Sunday, March 2, 2014

When should I start the stone work on my custom home?


My new custom home is going to have stone on the outside of the building, does it matter when I start the home?


Yes it does matter when you start the home. When you are dealing with stone work it is better to start the home as early in the spring as possible. The earlier you start the home the more months of warm weather you will have to lay stone, the more chance you will have at getting the stone finished before the cold weather sets in.

Here’s what you need to understand about laying stone of any kind. The laying of the stone requires mortar, mortar is made with a lot of water and water will freeze when the temperature goes below zero causing the mortar to freeze. If and when mortar freezes it expands, the expansion will damage the stone work and potentially ruin the stone work. It can cause so much damage that you can be forced to tear the wall of stone down and start again.

To combat the problem of freezing stone masons are forced to keep the area that they are working on warm all day and all night until the mortar has time to dry. They do this by:

Erecting tarps that are attached to their scaffolding or the building and weighing it down with stone material so that the wind won’t open them up and let the heat escape.

They heat the area inside the tarp. Depending on how cold it is stone masons will use either electric heaters (when it isn’t to be very cold) or propane fired heaters when it is going to be very cold or when its going to be cold for long periods of time.

They must also keep their stone products from getting wet, if they get wet and freeze then they must be thawed or the mortar will not hold them together once installed on the wall.

When you start adding tarps and heat into the stone masons scope of work the price starts to climb. It is expensive to heat with propane and also dangerous. Propane has to be left burning all the time so that the area doesn’t cool down. If the area is too well sealed then the propane heater will burn up all the oxygen in that area, this is bad thing for several reasons;

1. If the propane heater eats up all the oxygen, this usually happens at night when the tarps are completely closed off and there is limited air flow. Without oxygen a propane heater will not work, it will burn out and turn itself off. Once a propane heater has burned out it will not turn on again, even once the oxygen has returned to the area. It requires a human to turn it back on manually.

2. During the day when you are heating the area with propane the heater will be eat up a lot of the oxygen. Even though new oxygen is being allowed in to the area through the tarps as workers come and go through the openings it doesn’t take long for the overall amount of oxygen in the room to be depleted. Lower levels of oxygen in a room start to cause instant headaches and poor judgement on the part of workers. People can be hurt and work can be of a substandard level with impaired judgement.

To avoid having to pay for heat start your job as early as possible in the year that the project will allow it. Summer is the best time to lay stone and into early fall before the temperature starts to creep below zero at night.

So start your stone work as early and often as possible when building your new home.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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