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S&S Outdoor Services
12-28-2009, 04:27 AM
I know retaining walls and paver patios but I have no experience with rock walls. Any tips, required equipment, direction etc. would be helpful. Also a ball park price of costs compared to SRW. Thanks in advance for the help

2low4NH
12-28-2009, 09:52 AM
dont do it! thats the best advice. i also see that you have been asking alot of wuestions about pricing on the site. Good luck with that. As far as equipment goes
Mixer-$1200
hammers,Chisels(carbide)-$1500
compactor-$4000
skidsteer-$5000-45000
excavation contractor-$45-200/hour
1 ton truck (dump) $4500-65000
hand tools trowels shovels picks jointers-4000
thats a rough strat up cost for doing both dry laid or wet walls. it will take about 5 years of building walls before you make any profit on your equipment unless you do alot of walls.
Just an FYI im the 4th generation of a family Masonry comapny we specialize in stone. I could tell you how much we charge per sqft but you will never get anywhere near that price until you have atleast 5 years under your belt.
Stone work is a special animal. you can build what looks like a nice wall and have it fall apart in a week or you can have skills and build a beautiful wall that will last a lifetime.

S&S Outdoor Services
12-28-2009, 05:10 PM
I was actually talking more about Boulder Walls or whatever you want to call them. Not the concrete walls you're talking about. And I've been in the business for a couple years so we have a good amount of that equipment already. Thanks for the reply

2low4NH
12-28-2009, 05:40 PM
im talking walls in general. be it a retaining wall a dry laid wall a farmers wall. they are all the same. the "mud" is just to help secure the stones and also one of the easiest walls to build. pretty easy to spend alot of money on tools you will never use. my chisels were 1400 for a set of 4 chisels. i have a hammer that cost 200 never mind my block hammer 2lb hammer and a sledge. trust me if you have never built stone walls stick with block walls they are much more user friendly

S&S Outdoor Services
12-28-2009, 06:14 PM
Fair enough, I'll leave them to the other guys for now then.

4Russl5
12-29-2009, 05:41 PM
I think if you have an interest in stone and it is a service you want to offer your customers, go for it. The boulder type walls are called 'rockeries' here in the NorthWest.
Retaining walls are structural. Rockeries sell for about $30- a square foot in Seattle area which is competitive. Dry stone retaining walls sell for more depending on stone/style/site/economy/etc... I build dry stone retaining walls which are a totally different beast. There can be good money for this service for you. Choose your first project with the reality of being able to build what your client wants, building it well, being profitable, and being able to warranty it. You can get your mind around this if you want to.

Your tools will vary depending on what type of system you build for the client. Rent what you don't own. SRW is the cheapest, fastest, and quickest structural ugly beast you can throw up for a client. We only do natural stone. Myself and my lead are certified Dry Stone Masons through the Dry Stone Conservancy in Kentucky. You will spend a lifetime, or 4, learning how to have a successful relationship with stone.

Read some books and don't give up so quick.

stuvecorp
12-29-2009, 08:21 PM
You are talking about Boulderscaping? The ideal thing is a mini x with a totem grapple. I would think you could talk to someone like Hedberg for tips. As for price and construction it depends on soils and height. I personally would rather build with Versa-Lok than do a big boulder wall.

2low4NH
12-29-2009, 09:34 PM
im not telling the guy to give up. i just dont wanna see him ruin his biz trying to build a stone wall and not know what he is doing. we have done many "repair" jobs fixin others work. stone work is very intricate work and back breaking. not everyone can do it. it takes talent to look at a huge pile of stone and see the face of a stone and say hey that will fit great right here! there are many tricks to learn alot is practice. build a couple walls for yourself before you think about taking it to a customer.

4Russl5
12-29-2009, 10:11 PM
Are you just kicking the idea around of getting into this as a service, or do you have a job to bid on? What type of retaining walls do you know?

As 2low says, this is a skilled trade that ain't for the faint of heart. Example... to pass my basic exam as a dry stone mason I had to take down and rebuild 7 linear feet of dry stone fence 4' tall with new foundation and through stones in 8 hours. That is 1 1/2 tons per 3 linear feet by 4 feet tall or roughly 3 tons of stone. Cost wise people charge around $100 per lineal foot by 4' high in Kentucky for restoration work. All you need tool wise is a few hammers and carbide chisels. Trow & Holden can help you here.

2low4NH
12-29-2009, 10:21 PM
trow and holden are very nice 4russ

stuvecorp
12-30-2009, 12:26 AM
I don't think he is talking about doing stone masonry guys, I could be wrong though.:) Stone masonry is a totally different animal, very cool but have not come across anyone asking for it yet. Here it is more stacking field stone for a more 'rustic' look. The walls are usually not that tall and built with 12" to whatever size the skid can lift of field stone.

S&S Outdoor Services
12-30-2009, 12:43 AM
Thanks for the replies guys. I am talking about boulder walls or rockeries or whatever you want to call them, nothing that has to do with concrete or masonry. I'm more interested in the free standing boulder walls built with skid steers or excavators. We do a lot of SRW's but I have no experience with the boulder walls. For now I am just trying to figure out what the price difference is between an srw and a boulder wall. We use the versa-lok stuff and around here a wall goes for around 25$ per sq ft. I know prices vary a lot from region to region and brand so how do prices compare percentage wise? Any other tips about them I could get would be helpful. I just don't want to have a customer ask me about it sometime and say "uhhh....".

4Russl5
12-30-2009, 01:19 AM
Well I would recommend helping another contractor friend build a few to learn about it. Or pull over and watch another contractor build one for a while. Learning about how to build a proper 'Dry Stone Retaining Wall' will only make you a better rockerie builder when you start building to the engineers specifications.

Learn about this first before jumping in.

I took all the work shops I could attend, and got certified by the DSC before I actually built my first dry stone retaining wall for a client. I think it was 8 months of solid education. Even then I had to write a check to finish the job. The wall was 16' long by 4 tall out of Idaho quartzite. The stone cost $320 a ton or so....

Field stones make beautiful walls. You need bread loaf size and up though, for me.

S&S Outdoor Services
12-30-2009, 01:49 AM
What is the DSC?

stuvecorp
12-30-2009, 01:54 AM
Maybe check in to the upcoming MNLA Green Expo(Jan 6-8). There has to be some more 'proper' education classes/talks or someone to ask there.

Bru75
12-30-2009, 11:39 AM
What is the DSC?

Dry Stone Conservancy, I think.

Chilehead
12-30-2009, 12:38 PM
If you're going to do a dry stack wall, don't build it with odd-shaped stones. Your structural integrity will be awful. Use thick slabs of flagstone or various cuts of fieldstone. The flatter, thicker, and heavier the stones-the higher you can build your wall. Don't build a wall like this if you're going to be holding back a hill behind it, otherwise you'll need to mortar all the joints with Type-S mortar. Round stones need mortared regardless of the application, and typically should be of the larger variety. Make sure your mortar mix is thick, not soupy. It needs to have some holding power before it cures.

2low4NH
12-30-2009, 01:13 PM
oh chile! that whole thing is wrong. you dont use straight mortar on stone ever!!!! there is nothing wrong with using round stone dry laid. we do it all the time. anything from hand picked field stone all the way up to river rock. all walls should have a good mix of small medium and large stones. even our small walls we will add huge stones that have to be set by machine. stone work is all about what looks good to the eye. most of our customers want a mudded wall with a dry face. i find that one of the best way to build

4Russl5
12-30-2009, 01:30 PM
Chilehead you are wrong to assume this position for dry stone masonry. Properly bonded stones do not begin, or end, with Type-S mortar. Integrity of a wall comes from properly building with stone. It has it's application, but is not needed to deal with rounded stones. Do a quick search of dry stone walls, and look at the images of walls that are still standing after several hundred years around the world using only a handful of rules. Which by the way apply to flatish and roundish stones.

You can build these walls very high. How surcharged the soil is a matter that an engineer can deal with easily.

Too many people here don't use natural stone for retaining walls because it is difficult, slower, not easy to train our assistants, more expensive sometimes, requires formal training longer than a 4 hour course, etc...

Here is an image of a dry stone wall that was built in Ontario, this fall, at the Canadian Dry stone Walling Festival. Patrick McAfee was the master mason & instructor for this section of wall. The material is limestone. This is a very typical wall in Ireland. Called a "Fedian Wall/fence". Note the round field at the lower courses.

Chilehead
12-30-2009, 06:32 PM
oh chile! that whole thing is wrong. you dont use straight mortar on stone ever!!!! there is nothing wrong with using round stone dry laid. we do it all the time. anything from hand picked field stone all the way up to river rock. all walls should have a good mix of small medium and large stones. even our small walls we will add huge stones that have to be set by machine. stone work is all about what looks good to the eye. most of our customers want a mudded wall with a dry face. i find that one of the best way to build

I have only seen mortared walls around here when round stones are used. They are pointed quite clean. This is how I build, and have not had a problem (not to say that I couldn't learn to construct a dry wall out of them). I have done plenty of dry walls using thick stack fieldstone with no problem.

2low4NH
12-30-2009, 08:29 PM
i build alot of mudded walls but i dont use mortar. mortar is for brick work (i do alot of brick work too) For stone we use a portland mortar mix the portland gives more strength to the mix.

2low4NH
12-30-2009, 09:00 PM
heres a few styles of stone work i do. all of these are strictly hammer trowel work. all of them are mudded walls using diff types of stone. some of them were really easy others like river rock tend to screw with the mind a bit. i couldnt find alot of the flat pictures i had. if you want to get started in stone start with flats.

http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g309/radarblue95/Picture833.jpg

http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g309/radarblue95/Picture1026.jpg

http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g309/radarblue95/Picture298.jpg

http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g309/radarblue95/Picture024.jpg

S&S Outdoor Services
12-30-2009, 11:50 PM
This is more along the lines of what I'm talking about.

www.mandinecgroup.com/boulder_wall.bmp

2low4NH
12-31-2009, 10:52 AM
dry stack retaining walls. those can be tricky since they are holding a slope back. try and use a flatter ledge stone and use big pieces tier the stone back off the base.

4Russl5
12-31-2009, 01:04 PM
To get your mind around building such walls, build some smaller ones with stones you can lift and manipulate to get a sense of what you are building. You still haven't answered my original questions about why you want to do this. Everyone out here with an excavator builds these for their clients. Most of the quality is low.

2low4NH
12-31-2009, 03:12 PM
there is only one guy in my area that i will sub out walls to that builds with only a machine. he has been doing it for 30+ years and his work is amazing. all the other walls i see look like garbage if they are over 1 course high. i say start digging in your yard and practice.

S&S Outdoor Services
12-31-2009, 05:15 PM
Why I want to do it.... because we're a full service landscape company and since we specialize in hardscapes, I would like to offer my customers as many options as possible. Doesn't mean I'm going to start bidding on jobs like this in the spring, but I would like to have some more information about them so I can atleast tell my customers what the price difference would be, why they should go with a SRW or a Boulder Wall etc. etc.

It seems like the guys that do it have been doing it for 20 plus years, I'm not planning to be as good as someone like that right off the bat or have all the needed equipment but I've got to start somewhere.

Chilehead
12-31-2009, 06:18 PM
there is only one guy in my area that i will sub out walls to that builds with only a machine. he has been doing it for 30+ years and his work is amazing. all the other walls i see look like garbage if they are over 1 course high. i say start digging in your yard and practice.

This is good advice. :)

mxridernorth
12-31-2009, 06:44 PM
Read this article here for the science of rockeries. It's more than you ever wanted to know. http://www.cflhd.gov/techDevelopment/completed_projects/geotech/rockeries/

Chapter 7 has a good list of items to watch out for.

2low4NH
12-31-2009, 07:32 PM
that is a great link! S&S start there. it truely breaks everything down for you. prob the best starting point you will find.

4 seasons lawn&land
12-31-2009, 10:48 PM
dont do it! thats the best advice. i also see that you have been asking alot of wuestions about pricing on the site. Good luck with that. As far as equipment goes
Mixer-$1200
hammers,Chisels(carbide)-$1500
compactor-$4000
skidsteer-$5000-45000
excavation contractor-$45-200/hour
1 ton truck (dump) $4500-65000
hand tools trowels shovels picks jointers-4000
thats a rough strat up cost for doing both dry laid or wet walls. it will take about 5 years of building walls before you make any profit on your equipment unless you do alot of walls.
Just an FYI im the 4th generation of a family Masonry comapny we specialize in stone. I could tell you how much we charge per sqft but you will never get anywhere near that price until you have atleast 5 years under your belt.
Stone work is a special animal. you can build what looks like a nice wall and have it fall apart in a week or you can have skills and build a beautiful wall that will last a lifetime.



you have some expensive equipment.

2low4NH
01-01-2010, 02:35 AM
hey i try! when you do alot of stone work you buy the best. i still have some tools that were my great grandfathers

Bru75
01-01-2010, 10:24 AM
hey i try! when you do alot of stone work you buy the best. i still have some tools that were my great grandfathers

Old tools are the best! I,ve got several that I use regularly that are old as dust and still going strong.

billwlod
01-01-2010, 09:23 PM
We do lots of walls like this we install a foot of drain rock behind them. The rock costs about $5-6 sq foot delivered on average. This type of wall will run ya about 25-35 sq ft depending on access.
172424
172425

castle555
01-02-2010, 06:23 PM
I've done a fair amount of stone work in the last 20 years, and still would not say I could make a living at it -so it is a specialized service that I offer too, as a full design/build landscape contractor, and perform from time to time. While I am very good at selecting and sizing stone, I am not fast enough at LF to do it every day. However, I have built some first class water falls and pool water features, stone walls, both mortared and dry stacked that give me enough respect for the medium. I would consider myself a 10 year journeyman for the quality of work -so I don't worry about whether or not it's going to hold up -it will.
A dry-stacked stone wall may be the most difficult thing you will ever do if you have not experienced it before. Most people do not seriously appreciate the high level (master craftsmanship) of skill that it takes to complete a project as significant as a 3 to 4 foot high wall. When you know what a surcharge is for a wall, or series of walls and how large a footing to build -you are just getting started. Also there are many types of walls -ledgerstone, fieldstone, rubble boulder...etc, etc.
Look at the walls the Irish built a 1000 years ago and they are still there because they mastered it.
Done right nothing compares to natural stonework.
I totally agree with 4Russl5 -he knows both the art of it, and the extraordinary skill it takes to do it.
Also, get some books on it, study the work you see out there, really look at it, and you will see how much of it is amateur.
Build small to begin with -not everyone can do it, unlike working with wood.

Once I was in Norman, OK, yr2000, and some masons were building a limestone wall for the Sooners Football Coach's house. It was 6' tall and a magnificent piece of work! right across from the university.

"Two over One , One over Two" or don't bother stackin it.:weightlifter::weightlifter: