5 Ways to Keep Your Masonry Contractors Honest

Masonry Contractors in Toronto

Before

Masonry contractors in Toronto are no different than any other contractors. Some are honest, hardworking professionals dedicated to getting the job done right and others are dedicated to padding the bill, cutting corners and making excuses. While everyone hopes they get the first kind there’s no absolute way to tell if you might actually be getting the second kind. All you can really do is take preventive steps designed to head games off at the pass and keep your masonry contractor honest.

Tips for Dealing with Masonry Contractors in Toronto

If you’ve decided to engage the services of a particular masonry contractor he’s obviously passed muster with you on some level and that’s great. Now it’s your turn to impress him with the fact that you weren’t born yesterday. You do that by implementing these 5 common sense tips.

  1. Don’t pay in advance – Make sure it’s stipulated in the contract exactly how much you’ll need to pay up front and then stick to that amount. Typically this shouldn’t be more than 10% of the total cost of the job. If the contractor starts telling you tales of woe to try and elicit a larger up-front payment listen respectfully and wish him good luck with all of that.
  2. Get everything in writing – You might feel you don’t really need to lay out all the grisly details in the contract but you’d be mistaken. Thinking you have some sort of bond with the contractor that will ensure he undertakes all the special touches the two of you talked about without it all being written down is kind of like believing in the tooth fairy.
  3. Make it clear who’s securing the permits – It should be stipulated in writing in the contract exactly who will be securing the necessary permit for the work. If a prospective masonry contractor tells you there’s no need for a building permit or simply gives you their word they’ll pick one up first chance they get don’t believe it.
  4. Don’t get bamboozled – Some less than savoury masonry contractors in Toronto will try and pull the ye olde “unforeseen problems” scam on you. If you suddenly hear one day that they’ll need to secure an additional payment because the cost of mortar skyrocketed or they encountered “problems” with your home that are making the job more difficult whip out the contract and ask them to pinpoint the clause that allows them to do that.
  5. Demand to see proof of insurance – There is more than one contractor out there plying their trade without adequate insurance. These guys are ticking time bombs and to ensure one doesn’t go off while working on your home always, that’s always, insist on seeing proof of insurance (both liability and workman’s compensation).

Masonry contractors in Toronto are by and large hard working, reliable, honest folks who do an outstanding job for their customers. Like any trade however there are those who will try to get away with things. It’s up to you not to provide them the opportunity to do so.

The Best Time for Chimney Repair?

Chimney RepairIf your chimney is in need of repair it is better to have the work done as soon as possible, to avoid the possibility of any further deterioration. However, right now is not always the most convenient time to have such repairs carried out and certain times of the year may be more practical than others when it comes to major masonry renovation work. With this in mind, you will probably want to schedule the work to start at the next most favourable opportunity and if you are not sure when this might be, we have outlined some of the most important factors to consider below, to help you make your decision.

Scheduling Your Chimney Repair

All of the following factors should be taken into consideration when you are deciding on the best time to have your chimney repaired:

  • The Current Condition of Your Chimney – It should go without saying but if your chimney is currently in such a bad state of repair that it poses a danger to your family or others in the vicinity, you should have it repaired immediately. The factors listed below may mean that now is not the best time to do so but when there is the possibility of injury or worse, you should never delay your chimney repair.
  • The Weather – Snow, rain and heavy winds are not the ideal conditions in which to work on the roof of a house so if at all possible, you should schedule the necessary repairs for sometime in the summer. If this is not possible, watch the weather forecasts carefully and coordinate with your repair team so that you are able to avoid the worst conditions if at all possible.
  • Your Work and Home Life – If you are going through a very busy period at work and could do without the additional stress of masonry repairs when you get home, it might be a good idea to postpone the work until things have quietened down a little. Similarly, if you have a lot to contend with at home right now, you may wish to put off your chimney repair for a few weeks. Assuming that your chimney does not pose a danger to you or your neighbours and the weather is likely to be fine for some time to come, there should be no harm in waiting for a while.
  • Availability of Local Contractors – Last but not least, you need to consider the availability of the people you would like to perform the necessary work on your chimney. There is little point in scheduling the work for a time when the weather is fine and you have no other distractions unless you can guarantee the availability of skilled masonry specialists at the same time.

To make sure that your chimney repair is carried out by a team of highly-skilled professionals who know exactly what they are doing, call Cummins Restorations today to arrange your free initial consultation.

Factors that Can Affect the Cost of Chimney Repair

chimney repair torontoFirst of all, we recommend that you contact 2 or 3 reputable contractors for quotations, even if you are sure that you would like to use our services! We know that we are highly competitive as well as highly skilled but we want you to be sure you are making the right choice when you hire us to repair your chimney. To give you an idea of the type of estimates you are likely to receive, we have put together a list of the factors that are most likely to influence the overall cost, which you can find in the section below.

How Much Will Your Chimney Repair in Toronto Cost?

Whilst not an exhaustive list, most of the more obvious factors are contained in the following list. By reading through it and looking at your own chimney, you should be able to ascertain whether it is going to be a relatively inexpensive job or one that might require a substantial outlay.

  • Size – The most obvious factor to consider, especially when a fairly comprehensive rebuild is in order, is the height of your chimney. The width is probably standard but height can vary significantly from one building to the next. Generally speaking, the taller your chimney, the more it is going to cost to rebuild or repair. Relatively minor repair jobs, such as repointing the mortar joints, can also be estimated fairly accurately by considering the height of the chimney first and foremost.
  • Condition – The worse the current condition of your chimney, the more it is going to cost to repair. No matter who you hire to carry out your chimney repair in Toronto, the amount that they charge for labour and repairs will reflect the state of your chimney as it stands right now. While this may give you pause for thought, especially if your chimney is in a particularly poor state of repair, you should bear in mind that it is only going to get worse so the sooner you have it fixed, the cheaper it will be.
  • Location – If your property is of a fairly standard size and design, this factor may not play much of a part in the final price. On the other hand, if you live in a house that is particularly tall and features a chimney in a hard-to-reach location, you can expect to pay more for your chimney repair in Toronto than would otherwise be the case. A higher roof, for example, will require more scaffolding and will therefore increase the cost of both materials and labour.
  • Additional Parts – If the condition of your chimney is such that it requires the replacement of certain major parts, such as the crown, this will inevitably lead to higher costs than if all that needs doing is a simple repointing of the mortar joints between the masonry.

Call Cummins Restorations right now to request a comprehensive quotation for chimney repair in Toronto. We look forward to assisting you in the very near future.

4 Masonry Projects to Invest in in 2017

masonry Toronto If you want to protect your investment and ensure that your home remains in excellent condition, you may wish to consider spending a little money on one of the masonry projects that we discuss in this article. If you are not sure which one would be most suitable for your property or whether any of them are really necessary at this point in time, please feel free to call and ask for our advice at any time. We will be more than happy to arrange a no-obligation inspection of your home so that we can give you our professional, unbiased opinion.

Repairing Masonry in Toronto: Call Your Local Experts

We can deal with any of the following repair & renovation tasks and if you are not sure whether they are necessary, we can, as mentioned above, inspect your property and let you know what we think. As a reputable local firm with plenty of loyal clients we never recommend having masonry work done unless it is absolutely necessary so you have nothing to worry about on that score.

  1. Brick Cleaning – Dirty, stained bricks can make the exterior of your home look shabby and uncared for but there is no need to worry because with our brick cleaning service, you can restore your home to its former glory in no time at all. Before we start as new brick cleaning project, we always inspect the walls in question to make sure that the mortar is in a good state of repair. If this is not the case, our masonry Toronto repair team can repoint the joints before cleaning the bricks.
  2. Parging – The covering of interior and exterior masonry bricks to protect them from the elements is something that we recommend doing on properties that have a few layers of exposed above-grade bricks below wooden or aluminum cladding. We use a special mortar mix for parging that guarantees first-class results.
  3. Tuckpointing – Most mortar joints in brick walls only last for around 20 years or so before they need attention. We can remove the outer part of your crumbling mortar and replace it with a fresh layer that will not only make your home look instantly more attractive, it will also help to protect your walls from moisture damage in all seasons.
  4. Chimney Repair – If your chimney has seen better days, our team can almost certainly repair it at very competitive rates. We have worked on a wide variety of projects involving the repair of masonry in Toronto but chimneys have to be at or near the top of the list as far as the frequency of client requests is concerned. Common problems with chimneys include damaged mortar, damage to the crown and cracked flue tiles.

Whether you have a specific project in mind concerning your masonry in Toronto or you would simply like us to give your house the once over, to make sure it is in good condition, please do not hesitate to call during business hours.

Masonry Repair: Here’s Why It’s No Laughing Matter

masonry repair torontoAs the properties in which we live age, they can fall into a state of disrepair. Some tasks, such as repainting interior walls or replacing worn carpets are done mainly for aesthetic reasons and postponing them will not have a detrimental effect on your home. Masonry repairs, on the other hand, are a different matter entirely. If you want to protect the value and the structural integrity of your Toronto home, you need to attend to them at the earliest possible opportunity.

Why You Should Never Postpone Masonry Repair in Toronto

There are a number of outcomes, none of which are particularly pleasant, that could result from the unnecessary postponement of masonry repairs in your home.

  1. Chimney Repairs – If the mortar joints between the bricks in your chimney have deteriorated over time, water could penetrate them and cause even more damage. In the worst cases, this can lead to total collapse of the chimney.
  2. Repairs to Brick Walls – The mortar joins in your Toronto home’s exterior walls can also degrade over time and if neglected, bricks can eventually come loose, threatening the structural integrity of your property as well as posing a danger to yourself and your family. Damaged bricks should be replaced, with new mortar to hold them in position.
  3. Parging Repairs– If the surface of your exterior walls have large cracks running through them, parging (the application of a new layer of plaster or mortar) can restore them to their original condition. Leaving them as they are could result in the rapid deterioration of these surfaces as water and ice are able to penetrate the walls.
  4. Tuckpointing – Removing the outer layer of mortar from between bricks and replacing it with fresh mortar is a common masonry repair in Toronto and can help to ensure that brick walls remain in excellent condition. Crumbling mortar, if left to its own devices, could eventually threaten the stability of the wall in question.

If your property is showing signs of age and you are looking for a company that is capable of carrying out high quality masonry repair in Toronto, call Cummins Restorations today and tell us what you need. We have many years of experience in the industry and a first-class team of tradespeople ready and waiting to restore your property to its former glory so please do not hesitate to call, whatever your needs may be.

Brick Repair 101: Essential Points to Consider

brick repair torontoHomeowners in Toronto know how hard the climate can be on their properties and do not need reminding why they should ensure that the exterior walls of their home are maintained in excellent condition. If the exterior walls of your home have exposed brickwork, you will eventually need to have that brickwork repaired to ensure that it remains in good condition.

Signs That May Indicate the Necessity of Brick Repair for Toronto Homes

There are a few signs you can look out for before you contact a local contractor to talk about repairs to your brickwork.

  1. Crumbling Mortar – If the mortar in between the bricks has started to crumble, it is time to have the joints tuckpointed. Leaving them as they are will only result in further deterioration of the condition of the mortar, which could lead to the second sign to look out for below.
  2. Loose Bricks – One of the most common reasons that people contact us to enquire about masonry repair in Toronto is because they have noticed that some of the bricks in their walls have come loose, or even been dislodged completely. This is a sure sign that the mortar between the bricks is in a very poor state.
  3. Cracked Bricks – There are a number of reasons that the bricks in your walls could develop cracks but whatever the underlying cause, they will need to be replaced with new bricks to ensure that the walls in question remain stable and sound.
  4. White Deposit on Surface of Bricks – This is almost always salt, from the mortar in between the bricks. If you see it on the surface of the bricks of your Toronto home, it is a sign that water is penetrating the wall and the bricks themselves. As the water evaporates, the salt is left behind on the bricks. The water could be penetrating your walls due to crumbling or cracked mortar, or perhaps cracked bricks. Either way, repairs will be necessary.

At Cummins Restorations, we have dealt with all of the above symptoms countless times over the years that we have been in business so please feel free to call us if you would like any help or advice. If you would like to take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of masonry repair in Toronto, we will be delighted to provide you with a competitive quotation for the work that needs to be done.

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Hire Uninsured Masonry Contractors

masonry contractors torontoWhilst low quotations for masonry work in Toronto can be very appealing to cost-conscious homeowners and businesses, they are not always as attractive as they might first appear. Some contractors are only able to offer cheap masonry services because they have cut their running costs to a minimum. There is nothing wrong with this in principle but if liability insurance was one of the victims of their cost-cutting exercise, you might want to think twice about hiring them

5 Reasons to Avoid Masonry Contractors in Toronto without Insurance

If you want to know exactly why you should not use the services of uninsured contractors, take a look at the five reasons below.

  1. Your Home Will be at Risk – A company that has no insurance will not be able to cover the cost of repairing your home in the event that they inadvertently damage it. Given the serious nature of the type of work that masonry contractors in Toronto and elsewhere often undertake, comprehensive insurance is a must.
  2. You Could Be Liable for Injured Workers – If a contractor’s employee is injured whilst working on your property, their insurance should cover the cost of any compensation. However, with no insurance policy, you could be sued for damages by the worker in question.
  3. Building Code Problems – A contractor in Toronto who is uninsured is most likely unlicensed too, which means they probably aren’t familiar with local building regulations. As the homeowner, it is you who would have to foot the bill for alterations if the local authorities object to any work done by your contractor.
  4. Bad Workmanship – There may well be some uninsured contractors whose work is of a high quality but the odds are that a firm with no insurance is likely to be sloppier in their approach to work than a firm with full cover.
  5. Lawsuits from Injured Guests – A guest of yours being injured by falling masonry while contractors are working on your home may be an unlikely occurrence, but it is a possibility and one that would be covered by their insurance policy, if they had one. If not, it’s you that will have to pay compensation once again.

As you can see, you should always hire an insured masonry contractor in Toronto because the alternative is fraught with danger. Cummins Restorations is fully licensed and insured, so you can hire us with complete confidence.

Why It’s Important Chimney Repair Issues are Dealt With Quickly

chimney repair torontoHaving a chimney adds a cozy charm to your Toronto home, but it is also very important to keep the chimney properly maintained and cleaned. Even with good maintenance, however, well-used chimneys accumulate creosote buildup inside their flues and, over time, gaps in the flue that allow heat damage to come to the brick area outside the flue. The effects can be dangerous and devastating, and there are many reasons a chimney should not be left to fester if it is in any need of chimney repair.

What is Creosote?

Most problems that can occur in a chimney are caused by a buildup of creosote, a tar-like substance caused by the chemical reaction of incomplete wood combustion with the liner of your flue. Creosote buildup can cause:

  • Chimney Fires – Creosote is highly combustible, and a combination of a lot of it building up and very high temperatures in the chimney could cause an explosion and a fire. The fire will undoubtedly damage your chimney and may even spread to the wood frame of the house, leading to injury or death.
  • Noxious Debris – The debris given off by hardened creosote residue can cause a myriad of very unhealthy effects, such as:
    • Higher risk of cancer or similar diseases.
    • Eye irritation, including itchiness and blurry vision.
    • Skin irritation leading to acne or rashes.
    • Respiratory problems, such as coughing or trouble breathing.
    • Issues with the liver or kidney.
    • Increased risk of seizures, confusion, or other mental problems.

What Other Problems Can I Avoid with Prompt Chimney Repair?

Having an expert repair your chimney the minute issues crop up will also help avoid:

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Gasses trapped by a partially blocked chimney may find their way back into your living space. They include carbon monoxide, an invisible and odorless gas that causes blood vessel suffocation. In small doses, carbon monoxide poisoning causes headaches, nausea, and fatigue. In large doses, it can be fatal.
  • Animal Infestations – Chimney swifts and other small animals may take up residence in a run-down and unused chimney (not in the flue, where the smoke actually escapes), even after brick or masonry repair. Their droppings will fall into the fireplace, burn when a fire is lit, and emit fumes that cause respiratory infection.

For all these reasons and more, it is vital to your safety to call a professional to perform maintenance on your chimney at the first sign of disrepair. We at Cummins Restorations are happy to provide tuckpointing and chimney repair services to keep you enjoying crackling fires with the family while staying healthy and safe.

The Importance of Mortar Matching During Do-It-Yourself Brick Repair

brick repair torontoWhen you choose to conduct chimney repair on your own, there are many details to consider. One of these details, which you will come across during tuckpointing or brick repair, is the exact mix of the mortar used to stick the bricks together. It is often impossible to find the exact brand of mortar mix used during the original construction of your chimney, so you have to take care mixing the new mortar to exact specifications.

What Considerations Should I Make Before Mixing Up a New Batch of Mortar for Brick Repair?

There are several, including:

  • Mortar Strength – Mortar made nowadays is not the same as the mortar made in the past. Modern mortar is stronger, more durable, and composed of tighter chemical bonds. When up-to-date mortar is spread in the joints of a chimney that is partly made up of older and weaker mortar, it can throw off the load factors by placing more weight on certain bricks (the ones covered by the old mortar) than others. This can easily cause bricks to deform or even break, an event that will likely lead to a chain reaction, destroying the chimney.
  • Mortar Colour – As you can imagine, the exterior appearance of a chimney loses a significant amount of its charming allure if half of the lines of mortar running between its bricks are cream-colored and the other half are pure white. This is why it is of utmost importance to carefully match the color of any new mortar to the exact color of the old mortar. You may have to get creative with masonry coloring to match a mortar that contains unusual tints.
  • Mortar Durability – Mortar is traditionally a mix of 1 part cement, 1 part lime (as in limestone), and 6 parts sand. Most mortar does not stick to this formula exactly, however, and even a slight differential in a mortar’s formula, like 1.05 parts lime instead of 1, can make a substantial difference in its durability. And we probably don’t have to spell out for you what will happen if parts of your chimney’s mortar structure corrode at a faster rate than other parts. Hint: it ends in a collapsed chimney.

Mixing mortar to the exact specifications put forth by your old mortar can be a nightmare, but the highly-trained brick repair and tuckpointing experts at the Toronto-based Cummins Restorations are happy to help.

Spot the Signs That You need Masonry Repair

chimney repair torontoThe chimney is one of the most overlooked household features in terms of being properly maintained. Many do not realize that chimneys are fragile mechanisms that require regular attention too, and one of the most important parts of a chimney to keep in good shape is the masonry. A chimney with deteriorating masonry can cause dangerous situations, as well as a significant decrease in value to the home it is attached to.

How Do I Tell When it’s Time for Masonry Repair?

There are two parts of your chimney that may require masonry repair: the visible brick exterior of the chimney and the tile lining of the flue inside the chimney. Below is listed how you tell whether you need repair for each.

  • Brick Exterior –Like the skull protects the brain, the bricks of a chimney protect the flue. Just like the skull, cracks in the brick exterior are dangerous, and need to be looked into immediately when they are noticed. The easiest-to-notice sign that the exterior is in need of masonry repair is when the mortar cracks in between the bricks widen or seem less sturdy than they were. This means that the mortar is disintegrating, and allowing this to continue could cause structural damage. Another sign that chimney repair is needed is when cracks are visible in the bricks themselves. Bricks last significantly longer than mortar, but they can deteriorate too, and the consequences of a cracked brick can be even more severe than those of thinning mortar.
  • Inner Flue – The flue is where the actual smoke and debris from fires filters through to escape the chimney, and it is made of tiled stone, which is extremely important to keep in good condition. One of the easiest ways to tell that your flue lining needs repair is by observing actual flakes of flue tile falling into the fireplace during use. Being exposed for years to moisture and corrosive chemicals resulting from combustion can make the flue tiles give out.

No matter what part of your chimney is experiencing problems, issues with masonry are very serious and must be dealt with immediately if any telltale signs are noticed. Masonry and brick repair can be hugely time-consuming and labour-intensive to deal with on your own, but we at Cummins Restorations are happy to assist anyone in the Toronto area with their masonry contracting and chimney repairs.