Brick laid today, going to be 26 degrees tonight. cover it?

threeapplesNovember 12, 2012

it's pouring rain there right now and the masons left for the day. the newly-laid brick is uncovered and i'm very concerned it will be a problem considering the 26 degree temperature forecasted for tonight. what should i do? will this be a problem?

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As I pointed out in your earlier thread on this subject, the Portland Cement Assoc. recommends:
"25 to 40 deg. - cover newly constructed masonry with a weather-resistive membrane for 24 hours after being completed.

The use of an accelerator additive will allow removal of the protection earlier."

Why isn't your general contractor monitoring this work?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 4:21PM
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With all the questions, it really seems as if YOU are the GC. Are you?

It is one thing to post all the questions to learn and help others learn (about a specific process, etc). But, there have been tons of questions! And, often, it seems you post them here before you talk to your construction team, whoever they are, and the next day you post something about it being resolved (without issue).

It makes it difficult to wade through and figure out what really needs answering and what you just want answered NOW instead of waiting to hear from your construction team.

Please take this politely, as I know you have endured other comments from others that have been more hostile. I've tried to just stay out of it. (But, it really is getting ridiculous--you have a very specific build/style, yet you post on a general forum. Maybe find the specific people (like Pal) and PM them instead?).

Best, really. I am sure your house will be beautiful.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 4:42PM
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Of course I ask my contractors first. I post here afterward trying to learn what the consensus is.
No, I'm not the GC, but I feel like it quite often.
Perhaps I should stop posting on this forum.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 5:16PM
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I've done one large construction project before (major remodel, back to studs redo/rework of 3000sqft house) and the most important thing IMO is the relationship you have with your builder. A big part of that is the trust that they know what they are doing and that they will do high quality work. It was a learning experience for me and there were sticky situations but I always felt like I could trust the GC to do a good job and fix anything that went wrong. If I felt like I wasn't in that situation I think it'd be better to fire the person and find another - even if it cost more.

Why is that? Well, there are the aesthetic things like the ones you are asking about. But if you don't trust your GC to hire good masons, how can you trust him to hire a good electrician or a plumber? How do you know that the wiring or the plumbing is good? Are you up on the NEC etc?

Trust is very important. It's also good to work with a builder that shares your level of attention to detail. A lot of builders will talk the talk but you really need to look at their past projects and see the kind of work they've done. You don't want to end up with someone that will cut corners and tune you out, but at the same time you also have to have a level of confidence in them to let them do their job. With that said, it is possible sometimes to extract get great work from lower end builders, but in that case you should have a skilled architect or designer advocating for the style and detail you want every step of the way. An internet forum can only go so far.

Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 5:23PM
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I post here afterward trying to learn what the consensus is.

On technical matters it is not consensus that counts, but what is correct that counts. That's why I reference authorities in the building industry and don't expect anybody to rely on an anonymous poster.

I really don't care if you're a diy gc or a hapless client. Whoever is in charge is making a serious mistake when it comes to cold weather masonry. Maybe they don't even know better.

Whenever the temp goes below freezing, special measures must be taken. In the case of a veneer cladding, you obviously won't get structural failure. But you will end up with deteriorated mortar joints that will let in water and make the finished wall look old and neglected.

In one build, two doors away an electrical contractor was acting as his own gc for his personal 4,800 sf home. Putting on the stone cladding in the middle of winter, I noticed that at first the masonry was tented and heated. Eventually, the masons didn't even bother about any special measures. I figured by then they realized the homeowner didn't have a clue so they did what was easiest. (That's a common trait by subs, I sadly note.) Within a year, you could see the crumbling mortar from the sidewalk.

Source: Canadian Masonry Design Centre

Here is a link that might be useful: Brick Industry Association Technical Notes

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Well my builder insists all is well so there is really nothing I can do. Yes, you're right, consensus means nothing, facts do. This is not an easy situation as I'm not an expert and it happens that my masons and builder think a bit differently than I do.
By the way, posting a question about masonry isn't something that belongs on a forum for period-revival houses, it belongs on any forum that discusses masonry. Palimpsest has been a lifesaver for me, but I've asked masonry questions here because I know there are masons on this site.
So, if my mortar does not begin crumbling in a year or so am I to assume all is well and solid?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:19PM
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What kind of warranty do you have from your builder?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:45PM
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i don't think the brick is mentioned in the contract.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:50PM
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I heartliy disagree. This is YOUR house and you are paying for it. Your GC is your employee not the other way around.

If the correct and industry approved method of doing something isn't happening at your house then after you've educated yourself, it's up to you to step up and have a meeting with your GC where you spell out exactly what you want to happen.

Sitting back and waiting for something to fail years down the road when you know that what's being done now is a recipe for failure is just silly and irresponsible.

We're at the end of our new build and despite having one of the county's best builders and many excellent subs, there were several times that "non-approved" methods were about to be used. We calmly told everyone concerned that wasn't how we wanted to proceed. Without fail, our GC and the sub would agree to do it as we suggested.... we were paying their salaries and what we were asking wasn't contraindicated.... just different from what they normally did. In most cases, it cost us more to do it our way and we expected that.

Had anyone argued with us, they'd have had to prove that what they wanted to do was correct and be willing to stand behind it with an ironclad guarantee.

I don't know beans about brick, but I know that you've got to take the initiative on what you want/expect in your build.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:01PM
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If they insist on doing it contrary to industry standards, then you need to insist on at least a 25 year written warranty from the builder.

Or fire the builder.

Frankly, you should have done that LONG before now. You've had WAY too many issues. You need someone else in charge. Someone who doesn't just research the right way to do things, but actually does insist that the right thing be done. If you aren't that person, then perhaps your husband could be? Someone will have to be if this home isn't to fall apart in 5 years time.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 12:48AM
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To build brickwork in the rain would be irresponsible.

To leave new brickwork uncovered when rain is expected would be irresponsible.

To leave new brickwork uncovered when the temperature is expected to go below freezing would be irresponsible.

You need to hire an experienced professional to review the contract and the work to this point and advise you. That person should then observe the remaining work to determine if it is being done properly. You can't do this by yourself.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 6:56AM
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I agree. There is something you can do. 1) See a lawyer to figure out your rights and 2) fire your builder or insist your builder fire your mason.

I have crumbling mortar in part of my back hall where the idiot tile guy filled in mortar over old mortar and then put caulk on top in a few places where the mortar was low(didn't realize this was done until after we moved it). We have been in less than 5 months and it is failing already. Tile guy is coming today and I guess all mortar in bad areas needs to be removed and replaced . . . If that is what happens inside in 5 months, I would hate to think what would happen outside in a year.

What is the most confusing to me is that you are in a very cold climate so the tradesmen, if they are at all competent, should be well versed in the issues of building houses in cold weather.

My suspicion is that the expense to tent and heat was not included in the contract because the masonry was so delayed so they are trying to do without.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 7:20AM
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Don't accuse the mason of incompetence; that forces you to set standards for the work after the fact and the contractors will simply disagree.

Instead, ask the General Contractor what cold weather brick construction standard he has asked his masonry sub to use. If none, ask him to find out what standard the mason did use.

The standard referenced by the IRC and the IBC is "TMS 602/ACI 530.1/ASCE 6, Article 1.8 C" and is written by the Masonry Standards Joint Committee (The Masonry Society, the American Concrete Institute, and the American Society of Civil Engineers). This standard requires that new brickwork be covered in the conditions you describe.

There are reference standards but they usually based on the above standard so the requirements are essentially the same.

A typical architect/engineer written specification would establish TMS 602/ACI 530.1/ASCE 6 as the standard for all brickwork and often it will include a requirement that when the air temperature is expected to go below 40 degrees, before laying brick, the contractor must submit for approval a written description of the precautions to be taken.

Even though TMS 602/ACI 530.1/ASCE 6 is the industry consensus and building code standard, I doubt your GC owns a copy of it since it costs $100 but for the masonry contractor it should be his bible.
Why owners let home builders write contracts that omit virtually all standards and owner protections is a mystery to me.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 7:27AM
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My husband and I did not know of these cold weather masonry issues as this is our first build. Our masonry should have been complete last month. It's a string of bad luck that caused it to continue until now.
The masons did not lay any brick in the rain yesterday--they did the fireplace and stopped when the rain came, thankfully.
Our builder maintains that if it drops below freezing they will tent and heat the materials, but that they are fine above freezing. They laid another house's brick last Winter and said they've had no issues. The original paver of our building company was a mason for 15 years and insists we will be fine. I'm going to ask for the warranty.
Honestly, we've trusted our builder and he is a very nice guy. I have no intention of doubting him, I'm just trying to gather all the information I can to verify my hunches when I tell him we need to revise our practices in cold weather.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 7:55AM
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When there is no contract provision to rely on don't tell the contractor anything; you will just get the "this is the way we've always done it" response. Ask him what his published industry standard is and if he has none make him pick one and then hold him to it.

Even in warm weather the brick should have been covered to avoid possible staining in the rain. In cold weather allowing brick to be soaked is ridiculously incompetent.

But you didn't say how cold it got last night so it's impossible to say if any damage was done.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:31AM
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we've trusted our builder and he is a very nice guy. I have no intention of doubting him

Yep, a smooth personality trumps all building standards.

But I know these posts get googled up for years and hopefully help someone.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 10:46AM
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A nice incompetent guy is still just as incompetent as a butt-head incompetent. You just get riled up enough at the butt-head to actually DO something about it.

If you are willing to let things slide, then you will get a home with the lowest acceptable--or even unacceptable---building practices in the industry. Meaning the thousands of dollars you are investing in "quality" is a joke if your mortar crumbles 2 years down the line. Or name any one of the dozens of issues you've had.

Time to divest yourself of this "nice guy". It's poor business to keep putting good money after bad with shoddy workmanship, and then expect good results because the man is "nice". You just described the classic abusive relationship. Guy does crappy things, says "sorry" and you forgive and forget. Until the next time it happens. And the next. And the next.

Consider this an intervention. You may not think you have a problem, but you are in denial. You have a co-dependency here that enables him to get away with crap.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 12:52PM
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They laid mortar today--it was mid-30's they are tenting it overnight and opening house windows to heat the tented area.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 3:30PM
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