We are a retired couple who decided to rebuild at our existing Los Altos address. We had remodeled a home previously but never built. Initially we expected to do a major remodel but quickly discovered that old foundation problems made rebuilding a better choice. We decided our new home should be both energy-efficient and disability-friendly to plan for whatever future years may bring.
We remembered taking a home tour and one new home’s owner highly recommending Custom Dreams; contacting them was one of the best things we did.
Working with the Custom Dreams team was a revelation compared to builders we had talked with previously. Custom Dreams team members could talk to us at our level, with as much technical detail as we could or could not handle. No problem was a real problem but each piece of the house puzzle had a price tag. They could explain what each cost was and put it in an itemized spreadsheet that made sense to us. Before construction, we added or removed line items based on our priorities and budget. While construction proceeded, we made several change decisions backed by quick revised cost and schedule estimates. Realistically the budget included a percentage for any unforeseen contingency and at project’s end we still had some of that in the bank.
Alerted by our old foundation problems, Custom Dreams had our site investigated, and found that in the 1940’s a nearby creek ran through the house site. Soil samples showed our initially expected slab foundation was not appropriate, and support piers were added to the preliminary plans.
Custom Dreams brought a local architect into the project for us. We had done an initial floor plan using favorite elements of the previous house and orienting it to the sun. We felt our architect really understood the environment we wanted and, while taking our input on the floor plan, added many ideas and details as well as the extensive technical expertise required.
Custom Dreams’ onsite superintendent was on-site every day, coordinating and supervising the many subcontractors. We were lucky that we could visit the site and watch the house go up every day. Our superintendent kept us informed of what was happening, what to expect next, answered our many questions, and if any detail of the construction was not as we expected, would be sure it was made right. As we considered off-plan ideas such as adding skylights, he could help guide us to cost-efficient changes.
Our Project Manager at the office coordinated bids, invoices, selection decisions, and the schedule. Approximately each month we received copies of invoices with, first, conditional and, later, unconditional payment waivers to assure us that all subcontractor bills were paid, releasing us from legal liability. Each month a comprehensive payment summary spreadsheet was updated to reflect items incrementally paid, tracking the initial expected cost against actual cost.
We did not feel we needed an interior designer but when we had trouble making decisions a few times, Custom Dreams’ in-house designer graciously stepped in to lend us an expert eye and advise us. Several interior finish contractors we worked with mentioned their respect for Custom Dreams’ fine design work.
We enjoyed meeting and working with so many of the subcontractors Custom Dreams introduced us to. The many structural subcontractors were awe-inspiring and unfailingly polite. The interior finish subcontractors answered our many questions, listened to our needs and pointed us to good decisions.
The Custom Dreams team guided us to an excellent set of design, mechanical and finish options to choose from. Throughout the project, everyone on the team was very responsive to our needs, wants and concerns. During the design phase we held regular planning meetings, making decisions about design, building materials and mechanics. In the building phase we made finish selections and reviewed schedules.
Our energy-efficient house incorporates proven but still evolving green features. Custom Dreams helped us evaluate the possibilities and then brought together the needed construction professionals. Our home has double-paned fiberglass windows, radiant floor heat, a super-insulated envelope, filtered heat recovery ventilation, and an electricity-producing photovoltaic system. We have large south-facing windows and skylights for natural daylight, LED lighting, and water-saving features throughout. In case of future disability, there are no steps in the entries or house. Halls, doorways and curbless showers are wheelchair wide and spacious.
Custom Dreams enabled us to build a house with features and a standard of excellence beyond what we could have imagined and made it both an enjoyable and exciting experience for us. Our Custom Dreams team adjusted what we wanted to do ourselves with what they took off our shoulders so that we were comfortable throughout the project. We always felt in control while Custom Dreams made everything happen. We had city preliminary approval of our plans in 3 months and a building permit in a little more than 6 months total. We moved into our new home 1 year and 10 days after leaving the old one. Our Green Point rating is 215! We expect our new home will provide a healthy environment and everyday enjoyment for us through many tomorrows.