Chicago masonry experts provide maintenance advice

Chicago masonry experts provide maintenance advice

Historic homes and buildings are abundant in the Chicago area. Yet, these structures can present some unique challenges when it comes to maintenance and remodeling - especially when it comes to brick or stone masonry.

Be proactive

As with any older structure, a homeowner must take extra care to ensure the value of the property is maintained. It’s especially important to identify problems that could become more significant further down the road.

For example, “overflowing or broken gutters or downspouts and drainage issues near the building can quickly lead to severe deterioration in a masonry structure,” says Peter Kleszcz, vice president of Star Tuckpointing, Inc in Chicago.

Waterproofing can help prevent some more common problems, but if you detect cracks or falling bricks, it’s time to call a professional contractor, says Roman Zajac, owner of Coast to Coast Masonry Group Inc in Long Grove, Ill. “Some small repair projects that go unattended can lead to a much larger project down the line, while other items can be deferred to be maintained at a later time,” Kleszcz says.

Experience matters

When selecting a contractor to work on a historic home, a top priority is finding one with specialized experienced. “These homes will sometimes present surprises that are unique, and having someone that has the knowledge of how to deal with unexpected items is important in those instances,”Kleszcz says.

He adds that the challenges include “matching the brick, using grout type and color that are consistent with existing colors, making sure that the new overall design of a masonry wall is retained while incorporating potential improvements in design and technology that do not detract from its historical significance.”

Also, bricks used in modern construction are typically smaller than those used years ago, which means material selection by the mason is critical in the restoration process. “This can potentially lead to brick courses not matching the rest of the structure and negatively influence the overall appearance and reduce the historic value of the building,” Kleszcz explains.

When it comes time to remodel you historic home, finding the right people to get the job done is important for the future of you house. Zajac and Kleszcz offer the following tips for hiring a professional mason worker:

  1. Conduct online research. Check for feedback from homeowners who have had similar projects with historic homes.
  2. Make sure the company is licensed and insured.
  3. Ask for a detailed estimate. “We have to take all the precautions, even estimating the projects,” Zajac says. We must make sure we don’t put the customers in the position where they have to pay extra later.”
  4. Ask about experience. The masonry company should have extensive experience working on historic homes.

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