The prestige and beauty that comes with having a hand made one of a kind stone feature in your house or garden can be intoxicating. Here are a few things to think about before you pick up the phone to call your stonemason.
Although these may seem obvious, I can assure you these are often overlooked or not treated seriously enough at the first stage of planning.
Indoor or outdoor features require different approaches. Does outdoor access allow for equipment like diggers, pallets of stone, sand storage and the mason’s tools of trade, including work benches, hand tools, power tools, cement mixer? Does the access make it easy or complicated for the stonemasons to move around the site with materials and tools? Outdoors will be quite messy while the work is being done so consider how that might impact on your access to the yard and or the house. Safety of kids and pets should also be considered when access to a site is being arranged. If indoors then consider whether the access indoors allows for movement of materials such as stone and mortar. If you are very fussy about neatness then be prepared for dust and chaos for a little while; no pain no gain. Drop sheets will be required to protect flooring and consider covering furniture to reduce dust. This is less likely to apply to new builds, although flooring should be done after the stone work in a new build. All of the above access considerations apply to indoor work also as the bulk of the stone preparation will be done outdoors and stone will be carried inside to be fitted in place.
Have a firm idea of what you want. However, be prepared to have suggestions made by the mason. Getting one off stone work is not like getting a ‘build it yourself’ book case. There are usually lots of considerations to be made in designing a project and that is best achieved collaboratively. The mason will have design experience and flair to bring to the table and technical skills about what is possible.
Start collecting images of similar designs and styles you like. Consider colours, stone type and textures. Is the new build matching with an existing feature? If so, is the old stone still available? Do you want a style that is similar or something new? The indoor may need to fit with a colour palette already established by existing decor. Or it may need to match with a design or architectural brief.
A stonemason’s timetable for works can be full well in advance and wait times can be considerable. If you have a deadline, for a special event or a time frame set by a builder or other works, it is best to leave plenty of time to book your stonework and then be aware that stonework is generally a time consuming job so allow plenty of time to complete and discuss your requirements in full with the stone worker. Depending on the stone choice, there can be significant delays waiting for materials to be delivered. Weather is a major player for stone work also. So wet season projects can often have delays.
Knowing in advance what your wallet looks like will help you and your mason decide the project parameters. Is is best to be honest about what you are prepared to spend, which is different to how big your budget may be. It is sometimes possible to redesign a project to fit a budget. But often these things are irreconcilable.
Check with your council to see if you need a permit for the work you are considering. Your stonemason will likely know but council requirements vary so don’t expect an exact answer without some investigation first. Do you expect your mason to do the leg work on the permit or will you do it yourself? Expect to pay for your permits and your mason’s time if you choose to handball that job on.