Thursday, March 1, 2012

The First Anniversary for the New Garage - Part Two: The Stone Masons

The New Garage Series continues with the artful work of the stone masons

Choosing the surface for the new garage was a big decision.  Our house is clad in local limestone and we wanted to match the house as much as possible while staying within the budget.  The original plan was to save money by using stone on the front and stucco on the other three sides.

When we received the bids for stucco, we were surprised at the cost.  Stucco is labor intensive and requires an application of wire lath and three coats of stucco over the entire surface making it more expensive than we thought.  Limestone rock is quarried just a few miles from the house making the cost of stone a little more than stucco but the difference wasn't significant enough, so it was an easy decision to have stone all around.  We made this decision just in time because stone requires a ledge around the outside of the slab.

Trying to match the new stone to the house turned into a bit of a challenge.  Stone varies as it quarried from the ground so the available stone changes slightly over time.  After rejecting several samples, we finally had a close match.

After the ice and snow from our big storm melted we were ready to go.

Every morning for about a week we had breakfast to the sounds of mixing mortar
Each stone was fit and set by hand

There is a required air gap between the stone veneer and the garage wall, with clips attaching the stone structure to the garage

Plumb lines kept the corners straight

Watching the stone masons was fascinating.  They were completely tuned in to the modern world with their cell phones while practicing an ancient art.  This guy is chipping the stone on his leg with a mason's hammer in a way that hasn't changed in centuries.  Notice that none of them are wearing gloves.

Rock tossing (and catching) skills are essential  -- Going up!

They enjoyed our project because fitting the random stones is more of an art and the current popular trend for block stone takes the art out of it for them.

We watched as they placed the last stones on the side facing the house

Our neighbors are happy with their new view of a beautiful stone wall

The stone work made a huge mess, but created a new courtyard garden area (yippee)

They sent over a crew to clean up and we could not be more pleased with the result.

There were even a few rocks left over which we had the crew move to the front yard for future projects

Now it certainly does look as if it has always been here.

Now I have a newly defined space in which to create a garden and after a year of working on other projects, I'm ready to get going.   I'll share our progress along the way.


  1. This is realy a wonderful job. Thanks for the bit on masonry. I was never sure how that was done....especially the attachment of the stone to the basic structure. It's a piece of art all on its own. Excellent choice for your home and garden:)

    1. Thank you Chris, we had to be educated on that also so I included it because it's not easy to picture after the building is finished.

  2. Looks great! Wonderful job. Blends nicely with your house and landscaping.

  3. Job done. And very well done at that. Happy garage anniversary. Mm, never said that before.

    1. Thanks Crystal, we thought about cake, but not sure the building would appreciate the effort.

  4. Very Nice Shirley! It’s a lovely addition.

  5. No gloves? Makes my hands dry and itchy just thinking about it.

    What a wonderful job they did, and an interesting process to see. I had no idea there was such a large gap between the stones and the building. Also your roof-line is remarkable to me, is that material and steep pitch common in San Antonio? It looks like you're ready for a major snowstorm. One last thing...I spied a wonderful Agave by the side of the (original?) garage!

  6. The steep (10/12) pitch was to allow plenty of head room upstairs to keep the space usable. We did modify it down a bit from the New England Saltbox where they do need to worry about snow. The typical Texas Hill Country style house does have a steep roof that flattens as it flares out over a deep porch.

    That is the original garage and the agave is A. Ovatifolia, 'Whale's Tongue'. It's the first one I added here and was inspired by "Moby" at Digging.

  7. looks hill country chic to me.

    1. Thank you, that's such a nice compliment greggo!

  8. It looks great, and it's cool to see how they constructed it.

  9. Thank you Pam, it was fun to watch the process.


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