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San Rafael, the county seat of Marin County, is one of the Bay Area’s fastest-growing areas with a steady growing population and trade. The charm of the San Francisco Bay Area lifestyle is perfect for both families and individuals who want a more laid back and rhythmic way of life away from the hustle and bustle of most industrial areas. Within San Rafael’s neighborhoods and communities is a developing demand for top-tier custom home builders that can provide a wide range of home styles and progressive building practices while preserving the natural beauty of the environment.
This list features the best custom home builders in San Rafael. To arrive with this list, our editorial team came up with a shortlist of builders based and operating in the city and assessed each with a particular set of criteria measuring the work history, capacity, and overall quality of work.
20 Maple Hill Dr., San Rafael, CA 94903
Bicardo Builders is a custom home builder dedicated to pursuing excellence. Founded in 1997, the firm offers thorough and comprehensive custom home building services. Over the years, Bacardi has built a reputation for being hands-on and present in the process. The firm offers turnkey solutions to complex home building projects. Richard Bicardo, Founder and President of the firm, came from a long line of industry professionals. The firm’s operations are centered around quality workmanship and competitive pricing.
The firm operates all over San Francisco, Marin County, Sonoma, and East Bay. Bicardo takes pride in making timeless works in various home styles. In the hills of Healdsburg, for example, the firm built a Tuscan Villa composed of a 6,400 sq. ft main house and a 700 sq. ft pool house. The home completes its Tuscan appeal by being surrounded by lush vineyards.
1945 E Francisco Blvd., Ste. N, San Rafael CA 94901
Established in 1986, Fontana Construction is a luxury home builder based in Central San Rafael and operates all over the Peninsula and Sonoma County areas. The Fontano story traces its roots to West Marin, where Michael and Bonnie Fontana dreamt of providing exceptional customer-focused construction services. Michael and Bonnie have interesting and unconventional backgrounds. Michael Fontana studied Microbiology at San Francisco State University. He found himself excelling in the construction industry because of his intrinsic motivation to provide aftercare for customers. Bonnie Fontana, a West Marin native, leads a values-based leadership. Steven Fontana now carries the torch of the family business.
The firm is capable of providing an impressive range of residential styles. The Miwork Residence, an estate in the hills of Novato, is one of the firm’s most excellent works. With the assistance of Structural Engineer Caroline Ely, Fontana patterned the home in the slopes of the hill.
15 Woodland Ave., Ste. F, San Rafael, CA 94901
Jeff Kerr, a green building professional and Fairleigh Dickinson University-East Rutherford alumnus, established his namesake firm in 1983. The firm is experienced in modern construction methods and home styles. Jeff has a potent understanding of material selection, design, and craftsmanship which became the competitive edge of the firm. Kerr achieved several awards and accolades including the Platinum Level Award for a custom home in Nicasio from the USGBC.
Kerr Construction operates all throughout the Marin County communities, the firm has built lasting relationships with locals and enterprises. The firm’s selection of modern and contemporary residential projects is one of this list’s best. Kerr has impeccable taste and skill that are evident in each work. The impressive home in solitude captured in the photo is one of the firm’s most revered works. The home is equipped with Contemporary design elements and eclectic detailing. The picturesque background is the knockout punch for the outstanding project.
Plath & Company
1575 Francisco Blvd East, San Rafael, CA 94901
Plath & Company is a residential and commercial general contractor operating in the Bay Area. The firm takes pride in its LEED Platinum Builder status and strong commitment to sustainable and responsible practices. Steve Plath established his namesake firm in 1976, following his father’s mantra If you’re going to do something, do it right. Years later, now company president JB Ferrarone stepped in the picture. He started as a Project Manager and became a partner five years later. Ferrarone’s fervor and keen attention to detail elevated the firm to the level at which it operates today. The firm has won over 20 awards, from NARI Best Remodeling Contractor, to LEED Platinum, to #32 of the Top 500 Contractors in the United States. It also received two preservation awards in 2015 from the California Preservation Foundation for work on the Bourn Mansion and The Church of the Good Shepherd.
In the firm’s over 40 years of operations, Plath has completed various projects in multiple home styles. The Contemporary home in the photo shows the Belvedere Island Residence, done in collaboration with Marin-based Polsky Perlstein Architects. Curvatures and soft lines make the silhouette of the home. The home has a panoramic view of the Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco.
36 Professional Center Pkwy, San Rafael, CA 94903
Redhorse Constructors is a full-service residential and commercial building company equipped with green building practices. Redhorse sees itself beyond the boundaries of being a construction company. The firm acknowledges the need for innovative design practices and construction solutions as demonstrated by the company mantra there is no stop. This strong vision enables the company to achieve great feats including several awards and press features. The firm garnered Luxe’s Design Award of Excellence in 2019 along with other organizational awards. Redhorse is also frequent in design magazines and publications including Luxe, National Geographic, and Construction Today.
David Warner, the owner of the firm, is a skilled and experienced builder. Warner paid for his education at UC Berkeley through construction work. At Berkeley, he studied conservation and natural resources, which has become one of the cornerstones of Redhorse.
As seen in AIA’s Architect Magazine, the Oz Residence is one of the firm’s most lauded works. In collaboration with the legendary architectural firm Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects, the firm constructed this sleek Modern estate in 2016. The home plays well along the fine lines of transparency and privacy by varying the level of mirror opaqueness. This gives the home an unmatched functionality and futuristic look.
39 Aquinas Dr., San Rafael, CA 94901
Since 1988, Salamandra Associates has provided sharp construction processes with a precise eye for finance and budgeting. Salamandra is part of Build It Green and Marin Builders Association, solidifying its commitment to the environment. When the firm was originally established, it provided a strong focus on commercial projects, having worked with United Airlines, Cambridge Sound Works, and other East Bay companies. Steve Salamandra, with his extensive background in finance and business, led the firm in its persistent and thorough operations. Steve acquired an MBA from Golden Gate University and honed this skill to become the core of the firm’s operations.
The Salamandra portfolio consists of tasteful residential and commercial projects, including the Peninsula home in the photo. Most Salamandra-built homes are cozy and home-like and not absurdly lavish like the ongoing trend in California homes.
75 Pelican Way, San Rafael, CA 94901
Sausalito Construction is a home builder and remodeler operating throughout the Bay Area. The firm specializes in unique luxury homes and complex home styles. Partners Gale Greisen and Don Scheiner take charge of the modest team of 45 employees as they provide top-tier services. Gale and Don have spent decades working together, giving them an unparalleled understanding of the local construction industry and its nuances. The firm averages $10 million in construction projects yearly, giving it the necessary experience doing the construction processes flawlessly.
Looking closely at Sausalito’s work portfolio will give homeowners the opportunity to examine the firm’s versatility and flexibility. Their complete work above is also featured in Dwell Magazine. The firm has completed multiple projects in varying styles, from Modern to Coastal homes.