The Tracery Method:

Tracery Builders believes in continuing education and employee improvement: we are active in a number of trade Associations and every employee - even our laborers - are required to complete a minimum of 8 hours of industry training per year (paid by the company) to keep us at the forefront of our field.

While our professional advantage comes from hard work, a commitment to craftsmanship, long-term durability, and technical expertise, it's our ability to listen to clients and our process transparency that provide our real measures for success. At every step of the way, you can use our Client Access portal to track project milestones, review invoices, check estimates, and receive email alerts whenever there are changes. This blending of modern technology and traditional customer service allows us to thoroughly understand your needs and effectively deliver on your expectations.

At Tracery Professional Builders, we are proud of our loyal client base and are committed to providing consistent, quality service through teamwork, cooperation, and honest, open communication with our team members, clients, and associates.

"Life is hectic and we focus on the little things that
Make your Home Building Process run more smoothly"

Working With You

How Tracery Professional Builders Operates

It's often the case that clients begin their building or remodeling process with a competitive bid in which a design (created by an Architect or Interior Designer) and its plans are submitted to three or more building contractors to solicit free estimates. Although competitive bidding is still viewed by architecture and design professionals as the only way to control costs, this is rarely the case because it assumes that all bids are given the same level of attention, and strive for the same level of quality and durability. The fact of the matter is that this is almost never the case, and companies often, and deliberately underbid the job to secure a contract.

While we have completed many competitive bidding jobs successfully, we have never done so as the cheap bidder. Our reputation for quality and workmanship will not allow us to cut corners or sacrifice our commitment to long term durability, ever.

Pre-Construction Services

  • Using our value engineering services, clients can allocated their financial resources in a more useful manner

  • Value engineer proposed plans

  • Provide schematic cost estimates before the drawings are developed further to a reality check if the design is within the prescribed budget
  • Consult on construction techniques and possible materials
  • Discuss site development: storage, trash locations, temp power, toilet, safety, truck parking and off-loading, etc. These intangibles are those sneaky cost that clients incur, but no one thinks about it during the design phase, but has an impact on the overall costs

At Tracery Builders, we have one distinct advantage over our competition; as licensed engineers, we can value engineer the earthwork, foundation, and framing. These three components are commonly high-price drivers of residential homes, and larger remodels.

Method of Contract and Estimating Process we use mostly

At Tracery Builders, our preferred method is "Negotiated Contract," because it lets our clients take advantage of our resources, and technical expertise, ensuring the highest quality home for the client's budget. Negotiated Contracts allow a team approach to the art of building. Frequently, we work with clients using either a "Cost plus Percentage," or "Time and Materials". Once our clients have committed to working together, we employ an "Open Book Approach" to navigate our way through the estimating and value engineering process. In the open book approach, we share our sub-contractor bids, and estimates to ensure a more transparent process. The end result is an estimate book that is open to our clients. This book functions as a reference while developing a formalized pricing option with the client and the client's design professional, and during the schematic and design development stages. As a result, cost estimation is a valuable, integral part of our project design and development process, and we devote a substantial amount of time and energy to developing reliable budgets.

The Construction Contract

We use the State of California, Home Improvement Contract format:

Design / Build Services

Typically, Tracery Builders will only take on Design-Build projects for smaller jobs such as kitchens and bathrooms. We strongly value the skill sets of Architects and Interior Designers, and collaborate with professional firms regularly, our process, technical skill, and commitment to teamwork, negates the need for a separate Design-Build process for most projects.

Scheduling and Planning

We use a mixture of two estimating software, one syncs with QuickBooks for contractors, the other has access to daily updates for material costs. We have the ability to provide Gantt charts, and Mr. Macdonald is a rare builder that can actually do the Gantt scheduling by hand. We have created two client access web portals: (1) Bring all those electronic client communications into a single spot on the web - all organized by topic and findable within seconds. E-mail alerts let you know when there's something new. Get the right selection decisions, on-time. Each client has its own selection sheet containing color-coded choices, deadlines, allowances, web links, file attachments, and log of changes. (2) Over the 20 plus years in the building Industry, Mr. Macdonald has tracked all the great showrooms and hidden gem suppliers and distributers. Coupled with his custom made clear and simplified Home Owner guides, such as the lien process to educate and help clients understand all aspects of the home building process.

We invite you to contact us with any questions about our process or for further information about this, or any other, aspect of Tracery Professional Builders.


Seismic Upgrade

It is estimated that around 500,000 earthquakes occur each year, detectable with current instrumentation. About 100,000 of these can be felt. In April 2008, scientists and engineers released a new earthquake forecast for the State of California called the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF). Of the hundreds of seismogenic (earthquake causing) geologic faults in California UCERF classifies only six faults as Type A sources, meaning there is sufficient information to both estimate and model the probability of a Magnitude (M) 6.7 or greater earthquake within 30 years. The overall probability of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake, which could cause significant damages to many residences in the Greater Bay Area within the next 30 years is 63%.

  • (1) San Andreas
    (2) San Gregorio
    (3) Greenville
    (4) Mt. Diablo Thrust fault
    (5) Calaveras
    (6) Hayward-Rodgers Creek
  • 21% earthquake probability
    6% earthquake probability
    3% earthquake probability
    1% earthquake probability
    6% earthquake probability
    31% earthquake probability

In December, 2011, the New York Times published an article estimating that unfortunately one-third to two-thirds of earthquake retrofits in the San Francisco Bay Area are installed incorrectly. (See the article here.) In 2006, the Contra Costa Times estimated that 69% of retrofits would not function as expected.

In my career, I have found that other contractors only know what they have seen in the past from prior engineering drawings or other's work. They then take that same detailing and just apply it to similar conditions. But unfortunately they don't understand the seismic load path, how to calculate the induced seismic forces, or what the function of a strap tie actually is.

Mr. Macdonald in his career once had a minority ownership share with the prestigious firm of Hohbach-Lewin Structural Engineering, where he worked under the tutelage of Doug Hohbach, former 2012 President of the Structural Engineering Association of California. Mark is also a licensed Professional Engineer in two states, with a BS degree in Structural Engineering and a Master's Degree in Construction Engineering. His engineering background informs his ability to determine the best course of action for a Voluntary Seismic Upgrade to strengthen your home and he and his team can do the work correctly.

Some Useful Links to consider

Construction Management

New Section
Coming Winter 2014


Aides/Show rooms/Guides

a Wealth of useful tips and guides

Client Access/Job Specific

Client Login:
a Personalized Database and Project Coordination system
ASCE USGBC Tracery Professional Builders, Home Improvements  Additions, Campbell, CA NCEHS NARI Passive House Alliance EPA SEA submain

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