Driscoll Masonry Restoration, Inc.
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Project Planning Guide
Here are a few basic guidelines
which we have found helpful when considering exterior building restoration:

Where Do I Start?
Determining priorities for work to be done on a building can be a complex balancing act. The first priority must always be safety. Is anything going to fall off, collapse, or shift? The second priority usually relates to keeping the weather out. Is it leaking and causing damage to the structure or to the interior finishes? Thirdly is appearance. Does it look unsightly or is there room for aesthetic improvement? Are you trying to draw attention to the building by improving its "street appeal"? Underlying all of these priorities is the project budget. How much can you afford to spend or how much can you afford to loose by deferring maintenance?

How much does it cost?
Every building is unique. Factors such as location, accessibly, weather, and the materials used affect project costs. We do not work with "unit rates" as is common in the new construction industry. Instead, we examine each building, review all available project documents, specifications and drawings and prepare individual quotations. Usually, there is no charge for the estimate. If you require a survey or more comprehensive building analysis, our consulting services are available at a  very reasonable cost.

Driscoll Masonry RestorationHow do I find the right restoration contractor?
Ask other property owners, managers or design professionals with experience in the field about their contractors. Use pre-qualification documents to determine which contractors have the necessary skills and financial stability to complete your project. Check their credentials and their previous and current project references. Seek competitive quotations from similarly qualified contractors and base your decision on their submissions. Price is not always the most important factor! Use standard forms of contract to protect your rights and ensure that all the bases are covered.

What about extras or overruns as the project proceeds?
Unforeseen conditions on existing buildings can be costly. To help avoid excessive cost overruns, be prepared at the beginning. If access is difficult or expensive, have a building survey completed using a crane, man-lift, or swingstage. A detailed report and photographs will warn you of visible problems found higher up. Obtain unit rates in your bid document for typical extras such as brick replacement, repointing, and concrete patching. Carry a contingency amount in your budget. For new construction the typical cost overrun is 10%. In restoration 15 - 20% is advisable. Keep track of all changes to the contract and approve extra costs in writing. Use the relevant sections in your contract to determine reasonable costs.

Which is better - patching or replacing?
The absolute answer is always, "It depends." Patching or synthetic repairs are less costly than replacement, however, they have a shorter life expectancy and will have to be replaced again. Issues such as differential movement, freeze/thaw cycles, historical value, wear and tear, weathering factors, and liability are important considerations of almost equal value.

Why not just paint it?
Painting hides many imperfections and dramatically improves a building’s appearance, however, it also creates a maintenance requirement. Brick and stone should never be painted. These materials are best left exposed to "breathe" naturally. Paints and other coatings create a barrier which traps moisture. During cycles of freeze/thaw this water expands and contracts causing spalling, peeling and delamination. Conversely, wood and metal building elements require protection from the weather to prevent corrosion, splitting and rot. Surface preparation is vital to proper adhesion and a high quality finish.

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