String course stone repair
The work of the UK’s only national cosmetic repair specialist, Plastic Surgeon, does in many ways reflect the art world’s mediums such as sculpture and painting, in that the firm’s highly trained Finishers are shaping and colouring materials to create representations of some real life object. During one recent contract, however, a quick thinking Finisher from the contractor’s Midland region was able to assist a major developer by creating something of a temporary ‘trompe l’oeil’ stone repair in order for four properties to appear in pristine condition for an important site inspection.
As a flagship waterside project, the estate is subject to viewings by both the housebuilder’s senior directors and major shareholders; so the site manager was therefore keen for the quartet of new houses to be seen in a condition ready for handover to their purchasers.
Most of the UK’s major housebuilders now use the service provided by Plastic Surgeon to execute so called ‘snagging’ jobs, rather than calling back tradesmen to replace damaged items such as kitchen worksurfaces, sinks and tiling or timberwork. So the Finisher was already working on other units when the site agent asked him to look at the stringing courses to the upper elevations of the four properties where a sub-contractor had notched out the stone blocks in the wrong position, for the installation of rainwater downpipes.
Plastic Surgeon’s Finisher takes up the account saying: “These are very attractive homes though, unfortunately, someone had cut back the string courses to a depth of two inches, but more than a foot away from the correct position for the metal rainwater downpipes to be fitted. The damage stood out very noticeably from ground level, and there was a site visit due the next day.
“The initial work I did was just to create a temporary repair – an illusion that the stonework was intact – because it was time critical. In fact I cut sections of timber to fit the notches and then coated them with filler and our Screedcoat product so that they would pass inspection from a distance.
“Obviously they wouldn’t stand up to the weather for any length of time and so some days later I returned to carry out a permanent repair; though I was worried about filling such a deep section. Having explained to the site manager that I wanted to be sure there was no possibility of the repair ever breaking away and hitting someone, I went to the architectural metalworker who was on site and obtained some medium gauge wire.
“By drilling the stones at intervals then putting in plugs and long screws I created anchors which the wire could be wound around, forming a cage that I then built the filler onto. In the end I applied four coats of Ultra-premium filler and finished off the repair by colour matching the surfaces with our specialist Screedcoating process.”
Plastic Surgeon is used to having happy customers, but the site agent in this instance telephone the regional office to express his gratitude saying the Finisher had “saved their bacon”.
Plastic Surgeon’s Finishers may look upon much of the work that they carry out across the regions as ‘routine’ repairs to ceramics, masonry, metals, glass and other substrates, but through their efforts and the company’s Save Our Surfaces initiative, they are preventing hundreds of tonnes of perfectly good building components being sent to landfill every month.
Furthermore, as we have seen in the case of this improvised stone repair, not only is the firm’s R&D department continually working on developing new repair techniques to be used out in the field, every now and then one of the Finishers also demonstrates their ability to think outside-of-the-box and help a customer deal with a seemingly insolvable problem.
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