About Us


Tracery Professional Builders is a full-service residential remodeling and custom home builder in the South San Francisco Bay Area. From small jobs to large ones, our signature style and technical expertise set the bar for consistent workmanship, cleanliness, and attention to finishing details while our personal approach and streamlined logistics ensure the highest level of professionalism and flexibility. From sub-contractors and suppliers to on-site employees, we pride ourselves on making home renovation as stress-free as possible for you and your family.

Tracery Builders has a reputation for providing long-term durability and value, and we are flattered that so many homeowners have recommended us to their friends and family. Living up to the faith our clients place in us by putting their reputations on the line and promoting our services is a responsibility we take very seriously: our clients' satisfaction is at the heart of our business success.

Tracery Builders limits the number of projects we take on to guarantee the personalized care and high quality our clients deserve. We favor a hands-on management style and work closely with clients to make the construction process as enjoyable as possible. To that end, Mark personally oversees - and is involved in - every job, and we have established a systematic process that lets us handle challenges like scheduling, lien releases, and change orders effectively.

Great custom homes and remodels shouldn't focus on overly elaborate designs and hefty price tags. They should focus on your family's specific needs and provide you with a home that reflects your tastes, fits your lifestyle, and respects your budget. Let us help you make your house a home: contact Mark directly at (650) 521-3699 and join Tracery Builder's family of satisfied clients.

'Our business is totally transparent, our process is designed to keep our clients educated and informed.'

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People


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Mark Macdonald, P.E.

EDUCATION

Mark holds three degrees in the building and construction field: a Master of Science in Construction Management, a Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering, and an A.S Degree in Architecture. He continues to learn and gain certifications in the field and has extensive knowledge of all aspects of building construction.


LICENSES and CERTIFICATIONS

AFFILIATIONS
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Member
  • Structural Engineering of Northern California, Member
  • Chi Epsilon, Civil Engineering Honor Society

CONTRACTOR'S BOND
  • Bond Number: 10141715 - AMERICAN CONTRACTORS INDEMNITY COMPANY.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION
  • Policy Number: 9049572 - STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND

GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
  • Policy Number: 103GL0001788 - State Compensation Insurance Fund

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Karen Clarke, CPA Account Manager

Most residential construction companies have bookkeepers who tend to focus on costs only after a project has reached certain milestones; however, with Tracery Builders, the first priority of a successful project is following accurate accounting procedures from the start of a project to its completion. Karen has set the company standards in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Karen assists the construction department with timely and accurate information reporting, including responsibilities such as job cost tracking, construction draw management, balance sheet reconciliations, processing bank draws, and communicating with project managers. Every two weeks, each client will receive a detailed financial breakdown of costs incurred and projected.

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Debbie Fein, Office Manager

Debbie brings wide-ranging experience and education to Tracery Professional Builders. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Communications and her extensive background includes positions in corporate, high-tech, legal, international, regulatory, design and community leadership. She has lived in three countries, has traveled extensively and has enjoyed a life-long interest in the diverse styles of home design and decor. She is happy to add Residential Home Construction to her credentials and is actively advancing her knowledge in the field.

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Field Team Members

Under construction (of course)

WHAT IS TRACERY?

tracery  (ˈtreɪsərɪ) 
   - n  , pl -eries 
   1. a pattern of interlacing ribs, esp as used in the upper part of a Gothic window, etc. 
   2. any fine pattern resembling this 'traceried - adj

   Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
   2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
   Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009


Many, many years ago, my wife and I were in France for our honeymoon. During our travels I saw something that stopped me in my footsteps. I was standing in front of a structure that was hundreds of years old, and as I looked, my attention was drawn to one specific element: a dramatic, twenty-foot long support. Not only was it hand-carved and beautifully wrought in elegant detail, it was an integral part of the structural framing system.

The designers and craftsmen had created a beautiful structural element by layering simplicity: they had used only a few basic geometric patterns (namely circles and straight lines) and combined them using a limited set of operations (intersection, offsetting, and extrusions). The result was a breathtaking and amazingly detailed facade.

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tracery (Image by Sansculotte, CC)

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Strasbourg Minster, a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Strasbourg, Alsace, France
(Credit Wikipedia)


This marriage of beauty and function stayed with me, and my appreciation of tracery deepened as I researched it further. I discovered that as the complexity of tracery increased, so did the need for masons to draw out their designs in advance. This documentation step was necessary as both a way of experimenting with patterns and as a way of communicating those designs to customers and other craftsmen.

To get around the size limitations of parchment sheets, these designs would often be etched into a whitewashed board or a conveniently placed section of wall; in the latter case, the wall would be covered with a thin layer of plaster so the design would show more clearly. This, too, stayed with me, and much like the masons of old, I have a reputation with coworkers and friends for drawing design elements full scale on the sub-floor or a handy wall to think through all the details of a design before we build it.

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tracery (Image by Sansculotte, CC)

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Tracery Builders 3D CAD model

As a licensed Professional Engineer, that moment of awe in the face of overwhelming, handcrafted detail, and long-lasting workmanship meant there was really only one possible name for my company: Tracery Professional Builders.

- Mark Macdonald, President and Professional Engineer

To learn more about tracery, we suggest a book by Mr. Stephen Hart:
Medieval Church Window Tracery in England.

Associations


Associations play a vital role in the building industry. These organizational efforts focus on meeting professional needs, using the right construction materials, or educating builders on code interpretation. There are many associations that vary according to market needs, but each is finely tuned to provide members with critical information in their area of expertise. Please see the following organizations we are proud to be a part of.

  • ASCE

    Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 145,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. 

    ASCE's Mission
    Provide essential value to our members and partners, advance civil engineering, and serve the public good.

    Read their vision and goals.



  • The U.S. Green Building Council - Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC) is a 501(c)(3) California public benefit corporation that educates, inspires, and provides resources for industry transformation to build and maintain sustainable communities.


  • Chi Epsilon was founded in 1922 to recognize and honor civil engineering students and professionals, and now has 130 active chapters at universities across the United States. It is widely recognized in the profession and has initiated over 113,000 members. Students and professionals are selected to become members based on recognition of their scholarship, character, practicality and sociability, considered by Chi Epsilon to be the four primary traits of a successful engineer.


  • Click to see Mr. Macdonald's certificate PDF

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the U.S. federal government which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

    http://www2.epa.gov/lead/renovation-repair-and-painting-program
  • NARI - National Association of The Remodeling Industry

    The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only independent national association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry. NARI's focus is on professional conduct, continuing education and training, and fair and ethical treatment within the industry.

  • NARI-Certification

    Mark Macdonald holds the prestigious National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Certified Remodeling Project Manager status.

    A Certified Remodeling Project Manager (CRPM) designation professionalizes the role of managing a remodeling project. A CRPM has oversight of every aspect of the remodeling project - project planning, communications, project cost management, quality assurance, risk management and recordkeeping.


  • Passive House is both a building energy performance standard and a set of design and construction principles used to achieve that standard. The Passive House standard is the most stringent building energy standard in the world: buildings that meet the standard use 80 percent less energy than conventional equivalent buildings, and provide superior air quality and comfort.

  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing marketplace trust, consisting of 113 independently incorporated local BBB organizations in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions


Before You Start


What to Expect from Tracery Builders




Why do so many people have home construction nightmares?

For most people, a major home construction project represents the largest purchase of their life after buying a home. Unfortunately, you can't approach a construction project like you would any other domestic purchase. First of all, significantly more money is involved and the process of handling/tracking those funds on the business side is significantly more complex (at Tracery Builders, we have a CPA on staff whose sole job is to track every job to the penny!). Secondly, you pay for most of it, sight unseen. Unlike a shirt or car, your construction project is built after you decide to purchase, not before. What's more, if you're building a custom home then it's likely a similar product has never been built before. In other industries, a new product means samples, models, prototypes, and debugging. In construction, your custom designed house is the prototype.

When you look closely at most construction nightmares, you will find these elements at the heart of the problem: in some cases, consumers may have been seduced by a low bid. In others the final result is crippled with construction defects, rushed workmanship, and poor durability of the installed items. And in still others, poor money management allowed costs and scheduling to spiral out of control; some contractors are good at building but poor at management control, financial document, and lien releases.

Avoiding construction nightmares requires a solid relationship between the builder and the customer and realistic expectations based on the Iron Triangle; the Iron Triangle is a concept used in construction to embody the three conflicting elements that go into a project: scope, budget, and time.

iron-triangle

The triangle above represents the resources available for your project and the goal is to keep the triangle as balanced as possible. No project has infinite resources so making one corner of the triangle smaller or larger forces the other corners to shrink or grow to maintain the balance. For example, if keeping the budget small is the defining factor of a project, scope and time have to remain small to accommodate it while increasing the set of features or functionality (scope) in the project requires a larger budget and more time. You should keep the triangle in mind when making any decision that will affect the overall outcome of your project.

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How do I select a custom home builder or remodeler?

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way of making the right choice but it usually comes down to a good reputation, technical expertise, and finding someone you can work with comfortably.

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Should I competitively bid my project to several builders or negotiate with one builder?

In theory, a competitive bid makes sense, but in reality the process is flawed. Very often bidding is based on a set of incomplete plans and the bids themselves are never a true apples-to-apples comparison. Each builder is calculating their costs based on the quality and service they intend to offer: some may bid low, counting on change requests mid-project to increase the final price while others bid sloppily and use poor workmanship or materials to avoid going over budget. The worst will scrutinize plans for errors and omissions that provide areas they can exploit to their advantage

At Tracery Builders, we recommend negotiating with a reputable, trustworthy builder that you have researched thoroughly. If you do decide to go with a competitive bid, we prefer to know who we are bidding against, to ensure we are competing with builders who provide a comparable level of quality and workmanship, and never bid with four or more participants.

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How do I analyze competitive bids on home construction projects?

First, make sure the bids are as close to apples-to-apples as possible; every home builder has his own way of estimating and may use different categories than his competitors. To ensure the estimates are as consistent as possible, we suggest providing an outline specification (an Outline Spec) when the plans are given out to bid. Take note of things the builder has included in their estimate (inclusions) and things they are explicitly not including (exclusions). A simple, one line exclusion like providing scaffolding can cost thousands extra on larger jobs. The more information you can obtain about how the bid prices were calculated, and the clearer it's presented, the better chance you have of making the right decision.

All that being said, choosing a home builder should never be based on price alone. It's also important to consider the long-term durability of the construction and materials being used, the air quality when you move in, and the impact on you and your family during construction.

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What to Expect from Tracery Builders


Does Tracery Builders utilize a written warranty and provide a copy to our clients?

We use the American Construction & Education Services (ACES) Builders Limited Warranty and Performance Standards, the details of which are available for free online.

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Does Tracery Builders have a California State License?

Yes we do, our license number is 777347 and we are a Class B - General Building Contractor.

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Does Tracery Builders have Workmen's Compensation Insurance?

Yes we do, our policy number is 9049572 with the State Compensation Insurance Fund.

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Does Tracery Builders have General Liability Insurance?

Yes we do, our policy number is 103GL0001788 with State Compensation Insurance Fund.

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Is Tracery Builders Bonded?

Yes, our bond number is 10141715.

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Does Tracery Builders require and maintain Mechanics Lien releases from sub-contractors?

We have set up an easy to use system, tailored to each client, that tracks your pre-liens as they come in and require partial lien releases from our suppliers and subcontractors who pre-lien for each payment we make. This protects you from unnecessary lien liability and ensures we are staying current with payments of all bills.

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How often does Tracery Builders Invoice?

We invoice every two weeks.

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With who will I be in contact with, and how do we communicate?

We take keeping you informed very seriously and understand that effective communication throughout the process of building your home or remodel is critical to your satisfaction. As a result, we provide the following

  • Bi-weekly meeting throughout the job on the job
  • Periodic email updates between Bi-Weekly meetings
  • Access to the online Tracery Builders Project Guild with 24-hour online access
  • Tracery Builders Custom Home system project Guideline. (Access through the Client Access Page)

Additionally, depending on the construction phase, Mr. Macdonald or one of the Tracery Builders team members are generally onsite each day.

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How does Tracery Builders process and manage changes during construction?

In all our contract agreements we include a Change Order template to review before you sign our contract. Once a project is underway, change orders must be signed before they can be acted on and all change orders are kept in our online tracking system. In extreme situations, where a delay could be critical or costly, we have an email process in place to allow for advanced authorization but this process is reserved for critical situations only.

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© 2014 Tracery Builders, lic. B777347 - 251 East Hacienda Ave. Unit C, Campbell, California 95008. All rights reserved.
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