David and Carol Lieberman
"Severin Oliver and Oliver Builders deserve highest praise. My wife and I have never recommended a firm with such enthusiasm and confidence!
Oliver Builders did a superb job in remodeling our Berkeley home. The work centered on our kitchen, where a spacious and stunning kitchen was created out of four cramped and inefficient rooms; and the transformation of several damp downstairs spaces into two spacious offices, a guest bedroom and a new bathroom. The remodel eventually touched all of the main rooms of our home. Thanks to Oliver Builders, our usable space was increased by about a third, without altering the footprint of the house. The finished product looks gorgeous and the workmanship throughout was of the highest quality. My wife and I lived through the remodel and we were able to observe first-hand the care and excellent workmanship of Oliver Builders. The team maintained a remarkably clean job site and we enjoyed the uniform kindness, friendliness and high energy of the crews and subs.
In addition to producing such outstanding results, I was especially impressed by two outstanding qualities that Severin Oliver brought to our project. First was his transparency, accuracy and attention to detail in matters of estimates and costs. This was the first major remodel undertaken since our house was first built in 1941. The scale of parts of the project only became clear once the work was underway. For example, the house had significant drainage problems. But the extent of these problems could not be known until the demolition of an existing surface of cracked and uneven concrete slabs. As we all feared, the area underneath the slab was a mess, including broken sewer lines and plumbing. In determining how to approach the resulting work, Severin Oliver was always available: explaining the options; setting out the anticipated costs of each approach; and making his own recommendations. For each step along the way, he produced a detailed and reliable budget. He was always available to meet and we were delighted to learn that we could rely on his professionalism and expertise without hesitation or worry.
Severin Oliver also displayed outstanding integrity in ensuring the quality of our remodel. For example, he judged to be inadequate the hardware that was supplied by the cabinetmaker (chosen by our architect) who built our kitchen cabinets and drawers. Although the weakness of the hardware would not have become apparent until well after the job was completed, he decided to replace at his own cost the supplied hardware with better materials. The work must have cost him thousands of dollars, as several crew members spent over two days on the job. None of the work he and his subs provided has failed to function as promised. And the few times we sought additional assistance (doors that were stiff; adjustments to lighting, etc.), he would quickly arrange for someone to come by and take care of us.
We every day enjoy the benefits of our remodeled home and only wonder why we waited so long. Friends who visit cannot believe the transformation. We could not be more grateful that we chose Severin Oliver and Oliver Builders!"
Geeta and Kal Wajid
“When we met Severin, we were very impressed. He seemed highly competent and straight forward. We were able to communicate our needs regarding the project and he seemed to completely understand and get what we wanted. We were at the same time in the process of selecting an architect. Severin gave us a couple of names of architects with whom he had worked before. We contacted one of them and could see that he, along with Severin, seemed to get our vision for the renovation. They gave us a transparent cost estimate and helped us adapt our expectations to the budget. We knew we had found our team.
The architectural and construction contracts were signed and both the architect and Severin worked with us diligently and in great detail to develop the renovation plans. The county permit approval process went smoothly and was handled entirely by them. The work on the project began in earnest in late summer with completion targeted for early spring.
Throughout the construction phase Severin worked with us closely. We met with him several times to discuss the progress of the project, etc. which we greatly appreciated. He was always welcoming, open and easy to communicate with. The demolition and building process went incredibly smoothly, Severin and his team, along with the architect, came up with sound solutions as a few unexpected challenges arose.
Oliver Builders’ crew is outstanding. Joel Chala, our project manager has been a delight to work with. He is a true professional and all along, has always been accessible and responsive to our questions and changes. Luis, Juan, Felipe, Jose and Mark and all other team members are highly skilled, smart and quality craftsmen and always very pleasant to interact with. They are all very organized and extremely hard working. We were also very happy with all the sub-contractors, including for electrical, plumbing, tiling and flooring work.
Despite a slight slowdown due to inclement weather, we were able to move back into the house in early March. The renovation has turned out well beyond our expectations. The team’s attention to detail and help in selection of materials and fixtures was invaluable in realizing our vision. Several upgrades changes we made raised the cost of the renovation beyond the original budget, but given how nicely the remodeling turned out, it has been worth it.
Over the construction months we really got to know the team personally and we miss our regular interactions with them. We are grateful every day for their excellent work which has made living in our home a real joy. When our friends and family hear about our wonderful experience with the renovation, they are a bit surprised but happy that it turned out as it did for us. We could not possibly have had a better experience than we did."
Steve Bundy and Cynthia Colvin
“Severin Oliver was our contractor for a major remodel of our house. We thought he was terrific, and so did our architect. The job was done to a high standard of quality, and was completed on time and under the projected budget. We hope never to have a big project like this again, but if we did we would hire Severin again in a heartbeat.
Severin is a craftsman and the people who work for him are craftsmen, too. He has a great crew—Luis and Mark, who handled the bulk of the work, were creative, responsive, capable, passionate about details, and wonderful guys. Overall, his subs were terrific. We particularly admired his painter—who did beautiful work at a reasonable price.
Severin is a very astute and very ethical businessman. He is skilled and realistic at both budgeting and scheduling. We were wary of time and materials budgeting, but Severin made it work. His initial budgeting process was completely transparent, and throughout the job he was attentive to opportunities to achieve savings. When scope and costs were not knowable in advance, he told us. When unexpected challenges arose, he was direct and prompt in addressing them. When a couple of his subcontractors made errors, he was quick to accept financial responsibility for the cost of correction. The billing and change order process was very clear—at all times during the job we understood where we stood relative to our projections, and well as the reasons that the budget was going up or down.
Severin and his team were highly responsive. Our questions and concerns were addressed promptly. Severin also generated a lot of unexpected value added—design and engineering solutions that improved on the work of architect and engineer, sensible suggestions for cost cutting, etc.
Finally, Severin is a mensch—he says and does the right thing every time and he is a pleasure to work with. We are delighted with his work on our project and proud to know him.”
Carrie Shores, Larson Shores Architecture
“We have had the pleasure of working with Oliver Builders for over 3 years now on multiple projects. As an architect, we are always trying to deliver a great product but also a great experience. Severin and his team are concerned with the design details and work easily with our team to resolve the best solution. Severin is also incredibly organized keeping the project on track and on budget. He is a man of integrity and through the years I have watched him over and over again take the high road and do the right thing for everyone involved. I can not recommend them highly enough.”
Carla Din & Doug Mosher
“We feel like we hit the jackpot with Severin, across the board! He worked with us as the General Contractor on our major house renovation and second story addition. Not only was the craftsmanship excellent, the project came in on time (early, in fact) and met our budget. The construction results were beautiful and exceeded our expectations. Severin has great communication skills, detailed accounting, flexibility when necessary, and most of all, a lot of integrity. We highly recommend Severin and Oliver Builders for any sized project.”
Ilene and Elliott Wolf
“We did a complete home renovation, which included: a fully remodeled kitchen, all new plumbing fixtures, new vanities and new tile in the three bathrooms, new wood flooring throughout the house, updated electrical and much, much more, while still maintaining the integrity of the Mid-century modern architecture. We had heard horror stories from our family and friends regarding their remodeling experience. We anticipated the worst, but we were pleasantly surprised throughout the construction. Oliver Builders gave us an estimated completion date and price for the renovation. They adhered to both and the entire process was most enjoyable. We are very picky and the contractor was always very patient with our numerous “requests” and kept us very well informed. We were living in Michigan during the construction and we received many photos and phone calls to keep us updated during the process; this enabled us to oversee the daily progress. We are ecstatic with the results and we highly recommend Oliver Builders. We couldn’t be any happier with our home.”
“Severin Oliver of Oliver Builders was extremely professional from start to finish. His estimate was fair and changes and add ons were implemented smoothly without complaint. The construction area in the kitchen and living room was carefully condoned off with a series of wooden frames and floor-to-ceiling plastic sheeting. All debris from my dismantled chimney was swiftly removed. The reconstruction of the wall was done to my specifications—the wall behind the sheetrock was reinforced floor to ceiling with plywood so that I could hang paintings at any level for my art gallery and in the kitchen. Finished carpentry of new shelves and nooks in the kitchen was attractive and useful. His crew also refurbished my art supply room with additional, cleverly constructed shelving which allows the space to double as a guest room. The crew also did a thorough job of sealing the foundation and crawl space against pests and rodents, culminating in pouring a concrete pad over the dirt of the crawl space. The ample crew assigned to focus on my job was excellent, polite and good at communicating. As a result of this sustained focus, the job was completed on schedule and before the deadline I had specified. If you are lucky enough to get on the Oliver Building schedule you will not be disappointed.”
“I wholeheartedly recommend Oliver Builders for both large and small projects. We worked with OB to add approximately 400 sq. feet to our second story, including master bedroom, bathroom and dressing room. Our budget was tight but OB, without compromising quality or attention to detail was able to finish our project just under their projected estimate. A second set of smaller projects included floor refinishing, built-in cabinetry design and installation, and window replacement. All were done with great care for details and right on budget. Severin Oliver is a pleasure to work with. He’s extremely knowledgeable and experienced and a great partner to take on a project with.”
“We’re delighted to recommend Oliver Builders. In 2015 Severin, his crew, and his subcontractors renovated our large kitchen/dining room, upstairs master bath, and laundry room, and they also completed a structural retrofit in the basement. Throughout these projects Severin and Joel consulted frequently with the architect and structural engineer, and they communicated almost daily with us. They were “on it” whenever there was a snag (like unexpected problems with electrical or plumbing or subcontractor delays due to illness), and they frequently revised schedules to accommodate the unexpected. They planned ahead and gave us ample time to choose all materials — cupboards, counters, plumbing and light fixtures, flooring, tile, hardware, paint colors.
The end result is fabulous - we love all the renovations! The spaces are beautiful yet very functional. We’re cooking and entertaining more; we love the flexibility of bathtub or shower in the master bath; and we actually enjoy doing the laundry!
The renovation took longer than expected, and it proved to be more complex than anyone anticipated, but we ended the project with plans to hire Oliver Builders for additional work — that is the ultimate compliment to any contractor!”
“Oliver builders did a superb job renovating our kitchen/family room. Severin was very easy to work with and quickly responded to all our concerns. The workmanship was excellent and on time....and even a bit under budget. I give them my highest recommendation!”
“We had an incredibly positive experience and found that every person who worked on our new windows and doors plus painting and light fixtures project were professional and courteous throughout the length of the project.”
“Oliver Builders, Inc were very professional and easy to work with throughout our project. They kept us well informed throughout every phase and were accommodating when problems occurred. Severn and Joel are good communicators. They run an honest business.”
Andrew Lee, Architect
“I’ve had great experiences working with Severin. He believes in clear and frequent communication with homeowners, and keeps budgets and schedules in mind, while maintaining consistently high levels of craft. As a designer, I appreciate his ability to spot potential issues, and to successfully coordinate among the many parties that are involved in the construction process. I recommend him wholeheartedly!”
Monte Stott, Structural Engineer
“Over the past five years or so that I have known Severin, I have observed him to be very knowledgeable in every aspect of construction and remarkable in his ability to successfully communicate with various trades people, building officials, architects, engineers, and clients. Severin has always been a pleasure to work with and look forward to working with him in the future.”
“I worked with Severin Oliver on a nine-month project to renovate my circa 1912 Berkeley home. The scope of work included new heating & electrical systems, multiple bathrooms and laundry area, insulation, windows, etc. I appreciated Severin’s strong communication skills; he was responsive to my calls, texts and emails throughout the job. He did not shy away from any challenging conversations that arose from unexpected discoveries that come up in any renovation of a 100 year old home. His clear communication and welcoming demeanor meant that I felt comfortable discussing any questions or concerns I had about the project. We increased the scope of our project throughout the job; these changes required significant budget management and I appreciated Severin’s attention to the details, his understanding of our overall budget concerns and his willingness to have ongoing budget management conversations with me. My house is renovated and we love it. I am grateful for Severin’s direct, open communication and collaboration throughout the building process.”