Brigada Builders was hired to demolish about 80% of an existing structure and then build a modern family home with up to date amenities and materials. The project included: removal of existing sheet rock, flooring, ducting, electrical system, plumbing, insulation and all windows and doors. The windows and doors were not energy efficient and were in disrepair. The existing kitchen was gutted and the walls dividing the kitchen and living room, which had been part of the original structure, were removed to make way for an open floor plan. The roof was removed down to the rafters because of extensive water and termite damage. After demolition, Brigada Builders worked closely with my wife and I to elaborate upon the architectural plans, in order to satisfy our vision of an ideal home. Besides creating a completely remodeled home, an addition was also planned to extend the foyer. Also, the floor plan of the house was revised to create a master bathroom and walk-in closet where there was none. The remodeled home included: an energy efficient HVAC system, all new copper plumbing all the way to the public water main, completely new electrical system and electrical panel, with integrated 90AMP circuit for electric car fueling, recessed lighting and ceiling fans, energy efficient dual-pane anodized aluminum windows, fiberglass french doors, porcelain tile-lined bathrooms with 1/2″ thick tempered glass shower enclosures, freestanding resin and cast-iron bathtubs, as well as a tankless water heater with recirculation lines and a recirculation pump, integrated into a single unit. A new 40-year dimensional shingle roof was laid down. Additionally, a brick fireplace which had been badly damaged in an earthquake was reconstructed to code, retrofitted, and a decorative Japanese clay tile applied to create a modern facade. The flooring chosen was 3/4″ thick American Walnut flooring, in 12′ long planks, which were hand scraped and stained by Homero Flooring in association with Brigada’s craftsmen. The exterior of the house was wrapped with horizontal 5″ wide Diamond Mangaris wood paneling, which was assembled in such a way as to hide the method of connection. Finally, smooth stucco was applied to the remaining exterior to complete the modern look of the new home.
Our friends and family had forewarned us, building a home was tantamount to a self-inflicted nervous breakdown. We heard horror stories of shyster contractors, of projects going on for decades, of lawsuits and permit debacles. We were told to expect being robbed, and unhappy because that was the way so many home remodels ended. My wife and I were determined to have our dream home, without having to resort to antidepressants and shock therapy while creating it. As such we took our time seeking out a contractor who would be more a partner in our project than an overlord on our property. We made ten copies of our architectural plans and rotated them to various contractors to whom we were referred. Unfortunately, the process was painful as we soon realized that the people we were meeting were not people we wanted to form a partnership with. Frequently, we were made to feel as though the contractor knew what was right for us, while we were made to feel ignorant about what “true design” was or exactly what it was we wanted in the first place. As the close of escrow on the house approached, we were referred to one more contractor, Andrew and his firm, Brigada Builders. Andrew came out to meet with us on the same day of our call, and briefly reviewed the plans. From the outset, I noticed something about his character, which immediately instilled a sense of trust in him. Perhaps it was his honesty, or his willingness to listen to our ideas and our hopes for our new home. Speaking with him, we realized that he placed a great deal of effort in establishing a relationship with us, the sort of partnership we were seeking all along. He asked for a few days to write-up a bid, and took the plans. A few days later Andrew called and laid out the logistics and cost for the project. The project would take four months, and would begin precisely on the day that escrow closed. On July 1st I arrived from the permit office at 8am to find several trucks, a large garbage container and a crew of workers ready for work. This was a very reassuring sign from the outset. From then on out, the construction continued on like clockwork, with Andrew giving us daily reports on progress and planning for the next days activities. When we had questions, Andrew would be there to answer or would be available by cell phone. In fact, I don’t believe there was a single unreturned call in all the time we worked together. As the project proceeded Andrew provided documentation of payments that we made, and written change orders for anything, which we might decide to add-on to the project. Andrew was also available to work with us in choosing and purchasing various decorative elements for the house, calling us if he spotted deals on items we might be interested in, like the $4000 bath tub by Victoria & Albert that was being sold from a contractor’s supply house for $400. He shared with us his knowledge and experience with new materials and technologies, and what we didn’t understand, he would take the time to explain. In fact, there was a feeling that we were truly being looked out for, like we were working alongside a friend, instead of a stranger, whom we barely knew. One other aspect of Brigada Builders that is worth mentioning here, is the calibre of craftsmanship, exhibited by the crew. Day in and day out, our house was tended by the same men, there was no revolving door of day laborers. Instead the house was filled with skilled carpenters, framers, and stonemasons. All of these men exhibited a great deal of respect and trust in Andrew. It was clear that they were a team and that Andrew was their leader. In the end, the project was completed exactly four months and 2 weeks after the start of work, but considering the enumerable changes and additions we made to those first plans, that was truly a miracle, one that our family, friends, and other naysayers found hard to believe. I would without a doubt, without a hint of hesitation, refer any of my friends or loved ones to Andrew and Brigada Builders, for any construction work they might need. This is the sort of contractor one never hears about and perhaps in some selfish way, I would rather it stayed that way. However, that wouldn’t be fair to Andrew or to the many couples or singles out there, like us, who are looking for the perfect contractor. You’ll be in good hands with Andrew and Brigada Builders.