(This post is a continuation of A Buying Guide For Stonework: Choosing Your Stone)
So how do you choose a residential masonry contractor? As with most home projects, it's well worth the effort to do a some research. Oh sure, we've learned the hard way too. Don't ask about our bathtub debacle.
Look for an experienced stonemason with great references, a solid reputation and one who offers a guarantee. Ask to see what they're currently working on. Look at their past masonry projects on-site. Ask lots of questions pertaining to how they work.
If your work will be outdoors, find out if heavy equipment will be used. Will existing trees and plantings be protected? We know a woman whose favorite specimen tree was killed when her contractor used a Bobcat to dig a small patio space. Yes, it was quicker and maybe less expensive, but at an unhappy cost to her.
"Masonry work that is done properly is a significant investment in your home. It lasts a lifetime, requires little, if any maintenance and should not need repairs."
Ask specific questions about how your project will be built. How will the site be prepared? What kind of foundation or footing will your stonework have? For patios, it's important to know how drainage will be addressed. For more information on stone patio construction, read Stone Patios: What To Ask Before You Buy.
Here are a few general questions to ask your contractor. If your work is planned for indoors, can dust be contained and kept to a minimum? Will the area be off-limits to the rest of the house? This may be particularly important to people with small children or health concerns.
There may be an elder living in the home who will need access to a handicap exit for appointments and emergencies. Will it be closed off during construction?
How will your pets be accommodated? No, they won't be put up in a pet spa! But you may need to have a backyard gate closed at all times to contain a new puppy. Will workers be careful as they go in and out throughout the day? Will they be mindful of your family's unique needs?
Will the jobsite, a.k.a. your treasured yard, be completely cleaned up after the work is finished? And finally, who will perform the work? Will your stonework be done by the same person who did the work on the website you browsed?
Remember that quality stonework takes longer but comes with peace-of-mind. Think of it as time well spent on a product of superior craftsmanship and value. Masonry work that is done properly is a significant investment in your home. It lasts a lifetime, requires little, if any maintenance and should not need repairs.
For help spotting quality workmanship, visit Stylish Stonework. We welcome your comments and questions below.
Originally posted on April 1, 2011