masonry_inspectionYou don’t need to learn the hard way how these property management mistakes can quickly take a bite out of your budget. Avoid these mistakes from the beginning to reduce your costs and your headaches.

Forgetting routine inspections

Preventative maintenance is the surest way to keep building ownership costs down. Peeling paint leaves wood exposed leading to wood rot. You now need both a contractor and a painter.  A minor tuckpointing repair is neglected and turns into a complete chimney rebuild costing thousands of dollars. Now that our severe Chicago winter is over, it’s the perfect time to complete a routine inspection of your entire property from the foundation to the chimney to identify potential issues.

Looking for a new contractor with every repair

While no one wants to be taken advantage of, it takes time to get estimates and in the meantime you may have a real problem with tenants.  Instead of looking for a new contractor every time you need a repair, look to build a network of reliable, responsive contractors. A contractor with whom you have a relationship is always going to be your best bet when you have a repair that needs immediate attention.

Hiring non-insured or non-bonded workers

While it may be tempting to hire a laid off buddy to complete a repair at a reduced price, you are putting yourself and your association at risk by doing so.  If your buddy falls off a ladder while completing the job and ends up in the hospital, you or the association could be sued for workman’s compensation benefits as his “employer.” Ask contractors to show that they have liability insurance and workman’s compensation for all employees. Bonding offers property owners additional protection. If a contractor fails to complete a job, the bond can provide compensation.  These are two important reasons to hire insured and bonded contractors.

Protect your property investment. These property management mistakes are easily avoided and will save you time, money and needless hassle.

A+Rated_Chicago TuckpointingSometimes what sets you apart in business is not the work itself, but the little things you do to make a customer happy. It’s not just the tuckpointing work that  matters, but things like showing up a time, covering your landscaping, working hard, cleaning up, and a final bill that is what you expected.

This recent review from Angie’s list reminds me that when it comes to Chicago tuckpointing jobs, little things do matter. Since not everyone has access to access to Angie’s List, I thought I would share it:

“Quote was received within two days of phone call for an estimate. Agreed to job and scheduled time for work to be completed within a week. Workman arrived at 7:30 and began setting up. Four workers including the owner, Mr. Gallagher. They were courteous and proceeded to start working right away. Covered perennials. Worked at a consistent pace taking one break during the four hours they were at my home. Tuckpointing looks great so far. Very neat, filled in all cracks in mortar especially around the chimney.  Mr. Gallagher even tuckpointed areas on garage at no extra cost. Quote was almost 50% less than another company quoted for less work. Will be calling next year for additional work.”

Grade A.

Thank you to all of our customers who have shared our good work their friends and family. We really appreciate it.

Read more reviews.

If you want to know how we create a new chimney crown you will want to watch this video.

The homeowner in Barrington Hills, Ill., didn’t really think about the chimney until they noticed leaking on the inside of the fireplace. A closer look revealed a deteriorated chimney cap. The original chimney was faulty—it  did not have a proper overhang. This allowed  water to work its way down inside the chimney, causing substantial damage to the chimney cap as well as the surrounding brick on the  fireplace.

We created a new custom-fit chimney crown out of concrete. The first step was to construct the wooden forms around the top of the brick fireplace. When secure, workers then poured the concrete. Metal rebar ensures that the concrete has a secure  hold to the  fireplace. A lip on the concrete keeps water flowing in the right direction – away  from the fireplace.

Once we had the chimney crown securely in place, mortar joints on the fireplace were ground out to ensure a good bond with the new mortar. Damaged bricks were replaced and the entire chimney was tuckpointed.  The final result is a chimney that looks brand new and will last another 2o years.

Even if your home is newer, improper installation of chimney caps can quickly deteriorate your brick. Make it a habit to check your chimney every few years for signs of deterioration. Efflorescence, cracks in the chimney crown and chipped mortar are a few of the signs to look for.

Questions about your fireplace? Give us a call at 708 388 2871.



QuestionYou may be surprised that the state of Illinois does not require masonry or tuckpointing contractors to have a license. Instead the decision to license or not is left up to individual municipalities.  This makes it even more important to do your due diligence when hiring a  contractor to tuckpoint your  buildings. A few strategic questions help you make an informed choice.

1) How long have you been in business?

Should you have a question or problem with your job six months or a year from now, you want a company that’s going to be around to answer your call. Hiring your nephew’s friend who has been laid off from his job may save a couple of bucks, but where will he be in a year?  It’s also easier to check the references and ratings of a long-standing business  vs. someone just picking up a side job.

2) Is your company insured and bonded?

A contractor with employees is required to have workman’s comp insurance  to provide coverage in case someone is hurt or injured on the job.  If a worker is injured while performing the work on your property and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you could be financially liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation.

A bond is an insurance policy that guarantees that the contractor will meet his obligations. If a contractor us unable to complete a job, or performs substandard work, the bonding company would provide payment. Most government agencies only work with bonded contractors. Some bonds are designed to protect you against substandard work that does not meet with local building codes.

3)Can you provide references?

It’s shocking how many people hire a contractor without ever checking references. A contractor should be able to produce a list of customers you can call to ask about the quality  of the work, timeliness, and other important factors. Online references or reviews maybe useful, but evaluate them in total rather than getting hung up on one negative review.

4)What is the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau?

The Better Business Bureau is a well known organization that tracks complaints against businesses. The BBB accredited business designation is offered to companies that have demonstrated sound business practices and meet certain standards. The BBB assigns letter grades from the A+ (the highest) to F (lowest)  based on the BBB’s opinion of the business.  Factors that go into the rating include information such as the number of complaints, years in business, advertising or licensing issues known to the BBB.

5)Who will be on the job site?

It is important to know who is doing the work and what their experience level is. Will the job be subcontracted out to another firm? Who will supervise the job site?

6)What’s the timetable for completing the work?

Weather can sometimes play havoc on tuckpointing schedules, but it’s important to find out how long the job will take and when you can expect it to be completed. You want as little disruption as possible. If you need workers to come in off-peak hours to avoid inconvenience to customers, be sure to let the contractor informed.

Choosing the right contractor doesn’t have to be a a time-consuming chore. If you have your questions organized it should be easy to get the information you need. Click here to learn more about Shamrock Tuckpointing.



Weep holes like this allow moisture to escape the brick, preventing mold and other moisture problems.

If you see a hole or holes along the bottom of a brick wall, don’t worry. They are most likely weep holes, and there is a reason for them to be there. If they aren’t there, you have reason for concern. Weep holes ventilate the narrow cavity between the brick and the interior wall. Without weep holes, moisture that wicks through the brick and mortar will soak into the framing and drywall, making them magnets for termites and mold. But any water that comes in through the weeps will hit metal flashing, if the inside walls were built properly.

Most building inspectors will notice the problem. Other problems that frequently occur in Chicago masonry buildings are:

  1. Lack of flashing. Weep holes won’t work without it.
  2. Poor pointing. There should not be gaps in the mortar.
  3. Unpainted lintels over doors and windows. The steel lintels eventually will rust, causing expansion that will crack the adjoining block.
  4. Stone window sills that are level or sloped back toward the window, instead of sloping away from the window to keep the water out.
  5. Poorly sealed stress and expansion joints.

If you see any of these problems, call a trusted masonry contractor such as Shamrock Tuckpointing for an inspection. Left unattended small problems can escalate into major repairs.

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Brick Maintenance and Repair Blog

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About the Owner


John Gallagher

John Gallagher learned the craft of tuckpointing while in his late teens. His father, a first generation Irish immigrant and construction worker, encouraged his son’s entrepreneurial spirit. John earned a business degree from Loras College, and soon afterward he founded Shamrock Tuckpointing.

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