Choosing a Good Stonemason
Whether you’re building, renovating or landscaping, choosing an experienced and qualified stonemason in Melbourne is a hugely important part of any building project.
Stone masonry is tough, specialised work that requires expertise to ensure it’s done right. Correct preparation and installation are essential to ensure quality work and the long life of the project.
Masonry work that isn’t carried out properly can seriously affect the aesthetic appeal of the project, be extremely expensive to fix, and can even end up being dangerous (think of a poorly built retaining wall).
So, whether you need stone benchtops in Melbourne or a retaining wall, you need an experienced stonemason you can trust.
When it comes to selecting a good stonemason in Melbourne, we have a list of things you should look for before making your choice.
Experience and Accreditation
Stonemasonry covers a wide variety of work, from cutting and installing Caesarstone benchtops to specialist paving and building garden walls. So, regardless of the complexity of your project, you should look for a stonemason who has experience with your kind of work. This may seem obvious, but it doesn’t make sense to get a landscape masonry specialist to install kitchen benchtops.
When talking to stonemasons, look at previous examples of their work and ask for references. An experienced and reputable stonemason should have a detailed portfolio of completed projects and be happy to put you in touch with previous clients. Don’t be afraid to ask about qualifications, licensing and trade association memberships as well. While these are no guarantee of quality or experience, they may be useful when it comes to making your final decision.
And don’t forget to check out online recommendations and reviews on Google and sites like hipages. Try to verify these reviews where you can and remember to take any unverified online reviews (good or bad) with a grain of salt.
When choosing any trades person, don’t forget to factor in your gut feeling. Being able to comfortably communicate with a tradie will make for a much better working relationship across the project.
A masonry project can take a long time, which means this person will be coming and going from your home for a while. Having someone that you trust and feel comfortable with can significantly reduce the stress of the process.
When you first meet a stonemason, consider things like:
- Were they polite and friendly on the phone?
- Did they arrive on time?
- Did they seem expert and knowledgeable?
- Were they easy to talk to?
- Did they have questions about the project?
Basically, think about that first meeting like a job interview. Chances are, you wouldn’t hire an employee that was rude, late, poorly presented, reluctant to provide references or just generally made you uncomfortable. Hiring a tradie is no different.
Prior to any project, a reputable mason should be happy to answer any questions you have. So, take advantage of this time to ask as many questions as you can. Ask for their recommendations or suggestions about the project. Ask about their process and about the different materials they might use. Ask how long it will take and why it will take that long – be wary of tradies who say they can get the job done significantly faster than others. That usually means they are willing to cut corners.
While you’re asking questions, make sure you’re also listening to their responses. A good stonemason will be able to provide in-depth information about materials and processes. They should be willing to offer suggestions for improvements to your project, but also be willing to carry out the project as designed, if that’s what you want.
It’s also worth asking about any licensing, planning permissions, engineering reports and building regulations that might be relevant to the project. Be wary of any tradespeople who can’t answer these questions or are casual about these requirements.
Get Detailed Quotes
Once you’ve spoken to a variety of stonemasons, it’s time to approach your shortlist to get detailed quotes. Small jobs, like a garden wall, may not require a complex or detailed quote.Larger jobs, however, like a full Caesarstone benchtop installation, will require detailed written quotes, especially if they are to be part of a larger project, like a full kitchen renovation.
Whatever the size or value of the job, it’s completely reasonable to ask for a written, itemised quote.
When it comes to quotes, you should make sure the following information is included:
- Total price (including GST)
- Materials and labour costs
- Subcontracting costs
- Equipment hiring costs
- Transport and delivery costs
- Timeframe and scheduled completion date
Some other factors to be discussed include:
- How to handle any changes to the quote or timeframe that may arise
- What to do in case of delays to quoted completion time
- Payment plan and late payments
- Concerns with quality or materials and workmanship
- Insurance coverage
Beware of any tradies that ask for cash payments or demand full payment upfront. These are usually pretty big red flags for dodgy service providers.
So, if you’re looking for Caesarstone benchtops or any stone benchtops in Melbourne, an outdoor retaining wall, or a full paving project, make sure you find a stonemason you can trust. If anyone you speak to can’t satisfy any of the requirements discussed above, then don’t hesitate to walk away.