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Meet the Expert: Boundary Wall Repair and Maintenance with Stonecraft
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Meet the Expert: Boundary Wall Repair and Maintenance with Stonecraft

Discover the causes and signs of boundary wall damage and learn about effective repair solutions. Terry O'Flaherty, owner of Stonecraft, shares his expertise in preserving and restoring boundary walls.

Is your boundary wall in need of repair or maintenance? Look no further than Terry O'Flaherty, the owner and stonemason at Stonecraft. He has been busy addressing boundary wall issues throughout Dublin and the Leinster region. From concrete to stone wall damage, Terry has seen it all.

Over the past year, Terry has dedicated a significant portion of his workload to repairing and maintaining boundary walls. As a respected supplier of natural stone products, he possesses firsthand knowledge of the repercussions that result from neglecting these structures.

In this article, Terry shares insights into the factors that contribute to the deterioration of boundary walls. He emphasises the importance of promptly addressing these issues, underscoring the significance of proactive action.

 

Causes of Boundary Wall Damage

Boundary walls not only separate your property from your neighbours but are also constantly exposed to environmental elements that can lead to damage over time. Some common factors contributing to boundary wall damage include:

  • Many homes with boundary walls built in the '50s, '60s, and '70s are experiencing deterioration issues.
  • Original residential boundary walls in Ireland were often poorly constructed by property owners.
  • Age, weather, groundwater levels, trees, shrubs, and overgrown ivy contribute to structural problems.
  • Stonewall deterioration is often overlooked by homeowners.
  • Adding fencing without reinforcement to existing walls can lead to collapse and potential property damage or personal injury.

"Many homes with boundary walls constructed in the '50s, '60s, and '70s are now facing issues of deterioration for various reasons, and it's not solely due to their age," remarks Terry. Numerous original residential boundary walls in Ireland were not erected by qualified builders, but rather by the property owners themselves. Consequently, many domestic households have poorly constructed boundary walls.

"The combination of a wall's age, adverse weather conditions, and rising groundwater levels can generally compromise the structural integrity of any boundary wall," Terry explains. Additionally, other common culprits include trees and shrubs planted too close to the walls, as well as unchecked growth of garden ivy.

"Garden ivy not only infiltrates the sand and mortar, leading to cracks, but its unchecked growth also imposes excessive weight on the structure, eventually causing the wall to collapse."

"Although stone wall deterioration can often be easily remedied, homeowners often overlook the issue," Terry advises.

 

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Photo: A tree-damaged wall and pillar not attached to the wall.

Accompanying the aforementioned problems is the additional construction of fencing to enhance the height and privacy of domestic boundary walls. When a wall is not reinforced to handle the added weight of such structures, the risk of collapse becomes predictable.

"I have witnessed these fences, attached to already compromised walls, catching the wind like sails. It's a recipe for disaster, posing not only a threat to property loss for the homeowner and neighbouring houses but also a risk of personal injury should an unstable wall come crashing down on an adult or a young child," Terry expresses concern.

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Photo: Fencing causing wall collapse

 

Signs of Boundary Wall Damage

"The most critical aspect of maintaining a boundary wall is detecting warning signs early on to minimise the cost of repairs and prevent any potential hazards," Terry emphasises.

Some tell-tale signs that your boundary wall may require attention include:

  • Visible cracks or bulges in the walls.
  • Loose or missing stones, especially near the base of the wall.
  • Dampness or water seepage on the interior side of the wall.
  • Leaning or unstable pillars attached to the wall.
  • Overgrown vegetation or trees near the wall, causing damage or exerting pressure on the structure.

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 repairing,” advises Terry.

 

 

Boundary Wall Repair Solutions

With over 30 years of experience as a qualified stonemason, Terry O'Flaherty has witnessed numerous homeowners attempting to patch up their boundary walls, often causing more harm than good.

Terry's expertise lies not only in restoring the structural integrity of walls but also in preserving their longevity. At Stonecraft, we understand the significance of maintaining the integrity of your boundary walls.

In cases where these walls are under stress, a simple solution to extend their lifespan could be the removal of garden ivy or trees. Surprisingly, many homeowners are unaware that underneath the ivy, traditional Irish granite or limestone structures may be hiding. Once cleaned, these walls not only look stunning but also stand the test of time.

However, in situations where collapse is imminent, Terry possesses the skills to successfully repair and reinforce walls using a combination of pillars and mechanical fixings. This method involves excavating new foundations for secure ground anchoring and connecting the wall to a new pillar.

 

The Cost of Repairing a Boundary Wall

Regular wall inspections and maintenance are highly recommended by Terry to prevent costly rebuilds.

Terry emphasises that the benefits of regular maintenance and inspection far outweigh the expenses of rebuilding a boundary wall. Moreover, the potential risks to both life and property from a collapsed wall are not to be taken lightly by homeowners.

Although it may seem inconvenient, costly, and unsightly, repairing a damaged wall is a much better solution than having to ultimately remove a failed structure, according to Terry.

Depending on the size of the wall, Terry advises that the cost of wall repair, including reinforcement, can range from as little as €1000 - €1,500. If a complete rebuild is required, the cost may increase to include the removal of the old wall, as well as new blocks, pillars, and skips, ranging from €3,000 - €5,000 or more, depending on the wall's size.

For exceptional craftsmanship in restoring and preserving your boundary walls for years to come, choose Terry O'Flaherty and Stonecraft. Terry, the founder and owner of Stonecraft, has been providing high-quality stonework using both traditional and modern stonemason techniques for over 20 years. Terry and his team's workmanship can be seen in numerous 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.

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