Berkeley is one of California’s best residential cities. Famous for its liberal community, many residents move to the city for educational purposes. In fact, a large percent of the city’s population consists of students, and it has one of the largest numbers of university-educated residents in the country. The city is also proud to have an unemployment rate that is lower than the national average. Many families settle in Berkeley because of the numerous economic opportunities. Residents from San Francisco and Silicon Valley have also settled in Berkeley, which is why its neighborhoods are a mix of traditional-style houses to modern environmentally-friendly homes. This article lists down the 15 best custom home builders, able to build homes for every kind of Berkeley local. These builders are all very experienced and have earned distinguished distinctions from various organizations. Their portfolio, building experience, and notable achievements were taken into consideration during the ranking phase of this article.
710 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94710
Alderson Construction is one of Berkeley’s oldest builders. In its years of service, the firm has worked with California’s finest architects like John Hudson Thomas, Bernard Maybeck, Julia Morgan, Clarence Tantau, William Wooster, Gardner Dailey, and Walter Radcliff. Besides creating architecturally-driven homes, the firm makes sure that its homes are stable enough to withstand calamities, especially earthquakes. The firm worked with the University of California’s Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center to test the seismic performance of bridge columns.
Dubbed by Diablo magazine as the “Ranch House of the Future”, this Lafayette home has contemporary features that are not just aesthetically pleasing but sustainable as well. For example, the angled roofing catches rainwater for reuse, and it has a glass solar chimney that lets in light during the day and insulates hot air during the summer.
1035 Carleton St., Berkeley, CA 94710
Keith Alward established Alward Construction in 1960 with the belief that building is a cooperative social activity. Open communication is at the heart of the firm’s building process. Its progressive culture led to many repeat clients who have cultivated a good working relationship with the firm’s builders. In addition, Alward Construction is one of the most decorated firms in Berkeley with 12 regional Contractor of the Year (COTY) awards, eight national COTY awards, and seven Chrysallis awards.
The award-winning Kensington Carriage House received five awards from the NARI COTY awards, including Best Residential Exterior. Commissioned by a famed music impresario, a tower staircase was constructed with a view of the amphitheater. The homeowner wanted to capture the original elegance of the existing home and Alward Construction constructed a timeless carriage house that has custom features tailored for the discerning client.
2530 Tenth St. Suite #2, Berkeley, CA 94710
Berkeley Craftsmen has been in the business since the 1900s and its services have constantly evolved throughout the years. The firm was initially an ironworks company and, when Ken Butler bought the business in 1943, he created handrails for many buildings in the Bay Area. When Butler retired in 1985, his grandsons, Mark and Michael, took over and began to offer quality remodeling and custom home services. Today, the firm is an established home builder and it’s also a certified Bay Area Green Business.
Despite being in the industry for more than a hundred years, the firm’s creations are very modern. This Kensington project is a contemporary home with a simple color palette, and clean modern exteriors that use natural elements. Its extended porch gives a good balance between the home’s interior and green surrounding.
557 Santa Clara Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707
Paul Cerami came from generations of home builders and, much like his family, he found a passion for construction. He established Cerami Builders in 1985 and obtained his general contractor license the next year. The firm is known for creating unique Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), which have been featured in Fine Homebuilding magazine and the In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats ADU guidebook. But the firm’s specialty is constructing award-winning luxury homes and remodels in the San Francisco Bay area.
One of its finest modern creations is this home overlooking the Briones Regional Park. A 4,000 square feet viewing deck was installed so homeowners can enjoy the home’s stunning view. The firm also made sure that each main room had access to the mountain view.
33 Quail Ct. Suite #300, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Luxury homebuilder Creation 7 is a construction and project management firm servicing Northern California. The firm offers its construction services to a wide range of projects like apartments, penthouses, commercial offices, and hospitality establishments. Its diverse clientele can be credited to Founder Eyal Matalon, who has experience in the real estate and trading industry. Matalon truly put Creation 7’s name on the map; the firm’s claim to fame is its appearance on HGTV’s Property Brothers.
Modern homes and remodels are typical sights in the firm’s portfolio. This Lafayette home has clear contemporary themes, such as an angled roof and the presence of natural elements in the exterior. Using white gave emphasis to the home’s environment because the trimmed yard became the focal point. The wooden accents also complement its green surrounding.
David Grubb Construction
2808 Webster St., Berkeley, CA 94705
For 15 years, David Grubb has constructed some of the finest homes in the Bay Area under his firm, David Grubb Construction. Grubb’s experience has gained him formidable contacts in the industry. He is also one of the pioneering members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) green certification program. Now known as the Build It Green program, this certifies that every David Grubb Construction is a certified green project. These green projects have received Green Building Awards from NARI and have been featured in the Build It Green Home Tour.
The firm’s portfolio features how natural elements are integrated into every design. This wood porch perfectly complements the home’s red brick exterior and the distressed lawn chairs give a rustic edge. The interior is tastefully designed in the craftsman style, complete with a natural plaster fireplace.
DLR Custom Builders
2160 41st Ave., Oakland, CA 94601
DLR Custom Builders has been providing residential construction services to the East Bay Area since 1983. Many homeowners trust the firm because its founder, Daniel Lazaro Ramirez, has been working in the construction industry since the ‘70s. To this day, Ramirez personally supervises and designs all of the firm’s projects. But because of its founder’s hands-on approach, DLR only accommodates a limited number of clients to maintain the quality of its projects.
The firm’s portfolio boasts a variety of French, Tuscan, and Meditteranean homes. This home in Oakland is a Mediterranean-style house with Spanish tile roofing and faux stone concrete floors. Bedrooms on the second and third floors have a tiled rear yard deck that lends a luxurious flair. There are also unique additions such as an elevator shaft and a wine cellar.
4167 Center St., Culver City, CA 90232
Eli Israel established Integrity Remodeling with the customer’s comfort in mind. When he worked for remodeling firms, his clients would always request his services because he made his clients feel particularly comfortable. Israel wants Integrity Remodeling’s clients to invite and entrust their homes to the firm without apprehension. Integrity Remodeling specializes in kitchen and bathroom remodeling but it also creates simple custom homes with tasteful modern interiors.
This Normandy custom home in Oakland has a very simple pale blue exterior with a stairway that leads to the entryway. Much like its exterior, the interiors have a very light color palette that is accentuated by picture windows that bring light into the room. It also has a lush backyard with a stoned sitting area overlooking the garden.
1117-A Virginia St., Berkeley, CA 94702
Award-winning Jetton Construction is a seasoned builder that has constructed more than 400 projects for the past 39 years. Founder Bill Jetton started as an apprentice carpenter and his experience taught him that quality craftsmanship is the key to excellent homes. When he established his own firm, Jetton made sure that he will work with the best architects in the state and the country. This resulted in national recognition from the prestigious AIA and the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Jetton Construction can also be found in the pages of Elle Decor Magazine, New York Times magazine, and the Fine Homebuilding Renovation book.
Besides its impressive craftsmanship, Jetton Construction is a certified green builder that constructs energy-efficient homes in the Bay Area and Alameda County. Its knowledge in sustainable building and carpentry have made the firm a reputable builder known for creating modern homes with an old-world charm. The Mill Valley Cottage was on the cover of Elle Decor Magazine because the firm transformed a former YWCA summer camp into a shabby-chic home. Jetton employed famed New York Architect Gil Schafer to create a charming eclectic home with a summer vibe. Barn doors welcome guests into the quirky home that’s filled with bohemian furnishing and rustic accents.
Levitch Associates, Inc.
1029 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, CA 94710
For three generations, Levitch Associates has remained family-owned; the firm is currently led by Maurice Levitch. Levitch was exposed to the different facets of residential construction beginning at age eleven. It inspired him to get his general contracting license before finishing his undergraduate degree. Today he is not only the president, but also the principal architect and primary project manager of the firm.
The hands-on builder has also integrated his degree in Environmental Design into the firm’s building principles. Levitch Associates advocates for sustainable building, and its green projects have won awards such as a Gold Nugget Award for a Green Point Rated development in Berkeley and a GreenPoint Showcase Achievement in Custom Home.
MacLeod Design and Construction
1701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94709
Architect-builder MacLeod Design and Construction constructs environmentally-friendly homes in the Greater Bay Area. Ian MacLeod established the firm in 1995 to integrate green building and quality architecture in homebuilding. The firm designs personalized homes using low-waste materials. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) gave the firm a Sustainability Citation Award, and its Rigsby Residence was given an energy star rating by the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS).
MacLeod’s design portfolio boasts simple homes with architecturally driven exteriors. Originally a two-bedroom home, the firm transformed this Albany residence into a sustainable four-bedroom bungalow. It’s a simple home with state of the art insulation that utilizes solar energy and active and passive ventilation. This home received the Energy and Sustainability citation from the AIA and it won the Build It Green’s Remodel the Future contest.
Oliver Builders Inc.
1428 Stannage Ave., Berkeley, CA 94702
Oliver Builders takes pride in offering special residential services catered specifically to Berkeley locals. Founder Severin Oliver has been building in East Bay for 32 years and he assembled a team of builders who are all from the same community. The firm’s services specifically target the needs of the community. For example, the firm can remodel a home suited for an earthquake-prone area. Thanks to its extensive construction knowledge, Oliver Builders also offers consulting and liaison for construction development.
Classic home styles like craftsman, Tudor, and farmhouse are common themes in the firm’s portfolio. The firm’s mastery of these styles are present in this Berkeley home. The intricate woodwork and detailed stonework make it a classic craftsman home. It also features the elegant carpentry of Oliver Builders’ skilled team.
200 Gate 5 Rd. Suite #201, Sausalito, CA 94965
Shahram Ghodsian has a rich background in carpentry that includes working with craftspeople from Europe and restoring historic homes in the Beacon Hill District. When he moved to the Bay Area, he decided to pursue his passion for construction by establishing his own firm, Trush Construction. Most of its creations are modern luxury homes that are inspired by European designs. It has a portfolio that boasts of homes with a familiar aesthetic but elevated with contemporary accents.
Ghodsian also makes sure that his creations perfectly fit his client’s lifestyle. For example, this contemporary home was given an open facade to incorporate the surroundings into the living space. This project was a challenge because of its uphill location but the firm was able to build a two-story cut for the home. There are also modern features installed for the convenience of the homeowner such as an elevator and an advanced home automation system.