Over the past year, boundary wall repair and maintenance jobs have featured high in Stonecraft’s workload.
Owner and Stonemason, Terry O’Flaherty has been busy both in Dublin and across the Leinster region assessing and quoting both for concrete and stone wall damage and repair.
“It appears that many homes with boundary walls built in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are now experiencing deterioration issues due to a range of reasons, and it’s not just due to the age of these walls,” says Terry.
Causes of Boundary Wall Damage
Many original residential boundary walls built in Ireland were not built by qualified builders, but by the property owners of the time. Therefore, boundary walls of many domestic households are poorly constructed.
“A culmination of the age of a wall, freak weather and increases in the groundwater table can generally cause problems to the structural integrity of any boundary wall,” says Terry
However, other common problems are trees and shrubs planted too close to walls and rampant garden ivy.
“Garden ivy not only gets into the sand and mortar which causes the wall to crack, but overgrown ivy also adds excessive weight to the structure, eventually causing the wall to collapse.”
“In many cases stone wall deterioration is easy to remedy, but is often overlooked by homeowners,” advises Terry
Photo: A tree damaged wall and pillar not attached to wall
Another problem Terry has encountered is the added construction of fencing to increase the height and privacy of domestic boundary walls. When a wall has not been reinforced to take the added weight of these constructions, the risk of collapse is foreseeable.
“I have seen these fences, attached to already compromised walls, catching like sails-in-the-wind. It's a recipe for disaster – not just for the possible loss of property both for the homeowner and neighbouring homes, but also personal injury – should an unstable wall come down upon an adult or a young child,” fears Terry.
Photo: Fencing causing wall collapse
Signs of Boundary Wall Damage
For the worst cases of wall deterioration, homeowners will be able to see boundary wall problems – often this will be evident from the bowing nature of the structure or the wall literally crumbling.
However, another sign that is not as noticeable, but just as problematic, is the breakdown of cement as well as crumbling sand and mortar.
“If these problems are left unchecked then the wall will need to be rebuilt, as opposed to the less expensive solution of simply repaired,” advises Terry.
Boundary Wall Repair Solutions
In cases of boundary wall stress, the simple removal of garden ivy or trees could be a quick and easy solution to prolong the life of a wall.
“Many homeowners are unaware that garden ivy covering walls could be hiding traditional Irish granite or limestone structures that once cleaned up, will not only look great but also last longer,” says Terry
However, in cases where the wall is at risk of collapse, Terry can successfully repair and reinforce a wall using a series of pillars and mechanical fixings. The method includes digging new foundations for ground anchoring and fixing the wall to a new pillar.
The Cost of Repairing a Boundary Wall
In many cases, Terry recommends regular wall inspections and maintenance to avoid costly rebuilds.
“The benefits of regular maintenance and inspection far outweigh the price of rebuilding a boundary wall. Also, the risk of a collapsed wall to life and property is a risk a homeowner should not take lightly.“
“It may seem inconvenient, costly and the wall unsightly, but repairing a damaged wall is a much better solution than ultimately having to remove a failed structure,” says Terry.
Depending on wall size, Terry advises the cost of wall repair, including wall reinforcement, could range from as little as €1000 - €1,500.
In cases where the wall needs to be completely rebuilt, then expect to pay for the removal of the old wall as well as new blocks, pillars and skips ranging from €3,000 – €5,000 or more depending on wall size.
For over 20 years Terry O’ Flaherty, founder and owner of Stonecraft has been providing high-quality stonework using both traditional and modern stonemason techniques and methods.
Terry and his team’s workmanship can be seen in many projects across Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Laois, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford and the Leinster region.
You can view Terry’s ratings and contact him direct or post a Stonemason or Bricklayer job via Onlinetradesmen.