# Mortar repointing question

I'm hoping someone can provide some direction for me. I realize that what I am about to ask is nigh onto impossible to accurately estimate, given the many variables at work.
I am on the finance committee of a homeowner's association situated in eastern NC. He have about 40 brick columns connected together by wrought iron fencing leading into our development which the HOA is expected to maintain. The columns are about 9 years old and in excellent condition. We are working on developing replacement reserves to help fund expensive repairs or replacements sometime in the future.
We have calculated that we have about 9,300 linear feet of mortar joints in these pillars and their bases. From what we have read, such mortar joints typically last at least 25 or more years. We've obtained a local cost to repoint a linear foot of mortar at \$8 per foot. What we do not know, and are trying to get some overall experiential estimates on, is this: is there some percentage we might apply, here in eastern NC, that would say that of all 9300 feet, x% would likely have to be repointed when the time comes? We realize that the quality of the mortar and the quality of the brick laying are large variables, as are weather conditions. We are near the coast in an area with high humidity but little in the way of freezing conditions. Assume that the mortar and workmanship are excellent. Is there anyone in the industry who could say, for example, that we might expect to have to repoint 25% or 30% or 50%, etc, of the mortar lines in 25 years? Any guidance you could give us would be appreciated. Lacking info from someone in the industry, we'd be left to pull a number out of the air.
If we had to repoint 100% of the mortar, we would have to reserve on the basis of 9300x\$8, or over \$74,000 in today's dollars. We think it is unlikely we would redo 100%, but we have no idea what a reasonable reserve should be based on.
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Wayne Maruna wrote:

I doubt that the figure of \$8 per foot was referring to linear feet. Almost all masonry is done by the square foot, and your figure is probably referring to a square foot. Although I am not familiar with prices in NC, around here stonework can be easily done for \$8 a square foot for native stone or brick, including materials, so the repointing costs seem high.
Getting past that, in the next 25 years you may have to repoint 25% or so before it is time to do major repairs. Since you could easily do the replacement of the columns for just a bit more than what you are paying to repoint them, you may have a decision to make. For budgeting purposes, I would figure the repairs at \$8 per square foot and figure 25% of the columns will need repairs over the course of 25 years. At the end of the period, you will probably have money left over.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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1. I agree with everything Robert says.
2. How big are the columns? The linear footage seems high. (Also, as Robert said, skip the linear footage of mortar; just figure the square footage of the columns.
3. Pointing columns is not like pointing a building and should be cheaper. Unless the columns are very tall, staging and rigging is not needed.
4. I do Capital Reserve Analyses all the time for Associations. I don't hand out normally give away advice but I will tell you, don't micro-manage or over-itemize your reserve list. Unless your Association is really huge (which I'm guessing it's not), you should not have more than a one page list of reserve items, including any recreation facilities if you have them.
-John Reddy
CONTINENTAL BUILDING CONSULTANTS P.O. Box 518 Hampton, NH 03843 (800) 562-1037
Providing Consulting Services to Community Associations, Property Owners, Managers, Developers and others in the Real Estate Industry since 1987 including property inspections, building condition surveys, capital reserve analyses, construction documents, bid packages and construction project inspection.
"We can do that."
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Why do you think they will need repointing? I know of buildings around here (KC area) 150 years old and sound.
Prices 25 years from now won't resemble today's prices anyway.
wrote:

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In your climate and with todays mortar mixes those collums will be there and in the same condition long after your gone and the children of those on the assosiation are gone. Wayne Maruna wrote:

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I'm guessing you haven't seem much of what passes for acceptable construction in common areas of homeowner or condominium associations.
A great majority of it is truly shitful.
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I guess the problem is nation wide now. The trades have really taken a turn for the worst. That coupled with the fact that most sites now have kids as project managers that wouldnt know good quality work from bad if it hit them in the head. Not that age is necessarly in line with knowledge but somewhere we lost all the guys that "really" know what they are doing. I have worked on tracks several times and I just cannot do it anymore. The work ethic, workmanship, managment of the sites and all the red tape crapp is just to much for me. John Reddy wrote:

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Thanks, all, for your time in considering my question. We will make use of your insight.
For what it's worth, I sent a similar message to the Brick Industry Association, and they referenced some data from the Whitestone Research Corp. which suggested that 50% of a wall would need repointing in 25 years. The gentleman who responded, who was involved in engineering and research for the association, felt that both pieces of data were very conservative, meaning he felt a smaller percentage would need repointing in more than 25 years. So I think we will go with the 25% estimate thrown out by Robert Allison and agreed with by John Reddy.
By the way, the columns are in the range of 8 foot high. I did not do the measuring, but that is at least close.
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