how can this be?

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Old 02-11-11, 11:28 PM
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how can this be?

I have a 100 year old, 6 foot high, 25 foot long, granite retaining wall on my property. It recently partly collapsed at the top as it is at the bottom of a hill so the top takes much of the pressure and weather. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been repaired or rebuilt previously.



I solicited a few proposals from experienced masons not wanting to take this on myself.

All three masons who quoted are very experienced, each with more than 20 years of experience. All three masons are insured, bonded and check out fully with BBB and online feedback. All three masons have very good references in my area which I've checked. And, all three seem to be proposing a similar approach of taking down the wall 50-75% below the damaged area but not to the footers (this is because all believe the bottom portion of the wall remains sound) and then rebuilding it by washing the removed stones and re-laying them using cement and mortar.

Two masons are independently forecasting the work will take 2-3 weeks.
One is forecasting it will take 2-3 days.

How can that be so different? What questions should I be asking to better understand this? would the 2-3 day mason make you nervous? Would you think the 2-3 week masons are padding their estimates? ????
 

Last edited by veryoldwall; 02-11-11 at 11:53 PM.
  #2  
Old 02-12-11, 05:41 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

How does their pricing compare? Does the 3 day mason have a big crew?
 
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Old 02-12-11, 05:56 AM
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IMO, it would take 2-3 days just to remove the old wall and clean the rock. Reinstalling is another story. I'd verify what he has planned. Even with a crew of 20, you can only go so fast.
 
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Old 02-12-11, 05:20 PM
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Not sure what this has to do with doing it yourself, but did you indicate that speed was a factor?
 
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Old 02-12-11, 10:34 PM
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@marksr: Thank you! And, crews are the same size for the two finalist masons I'm considering (three people each). The 2-3 week mason (aka 'slow mason') wants nearly triple the $ of the 2-3 day mason (aka 'fast mason').

@chandler. thanks for the estimate on taking apart the wall. there is also an interior wall that backs up the facing wall. each is maybe a foot to foot-and-a-half thick. maybe fast mason isn't planning to also redo part of the interior wall and slow mason is. something for me to confirm but I'm not sure if interior wall work is necessary or overkill?

@Tscarborough. no, I didn't indicate to any of the bidding masons that I had specific time requirements. I don't.

One theory proffered by a friend is that the fast mason probably just won't do as much of the wall lengthwise or heightwise but that doesn't really answer it because both finalist masons have longstanding and verifiable reputations and I'm relatively sure both believe their approach would ensure a lasting solution. I've checked out both masons thoroughly.

one last bit. I've also asked fast mason why he'd be so fast when others forecast much more time but he just asserts 3 to 4 days is all he'd need. it's a puzzle.

thanks everyone!
 
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Old 02-13-11, 05:54 AM
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I'm not an expert with this sort of thing, but was the original wall cemented together? Also, are these masons experienced in building retaining walls? I'm sure the experienced guys here can weigh in more accurately, but I'm wondering if cementing the stones back in place if they weren't originally is a good idea. Not having the cement allows water to penetrate the wall and allows it to flex.
 
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Old 02-15-11, 01:58 PM
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The wall was originally mortared when built in the mid 20s. I'm not sure whether that also involved or had to involved cement or what the standard was back at that time. Both masons have proposed rebuilding with mortar and cement. One was even more specific, listing "Type S mortar" and "Portland Cement" as materials that would be used.
 
 

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