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Find a Masonry (stone), stone mason Near You

How to Find A Good Stonemason Near Me?

Well-constructed and maintained stonemasonry can outlive other steel or reinforced structures by up to 500 years. However, making these timeless monuments demand high skill, creativity, attention to details, and abiding by established work and safety standards. It also comes with certain work hazards like exposure to silica that cause silicosis, and sprains, strains, and even fatalities from continuous heavy lifting. In 2019 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded work-related 14 deaths and 720 injuries among stonemasons, brickmasons, and blockmasons. Hence, your retaining wall, patio, fireplace, walkway, or outdoor kitchen stonework project is as much a matter of safety as achieving that timeless beauty. When looking to hire a certified stonemason near you the following questions will help you determine the most qualified professional.

  1. Are You A Licensed Stonemason?

    Of the fifty states in the United States, thirty-one states require that masons working on residential properties possess licenses. In addition to the license, these states require approximately 380 days of education and experience, $319 in fees, and about one exam, although California requires three. Note, masons practicing in certain counties or cities like Chicago may be required to obtain a local license.

    In addition to a license, typically, stonemasons obtain a certification as a proof of their mastery. Such certifications are from recognized industry bodies like Natural Stone Institute, Mason Contractors Association of America, and Dry Stone Conservancy. Request to see a copy of your stonemason’s license and certification to verify their qualification to complete your job perfectly. To determine the licensing requirements for stonemasons near you, contact the state licensing agency or the local building department.

  2. Are You Bonded and Insured?

    Construction workers have one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and fatalities of all occupations. Annually, over 30,000 construction laborers seek medical attention for sprains and strains suffered at work. Also, fatality at construction work is as high as 1,000 in every 100,000 workers. Hence, hiring a bonded and insured stonemason near you is necessary, as it protects you from potential financial liabilities beyond the cost of the project. Typically, your contractor is required to hold general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance plans. The combination of these policies cover for injuries suffered by workers or third-party during the completion of your work. In addition, masons may hold business vehicle insurance because they move heavy and expensive materials to worksites.

    A surety bond is another essential for your contractor to guarantee against the failure of the project that may result in additional expenses on your behalf. In a case where a hired arborist leaves the job unfinished, does not meet all the contractual obligations, or is not able to deliver appropriately, the bonding company steps in to fulfill all outstanding obligations, that is, ensuring that you are sufficiently compensated. Bonding requirements for arborists differ by state, county or city. Therefore, contact your local licensing authority or building department to determine the minimum requirements and confirm your arborist meets the statutory requirements.

  3. What Kind of Work Are You Specialized in?

    Stonemasonry basically involves building stone walls and setting stone exteriors and floors. Typically, stonemasons work with two types of stones, including natural-cut stone, such as marble, limestone, and granite; and artificial stone, formed from concrete, marble chips, or other stone masonry materials.

    There are three major stone work types, including:

    • Rubble Masonry - Constructed with natural stones that are mostly not in a uniform size and shape. It has four classes, including random rubble (uncoursed and built to course), square rubble (uncoursed, built to course, and regular course), miscellaneous type rubble (polygonal rubble masonry and flint rubble masonry), and dry rubble masonry
    • Ashlar Masonry - It is the finest class of masonry and requires extreme care in setting the stones. It is uniformly laid with thick horizontal joints l/2 inch thick or less. Ashlar Masonry has two classes: the first is with ranged or regular coursed ashlar, also known as dimensioned stone work or work cut-stone. The other is constructed with broken ashlar, made of rectangular stones shaped to dimensions, it has varying thickness, and is laid in the wall in irregular courses.
    • Squared Stone Masonry - It is laid up with stones roughly shaped to allow its laying with horizontal joints l/2 inch thick or thicker to take up the inequalities of the stones. It is not dressed to have a fine finish as ashlar. It has three classes, including range masonry, broken range, and random range masonry.

    In most cases, the type of project is what determines the type of material that will be used and consequently, the type of stonemason that will be hired. For instance, a project may require that natural-cut stones be used, in such cases, hiring a stonemason near you that is an expert with only artificial stones may not be a good idea. Hence, it is important to ask the stonemason you are looking to hire about the type of materials they have successfully worked with. This will determine if their experience fits with your project. In addition, you may ask about what cutting and laying patterns they have done and samples of their past jobs as this will determine whether their technique fits into the project at hand.

  4. Who Will Do the Work?

    Generally, stonemasons execute their jobs alone or with an assistant or apprentice. However, where the size and complexity of the job is enormous, the contractor may come with more colleagues or subcontract part of the job. This is done to ensure a timely completion of the job. Nonetheless, you have the duty to verify that these additional workers have the required work license and are covered by the contractor’s insurance plan and bond. Note these additional laborers may affect the total cost of the contract. Discuss with your stonemason the cost implications of these additional hands.

  5. Do You Offer Warranty?

    A warranty is a form of guarantee that a service provider or product seller gives to assure the consumer of the efficacy of their service. Professional contractors near you will not hesitate to offer a warranty for their workmanship. A warranty may be written, verbal, or implied. Stonemasons often verbally guarantee good workmanship, promising to bear the cost of repairs for defects consequent upon their installation. Claims on this guarantee may be subject to the manner of usage within a definite time frame. It is highly recommended that you obtain this warranty in writing to prevent future dispute on the terms of redemption.

  6. Will This Job Require a Permit?

    Generally, small stone masonry jobs like repairs may not require permits, although the project must still comply with all the relevant local zoning and building codes. However, for stone masonry construction projects that will make major alterations to your property like installing a new patio or outdoor kitchen, a permit will be required. It is recommended that you personally contact the local planning or building department office near you to determine if a permit will be required for the size of the project you want to embark on. If a permit is required, a certified stonemason would help to obtain it from the relevant authority.

  7. Will You Provide References?

    Ensure to request that the stonemason you want to work with provides references of past projects they have completed that are similar to yours. Getting references is recommended by the FTC as an essential requirement when looking to hire a contractor. When reference is provided, you may reach out to the clients and verify the contractor's expertise and credibility. Also, independent local reviews from former clients living near you may be found on websites like Google Review, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp.

    If possible, you may visit your potential stonemason’s current site to see their work in progress. This will give an insight into the expertise of the contractor.

  8. Do You Have a Business License?

    Possessing a business license is an essential requirement for any business owner like stonemasonry contractors. This business license must be obtained from the Office of the Secretary of State in the area where that business is located. Before hiring a stonemason contractor, ensure you ask whether they have a valid business license. The answer they provide can be confirmed via the searchable database for licensed businesses available on each Secretary of State’s website.

What are Common Stonemasonry Problems?

The following are the commonest stone masonry construction problems:

  • Use of wrong materials: picking the right materials for stonemasonry is a skill in itself as this can either make or mar the project
  • Poor structuring of the foundation and cracks: normally people opt for stone masonry due to its durability. However, if the foundation is not well structured, the possibility of cracks happening is high. If cracks occur, they must be repaired immediately to prevent moisture infiltration and damage.
  • Careless installation: this can make the construction less durable and the final structure unsafe for occupants
  • Health hazards during the job: if the hired stonemason is not properly trained on how to safely handle the materials used for the job, such a person may be at the risk of silicosis and other related diseases.

Unlike other construction types, a stonemasonry construction cannot be easily altered, repaired, or relocated if an error occurs during the job. Hence, it is important to employ an experienced professional near you who is also safety cautious.

Other problems associated with stonemasonry include:

  • Frost Attack: It is caused by continuous exposure to frost and can easily displace stones in exposed areas, such as at the top of a wall.
  • Salt crystallisation - It appears as white powder on the surface of stone as the stone dries out. It increases pressure on the stone, leading to cracks and corrosion.
  • Metal expansion: It happens when iron or steel cramps used to fix stonework begins to rust, causing them to expand and this fractures the stone.
  • Incorrect Mortar: It happens when the mortar used to bed the stones is too strong and does not allow sufficient evaporation, causing moisture to evaporate through the stone, which leaves it at risk of salt defects.
  • Improper Bedding: Normally, stones are supposed to be laid horizontally in the pattern that it was originally formed to maximise strength, but this is often not the case as some masons bed the stones vertically for aesthetic value. This makes the stones more vulnerable to damage and at risk of salt defects and frost attack.

How Much Does Stonemasonry Cost?

Generally, the cost of hiring a stonemason is determined by the size of the project, the type of materials to be used (natural-cut or artificial), and the method of stonemasonry employed. Other factors such as the location of the job also determine the total cost. The total cost includes the cost of stone, stone cutting, sand and lime, and any scaffolding. Stonemasons may charge per hour or by area or volume. Typically, a stone wall costs between $2,143 and $7,553.

Listed below are some of the average costs associated with stonemasonry:

The cost of a stone wall is $25
$80 per square foot depending on its density and style.
The cost of a brick wall is $10
$45 per square foot depending on its density and type.
The cost of a cinder block wall cost $5
$12 per square foot with veneers adding $5 to $12 per square foot.
The cost of a traditional brick wall is about $35 per square foot.

The average costs of the materials used are as follows:

Natural Stone
$25 to $80 per square foot and $270 to $860 per square meter
Stone Veneer
$10 to $25 per square meter and $270 to $485 per square meter
Brick
$27 to $45 per square foot and $290 to $485 per square meter
Brick Veneer (one 4” Wythe)
$10 to $30 per square foot and $108 to $325 per square meter
Mini (thin) Brick Veneer Strips
$5 to $15 per square foot and $55 to $160 per square meter
Hollow Brick
$25 to $45 per square foot and $270 to $485 per square meter

Other estimated costs are as follows:

Labor cost to build a solid brick wall
$70 to $110 per hour
Labor cost to install a dry stack stone wall
$40 to $80+ per hour
Labor cost to build a natural stone wall
$15 to $30+ per square foot
Labor cost to build a stone veneer wall
$10-$15 per square foot
Labor cost to install a stone accent wall
$4,000 to $8,000
Labor cost to build a thin veneer or a single wythe over concrete or wood wall
$25 to $40 per hour for general contractors or carpenters
Interior brick wall installation
$5 to $15 per square foot
Building permit
$100 to $500
Drainage solutions
$1,000-$5,000
Land surveyor fees
$350-$700.
Structural engineer’s rates average $500

Note that the appearance and general structure, weight, hardness and toughness, workability, durability, and fire resistance of the stone may also influence the price of a stone and consequently the overall cost of the project.

What are the Factors that Affect the Cost of Stonemasonry?

The cost of stone masonry is not fixed, as it is influenced by some factors. A stonemason can charge as low as $40 per hour and as high as $110 per hour. Generally, the cost of stonemasonry in urban cities is higher than in suburbs and local areas. The total cost is also influenced by the cost of the materials to be used and the construction technique. Some materials are pretty easy to handle and don’t cost so much, but other materials may cost a lot more. For instance, the labor cost to build a wall with natural stone ranges from $15 to $30 per square foot, but the cost to build a stone veneer wall ranges from $10 to $15 per square foot.

In addition, the size of the project and the number of stonemasons hired is also important. Ensure to be clear on the number of persons that will work with the contractor you hired. Note that hiring contractors near you will help reduce your cost. If it is a major project, a permit may be required and this will definitely also affect the total cost.

What Qualifications Should a Stonemason Have?

As of 2019, there are 16,800 stonemasons working in the United States. Most of these stone craftsmen started out in the industry with a high school diploma or a similar degree and learned the trade either through an apprenticeship or during practice. Some workers choose to begin their training by taking pre-apprenticeship courses at the Home Builders Institute or the International Masonry Institute.

Apprenticeship programs are mostly initiated by unions and contractor associations. Here, apprentices learn construction basics, including building code requirements, blueprint reading, mathematics for measurement, and safety and first-aid practices. Upon the completion of an apprenticeship program, the trainee is considered a journey worker and can begin to single-handedly handle projects. In some cases, stonemasons start as construction laborers and helpers before becoming masons.

Do I need a Handyman or a Stonemasonry?

Stonemasonry is a delicate job that requires expertise and construction experience because it cannot be easily altered, repaired, or relocated. The belief that hiring a professional stonemason near you is expensive and overrated because of the perceived simplicity of the job is a wrong and uninformed choice. Many handymen handle mason tasks without regards to local building code requirements and with limited skills to complete the job perfectly. In the process, these untrained workmen expose you and themselves to potential health hazards, penalties of contravening the building code, expenses of covering construction errors, and further financial liabilities. While hiring a professional stonemason will save you from all these heartaches, it also comes with the confidence of dealing with an insured and bonded craftsman, and the assurance your work is being completed in accordance with industry standards.

What are Common Post Stonemasonry Expenses?

Stonemasons typically tidy up the work site after a construction project or a repair, leaving a flawless finish. However, certain stonemasonry projects may require the repair of any damages that occurred during the course of work, such as plumbing and electrical damages, where applicable. The service of a painter may also be required if the client wants the stonewall to be painted. It should be noted that any extra expenses that may arise from hiring an additional professional will be covered by the client, except if otherwise agreed upon before the project commences.

Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Stonemasonry Problems?

Homeowner insurance refers to the type of insurance that provides you indemnity in a case of a home accident or unintentional damage or loss to your property. Typically, homeowner insurance does not cover damage caused by natural disasters like earthquakes, storms, and floods. Hence, a stonemasonry loss that arises from a natural cause may not be compensated. However, a homeowner insurance policy will cover any structural damage caused by explosions, theft, vandalism, riots, vehicle or aircraft clash, etc. The extent of cover a homeowner insurance provides depends on the homeowner’s insurance policy and the age of the house.

Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay For Stonemasonry Services?

Digital payment is gaining a wide acceptance among small businesses across the US today, including stonemasons near you. Many stonemasons accept payments via e-wallets or credit cards. It is even a preferred option compared to cash for receipt and record-keeping purposes. Regardless of this, note that not all stonemasons accept digital payment services. If you would rather use a digital payment method, ensure to inform the stonemason before hiring them.