Why Texas is restoring historic buildings, one brick at a time

Why Texas is restoring historic buildings, one brick at a time

Restoring historic Texas towns and their masonry is important for a variety of reasons.

Why it is worth the investment:

Preserving Cultural Heritage:

Historic masonry is a reminder of the past and its preservation helps to maintain cultural heritage and history.

Boosting Tourism:

Restored historic towns and their masonry can attract visitors and contribute to local economies through tourism.

Supporting Local Jobs:

Restoration projects can create jobs in the construction industry, supporting local businesses and economies.

Increasing Property Value:

Restored historic buildings often have a higher value compared to modern buildings, which can increase property values in the surrounding area.

Reducing Environmental Impact:

Restoring existing buildings instead of demolishing them and building new ones reduces the environmental impact of construction materials and waste.

Enhancing Community Pride:

The restoration of historic masonry can help to enhance community pride and create a sense of belonging.

Retaining Architectural Beauty:

Historic masonry often features unique architectural designs and details that add character and beauty to a town.

Supporting Sustainable Development:

Restoration can contribute to the sustainable development of a town, preserving historic structures while also meeting modern needs.

Promoting Education:

Restored historic buildings can be used for educational purposes, showcasing the history and culture of a town to future generations.

Encouraging Philanthropy:

Restoration projects can attract philanthropic donations and investment from those who are passionate about preserving history and culture.

Urgent Attention Needed: The Rising Concerns in the Masonry Repair Industry

Urgent Attention Needed: The Rising Concerns in the Masonry Repair Industry

Penned by Alan Pettingale in 2009, this article explores the alarming trends in the masonry repair industry that have been observed over the years. A decade on, these concerns still hold relevance and require immediate attention.

The Overlooked Cost of Foundation Repair

Recent surveys have highlighted an alarming statistic: billions of dollars are spent annually on foundation repair in the United States. This is a staggering figure, like the amount spent on remedying damages from floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

In stark contrast, the expenditure on masonry restoration remains alarmingly low. This is surprising, given that foundation damage usually impacts the supported masonry above. This trend indicates an urgent need to shift focus to masonry inspection and repair.

The Hidden Dangers in New Structures

Adding to the problem, poor workmanship in new structures is causing significant masonry damage. From corroded wall ties discovered within a year of construction to blocked cavities in veneer walls preventing weep holes from functioning, these issues are becoming increasingly common.

The Aging Historic Buildings

Our historic buildings are starting to show their age and require urgent repairs. Small towns keen to rejuvenate their historic squares are inadvertently putting visitors at risk from falling masonry and collapsing structures. Despite the appeal of these revitalized spaces, the potential hazards are being overlooked.

The Silent Impact of Masonry Problems

The repercussions of masonry problems, like the health hazards posed by black mold or the damage caused by infestation, are significant. Yet, these outcomes are not often attributed to their root cause – failing masonry work.

An Impending Epidemic

Given the current neglect and the impact of failing masonry on both private and public buildings, we are on the brink of an epidemic. With few existing provisions and guidelines for specialized masonry repair techniques, and decision makers lacking sufficient knowledge, we are ill-prepared for what lies ahead.

The Need for Attention and Education

Professor Tom Grimm once stated that of the approximately 12,000 papers written on masonry, nearly all focus on new construction. This highlights the pressing need for economic and effective masonry repair methods.

The Role of The Masonry Society

The Masonry Society has positioned itself as a valuable resource in this crucial area. By coordinating between field practitioners and bringing theoretical and practical knowledge into play, they’re making a difference.


The building industry needs to shift its focus from erecting new structures to preserving existing ones. We must protect the assets we already have, from individual family homes to our national heritage enshrined in our courthouses, city halls, churches and town squares.

Join the movement. Make a difference. Let’s ensure that these alarming trends in the masonry repair industry are addressed effectively and promptly. #jointheTMS #makeadifference #Tom Grimm

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has nothing on your Leaning Brick Chimney!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has nothing on your Leaning Brick Chimney!

If you own a leaning brick chimney, you might already know what it’s like to have a leaning tower on your property. It doesn’t take a lot to make a brick chimney start to lean – rain, wind, and even earthquakes can all play a role. It’s easy to ignore a leaning chimney, but don’t! Here are some reasons why you should repair it sooner rather than later.

Prevent Damage to Your Home: Leaning chimneys can be a real danger to your home and family. Heavy bricks could fall from the chimney and cause severe damage to your roof or property. Moreover, the chimney may crack and let moisture seep into your home’s structure, leading to costly damage. It’s better and less expensive to repair any potential problems before they cause harm to your property.

Improve Structural Stability: A chimney that’s leaning can cause the building structure to become unstable. If not fixed, the weight distribution will be altered, and it could eventually collapse or damage your home’s overall stability. By repairing a leaning chimney, you can increase the longevity and safety of your home.

Reduce Energy Bills: A leaning chimney can also affect your home’s heating. If it’s not straight, it could prevent warm air from rising correctly and escaping efficiently. This inefficient airflow could cost you money by raising your energy bills. By repairing a leaning chimney, you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, save money, and increase comfort in the process.

Boost Your Curb Appeal: A charming and well-maintained chimney can improve the appearance of your home’s exterior. A leaning and cracked chimney can affect your property’s curb appeal, lowering the value of your home. By repairing it, you can give an instant lift to your home’s look and put it back on the market.

Conclusion: Don’t wait any longer to repair your leaning chimney. Prevention is always better than the cure. As you can see, a small problem can cause more significant issues in the long run. So, take action now to protect your home, boost its value and increase your comfort while saving on energy bills in the process.

Historic Masonry Restoration is not for the faint hearted …..

Historic Masonry Restoration is not for the faint hearted …..

Historic masonry restoration is a complex task that requires years of experience and specialized knowledge. It involves repairing, restoring, and preserving historic buildings that have suffered damage due to environmental factors, natural disasters, or simple aging. The process of historic masonry restoration is not for the faint-hearted as it poses a series of challenges to structural engineers, architects and consultants. In this post, we will delve into some of the challenges that professionals in the field of historic masonry restoration must overcome to carry out their work.

1. Preservation of Historical Significance:

When it comes to masonry restoration the core objective is to restore the structure to its original state, while preserving its architectural and historical significance. However, this can prove to be quite challenging as it requires an extensive knowledge of historical building techniques and materials. The difficulty often arises in finding matching materials and techniques to complete the restoration work, while preserving the historic authenticity of the structure.

2. Weather and Environmental Factors:

The weather plays a crucial role in the wear and tear of historic buildings. Harsh weather conditions have the adverse impact on the structures. Restoration experts have to consider the impact of the environment on the structure. This requires a thorough knowledge of the area’s climate, drainage patterns, temperature, and other weather-related factors, while keeping in mind the historic aspect of the building.

3. Technical Challenges:

Restoration experts face technical challenges when they have to work with aged materials. Over the years, the building materials wear and decay, weakening the structure’s overall integrity. Masonry restoration experts have to be skilled in identifying structural issues and finding the best resolution for those issues. The skillset of the experts comes into play when they have to deal with different types of masonry, including bricks, stone, lime, and other materials, each with their unique properties and techniques to address them.

4. Financial Challenges:

Masonry restoration projects require specific materials and techniques that can be expensive. Large projects require a considerable amount of funding, especially when the work needs to be completed within a specific timeline. It’s a major challenge to manage the restoration project financially while keeping in mind the historical significance and the stakeholders’ expectations.

5. Safety Precautions:

Historic buildings are often centuries-old, structurally unsound and a safety hazard. Masonry restoration experts must prioritize safety at all times when working on a project. The experts must have adequate knowledge of safety protocols such as OSHA regulations and jobsite safety measures when working on historic structures.


Historic masonry restoration is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a thorough understanding of various factors, including historical significance, weather, technical matters, financial constraints, and safety precautions. The challenge lies in meeting the stakeholders’ expectations and working within a specific timeline. The solutions to these challenges are found in a balance of technical knowledge and creative thinking, combined with a practical approach towards each restoration project. The work of masonry restoration experts continues to inspire valued historic structures, and we owe our gratitude to these hardworking professionals.

The No.1 Rule in Historical Masonry Restoration is always expect the unexpected…..

The No.1 Rule in Historical Masonry Restoration is always expect the unexpected…..

Expecting the Unexpected in Historical Masonry Restoration: The No.1 Rule


Historical masonry buildings are an important part of our architectural heritage and need to be preserved for future generations to appreciate. However, when it comes to restoring these structures, there is one rule that always holds true: expect the unexpected. From hidden construction flaws to unforeseen structural damage, there are countless surprises that can arise during a restoration project. As structural engineers and architects, it is essential to be well-prepared and well-informed to minimize the risks of these surprises and ensure the success of historical masonry restoration projects.

Be Thorough in Your Inspection

Before diving into a restoration project, it is crucial to conduct a thorough investigation of the historical masonry structure to identify any underlying issues and potential challenges. This includes assessing the overall construction, analyzing the material properties, evaluating the foundation, and examining the condition of the walls, roofs, and other key architectural features. By conducting a comprehensive inspection, you can better understand the building’s unique history, design, and structural integrity, allowing you to prepare for any surprises that may come your way.

Establish a Clear Plan of Action

Once you have conducted a thorough inspection, the next step is to develop a clear plan of action that outlines the scope of the restoration project, timelines, and budget. This plan should include details such as the type of materials to be used, the approach to restore the building’s structural integrity, and the necessary permits required for the project. Having a clear plan of action provides a roadmap for the restoration process, reduces the likelihood of unexpected challenges, and ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page.

Be Prepared to Adapt and Revise the Plan

As the restoration process unfolds, it is common to encounter unexpected challenges or complications that require adjustments to the plan of action. It is essential to be flexible and adapt to these changing circumstances to avoid costly delays or safety issues. For example, if a hidden structural issue is discovered during the restoration process, the approach to restoring the structure’s integrity may need to be revised. By being prepared to adapt and revise the plan, you can ensure that the project stays on track and is completed successfully.

Work with an Experienced Professional Team

Perhaps the most critical factor in a successful historical masonry restoration project is working with an experienced and qualified team of professionals. This includes structural engineers, architects, contractors, and historical experts who have a deep understanding of masonry construction and restoration. They can help you identify potential challenges from the outset, develop a comprehensive plan of action, and implement practical solutions that ensure the restoration project is completed safely and meets the necessary regulatory and compliance standards.

Recognize the Historical Significance of the Project

Finally, it is essential to recognize the historical significance of the restoration project and the value in preserving the building for future generations. Historical masonry structures often have a unique story that calls for a respectful approach to the restoration process. This involves working with historic preservationists, experts in the building’s architectural style, and other stakeholders who are invested in the project’s success. By recognizing and respecting the historical significance of the project, you can approach the restoration process with care and sensitivity.


Historical masonry restoration requires a combination of technical expertise, careful planning, and a reverence for the historical significance of the project. The No.1 rule for success in these projects is to expect the unexpected and be prepared to adapt when needed. By conducting a comprehensive inspection, developing a clear plan of action, working with an experienced professional team, and respecting the building’s history, you can ensure that these treasures of our architectural heritage are preserved for future generations to enjoy. As structural engineers , architects, and consultants it is our responsibility to approach these projects with care, attention to detail and reverence for the building’s rich history.