Masonry is quickly becoming a lost art and skill as more builders are opting for cheaper and lighter types of construction materials. What happened to the charm and style that only brick and mortar can provide? In this modern day economy of fast food and impatience, people are unwilling or unable to wait for the true craftsmanship of a mason. In terms of durability, no other form of construction is as reliable as masonry. There are still brick and mortar structures standing today from the ancient Egyptians thousand of years ago and the bricks back then were just composed of mud and straw. Modern bricks are vastly superior to what was available thousands of years ago.
Fast forward to today. While new and improved materials have been invented, thereby leading to a reduction in construction times, many builders have also cut back on truly skilled and knowledgeable craftsmen in favor of day laborers with little or no experience. Many builders have assumed incorrectly that using the new and improved construction materials will reduce the need for these skilled artisans such as masons and true carpenters. The results have been shoddy assembly and construction.
New home builders have relied on advertising these “new and improved space age” advances in construction materials in hopes that poor attention to detailed building and assembly can be glossed over. There are some exceptions, but it seems that a large majority of “cookie cutter” home builders rely on this approach.
With the economy in shambles and the outlook to be slow in recovering, many people have unknowingly “settled” on basic block construction or wood frame construction. While traditional wood frame construction is a proven method, insulation properties even with the acceptable “minimum” building codes applied, is wholly inadequate as rising energy costs skyrocket. Cinder block construction is inherently superior with regards to longevity and insulation properties, but cinder block lacks any style, charm, or flair.
Brick construction, whether used for the entire structure or for the partial structure in order to achieve stylistic endeavors, shares the same superior insulation and longevity as block construction. Masonry, though, affords a homeowner the luxury of creating an individualistic style that only brick can bring.
Color choices for bricks are vast compared to cinder block. Would any individual choose the gray, gray, or gray of cinder blocks over the reds, yellows, whites, speckled or black color choices of bricks? Perhaps, but bricks are available in grays as well.
Brick construction can cost more than other methods of building constructions. Some home buyers for this reason alone have opted for the cheaper cost of cinder block or frame, but masonry isn’t just for the home structures themselves.
Properties can be rejuvenated with accenting structures such as retaining walls, brick entryways, or even mailbox enclosures. Large planters and flower beds made from masonry can give a new lease on life for a tired front lawn. These alternatives are extremely cost effective whether it’s for new construction, an established residence, or commercial site.
Sometimes existing masonry may just need to be retooled, acid washed, and touched up to achieve that new pizzazz. Maintenance isn’t an expensive option when the cost of lack of maintenance is examined, especially if the property is on the market. The natural beauty of brick is all it takes to make a lasting impression on everyone.
For more information and guidance about exterior brick work and masonry construction, visit http://www.mccrearysmasonry.com. McCreary’s Masonry Construction specializes in high end brick work, and you should check out his samples and portfolio online for ideas.
Daniel Elliott is an independent contractor who authors articles and media on a variety of topics for diverse audiences. WebDrafter.com, Inc. (http://www.webdrafter.com) produces Website design, hosting, and search engine marketing services for many of the clients, industries and markets related to the articles and media authored by Dan Elliott. If you would like Dan Elliott to ghost write or pen an article for you or your company, please contact him with your specifications.
DIY Plumbing Repairs – You Have Homeowners Insurance, Use It!
by: Ray Breitenbach
Since most home owners insurance policies don’t cover the cost of repairs few people think to check with them when plumbing problems occur. Although they may not cover the repair, they will usually cover the value of damaged property including cleaning up after the repair. The scope of this type of project is typically not a diy plumbing repair project so you will want to find any way you can to help pay for it.
A few years ago I had the misfortune of finding water seeping through a wall in my basement one spring. First this was blamed on a very wet season. Next, when dry weather came around and the leak was still there a basement waterproofing contractor was called in. It was no suprise when this contractor informed me that I had ground water and needed their expensive services. Since the company had a vested interest in me believing this they did not seem to feel the need to offer any other possible explanation. Based on the fact that the remaining 95% of the basement walls had no such problem a third opinion was in order.
Based on the proximity of the leak to the primary kitchen drain pipes a third contractor was called. After a short examination, the plumbing contractor was able to determine that the kitchen drain pipe was leaking (not where we could access it easily of course but behind a cinder block wall under a concrete slab).
The plumbing contractor then made an unexpected suggestion – call my insurance company before starting the repair. That was when he explained that the company would not pay for the repair, but they would pay for the cost of jack hammering up my living room, hall, and/or office floor to find the leak and cleaning up afterwards. He was also able to suggest an alternative solution that was cleaner and much less expensive and present it to the insurance company.
Two repair scenarios were proposed.
The first project would involved having the plumbing contractor find the leak under the living room slab, repair the drain pipe, and then replace the concrete and flooring to clean up after the project. As would be expected the estimate for this repair was on the high side ($4000+ by the time all the cleanup work would have been completed).
The second repair was considerably less intrusive – they would cap off the existing drain line (kitchen only) and re-route it through the joist’s in the basement and re-connect it to the main line outside the house. The only “heavy” work in this proposal was cutting a 6 inch hole in the exterior wall and digging a trench to run the new pipe to be reconnected. The remainder of the work amounted to a fairly simple plumbing repair. The net cost for this repair was about half the first proposal
With both of these proposals on hand, the insurance company had no problem in justifying payment for the FULL SECOND OPTION (less deductable of course). The insurance company saved money, the home owner saved money, and the repair was accomplished within 2 days with a minimum of cleanup required.
This entire project demonstrated the value of a good plumbing contractor. They were able to quickly identify the problem, propose multiple solutions, and help justify the payment by the insurance company.
This repair also demonstrated the value of a insurance company. The insurance company was willing to accept and pay for an alternative solution as well as inform the home owner of all the expenses that should be recorded for reimbursement.
About The Author
Ray Breitenbach writes for Simple Home Repairs – http://www.simplehomerepairs.com. Please visit for more information on how to perform you own basic home repairs.