It was an exciting day for us, as we started up a new masonry restoration project in the East Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. Not only is this masonry building a 100-year-old beauty full of quality hand-chiseled limestone elements, but the Condominium Association was extremely accommodating and moved all of their vehicles away from our staging area, unlocked all access points, and closed all of their windows prior to our 7:00am arrival.
This Condominium Association was unaware until very recently that large sections of their brick columns and parapet walls were starting to deflect and pitch severely due to decades of freeze/thaw action coupled with inadequate repair work (refer to photo below, typical). Despite the deflection in the wall, many "tradesmen" continued to tuckpoint (i.e., apply a thin coat of mortar over the existing mortar joints) because it was the most expeditious method of repair and did not require a permit to perform the work (many repairmen/handymen are not licensed mason contractors and lack the qualifications to legally procure Masonry Repair Permits within city limits).
On the brick column below at least three different mortar colors are apparent, meaning at least three separate applications of mortar had been made over the years. None of these mortar applications appear to be thicker than one's fingernail, so none of the repair mortar is capable of renewing the bond between the bricks or effectively thwarting wind-driven rain and sleet.
I'll be posting more pictures of this project as work continues over the course of the next week.
Tuesday July 14, 2015
This is part one of a two part post. Read the second part here.
The men are very excited to return to Carpentersville to work on another magnificently constructed 19th-century masonry building (this time a former dairy).
At the time this photo was snapped, the owner's demolition crew had already removed the flooring, the mechanicals, the roof and the old-growth roof joists.
The 16"-thick masonry walls were constructed almost entirely with Milwaukee Cream common bricks, which were quite prevalent in this region at the time this 125-year-old structure went up.
To provide a sense of sense of scale, the men have positioned themselves along the perimeter of the space.
Check back over the next few weeks to see more photos documenting the transformation of this former dairy.
Thursday July 2, 2015
I was driving through Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood and saw how a mason contractor had "staged" these concrete blocks.
When you figure that each of these concrete blocks weighs about 25 pounds when wet (it had rained the night before and these blocks were very saturated), this tippy tower weighs over 3500 pounds, certainly enough to break a bone or worse.
The increase in time required to properly stage materials is negligible if you have the right training and know what you are doing. If you see dangerous and hazardous condition like this, call 311 right away and report it.
Be safe out there.
Monday June 29, 2015
I was recently driving up Damen Avenue on the north side of Chicago. A group of masons I did not recognize were working on restoring this garage parapet wall. What I saw concerned me greatly, so I pulled over and snapped this photo.
Saturday June 20, 2015
For the next few weeks we are back in Oak Park working on a lovely double-courtyard brick and terra cotta condominium building constructed in the very early 1900s. It is always a pleasure working on masonry buildings of this vintage because the materials used were of the very highest quality and the building methods employed by the original masons were so fantastic. We consider structures erected immediately following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 through the 1920s to be some of the very best examples of masonry construction ever produced in the Midwest, a period during which enduring quality was of paramount importance. (These days, the drive for quality appears to have been supplanted by the drive for quick profit, as evidenced by all of the split-face block, engineered stone and brick veneer we see in newer masonry structures.)
In the photo at rightabove, Adam is about to start tuckpointing a portion of the 100-year-old terra cotta parapet wall. As you look at the edge of this parapet wall, you can see how each piece of terra cotta was hand-numbered by the original terra cotta fabricator a century ago. The edges of the terra cotta pieces will be covered up with closely matching wire-cut face bricks and tinted mortar as the rebuilding continues. Perhaps AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing will have the opportunity to rebuild this parapet wall in another 100 years?
Whether your masonry structure is a century-old brick and terra cotta building like this one or a single-family home constructed in the last 20 years, we have the experience to diagnose and address your masonry issues. We look forward to working with you!