How to Hire a Mason
Look for experience and expertise
By Glyn Sheridan
Whether you want a brick exterior on your new home or a simple cobblestone path, a skilled mason is essential for the job. A mason is a craftsman who works with brick, stone or block to form solid structures or to create design elements. Because good masonry is an art as well as a science, you'll benefit from hiring a knowledgeable mason with a proven record of accomplishment.
- What You Need to Know
- Define what you want before you contact a mason.
- The type of material you choose will affect your price.
- Invest in a designer for any large scale remodeling.
Call your local housing authority to find out if masons must have a license in your state or in your community. Not all states require a license, but if yours does, check with the licensing commission to determine if the mason is in good standing and whether he or she has any recent complaints on record. If there are complaints, your local housing authority can provide the contact number of the party that filed the complaint so you can follow up. You should also check to make sure the mason is properly insured and get proof.
Make sure the masons you interview have experience with the type of work that you want done. For example, if you want a fieldstone wall constructed, don't hire a mason who only has experience with installing foundations.
Ask one or more masonry contractors for bids on your project. A mason typically charges a set fee per brick, stone or block that he or she lays. This fee includes the cost of labor and additional materials, such as mortar and structural wall mesh.
Figure in the cost of the bricks or blocks if you are choosing and ordering your own and arranging for their delivery. Some masons have accounts with nearby brickyards and may get discounts. But many masons provide only the labor necessary to lay the bricks and may require you to order the materials. This is important information to have before you choose a mason.
Take a look at some recent examples of the mason's work, if possible. While it's always a good idea to ask for client references and to call them, it's even better to see the mason's work with your own eyes. Look not only at the overall design, but also for quality: Look closely for hairline cracks in the mortar or brick rows that are not perfectly level.
Ask to see a portfolio if the mason has one. Since brick and stonework are often artistic by nature, many masons will take photographs of previous projects. A portfolio allows you to see the scope of the mason's expertise. If you can, contact former clients and ask them how the mason performed on the job.
Execute a contract that specifies the work, cost, payment schedule and the start and anticipated completion date. Make sure the contract includes provisions that guarantee the work. Masonry jobs are generally messy and it's not uncommon for masonry spills to occur. With that in mind you should also make sure that there is a provision in your contract indicating that the contractor is responsible for cleanup.
About the Author
Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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