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Without bricklayers, we would have no buildings, no brick walkways and parking areas, no walls, fewer bridges and none of the strong shelters we so easily take for granted. Without them, our houses would not be built, our universities, schools, hospitals, shopping centres and factories would exist only on architects’ plans, and the civilized world would be so much the poorer.
Bricklayers work with various materials such as stone, concrete and standard bricks. They are tasked with the building of the outer and inner shells of any brick structures, from houses to high-rise buildings, and every solid building you can think of which is not constructed from wood or steel. Whilst wooden structures are perfectly suitable for one or two-storey houses, they do not have the permanence and strength of brick and concrete, and it would be impossible to build multi-storey structures using just wood.
A bricklayer is an artisan whose skill cannot be over-estimated. He is not only responsible for building straight walls, but also creates arches, balconies, bespoke individual projects such as outdoor braai areas, patterned bricked driveways and parking areas, to name just a few. This sort of work often involves careful shaping or breaking of bricks to fit into awkward spaces, which requires skill and expertise. Bricklayers are not simply manual workers, but are specialists in the use of various tools used in their trade, such as spirit levels, plumb lines, angle-grinders, hammers and trowels. They have to ensure that they are building walls which are straight and strong. Where external walls are concerned, the bricklayer is responsible for ensuring that they are they are completely waterproof and will remain so for many years.
Bricklayers convert architects’ plans into solid structures by measuring out the area and building the walls, which are made up of many layers (courses) of bricks. When building multi-storey buildings, bricklayers need to incorporate additional strength into walls and overhanging balconies by using steel rebars to reinforce them. During the building work, bricklayers use the architect’s plans to ensure that the correct access holes are created so that electricians, plumbers, gas suppliers and other service suppliers are able to bring these essential commodities into the building.
Bricklayers are specialists when it comes to repairing broken, damaged or crumbling brickwork, and will try to match the newer bricks to fit in with the colour and style of the existing building. Much of the restoration work on old or historic buildings depends on the skills of the bricklayers on the project.
The work that bricklayers produce may be either invisible (for example, walls which are then plastered over) or immediately visible to the eye in projects such as carefully planned decorative bricked areas.
A bricklayer needs to be physically strong as he has to lift heavy materials and he must have high levels of endurance as part of his job involves bending, kneeling, and stooping for long periods of time. Since they often work on tall buildings, bricklayers need to have a good head for heights and balance.
It is highly advisable, where possible, to use a bricklayer whose work has been personally recommended to you, or whose reputation is well known. For instance, it is no good hiring a contractor to build external walls which later leak or are prone to problems with damp due to insufficient preparation during the building process.
Never be embarrassed to ask a bricklayer for either photographs of prior jobs, references from previous clients, or check his online reviews through Uptasker. A reputable craftsman will be proud of his work and have no problem with checks being carried out on projects he has undertaken. Always discuss your expectations, timelines, plans and budget clearly with your bricklayer before commencing work so that there are no misunderstandings during the project. Be prepared to listen to a skilled and experienced bricklayer’s advice, as he will often have valuable suggestions which you may not have considered. After all, HE is the expert!
Never underestimate the value that a bricklayer can add to your home, either by repairing old brickwork, building new walls and rooms, laying patios or driveways, building walled flowerbeds, assisting with building renovations or building outside entertainment areas. For more tips, see the Uptasker blog for bricklayer articles.