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Before you call:
Research the different stone or brick options that you might want to have installed on your home to get an idea of their pros, cons, and costs. Your mason will be able to better explain how his services with certain materials is determined, but this could give you a ballpark figure of your materials cost.
Find some homes in your area that have recently been bricked or stoned. Talk to the owners to figure out an estimated price of the work to be done.
Choosing the Right Mason:
Compare the brick rates of several masons. Typically, brick masons figure their price per brick. Stone masons often do the same if the stones are uniform, but they also charge by the job or the hour if stones vary in size. If he is going to charge by the square foot, will he subtract the area of the windows?
Ask your mason to provide some examples of his work and find out if he has ever completed any projects that are similar to yours.
Some masons consider themselves to be workers, some artists, some both. Figure out if you need an artist for a stylish fireplace, a worker for a plain brick house, or both for a drystacked limestone home.
Consider skill and experience over a cheaper hourly rate. Having an inexperienced, inexpensive mason who tears up your yard, takes too long, and doesn't do what you want done, will require a second mason to do the job right. Avoid those mistakes by hiring quality first.
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Ideas to Consider:
Stone and brick don't have to be laid in horizontal patterns. Depending on the project you can detail your home with a unique design. Talk with your mason about different designs that may be best for you.
Masonry can be messy work. First, bricks and rocks will be stacked on your property. Next, those materials will slowly get moved around and scattered about as the bricklayers pick through the materials for the best choices. Concrete will get on the yard simply from how the mortar is applied. Be reasonable in your reaction to your yard being in disarray. These masons are just doing the job you want done.