Bathrooms, Bedrooms, Full Renovations, Home Improvement, Remodeling, Renovation

Philadelphia Renovation (3/5): Masonry


This is the third in a five-part series on an extensive renovation we completed on a home in Philadelphia. Read the first and second posts. Once the demolition stage of the project was complete, it was time to bring in the masons. The original chimney (one of two chimneys in the home) traveled through bedrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors and had framed closets on either side. We removed all the closets and drywall during demolition and then had our crack masonry team (perhaps a bad choice of words) completely remove the chimneys in the bedrooms. Amazingly — with seven huffing workers, buckets and rope — this was one of the speediest parts of the job.

The masons then began the tedious labor of chipping and scraping off the plaster from the bedroom walls that adjoin the neighbor’s house. They used power and hand chisels and actually used a belt sander to get the brick looking clean and fresh. Although the original brick had some funky patterns and were laid in unusual ways, we embraced the originality and left them exactly as we found them. They repointed the entire wall and sealed it with a clear brick sealer.

One hair-graying event (especially this early in the process) was when the head mason said to me, while holding a loose brick in his hand and pointing to a hole in the wall, “Look, David. Belts.” Belts? So, I reached my hand in the wall and grabbed a handful of, yes, dress belts.The party wall, between my client’s home and her neighbor's, was only one layer of brick thick. So when the mason pulled out a loose brick to reset it, he had a clear line of vision into the neighbor’s closet.

A speedy visit to the neighbor’s with some plaster and an explanation made quick work of that situation.

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