Contemporary Renaissance man: John Schrader, principal of Nova Designs + Builds

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If you’ve spent any time in San Francisco, you’ve passed a home either remodeled or built and designed by Nova Designs + Builds. Since the company’s creation in 1990, the organization has completed more than 1,000 projects in San Francisco alone. Photos of remodels, renovations and new construction crowd their portfolio, and Nova Designs + Builds is in the process of building out a unique zero-energy subdivision in the Sierra foothills at Red Apple Ranch.

The firm is headed by John Schrader, an affable general contractor, certified green builder and native of San Jose.

He sports a wry smile beneath his graying beard and boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of seemingly every job his firm has orchestrated.

With a double major in music composition and classical studies, Schrader helped found the first art complex in San Jose, Camera One Theater, Eulipia Jazz Cafe and Studio 372, a performance art space. He worked on some loft conversion projects in Brooklyn and Soho while residing in New York for a brief period, and in 1985, he bought a five-unit building in San Francisco to remodel. He amassed a network of builders, subcontractors and carpenters and opened his firm the following decade.

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