Leave no stone unturned and check your mason’s insurance, certifications, and project plan before signing a contract
If you are planning a new patio, paving a walkway, or constructing a fireplace, a masonry contractor can help you get the job done. Asking the right questions is key to hiring the best masonry contractor. Pave the way for a successful project by gathering more information from prospective masonry contractors about their qualifications, licensing or certifications, insurance, and client references.
Questions to Ask Your Masonry Contractor
1. What Certifications or Licenses Do You Hold?
Ask your masonry contractor to share their certifications and licenses. The Mason Contractors Association of America provides certification so that customers have an objective basis for selecting and specifying a quality contractor. This certification also mandates that the contractor meet masonry trade community standards. Your mason may also be required to have trade specific or a general contractor's license.
2. Do You Have a Specialty or Are You More of a Generalist?
Like the materials they work with, masons vary in niche expertise and style. Some specialize in designing artistic walkways, while others focus on outdoor patios and kitchens. Masons work with the following materials:
3. Can I Get a Written Estimate for My Project?
Getting a written estimate of all project costs is essential for accurate budgeting and backup. The estimate answers all your questions about the costs of the project. Other paperwork your contractor should provide includes:
Scope of work
Insurance and workman’s comp
4. Will There Be a Written Contract?
A reputable masonry contract provides payment schedules, timetables, and the project's scope—get a signed contract in place before making any payments or beginning work.
5. Can I See Proof of Your Insurance?
A trustworthy masonry contractor will have current insurance and can readily share proof of insurance. Common types of insurance and documentation to verify include liability insurance and workers’ compensation.
6. Who is Purchasing the Materials for the Project?
Your masonry contractor may be able to obtain better pricing for your project materials; however, there are some situations where you might be able to secure the materials yourself at a lower price. Make a clear arrangement with your masonry contractor and put it in your contract. Due to the materials price increase, many contractors have had to increase prices—ask your masonry contractor if the quoted prices are final.
7. Can You Provide Client References?
It’s relatively simple to find online reviews for your local business or contractor. If your masonry contractor can’t provide client references, consider that a red flag. Take the time to follow up with references.
8. Do I Need a Permit for My Project?
Ascertain if a permit is needed for your specific project and confirm who will be obtaining it.
9. Who Will Be Managing My Project?
Don’t assume that the person who met with you will be managing the project. Some companies have salespeople or estimators meet with prospects while other team members manage the project. Get clarity about who will be overseeing the work, and set up a meeting before signing the contract.
10. Who Are the Subcontractors You Will Be Using?
Your masonry contractor may have to use subcontractors like electricians and plumbers for your job. Ask how long they’ve been working with them, and include details in the contract for how subcontractor invoices will be processed. “In some cases, they may be planning on outsourcing some or all of the masonry work depending on their schedule and skill sets,” said Matt DiBara, Angi Expert and Owner of DiBara Masonry. “Asking them if there is any portion of the work that their employees will not be doing can help uncover any surprises.”
11. Can I See a Sample of the Stone You Will Be Using for My Job?
Looking at certain materials like natural stones online or in a brochure is not the same as seeing them in person. Ask your masonry contractor if they can obtain a sample for you or if you can visit a stone yard or store to review the selection.
12. Who Is Responsible for the Clean-Up?
Discuss who will be responsible for the daily clean-up of the premises and what that entails. Also, find out what the plan is for the final clean-up for the project. These details should also be included in your written contract.
How to Find a Masonry Contractor
To gather a high-quality pool of contractor candidates, you’ll want to have at least three to four companies or professionals to follow up with. You can find local pros through an internet search of masonry contractors near you and through referrals from family and friends who’ve had positive project experiences.
Plan Your Masonry Project for Accurate Quotes
Whether your project is a necessary home repair or a new feature you’ve been dreaming of, it will require some pre-planning on your part before the initial conversation so that you can communicate all essential details. To get the most accurate quote and project timeline possible, here are some relevant variables to share with your pro:
Interior vs. exterior
Size or square footage
Type of materials (stone, brick, mortar, or concrete)