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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Contractors – Remodel & Additions CATEGORY

Jeff Kann is owner of HOUSEworks, a Diamond Certified Company since 2006. Jeff has spent many years developing ways to remove the stress and risks from home renovation projects. He can be reached at (415) 578-9560 or by email.

Jeff Kann

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Jeff Kann: Building a New Path

By Matt Solis, Editor

SAN FRANCISCO – Many construction professionals spend their whole lives surrounded by builders, often learning the intricacies of the craft at an early age from family members or friends. Others come to the job organically from a related industry like painting or carpentry. For Jeff Kann, owner of HOUSEworks, the path to the construction industry didn’t reveal itself until later in life, but once he found it, he knew he was home. “I started HOUSEworks in 2005 after spending 25 years in banking,” he explains. “At a certain point, I realized I wanted to be involved with a service industry that was tangible; that created things you could touch and feel and see every day. I thought I could bring the business experience I gained from the banking industry together with quality craftspeople, and it turned out to be a great combination.”

Jeff says his years of experience in the business world give him a unique perspective on how to optimize the construction experience for his clients and employees alike. “In construction, good administrative and project management is just as important as good building skills. Most people have or have heard stories about remodeling projects gone awry, whether the work took too long or the construction company didn’t keep its promises. Often, these problems occur not because the people doing the work aren’t good at building, but because they don’t have the business skills to deliver the full package. I’m able to position my builders for success because I handle the administrative side and let them focus on the actual work.”

Delivering quality construction projects on time is undoubtedly made easier by the temperate weather of the Bay Area, but Jeff says it’s the housing stock of San Francisco that’s the most attractive aspect of working locally. “The buildings we have to work with are just amazing. San Francisco houses have a lot of character—most of them have been carefully and thoughtfully put together, with good bones that have sustained an incredible amount of use. The people are also fun to work with. They’re generally bright, entrepreneurial types with diverse backgrounds who take a lot of pride in their homes and want to invest in unique projects, which makes it exciting for us.”

When he’s not managing construction projects in the city by the bay, Jeff takes advantage of the Bay Area’s perpetually sunny days to indulge his other passion: golf. “We live in golf’s Mecca—not only can you play year-round, but the availability of beautiful courses is unparalleled,” he says. “I’m a big fan of the outdoors in general, and that goes hand-in-hand with golf. I walk every course I play, and I enjoy the walk just as much as I enjoy the game. Some of my favorite courses are Chardonnay in Napa, Boundary Oak in Walnut Creek and Half Moon Bay Golf Links.”

Jeff also enjoys exploring the Bay Area’s diverse food and wine scene with his wife, Ellie, who has recently started helping him with HOUSEworks’ day-to-day operations. “Ellie stayed at home with our kids when they were growing up, but now that they’re out of the house, she’s joined me in the family business,” he says. “Our son, David, attends Becker College in Massachusetts, and our daughter, Jacqueline, is at Santa Barbara City College. Actually, both of them have spent time working for the company. David usually spends his summers and breaks working for us or some of our trade contractors, and Jacqueline has worked for one of our designers. We’re a family business in every sense of the word!”

When he reflects on both his careers, Jeff points to one attribute above all as a catalyst for his success. “I believe it’s important to listen more than you speak,” he says. “Remodeling is a deeply personal process—we’re inside our clients’ homes, and they have specific ideas or visions about how they want to live in their homes and how they want them to look, so the only way to make that happen is to listen. That’s the most necessary aspect of any type of work.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite sport?
A: College ice hockey. My son plays defense for Becker College, and he played on the Junior Sharks when he was growing up. I’m also really passionate about baseball. I love the Giants.
Q: Have you ever read a book more than once?
A: Yes, Catcher in the Rye. I read it in high school, and then I read it with my kids when they were in high school. It really hasn’t lost its core meaning over the years.
Q: Have you ever had a conversation with a famous person?
A: I sat next to Betty White on a plane and it was sort of a bumpy flight, so we talked to take our minds off air turbulence and travel for a little while.
Q: What’s your favorite fruit?
A: Blueberries.
Q: What country would you most like to visit?
A: Actually, I’d like to travel throughout the United States. There’s just so much I haven’t seen yet, like the Grand Canyon and Snake River.
Q: What’s the best James Bond movie?
A: It’s a three-way tie: The Spy Who Loved Me, Goldfinger, and Live and Let Die.

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Designing Your Home for Aging in Place

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SAN FRANCISCO — When planning for a home remodeling project, one thing to consider is “aging in place”: a design approach that anticipates your long-term needs. In particular, it addresses elements of your home you use every day and designs… Read more

How to Take the Stress out of a Remodeling Project

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SAN FRANCISCO — Remodeling can be a stressful process for some people, but that doesn’t mean it has to be for you. To get the most out of the experience and make sure your project turns out exactly how you… Read more

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Video: Aging in Place Home Design

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SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: When remodeling your home, it’s a good idea to consider the long term and design for aging in place. Today… Read more

David Lorber is a veteran of the construction industry and owner of Superior Builders & Remodelers, a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (510) 854-6937 or by email.

David Lorber

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David Lorber: A Renewed Awakening

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

OAKLAND — Having worked for his father’s construction firm throughout his youth, the last thing David Lorber had planned was to further pursue the trade in adulthood—that is, until he had what could be described as a vocational epiphany. “It was a funny thing, because I’d never been particularly interested in the business,” he says. “I simply woke up one morning and realized that building houses was the coolest thing in the world. From that point on, I knew I wanted to do construction.” With his goal in mind, David began training as an apprentice carpenter before going to work for a custom home builder and spending five years doing new construction in Alaska. Eventually, David’s path came full circle when he returned home to help out at his father’s business, of which he later assumed ownership.

Today, as second-generation owner of Superior Builders & Remodelers, David says his favorite part of his job is the fulfillment he gets from “wowing” his customers. “Most people don’t understand how difficult our job really is. Every stick of lumber, every screw, every board that we install is touched by human hands, so when everything is finally in place and the customer is delighted, it gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

A resident of Oakland, David spends most of his free time taking advantage of the rich Bay Area landscape, whether hiking, fishing or cycling. “I’m an avid cyclist and enjoy riding through places like Redwood Canyon and Tilden Park,” he says. “My girlfriend, Debbie, and I actually met cycling, so that’s one of our main recreational activities.” Additionally, David takes time to keep up with his three grown children: Jerry, who lives in Denver; Jake, who lives in Sydney, Australia; and Rachael, who lives in Los Angeles.

In regard to his professional career, David espouses the importance of taking pride in his work. “I try to do as much as possible by hand and really give my all toward delivering a custom, quality product,” he says. “It’s unfortunate how many things these days are either machine-made or manufactured by people who don’t care about quality. My hope is that 50 years from now, when someone looks at a home we built, they’ll say, ‘Wow, these guys really knew what they were doing and took pride in their work.’”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, David says he’d pay a few long-deferred visits. “I would go visit friends and family whom I don’t get a chance to see very often. I have some close friends in Oregon and Idaho, not to mention my kids, who are spread all over, so I’d put together a schedule that would allow me to spend quality time with them.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Australia, to visit my son, Jake. I went there for his wedding five years ago, so I’m past due for another visit.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The past. Much of the housing in this area was originally built about a century ago, and I think it would be neat to see Oakland when it was a little less developed.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Tinker around the house doing repairs or improvements.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: I loved to build model airplanes.

Q: Pancakes or waffles?
A: Waffles.

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Smoke and CO Alarm Tips

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OAKLAND — Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors may be easy to ignore, but they can also potentially save your life. Fortunately, there are new models that are simple to use and further improve home safety. One of the biggest advantages… Read more

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Video: A Crucial Contractor Credential

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OAKLAND — When hiring a contractor for your building project, it’s important to verify a crucial credential. Today we’re in Oakland with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor David… Read more

Ron Evenich is a veteran of the construction industry and owner of Evenich Construction, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 574-8903 or byemail.

Ron Evenich

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Ron Evenich: One Day at a Time

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PETALUMA — Like many professionals who learned their trade by working alongside a parent, Ron Evenich was introduced to construction at an early age. “My father was a drywall contractor, and I started working with him when I was just a kid,” he recounts. “After high school, I starting doing framing work for a couple different contractors, and after about five years, I got my license and struck out on my own.”

Today, as owner of Evenich Construction, Inc., Ron says his favorite part of his job is its intrinsic variety. “Construction isn’t like an office job, where you perform the same work over and over again. There’s something different every day, which I’ve always enjoyed.”

A lifetime resident of Petaluma (where he lives with his wife, Becky, and their children, Shelby and Ty), Ron says he appreciates the close-knit character of his hometown. “Petaluma was a good town to grow up in and it’s been a really good place to raise my kids as well. The people are very nice here and it’s a great community to be a part of.”

Outside of work, Ron engages in a variety of activities, from hunting and fishing to snow and water sports. “Our family enjoys getting outdoors,” he affirms. “We spend a lot of time in the Tahoe/Donner area, both hunting and going skiing at North Star. Also, my son and I take a trip to Montana every year to go hunting.” Ron also maintains an active involvement in his local community. “I’ve been on the board of Liberty Elementary School for 15 years, and I’m involved with youth sports leagues like Sonoma County Alliance Soccer and ACES Baseball.” In addition, Ron likes to keep in touch with his and Becky’s oldest daughter, Sharee, and their grandson.

In his life and career, Ron espouses the virtues of taking a calm, collected approach to everyday problems. “Life’s too short to get all worked up and stressed out, which is why I like to take things one day at a time,” he explains. “This is particularly important in terms of my career. In construction, there’s always a new challenge or issue, so you have to take things in stride. Being proactive about planning and communication helps things go more smoothly, but it’s equally important to be calm when they don’t go as planned.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Ron says he’d spend some time working on his property. “I’m a bit of a workaholic—when I’m not working in the field, I’m usually working around my house. There are a few areas of my property that could use a little TLC, so I’d use the extra time to address some of those things.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers.

Q: What’s your favorite kind of music?
A: Country.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Cucina Paradiso in Petaluma.

Q: If you could visit any country, where would you go?
A: Italy. My wife and I both have Italian heritage, and we’d like to meet up with some of our relatives there.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Blackberry pie.

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Preliminary Steps in the Construction Process

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PETALUMA — In anticipation of an upcoming building or remodeling project, home and property owners tend to get excited about seeing the work begin. However, any construction project entails a number of preliminary hurdles that must be cleared before the… Read more

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Video: Preliminary Steps in Construction

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PETALUMA — Host, Sarah Rutan: In anticipation of an upcoming building project, homeowners sometimes forget about the preliminary hurdles that must be cleared before construction begins. Today,… Read more

Jim Humphrey is a 26-year veteran of the construction industry and owner of JH Construction & Remodeling LLC, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 389-5021 or by email.

Jim Humphrey

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Jim Humphrey: Trading Up

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

CAMPBELL — Jim Humphrey began his professional life in an office, but when he found himself growing increasingly dissatisfied, he decided to trade in his tie for a tool belt. “I’ve always had an interest in construction, especially after I took machine and wood shop back in high school,” he says. “Later in life, I found myself in a management position at Hewlett-Packard, but I eventually grew weary of that type of work. I really wanted to learn a trade, so I left HP and started doing finish carpentry with a friend. After four years as a journeyman, I got my contractor’s license in 1991 and started trimming houses before branching off into kitchen and bathroom remodeling.”

Today, as owner of JH Construction & Remodeling LLC, Jim says he enjoys the sense of satisfaction his job gives him, especially when given the chance to work on historic properties. “I grew up in the William Wright Ranch House, which is the oldest house in Sunnyvale, and that gave me a real passion for older architecture. I’ve been very blessed with the opportunity to work on several older properties, including turn-of-the-century Victorian homes.”

As a lifetime resident of the Bay Area, Jim expresses his appreciation for the local climate. “I’ve been everywhere from the Midwest to Southeast Asia, so I know what humidity is all about,” he says. “Based on my traveling experience, I would say we have some of the best weather in the world. In addition to the climate, I like the old architecture we have in San Jose and San Francisco.”

Outside of work, Jim enjoys spending time with his significant other, Philippa, and daughter, Gina. He also takes advantage of any opportunity to pursue his other passion: fishing. “I take a trip to Costa Rica every year and go sport fishing,” he says. “Over three to four days of fishing, we average about 25 fish, all of which are 8 to 9 feet long. It’s really exciting down there—you never know if you’re going to hook a marlin, a 50-pound wahoo or an 80-pound dorado.”

In regard to a life philosophy, Jim espouses the benefits of having an appreciative attitude. “When I was a kid, my mom always told me to count my blessings, and that’s something I still do today,” he says. “I think it’s important to be grateful for what you have and how you’ve been blessed—and I’ve truly been blessed!”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Jim says he would head to his favorite fishing location. “If I won the lottery or something, I would probably buy a boat, go down to Costa Rica and fish 60 days out of the year. I’d absolutely love to be down there more often.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Deadliest Catch.”

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Pezzella’s Villa Napoli in Sunnyvale.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Philippa’s chicken enchiladas with some eggs and avocado.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Classic rock.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: New Zealand or Australia.

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The Benefits of a Radiant Barrier

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CAMPBELL — Energy efficiency and in-home comfort are both high priorities for most California homeowners. One affordable home improvement measure that addresses both of these aspects is the installation of a radiant barrier in the attic. A radiant barrier mainly… Read more

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Video: A Simple Way to Reduce Attic Temperature

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CAMPBELL — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your home tends to retain heat during the summer, there’s a simple, low-cost measure you can take to cool things down.… Read more

Greg Danz is a 25-year veteran of the construction industry and owner of G. D. Enterprise, a Diamond Certified company since 2012. He can be reached at (650) 409-1232 or by email.

Greg Danz

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Greg Danz: Unshakeable Roots

By James Florence, Senior Writer

REDWOOD CITY — Heading into college, Greg Danz was determined to transcend his family’s roots in the trades, but he ultimately found them harder to shake than he’d anticipated. “Most of my family is in the trades, including my uncles, who are contractors and electricians,” he explains. “Following high school, I went to college with plans to pursue a different kind of career and ended up studying finance. After graduation, I got into property management and did some speculative real estate on the side. My brother and I bought and flipped a house, which gave me some hands-on experience with home remodeling and repairs. As it turned out, I became a professional building contractor, so even with a degree in finance, I still got sucked back into the trades!”
Despite not working in the financial sector, Greg says his education wasn’t wasted—on the contrary, it still comes in handy on a regular basis. “A lot of contractors will give their clients numbers and assume they’re going to make money, but they don’t know how to calculate things like net profit versus gross. So, from a business standpoint, having a finance background has helped me a lot, especially when it comes to doing project estimates.”
Today, as owner of G. D. Enterprise, Greg says his favorite part of his job is the challenges it entails. “Almost all of my work is residential, and we work with a lot of older homes, so there’s the constant challenge of how to bring things up to code while preserving the home’s integrity and antique style. It’s like a puzzle—you have to find a way to make it work, and that’s a challenge I really enjoy.”
A lifetime resident of Redwood City (where he lives with his wife, Brigit, and daughter, Emma), Greg expresses his appreciation for his hometown roots. “Being born and raised here, I have a lot of great connections, which is a big advantage. I’m constantly running into people I know, whether at the store or on the street, so it’s nice to be so connected to my community.”
Outside of work, Greg engages in a wide range of interests and pastimes, from wine tasting to outdoor activities. “My wife and I love spending time in the wine country,” he affirms. “We’ve actually made wine on a novice level, which was a lot of fun. I’m also a big outdoorsman and enjoy hunting and fishing, both at our family’s property in Montana and up north in Oregon and Washington.”
In regard to a professional philosophy, Greg espouses the value of simple honesty. “I consider myself a straight-shooter—I give each client the best job I can for a fair price,” he says. “A lot of contractors try to take advantage of people, but it’s really not necessary. If you simply do right by the customer and deliver a quality product, you’ll have that customer for life. A lot of my business comes from repeat customers, so it goes to show that honesty and quality go a long way.”
When asked what his future retirement might look like, Greg says it’ll likely involve a mixture of country and city living. “We own property in Montana and I’d like to retire there, but my wife is more of a city girl, so it might not work out. Instead, we may end up moving to the wine country, where we can enjoy the slow pace of life and beautiful scenery while still being fairly close to the city. Plus, maybe we can get more involved in winemaking.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?
A: The Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Giants.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: I’m actually not a big breakfast eater—I usually just grab an apple and a cup of coffee on my way out the door.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Probably South America, just because I’ve never been there before.

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: I played football.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Wine.

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Upgrading Your Electrical Wiring

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REDWOOD CITY — If your home was built prior to the 1960s, it may still have its original knob-and-tube electrical wiring, a precursor to modern Romex wiring. While it would be excessive to say knob-and-tube wiring is dangerous, there are some… Read more

Preparing for a Contractor Meeting

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REDWOOD CITY — Prior to meeting with a contractor to discuss your upcoming remodeling project, it’s important to do your homework. You’d be surprised how many homeowners don’t take the time to do this and simply expect their contractors to have all… Read more

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Video: Preparing to Meet with a Contractor

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REDWOOD CITY — Host, Sarah Rutan: Prior to meeting with a contractor to discuss your upcoming remodeling project, make sure to do your homework. Today we’re in Redwood… Read more

Voldi Chandler is president of Chandler Construction, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 584-6579 or by email.

Voldi Chandler

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Voldi Chandler: Putting it All Together

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

NAPA — Voldi Chandler gained experience in a variety of trades before deciding on a career that incorporated all of them. “Prior to getting into the trades, I was doing microwave electronics, which got me interested in working with high voltage electricity,” he recounts. “After that, I got a job with an HVAC company, where I learned about everything from sheet metal work to framing, roofing and plumbing. After gaining experience in so many different areas, I decided to get into general construction, where I could both apply the knowledge I had and continue to learn more. Not long after becoming a foreman for a construction company, I realized I could do the whole job myself, so I got my contractor’s license and hit the ground running.”

Today, as owner of Chandler Construction, Voldi cites multiple favorite aspects of his job. “First off, I love working with my crew—I have a great bunch of guys and we have fun working together. I also enjoy watching projects come together and seeing the results of our work. However, the greatest thing is hearing a client tell me how much they love what we built for them. That makes it all worthwhile.”

A resident of Napa, Voldi says he appreciates the close-knit character of his adopted hometown. “Napa is a very tight community—it’s sort of its own little microclimate. That’s why, if you own a business here, you have to do right by people. If you don’t, word gets around quickly.”

Outside of work, Voldi fills his free time with a variety of active pastimes. “I have a pool table and a really loud stereo, so I spend a lot of time enjoying those,” he says. “I also like mountain biking and spending time with my daughter, Kyah. We both love music, so one of our favorite activities is going to concerts together.”

In his life and career, Voldi espouses the importance of maintaining a balance between the two. “When you’re self-employed, it’s easy to become a workaholic, but you don’t want to work so much that it detracts from your quality of life,” he explains. “The way I look at it, you should work to enjoy life, not just to make as much money as you can. If you’re working so much that you’re not enjoying your life, you’re doing it wrong.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Voldi says he’d get to work on a much-anticipated building project. “I would buy a piece of property in the mountains and build my dream house. That has actually been my plan for a while and I’ve already started designing it. It’ll have a game room, a home theater, an indoor shooting range—all the essentials.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Archer.”

Q: What was your first concert?
A: Faith No More and Billy Idol at the ARCO Arena in 1992.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: On the weekends, I like to go out and get an all-American breakfast with eggs, bacon, and biscuits and gravy.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: Legos.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’d go to Peru to see the ancient city of Machu Picchu.

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3 Considerations for Buying an Antique Home

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NAPA — The idea of living in an antique home may seem romantic, but it’s easy to overlook the potential practical drawbacks. To avoid making a poor decision, take a look at three key aspects before making an offer. 1. Roof One… Read more

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Video: Purchasing an Older Home

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NAPA — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re thinking about buying an older home, you’ll want to look at a few key aspects before making an offer. Today we’re… Read more

Jim Kabel is president of Case Design/Remodeling, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (408) 256-1949 or by email.

Jim Kabel

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Jim Kabel: A Successful Case

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — Jim Kabel started his career in the high-tech field, but after 25 years in the industry, he was ready for a change. “I was running service and support for a major business group when I decided I wanted to do something completely different—specifically to own and manage a business in an entirely new industry,” he explains. After considering his options, Jim decided his professional abilities would be best utilized in the field of home improvement. “As a homeowner, I’d had both good and bad experiences with home improvement, and I felt there was an overall shortage of quality, customer satisfaction-focused companies to address the needs of others like myself.”

When he came across an East Coast-based company that was offering franchise opportunities, Jim knew he’d found a perfect match. “Case Design/Remodeling had a process for remodeling and construction that made a tremendous amount of sense to me, and I ultimately decided to partner with them, which has worked out very well.” Since founding Case’s Santa Clara franchise in 2004, Jim says he’s enjoyed applying his prior professional experience to another industry. “I like taking the things I learned working for a large company, applying them to a small business and seeing how they work. By identifying the skills that are crucial for this industry and tapping the expertise of high-quality professionals, I’ve been able to take things to the next level.”

Originally from Southern California, Jim eventually migrated to the Bay Area and currently resides in San Jose, where he says he enjoys the city’s characteristic diversity. “In addition to the variety of things to do—from sports and entertainment to outdoor activities—I also appreciate the diversity of the people, as well as the professional opportunities available here. It’s just a very fun place to be.”

Outside of work, Jim enjoys partaking in the many things San Jose has to offer. “As a fan of music, movies and sports, there’s always something for me to do here,” he says. “I like going to see live music, and I’m also a San Jose Sharks season ticket holder.” In addition to local entertainment, Jim enjoys playing the keyboard and participating on his company’s softball team.

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Jim says he’d continue to do things that keep him active. “I don’t know if I’ll ever fully retire, but even in semi-retirement, I hope to teach or consult in some capacity—whatever allows me to stay active and relevant.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite musical group?
A: Chicago.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: Probably the past, just so I could become more educated about certain things that happened in our history.

Q: Do you have a favorite local winery?
A: Duckhorn Vineyards in Saint Helena.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Remodeling Magazine’s website.

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Kitchen Planner Checklist

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SAN JOSE — Planning a new kitchen is no easy task, especially if it’s your first major home remodeling project. Use the following checklist to address the various aspects of your new kitchen. Floorplan: Your kitchen is the hardest working room… Read more

Considerations for Remodeling

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SAN JOSE — When planning for a large remodeling project (or any project that’s design-intensive), consider the following points: Define the scope of the project. Before you begin interviewing designers and contractors, have a clear idea of what you want.… Read more

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Video: Five Steps Before Remodeling

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When remodeling your home, its important to plan ahead. Today, we’re in San Jose with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor… Read more

Benjamin Dumitrascuta is owner of Benjamin D. Construction Co., a Diamond Certified company since 2012. He can be reached at (925) 289-8915 or by email.

Benjamin Dumitrascuta

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Benjamin Dumitrascuta: An Early Start

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

LAFAYETTE — While many builders get their start in the construction industry in high school or college, few are initiated as early as elementary school. However, that was exactly the case for Benjamin Dumitrascuta. “My dad was a contractor, and starting from when I was about eight years old, he would pick me up after school and take me to work with him,” he remembers. “By the time I was 16, I was working after school in a professional capacity.” Today, as owner of Benjamin D. Construction Co., Benjamin credits much of his success to the primary instruction he received from his father. “He instilled in me the importance of quality craftsmanship, and that remains my number one objective today.”

Originally from Hayward, Benjamin currently resides in Lafayette with his wife, Roxana, and their four children, Allison, Andrew, Adrian and Ashley. An avid outdoorsman, he regards the Bay Area as an ideal location for him and his family to pursue some of their favorite activities, including camping, swimming at the beach and hiking the East Bay Regional trail. When he’s not immersed in nature, Benjamin can often be found tending to plants in his garden or restoring a piece of antique furniture in his woodshop.

Benjamin says one piece of advice he’d share with others is to follow your heart when choosing a lifelong career. “You have to love what you do. It’s not worth it to do something that doesn’t give you satisfaction, so if that’s the case, you should move on to something that does.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Benjamin says he’d gear up for a big road trip. “I would probably buy an RV and just travel around the U.S. to see some areas I haven’t been to yet. When I got back, I’d keep myself busy by spending more time working in my wood shop.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Spring, because everything starts turning green, the weather starts warming up and I can get back into gardening.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: Probably the future, just to know what’s ahead so I can prepare for it.

Q: What’s your favorite movie genre?
A: Action.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Organic scrambled eggs.

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How to Properly Seal Tile Work

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LAFAYETTE — Tiles are a popular option when it comes to flooring, particularly in showers or other areas where the presence of water is a factor. However, one mistake often made in tile work is the use of cement grout to… Read more

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Video: Proper Bathroom Caulking

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LAFAYETTE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to grouting your bathroom, the saying "one size doesn't fit all" rings true. Today we’re in Lafayette with… Read more

Rolf Bell is a 35-year veteran of the building industry and principal of Green Living Builders LLC, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (510) 295-9322or by email.

Rolf Bell

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Rolf Bell: A Charitable Builder

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

BERKELEY — After getting an early start in construction, Rolf Bell left the field to pursue a more charitable vocation, which gave him a renewed perspective when he later returned to the trade. “I’m a third-generation builder,” he explains. “I started working with my father on weekends when I was 12 years old, and later I used my saw and hammer to pay for college. After graduating, I became a lead carpenter for a roofing crew, but I soon decided to switch gears and become a Lutheran minister. Through the ministry, I got involved with Habitat for Humanity, which allowed me to utilize my construction background for a charitable cause. I eventually returned to full-time construction work, but I’ve continued to stay involved with Habitat and use my skills to help those in need.”

Today, as owner of Green Living Builders LLC, Rolf says he enjoys the twofold character of his revamped career. “I like being able to do construction on different levels and for different causes. I still do charity work locally and abroad, but I also do a lot of high-end remodeling, which keeps me challenged and helps me stay on the cutting edge of technology. All in all, it’s a nice mix that keeps me fresh and excited.”

A resident of Berkeley, Rolf expresses his appreciation for its characteristic diversity. “I really enjoy the diversity of the people here—it makes for more interesting and engaging interactions than if it were a more homogenous culture. I also enjoy the variety of the architecture and building opportunities, which allows me to stay on the growth edge of my industry.”

Outside of work, Rolf engages in a variety of pastimes, both at home and abroad. “I’m really into traveling, which is one of the perks of doing charity work overseas,” he says. “Most of all, I enjoy unusual and exotic opportunities, whether swimming with whales in Tonga or watching bears catch salmon in British Columbia.” Locally, Rolf enjoys activities like skiing and hiking, as well as hanging out with his family. “My wife, Laura, and I have two grown daughters and two grandchildren, so we enjoy seeing them and doing things together.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Rolf says he’d expand his horizons of travel and experience. “As I mentioned, I love traveling and having authentic, intimate international experiences. The diversity of life on this planet is awe-inspiring to me, so I’d like to continue to see and experience as much as I can.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Kirala in Berkeley.

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Adventure movies and thought-provoking films like “Arrival.”

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Tiramisu.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Global experiences.

Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: It’s a tie between bungee jumping in New Zealand and walking along the girders beneath the Golden Gate Bridge as a teenager.

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Cutting-Edge Glass Technologies

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BERKELEY — If you’re planning to replace windows, sliding doors or other glass components in your home, you might want to put this off for another year or two. Glass technology is on the cusp of a major revolution, so if… Read more

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Video: Innovations in Glass Technology

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BERKELEY —  Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re thinking about replacing the windows in your home, make sure you’re aware of imminent innovations in glass technology. Today,… Read more

Dennis Thompson is a 34-year veteran of the construction industry and owner of Thompson Construction, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 506-6915 or by email.

Dennis Thompson

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Dennis Thompson: Hometown Glory

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

HEALDSBURG — A lifetime resident of Healdsburg, Dennis Thompson values the personal benefits that come with living and working in the same town where he was born and raised. “There’s a lot of history here for me, and a lot of good feelings that go along with it,” he says. “I had the fortunate opportunity to purchase a property close to where I grew up, and that’s where I built my house. There’s a dirt road that runs beside it where I used to ride my bike as a kid—I can even point out the spot where I first took off my training wheels!”

Dennis’ local roots run deep on a professional level as well. More than 30 years since he began his construction career, he recounts how it all started: “I was working as a machinist with Hewlett-Packard in Santa Rosa, and I just got tired of all the oil in my hair! I had a friend in the construction business, so I took a two-week vacation and went to work with him just to see what it was like. I immediately fell in love with the trade, so I gave my notice and joined the local carpenters union.” After earning his journeyman status, Dennis continued to excel in the industry and eventually struck out on his own, founding Thompson Construction in 1985.

Today, Dennis says he appreciates the rewards that the construction trade naturally provides, from the satisfaction of a job well done to positive relationships with customers. “It’s very fulfilling to stand back and look at something you’ve accomplished, which is something I enjoy to this day. I also value the connections I make with my clients. In many cases, they become good friends and stay in touch long after their projects are completed.”

Outside of work, Dennis devotes much of his time to being with family. “My wife, Brenda, and I both come from large families with a lot of traditions, and we all get together fairly often for holidays and birthdays, which is always a fun time.” In addition to large family gatherings, Dennis enjoys playing golf and attending baseball games with his three grown sons—Nicholas, Kyle and Chris—all of whom reside locally.

In his professional career, Dennis espouses the importance of quality workmanship. “People often say, ‘No one will ever see this, so you don’t need to make it look nice,’ but I think it’s important to do good work in every aspect of the job,” he says. “Even if no one can see it now, someone will likely take apart my work one day, and I want it to reflect the level of quality I adhere to.”

When asked about his future retirement, Dennis says he has no plans to slow down. “Other than visit some parts of the United States I haven’t seen yet, I’ll probably keep myself busy with home projects. We live on three quarters of an acre, and there’s always something to do. It’s kind of like the Golden Gate Bridge: Once you’ve finally finished everything that needs to be done, it’s time to start over again!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.

Q: The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
A: The Beatles.

Q: What’s your favorite smell?
A: Freshly cut grass.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Socorro’s Mexican Restaurant in Windsor.

Q: Did you play any high school sports?
A: I wrestled, played football and ran track.

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Anything chocolate—it’s one of my few weaknesses.

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How to Fix a Swinging Door

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HEALDSBURG — If you have a door that frequently swings open or closed, you may think the only way to fix it is to completely remove and reset it. However, in many cases, this problem can be corrected with a… Read more

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Video: Solving a Swinging Door Problem

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HEALDSBURG — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you have a door that swings even after you’ve opened or closed it, there is a solution to solve… Read more

Sergiu Deac is a 13-year veteran of the construction industry and president of Best Construction, a Diamond Certified company since 2015. He can be reached at (408) 622-0588 or by email.

Sergiu Deac

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Sergiu Deac: Building Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — After finding the opportunity he sought in the United States, Sergiu Deac continued to build upon that initial foundation and further his career. “In 2001, I left my home country of Romania and came to the U.S. to start a new life,” he recounts. “For me, the U.S. is a place where, even if you come with nothing, you can be successful if you work hard enough, so it seemed like a good environment in which to pursue my professional career.” Sergiu started out working for his cousin, a general contractor who taught him everything from kitchen and bathroom remodeling to custom home building. Eventually, he used the knowledge and experience he’d gained to start his own construction company.

Today, as owner of Best Construction, Sergiu says his favorite part of his job is building relationships with his clients. “I love working with people and seeing the happiness on their faces after we’ve completed their projects. I also enjoy seeing the finished product, and I take pride in the knowledge that I’m leaving behind a legacy with what I build.”

A resident of San Jose, Sergiu spends most of his time outside of work with his wife and business partner, Anamaria, and their two boys, Darius and Luca. “Our boys are the diamonds of our lives,” he says. “However, like most boys, they’re full of energy, which is why we do a lot of outdoor activities like hiking.” Sergiu also enjoys having fun with friends (many of whom are former clients), riding his motorcycle and going fishing.

In his life and career, Sergiu espouses the importance of honesty. “I think it’s important to be a man of your word, both personally and professionally,” he says. “A lot of people say things they don’t actually mean, especially in politics and the media, but for me, it’s critical to say what you mean and follow through with it. I think that has been a key part of my company’s success.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Sergiu says he’d see the world. “I don’t see myself being completely retired; I’ll probably work until the last day of my life because I enjoy what I do. However, if I had the time, I’d definitely travel more. In general, I don’t think humans travel enough—we’re so busy taking care of our families and trying to be successful that we forget there’s a whole world out there to explore.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Any part of Asia, because I’ve never been there.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Experiences and relationships.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Hang out and relax with my family.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas.

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Code Compliance in Construction

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SAN JOSE — An important aspect of any building project is making sure things are done to code. The State of California has rigorous building code standards, both in regard to structural integrity and energy efficiency, so it requires careful diligence… Read more

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Video: Building Code Compliance in Remodeling

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to a home remodeling project, one critical aspect is staying compliant with building code standards. To learn more,… Read more

Michal Gerard is owner of Michal Gerard Construction, a Diamond Certified company since 2013. He can be reached at (831) 296-2839 or by email.

Michal Gerard

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Michal Gerard: A Bigger Wave

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SOQUEL — While many contractors first get involved with the trade because of an interest in the work or to follow in their parents’ footsteps, Michal Gerard says his initial motivation was to fund his primary passion: surfing. “As a young man in my 20s, the only place I wanted to be was out catching waves,” he remembers. “I figured construction work would be seasonal and allow me plenty of time off to go surfing. It didn’t quite work out the way I had it in my head—instead, I got busy and stayed busy!”

Today, as owner of Michal Gerard Construction, Michal says one of his favorite parts of the job is taking on daily challenges. “I enjoy solving the various problems that come up every day with construction work, as well as the challenges that come with maintaining relationships with my clients. Between the actual work and the customer service end, my line of work is never boring.”

A lifetime resident of the Monterey area, Michal grew up in Watsonville before later settling in Soquel, where he says he enjoys the weather, the environment and, of course, the close proximity to the ocean. While he doesn’t surf as much as he did in his younger years, Michal still engages in plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking at Nisene Marks State Park and canoeing in the Monterey Bay. He also appreciates the variety of local culture. “I enjoy the range of options we have here in terms of food and entertainment. There are a lot of world class performers who come through, so it’s just a fun place to be.”

In reference to a professional philosophy, Michal says performing quality workmanship furnishes its own rewards. “I don’t do this just to make a living—I do it because I get a lot back on many different levels. The main reward I get is the satisfaction of a job well done. That’s why, whenever I build something, I’m equally concerned with the structural details as I am with the way it looks on the outside.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Michal says he’d pursue his dream of being a sustainable farmer. “I’d like to live a more ‘close to earth’ existence. I enjoy living outside of mainstream consumer society as much as possible, and I think being more self-sustaining by growing my own food would enable me to take things to the next level.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: Surfing off the coast of Mexico during a big swell.

Q: What was your first pet?
A: A terrier named Annie.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Sunrise Cafe in Soquel.

Q: What’s your favorite smell?
A: Star jasmine—it’s a large vine with aromatic flowers.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Toast.

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The Importance of Controlling Groundwater

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SOQUEL — One of the most overlooked sources of potential damage to a home is inadequate soil drainage. When water is allowed to collect around the perimeter of a home, it can lead to numerous problems, including foundation settlement, termite… Read more

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Video: Controlling Groundwater Around Your Home

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SOQUEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: In caring for your property, it’s important to control groundwater to prevent damage to your home. Today, we’re in Soquel… Read more

Jim Adkins is a 24-year veteran of the construction industry and vice president of Springs Construction, a Diamond Certified company since 2004. He can be reached at (650) 720-5949 or by email.

Jim Adkins

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jim Adkins: Finishing Strong

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

REDWOOD CITY – While he’s since made a successful career for himself, Jim Adkins’ involvement in the construction industry began with a rude awakening. “I started out as a teenager, working summers for my grandfather, Walter Springs Sr.,” he recalls. “I remember coming to work the first day and thinking I was going to do something easy like drive around in a truck or backhoe. When I walked into my grandfather’s office, he pointed to a brand new shovel in the corner and told me that when I learned how to use that tool, he’d give me the next one. Basically, I started my career making blisters!”

Despite a less-than-idyllic start, Jim went on to become well-versed in all aspects of construction and eventually earned his certification as a master finish carpenter. Today, as president of Springs Construction, Jim says he enjoys building relationships with clients as much as he does building their homes. “I always tell people that my favorite part of the job is handing the keys to the clients and telling them, ‘Here’s your new home!’ The whole process is very rewarding.”

A native of Northern California, Jim lived in various parts of the San Francisco area before finally settling in San Jose, where he lives with his wife, Chris, and their children, Laurel and Bryce. He says his favorite part about living and working in the Bay Area is its natural diversity. “You drive 45 minutes west and you’re at the ocean, and you drive four hours northeast and you’re in the snow. Essentially, you could go surfing and skiing in the same day if you wanted. Not a lot of places can boast that kind of versatility. The more I travel, the more I realize that I have a pretty good place to live.”

While he’s passionate about construction work, Jim’s other love is motorsports. “I watch drag racing and Formula One religiously, and I also follow Motocross and Supercross,” he says. “Whenever there’s a race in town, my son and I are there to see it.”

In both his life and career, Jim attributes his personal success in part to an ongoing process of self-improvement. “I just try to do a little better every day,” he explains. “Whether it’s my performance in the field or my role as a husband and father, my goal is to do things better today than I did them yesterday. I think that attitude has motivated me and helped bring me to where I am today.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sport?
A: I’m a big motorsports fan. In NASCAR, I root for Jeff Gordon; in drag racing, I really like John Force; and in Formula One, my favorite driver is Kimi Räikkönen, who drives for Ferrari.

Q: What was your first concert?
A: Eddie Money at the Cow Palace, when I was 16 years old.

Q: What do you like on your pizza?
A: Pepperoni and extra cheese.

Q: If someone was making a movie about your life, what actor would you choose to play you?
A: Brad Pitt, because I’m extremely handsome! (Laughs)

Q: What Seinfeld character do you identify most with?
A: Kramer. He’s just a happy-go-lucky person—he has his friends and his ideas, and that’s about all he needs.

Q: What’s the best gift you ever received?
A: When I was 12 years old, I wanted a radio-controlled car called a Baja Buggy for Christmas. I was sure my parents got it for me, but Christmas morning came and there was no Baja Buggy. I was disappointed, but I was old enough to understand that my parents probably weren’t able to afford it, so I let it go. Later that afternoon, after some family members had come over, my dad said to me, “Hey, go open the drapes on that sliding door and let in some light.” I pulled back the drapes and there was the Baja Buggy!

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Home Remodeling Considerations

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REDWOOD CITY — When taking on a remodeling project, many homeowners feel overwhelmed with the complex nature of the process. However, by addressing a few important aspects ahead of time, you can set yourself up for success. Here are a few… Read more

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Video: Preparing for a Remodel

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REDWOOD CITY —  Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning on a remodel, you’ll first need to know where to start. Today we’re in Redwood City with… Read more

Ilan Sigura is a lifetime veteran of the construction industry and CEO of Sigura Construction, Inc. a Diamond Certified company since 2007. He can be reached at (408) 372-8945 or by email.

Ilan Sigura

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Ilan Sigura: An Integral Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA CLARA — By the time he reached early adulthood, Ilan Sigura had already established deep roots in the construction industry. Even when he tried his hand at a new profession, it wasn’t long before he returned to the field that had become an integral part of his identity. “My father was a contractor, and he began teaching me the trade when I was just a boy,” he explains. “Later, as a college student, I decided to study computer science. After I graduated, I spent a couple of months engineering software for a tech company, but I didn’t like it at all. I felt insignificant working at a large company and my work had no direct impact on the lives of others. This was a stark contrast from construction, where I got to interact with people and see the results of my work firsthand. Ultimately, I decided to go back to doing what I knew best.”

Today, as owner of Sigura Construction, Inc., Ilan says his favorite part of his job is the pride he takes in his company’s reputation. “Between my production team, my estimators and my guys in the field, I run a fairly large operation. As we continue to receive high customer satisfaction ratings, it’s an indication that we’re doing very well, which I find very satisfying.”

Originally from Israel, Ilan came to the United States in 1990 to attend college in New Jersey. “My plan was to return home and run my father’s business after graduating, but as it turned out, I fell in love with this country and never went back.” After migrating to the Bay Area for what was to be a brief stint in the tech field, Ilan settled in Sunnyvale, where he now lives with his wife, Rinat, and their five children. When asked his favorite part about living in the Bay Area, he expresses his appreciation of the diverse local landscape. “I like being outdoors, and there are lots of opportunities for that here. With so much to explore and so much variety, it never gets boring.”

Outside of work, Ilan spends the bulk of his time with his family. “My wife and I believe in giving our kids skills so they can grow up to be confident and independent,” he says. “We like taking them camping and sightseeing, as well as doing activities like riding quads and jet skiing.” Additionally, Ilan extends his passion for construction to his home environment. “I do a lot of home improvement projects, which keeps me working with my hands and helps me stay in touch with my trade.”

In his life and career, Ilan says he never forgets to consider the impact of his work on future generations. “As a professional, I believe in doing things honestly and with integrity—not only because what goes around comes around, but because we need to leave a good place for our children to inherit. That’s why my team and I make an effort to implement eco-friendly measures in our work whenever possible. With everything we do, we want to make sure we’re doing right by the planet and the people who inhabit it.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Ilan says it’s a doubtful scenario. “I don’t think I’ll ever retire—I’ll always want to work. But if I did retire, I’d spend more time with my wife and kids. After all, they’re the most important things to me.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Summer—I come from a warm country, so I like the heat.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The past, just because things used to be simpler and more innocent back when I was growing up.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Snickers bars.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. I usually get about four hours of sleep each night.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Satsuma Sushi in Mountain View.

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Crucial Aspects of Green Building

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SANTA CLARA – When it comes to designing and executing a remodeling project, one of the most important considerations is energy conservation. Building codes require a certain level of energy efficiency, but there are many opportunities to go above and beyond these… Read more

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Video: Conservation Measures in Construction

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SANTA CLARA – Host, Sarah Rutan: When building or remodeling a home, there are several ways to boost energy-efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint. Today we’re in Santa… Read more

Bill Hinkamp is owner of Rockridge Builders, a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (510) 761-6917 or by email.

Bill Hinkamp

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Bill Hinkamp: Designing and Building a Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

OAKLAND — Even while studying architecture in college, Bill Hinkamp never lost his love for construction. Later, he would merge his dual interests into a single professional venture. “I’ve always been involved in construction and I continued to be attracted to the industry during my time at UC Berkeley,” he affirms. “Since I was studying architecture, I increasingly began to see construction as a design/build discipline, which would inform my later career.”

Following college graduation, Bill went to work for an architectural firm, but it wasn’t long before he found himself involved in construction once again. “A couple of years into my stint as an architect, I got an opportunity to work as a quality control inspector on a project at the Presidio in San Francisco,” he remembers. “I worked with the general contractor on that project for about a year, and I enjoyed it so much that I quit my job at the architectural firm and went to work for the construction company. A few years later, in 1981, I started my own design/build firm.”

Today, as owner of Rockridge Builders, Bill says his favorite thing about his job is its inherent variety. “I really enjoy getting to work on all different kinds of projects. When I started this business, my philosophy was that we’d never say no to a project, no matter how difficult or unusual it might be. Decades later, that has given us a wide breadth of knowledge and experience, which I really appreciate.”

A resident of Orinda (where he lives with his wife, Louise), Bill spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “My wife and I enjoy the Bay Area and all it has to offer,” he says. “In particular, we like exploring San Francisco and Oakland, checking out different venues and restaurants, and going to Oakland A’s games.” Bill and Louise also like visiting their four grown children. “Our kids are spread out all over the place, from Los Angeles to North Carolina, so we do a lot of traveling to see them. Occasionally, we’re able to get everyone together under one roof, usually for a holiday.”

Bill says attention to detail has been key to Rockridge Builders’ ongoing success. “We’re all about the details and making sure everything is done just right. Quality control and the care that goes into it makes all the difference in a project’s outcome, and if you can instill that care and attention to detail into each member of your team, you’ll have a winning formula.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Bill says he’d see the world. “I’d probably travel more. I’ve been to Europe a couple of times, as well as Mexico and Hawaii, but there’s still so much more left to see.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Sometimes both, but mostly I’m an early bird—I usually start my day before 6am.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: El Charro Mexican Dining in Lafayette.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Blue Bloods.”

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: A 3-speed “English Racer” bicycle. It was a Christmas gift when I was 10 years old and I still remember the thrill of receiving it.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Bruschetta.

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Getting Ready to Meet with a Remodeling Contractor

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OAKLAND — If you’re planning a remodeling project, one of your first steps should be to meet with a contractor. However, in order to make the most of your initial meeting, it’s best to be prepared by having an idea of what… Read more

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Video: Preparing to Meet with a Building Contractor

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OAKLAND — Host, Sarah Rutan: When planning to meet with a building contractor, taking some preparatory steps will help you make the most of your discussion. Today we’re… Read more

Gary Ryan is longtime veteran of the construction industry and owner of Ryan & Ryan Construction, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (650) 588-0547 or by email.

Gary Ryan

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Gary Ryan: Entrepreneurial Ambition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — Gary Ryan may be a contractor by profession, but given his diverse occupational background, a better designation might be “jack of all trades,” even though he prefers to think of himself as an entrepreneur. “I worked as a painter during college, and after I graduated, I spent several years in corporate America,” he says. “I’ve worked for a major car manufacturer, been a produce broker, worked for an airline and a shipyard…I’ve kind of done it all. Through everything, however, my main goal was to be an entrepreneur, which I eventually was able to succeed at.”

When it came to fulfilling his entrepreneurial aspirations, it was the construction industry that provided Gary with the opportunity he sought. “During college, I got my contractor’s license for painting, and from that point on, I always had some kind of construction project going on the side, even while I was working in the corporate sector,” he says. “Twelve years ago, my brother, Chad, and I decided to get our general contractor’s licenses and founded Ryan & Ryan Construction. From there, we proceeded to get a few more licenses and have continued to expand our capabilities, so it’s been a gradual progression.”

A lifetime resident of South San Francisco (where he lives with his wife, Iliana, and daughters, Havana and Aviana), Gary expresses his appreciation for life in the City by the Bay. “This is the Disneyland of America,” he laughs. “It’s the best place to live and work. Plus, I’m a third-generation local, so all my friends and family are here.”

Outside of work, Gary keeps himself busy with fitness and family activities. “I’m a health fanatic, so diet and exercise are a big deal for me,” he says. “I keep myself in shape by working out and cycling on a daily basis. I also like spending time with my girls—I usually work six days a week, but Sunday is always family day.”

In regard to his life and career, Gary espouses the importance of maintaining balance. “Too much of anything is too much, so it’s important to find a balance in all aspects of your life,” he affirms. “Sometimes it takes a while to attain it, but eventually there comes a point where you have to say, ‘Enough is enough’ and make some adjustments. I think a big part of it involves being true to yourself as well as others.”

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Gary says he’s not sure because it will probably never happen. “I don’t want to retire. I want to work for the rest of my life. I enjoy what I do, and I love being a boss and mentor. It’s like I said, I’m an entrepreneur to the core.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Work. I own another company called ServiceMaster, and our business picks up when it rains, so I’m usually out fixing leaks.

Q: Do you have a favorite TV show?
A: No, but I’m a history fanatic, so I love watching the History Channel.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Firenze by Night in San Francisco.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: Tesla.

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Building Permits In Remodeling

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — A common question homeowners ask when planning a remodeling project is whether any building permits will be needed. The reality is, in almost any instance where you’re making significant changes to your home (remodeling a kitchen or bathroom,… Read more

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Video: Building Permits for Remodeling

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: When planning to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, one aspect you’ll need to keep in mind is permits. To learn more,… Read more

Michael Ghanivand is owner of Advance Construction, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (510) 621-3943 or by email.

Michael Ghanivand

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Michael Ghanivand: From Medicine to Construction

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

OAKLAND — A native of Iran, Michael Ghanivand originally intended to become a medical professional, but when things didn’t go as planned, he ended up building an entirely different career. “I actually have a medical background—I went to medical school at the University of Szeged in Hungary,” he explains. “The Iranian economy wasn’t doing great at the time, so my parents couldn’t send me enough money to continue my education. I came to the United States to get a job, with the intention to save up some money and return to medical school. However, after getting into construction work, I grew to love it and decided to stick with it.”

Today, as owner of Advance Construction, Michael says his favorite part of his job is the simple satisfaction of doing good work. “I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and having something to show for it at the end. These days, while I no longer participate in the hands-on work, I continue to derive satisfaction from seeing what my team and I are able to accomplish for our clients.”

A resident of Walnut Creek, Michael devotes the bulk of his time outside of work to his family. “My wife, Ahdieh, and I have two daughters: a 27-year-old and a 10-year-old,” he says. “The reason for the gap is that after I came to the U.S., I wanted to get my business well-established before having another child. Now, we have one daughter in college and one in elementary school, which is pretty unusual.”

When asked what he would do if he were to retire tomorrow, Michael says he’d devote himself to consumer education. “I’d like to get involved in some sort of program that teaches homeowners to be wiser consumers. During my 30 years in construction, I’ve heard from countless people who’ve been taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors because they didn’t know what to look for or what to ask. I think it would be very rewarding to help homeowners become more aware and make better decisions when it comes to their construction projects.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Tea.

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Tomatina in Walnut Creek.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas, because I get to be at home with my family.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird. I need to be up and make sure everything’s ready for the day.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Any kind of fruit.

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Checking for Mold During a Remodel

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OAKLAND — If you’re remodeling your home, one of the most important things you can do is check to see what’s behind your walls. Why? Because if there’s any hidden mold or mildew, it could jeopardize your entire project. In most cases,… Read more

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Video: Checking for Mold During a Remodel

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OAKLAND — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re remodeling an older home, be sure to look at what’s behind the walls. Today we’re in Oakland with Diamond Certified Expert… Read more

Christopher Wells is a 32-year veteran of the construction industry and owner of Christopher Wells Construction, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2003. He can be reached at (415) 347-6907 or by email.

Christopher Wells

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Christopher Wells: A Love for the Trade

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

BRISBANE — It was on the shores of Long Island where a young Christopher Wells discovered what would become a lifelong love of the building trades. “My initial interest in carpentry started when I was 14 years old,” he recounts. “I bought a set of plans for an 11-foot speedboat and built it in my basement. I enjoyed riding around in that little boat for the next three or four years, and that’s where my passion for construction began.”

Despite his early predilection, it took some time for Christopher to align his passion with his profession. He tried his hand at careers in family therapy and real estate, but in the end, he found that a career in the building trades simply suited him better. “I like the straightforward nature of carpentry,” he affirms. “As a therapist, in order to make any progress, your patients have to want to change, and when they resist the therapeutic process, it can be kind of maddening. As a builder, on the other hand, when you hit the nail in your left hand with the hammer in your right hand, the nail always goes in.”

Today, more than 30 years after he became a licensed contractor, Christopher says his favorite part of his job is finding solutions to complicated problems. “As a general contractor, I’m not wearing the tool belt anymore, so my favorite thing is tackling challenges that come up, whether it’s figuring out a design or determining where a water leak is coming from. I’m a problem-solver, so that’s what I like to do.”

Originally from New York, Chris migrated west to San Francisco in 1971, where he resides today with his wife, Robyn. “I love San Francisco because even though it’s a large city, it still has somewhat of a small-town feel,” he says. “I enjoy the simple pleasure of walking from my house to the West Portal Village.”

Outside of work, Christopher dedicates most of his time to his other passion: singing opera. “I sing with the Verismo Opera and the Bay Shore Lyric Opera,” he says. “Because of my age and baritone voice, I usually play fathers and older, wiser figures, but my favorite role to play is that of the villain. One of my favorite roles is Iago in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera version of ‘Othello.’” In addition to singing, Christopher enjoys traveling with his wife, both to international destinations like Europe and different parts of California to visit friends.

In his life and career, Christopher espouses a philosophy he gleaned from a Beatles song. “Paul McCartney wrote a lyric that goes, ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,’” he cites. “I’ve taken that to heart and applied it in my business. I believe that if you deal honestly with your customers and treat them with kindness, you’re more likely to receive the same treatment back from them.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Chris says he’d spend more time engaging in the activities he currently enjoys. “I would do a lot of travelling with my wife. Some of the places we’ve yet to visit are Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Norway, so we’d definitely start planning some trips. I’d also put more time and energy into my opera singing.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite opera?
A: “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: La Ciccia in San Francisco.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Being a musician. I played the double bass, the bass violin and the trombone.

Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: Piano.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Scrambled.

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Assessing Your Home’s Foundation

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BRISBANE — Earthquakes are an ongoing concern for anyone who lives in the Bay Area. One way you can be proactive about protecting your home and family is to know the condition of your home’s foundation. If you understand the… Read more

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Video: Assessing Your Home’s Foundation

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BRISBANE — Host, Sarah Rutan: To ensure earthquake safety, you’ll want to know the condition of your home’s foundation and whether it needs to be repaired or… Read more

Lamine Elabed is president of LW Construction & Handyman Services, a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (415) 690-7969 or by email.

Lamine Elabed

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Lamine Elabed: A Constructive Transition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

AMERICAN CANYON — After a long career in telecommunications, Lamine Elabed traded his high-tech livelihood for something a little more constructive. “I got into telecommunications back in the 1980s and stayed in high tech for the next 30 years, where I was involved in everything from MIL-SPEC hardware to medical devices to industrial bomb detection,” he recounts. “Initially, I was an engineer, but I later got into management and eventually became a logistical director for General Electric. Since GE is a global company, it was basically a 24-hour job—when problems arose, I’d get calls at all hours of the night. After a while, I figured if I was going to be working around the clock, I might as well be running my own company, so I left and started a business.”

Rather than stick to his previous field, Lamine opted to get into another: construction. “I chose to start a construction business because I thought it was an industry where my management skills would be valuable,” he explains. “A lot of tradespeople are good with their hands, but they often lack management and people skills. I figured if I could handle those aspects and assemble a good team to perform the hands-on work, my company would be a success.” A decade later, LW Construction & Handyman Services has proven to be just that.

When asked his favorite part of his second career, Lamine says he enjoys interacting with his customers and employees. “We have a very loyal customer base, and it’s always a pleasure to talk with, educate, and learn from them. Additionally, I enjoy training and working alongside my team, both in the office and out in the field.”

Originally from Tunisia, Lamine got his college education in Paris, France before coming to California in 1980, where he currently resides in Marin County. Outside of work, he enjoys spending his free time outdoors. “My favorite activity is going on hikes by the beach,” he affirms. “I like the outdoors in general, mostly for the peacefulness. While I’m an extrovert in my professional life, I’m an introvert at heart, so I love taking walks and enjoying the solitude.” Additionally, Lamine likes spending time with his family (including his wife, Wenona, his son, Alexander, and his daughter, Leila) and trying new restaurants around the Bay Area.

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Lamine says he hasn’t given it much thought. “I don’t really plan to retire. However, if I do, I’ll probably catch up on my reading. As I mentioned, I’m an introvert at heart, so I’d probably focus inward and spend more time on reading and introspection.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Neither—I can’t take the caffeine. That’s why I prefer hot chocolate.

Q: What kinds of books do you like to read?
A: Non-fiction books, especially ones about science and technology.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Summer. I actually don’t like the heat, but I like the fact that people seem to be in a better mood.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: I’m not big on sweets—just give me a piece of fruit and I’ll be happy.

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Crucial Info on Smoke Detectors

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AMERICAN CANYON — Smoke detectors may be easy to overlook, but doing so can be a fatal mistake. In fact, two-thirds of fire-related deaths in the home are attributable to smoke detectors being inoperative (usually due to dead or missing batteries)… Read more

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Video: Helpful Hints for Smoke and CO Detectors

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AMERICAN CANYON — Host, Sarah Rutan: Having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home is crucial, but it also helps to understand how they function. Today… Read more

Richard Gallardo is a 30-year veteran of the construction industry and owner of RG Builders, a Diamond Certified company since 2006. He can be reached at (408) 391-0835 or by email.

Richard Gallardo

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Richard Gallardo: Higher Education

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

GILROY — Growing up, Richard Gallardo struggled to succeed in the conventional school setting, but after beginning a career in construction, he found an educational environment in which he could thrive. “High school was difficult for me, so I ended up leaving when I was 17 and going to work in the construction industry,” he remembers. “After spending five years as an apprentice carpenter, I worked my way up to journeyman status, and by my 10th year, I was running jobs as a lead for general contractors. In 1995, I started my own contracting business and I’m still running it today. All in all, it’s been a good education. Despite my struggles in school, I ended up becoming a much better businessman than a lot of conventionally educated people, so it’s kind of funny the way things work out.”

Today, as owner of RG Builders, Richard says his favorite part of his job is interacting with his “exceptional” clientele. “There’s nothing better than finding a great client to work for. It really makes my job easy—all I have to do is show up and do good work. Being based in San Jose, I consider myself very fortunate to have a clientele that consists of such gracious, genuine and well-educated people.”

A Bay Area native, Richard resides today in Gilroy with his wife, Ann, and their three children. Outside of work, he spends the bulk of his free time hanging out with family and relaxing. “I regularly work 12-hour days, so on my days off, I try to rest as much as possible,” he affirms. “All my kids are involved in sports, so I spend a lot of time attending their events, and when we get a chance, we like to do something fun like go camping or explore San Francisco.”

In his life and career, Richard espouses the virtues of continuous personal and professional development. “A lot of people dread their birthdays because they don’t like getting older, but I look forward to mine because I use the previous year as a gauge for my performance,” he explains. “Did I do better than I did the year before? Did I take advantage of every opportunity? Could I have worked harder? For me, it’s not about trying to hold on to my youth—it’s about getting better with age.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Richard says he wouldn’t. “I’d like to keep doing this as long as I can. After all these years in the business, my best friend and I have just recently started working together, so I’m looking forward to more of that. If I can spend the next decade working alongside my best friend, I’d call that a good career.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “The Amazing Race.”

Q: If you were a professional athlete, what number would you wear on your jersey?
A: It would have to be 8, 13 or 88 because those are my kids’ jersey numbers.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Talk radio. I’m a big KQED fan.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to have for breakfast?
A: Coffee.

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Considerations for Hiring a Contractor

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GILROY — When choosing a contractor for a building project, you should focus on three key aspects: the content of the bid, the content of the company’s referral list and the deposit amount (if any) requested at the contract signing. Bid content… Read more

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Video: Legal Limits on Project Deposits

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GILROY — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your contractor asks for a deposit in advance of your building project, it’s important to know the legal limitations to this request.… Read more

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