The quality of the work is excellent. Replacement bricks were found that are a near perfect match and they were installed by highly skilled and meticulous craftsmen. The repointing of existing brick required very careful removal of cement mortar to avoid damaging the brick. This is quite tricky to do, but the workers did a great job. The work was also completed in a way that was minimally disruptive to the neighbors or to my family living in the house.
John Machnicki is incredibly knowledgeable about historic masonry and restoration techniques. He is also very meticulous to ensure that the finished restoration is of the highest quality. In addition, John was very helpful in identifying firms in other trades that could do high quality work on the other aspects of our restoration project.
Description of work:
Brick & Stone Restoration performed a full restoration of our 1880's Victorian brick facade and limestone entryway as well as the side walls and chimneys. This work will be completed over 3 years. It involves sourcing matching Victorian era brick of a non-standard size and replacing brick in many areas (including rebuilding some complicated corbels that are rarely seen on houses of this era). Cement mortar had to be removed from the entire exterior and replaced with lime mortar. The limestone entryway was repaired and the joints repointed with a historically accurate black bead joint. The chimney tops were rebuilt to historically accurate dimensions and style using historically appropriate materials. New matching Indiana limestone lintels and sills were fabricated and installed to replace those that had deteriorated.
I own a condo in a beautiful red stone building in Lakeview that was built in 1892. The building is truly a work of art, but 100+ years of Chicago winters have taken a toll, and over the last ten years we’ve done two separate restoration projects. The first project was to tuck-point the entire building along with restoration of the ornamental elements of the building archway and pillars, and the second project was for restoration of areas that had been damaged by the previous owner. For both projects we worked with John Machnicki and his team, and in both cases we were thrilled with his work.
John has an incredible knowledge of the history of architecture, as well as technical knowledge of the best restoration materials used in Europe and all over the world. But equally important, John is reliable – he returns phone calls and emails, and shows up when he says he will, which as everyone knows is not always the case with contractors. John is a pleasure to work with; I highly recommend his work, and I would never trust anyone else to work on our building. Thanks, Rob C.
When tuckpointing a greystone from 1885, many companies claim to be able to do the job. However, only Brick and Stone Restoration knows how to do it right way. They use old world techniques of soft mortar (so the stone doesn’t crack over time ). This building was tuckpointed once, when it was built, and then patched oddly 3-4 times. Blocks were falling out and had shifted. They also matched the original stone line patterns in the blocks. Plus they could start the project in 3-4 weeks. I highly recommend Brick and Stone Restoration.
John Machnicki and his skilled team have been doing restoration work for us in Lincoln Park for ten years and we have always been very satisfied with the results. John is the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to masonry and the like. He always takes a prudent approach and is happy to explain why things are done the way they are. I trust John implicitly; he is a pleasure to do business with, does excellent work and charges very fairly for it. Highly recommended.
Andrew and Eileen K.
Throughout my 25 years of restoration rehab experimentation, the end result and test of time is the proof of a tradesperson's abilities. Finding skilled, highly qualified tradesperson, like John Machnicki with 30 plus years of experience guarantees sanity and a job well done. Having no prior experience in historic preservation the restoration process can easily become overwhelming, resulting in costly mistakes and redos or something preciously preserved for future generations.
In restoring "This Old a House" built in 1876, finding Mr. John Machnicki has been a highly rewarding, positive experience. In my opinion, John Machnicki, is a dedicated, highly skilled, professional, master craftsperson of exceptional work ethic and character. With this type of rehabilitation the repairs cannot be hit or miss, especially when it comes to masonry restoration. I value John's judgment over anyone else's in the field. I do not make this claim lightly. In 2000, the Chicago Landmark Commission recognized ten projects for preservation excellence. My modest dwelling was included among the nine other high profile projects. This came as a delightful surprise to me. There were 700 other projects in the works the commission could have recognized for preservation excellence. Cited on the award was the work to done to restore the façade's damaged brick and stone I have Mr. Machnicki to thank for this. He performed the work in 1999, the year before the award was given. The job he did is solid and stunning to date.
I just recently hired John to redo an attempted masonry repair done by another individual. The origination of the repair was not for the brick, but unfortunately the brick became the problem and not the reason I hired the handyperson. The handyperson hired actually ruined the wall trying to convince me he knew how to make the repair. I called John to the rescue. Once again, he did not disappoint.
No matter if your building is historic or not, John will get it done right the first time around. Worse than mediocre work, is hiring person/s that can actually cause more damage to this material. I appreciate that John takes the time to break things down so you can understand the "whys" of what he is doing. It is a pleasure to do business with him, too.
Lee Ann P.
My 120-year old brick home had parging on the common brick that was cracking off and unsightly, revealing damaged bricks behind it. I was referred to John by a friend who had been hiring him for three decades. My job was small but I wanted to ensure it was done right and I wouldn't have to worry about it again. John and his crew removed the parging and replaced the first course of brick. It was such a relief to put it in the hands of a seasoned professional - and they did a beautiful job!
My wife and I purchased a single family home originally built in 1908. The home had undergone extensive renovations both internally and externally from the previous owner; all of which had passed inspections. After a year in our home we found water permeating our house. We consulted with roofers and other professionals to discover the cause of our trouble was from the brick and mortar repairs and new work done incorrectly by the previous owner.
John came to us from a trusted referral, but the scope and cost of the project was more significant than we anticipated and we felt ill-equipped to make such a significant decision. We were fearful of making a poor choice that would lead to greater problems and concerned about the costs. John made sure to scope out the project, the work to be provided, the timeline and the cost was presented to us in great detail both in writing and orally.
After meeting with John, prior to hiring him, we engaged an engineer who only worked on brick and concrete projects to have him propose a scope of work and issue an RFP. John participated in the process along with a number of other potential contractors. After over a year of planning, hiring engineers, and receiving multiple bids we dismissed the engineer and other contractors in favor of John's original proposal.
All the work was done timely and within budget. John was on-site weekly if not more often and met with us in person regularly to explain the progress of the project, what had been uncovered, and how they intended to remedy the problems. His crews were polite, respectful and cleared the site every day. We never had to contact John to complain regarding the work or his team as they consistently met or exceed our expectations. We always felt secure having him and his team around our family and children.
Nearly two years has passed since project completion and all the issues that were present have been fully resolved and we have had no recurrence of any issues. John had to rip out and re-do all the previous work that was done by the former owners and he had to repair further damage that their errors caused. Simply put, the previous contractors did not understand the differences between types of bricks and mortars present in an older home versus new construction and made incorrect choices that damaged the original facade and required the removal of all their previous efforts. We can't express enough how highly we would recommend John.
I have had the pleasure to contract with the Brick & Stone Restoration, Co. for several complicated rehabilitation projects on my three-flat in Chicago. I will not consider using anyone else for masonry related work. For every project undertaken, the expert advice and project execution was outstanding. Indeed, finding skilled craftsmen of this quality is a rare occurrence today.
It is so difficult finding a contractor that checks off the boxes of "value," "honesty," and "high quality." John and his crew check off all three. Our 100 year old house desperately needed brick restoration, and it needed to be done right. You may find crews that call themselves masons who can do your job cheaper, but you will not find anyone who will actually restore your brickwork in as an original condition as possible, or who will take greater care in doing it right, than John.
We had done a lot of research on brickwork and mortar before hiring someone. It was clear from the start that John was the expert. And throughout the job, that expertise was fully apparent. John went above and beyond on our job--he did the work that was planned, and a lot that was unexpected, all at a fair price. We were very happy with the end result and have no doubt that the brickwork will last for another 100 years or more.
Tim and Julie