy homeowners, builders and architects with solid, lasting relationships to show for it. I think it’s time to make this process the industry standard.

sdsaddEd Earl is the principal of Priority 1 Projects, an Owners Representative and Construction Project Management firm based in San Diego. Ed has 25 years of construction experience and an MBA from Stanford University. He has represented owners on a wide variety of construction projects from a 27,000sf estate home to a safari camp rebuild in Africa. Ed is also a business coach working exclusively with contractors to help them increase both their profitability and enjoyment in their construction company. He promotes an approach to construction project management he terms “collaborative construction” which is based on open communication, trust and shared objectives. Ed has been nicknamed the ‘Zen Builder’ as a 20 year practitioner of Zen Buddhism and the project manager for the construction of a nunnery complex at Deer Park Monastery in San Diego which incorporates sustainable design and green building techniques including straw bale construction. Ed is also an energetic, talented national speaker with a passion for green building projects and helping contractors reduce conflict in their business and eliminate drama with their customers. You can watch his presentations at Ed Earl can be reached at or 858‐232‐3677.

The Four C’s of CRC