The perils of poor workmanship

You’ll probably spend hours researching what type of stone you want, the colour(s) that would work best, and whether it fits into your budget and timeline. You don’t want to fall down at the last hurdle by engaging a stonemason who doesn’t have the skills to do a good job. 

Unfortunately, that’s what happened to customers of ours in 2017 who ordered stone for their new build in Queensland, Australia. 

They arranged for a local stonemason to lay the stone we shipped to Australia, but a day or two through the job they got in touch for advice as their feature wall was turning into an eyesore.

Lucy recommended discontinuing the services of the local stonemason and engaging a stonemason experienced in laying Central Otago schist and Cluden in particular.  

Most people can appreciate the difference between average and amazing stonework, even if they can’t articulate it. A schist feature should be compelling to look at.  Unfortunately this wall draws the eye for all the wrong reasons. There are different spacings between stones, many running joints, and wobbly courses (horizontal layers).  This is not only unappealing; the wall also has poor bonding, which can be a structural issue. 

FIRST ATTEMPT - the original stonemason didn't have the right skills to lay this schist wall.
FINAL RESULT - a beautiful feature wall

Lucy put the homeowners in touch with Aidan from Pembroke Schist, a Wanaka stonemason specialising in Central Otago schist. 

He went the extra mile (literally) by flying out to Queensland to take down and re-build the wall.

Aidan has over 20 years’ experience working with schist and you can see that perfectly here. He has used each piece of stone  to construct a beautiful feature wall. The different sized stones are nicely distributed and evenly spaced both horizontally and vertically. There are no running joints, the courses (horizontal rows) are straight, and there are some larger blocks breaking the straight lines.

A good stonemason can create a beautiful wall with any stone. 

Our top tips:

  • Find a good stonemason early on. We have many stonemasons we work closely with and are happy to recommend them. 
  • Stonemasons are the best people to estimate how much stone will be needed and they can guide you on style.
  • Be clear about the look you want, take photos of stone you love.
  • Ask for recommendations from local builders, architects, or homeowners who have successfully created the look you’re after.
  • Make sure the stonemason knows how to work with the stone you’ve selected – schist is different to work with compared to granite, limestone, or brick/block, etc.
  • Ask to see examples of finished work and any published customer reviews for the stonemason you are considering engaging.
  • Once work has begun, if you’re not happy talk to your stonemason about it immediately.
Thank you to Heidi and Matt for sharing these photos with us.

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