What is the position on holding onto masonry buildings?

Asked by JS, Bucktown, Chicago, IL Sun Oct 18, 2009

We live and own a unit in a three unit building. We are the second owners of our unit. The building was built in 2003. Contractors have suggested that because the building is made of masonry, it maybe worth $0 in a few years when Chicago passes a law preventing any future masonry builds. Is this true? As current homeowners in a downward economy, what are your recommendations?

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Caleb Hart, Renter, Orem, UT
Mon Apr 20, 2015
I agree that you should probably get that confirmed before you make any decisions. I would also talk about masonry contractors about that. They would be able to tell you what kind of outlook their business has. Then, you can make some decisions based on what they say. http://www.mweissmasonryinc.ca/en/
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Sharon Curcio, , Portsmouth, NH
Sun Oct 18, 2009
Have you confirmed that Chicago intends to pass a law preventing the use of masonry? If not, you may want to contact the city building department to determine if this is an issue.

Even if they do your building will still have value. Value is determined by location, condition and what a buyer is willing to pay for a property. Given the sluggish real estate market and that builders are not building new housing in Chicago this issue would not be a top concern if you were planning to sell your unit.

If I can help you determine the value of your unit please contact me directly at 312-659-5431. Good luck. Sharon Curcio, SRES
0 votes
Philip Sencer, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Oct 18, 2009
So silly! Do nothing. There might be millions of those 3-6 flats built over the past15 years. There value is not going to zero. Everyone understands the issues with the block (or they will once they do an inspection). If it is maintained properly it should be ok. They just tend to be a bit more high maintenance compared with traditional brick.
On a case by case basis, (and I have seen and/or heard of many) some of those buildings were built poorly with the contractor not putting in all the proper flashings, expansion joints, capstones, lentils etc. Perhaps they were some of the same contractors now telling you the value is going to zero? During the peak 'bubble years of the past market (2000-2006) many fly-by-night so called 'developers' got into the business just to make a fast buck. The quality of the construction was not so hot. However, most of the buildings seem to have been built just fine..............based on my experience.........20+ years in the business.
0 votes
Exactly, I don't think there's any reason to panic. Masonry is a nice look for almost any building. The value isn't likely to change much, and at least not for the next few years. If you like the way it looks, then keep it! | http://www.trinitymasonryconcrete.com
Flag Sat Jan 10, 2015
Wayne Beals, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Oct 18, 2009
Masonry construction techniques have been standard business practice since the dawn of civilization. I doubt Chicago will prevent masonry construction moving forward (I'm sure the Masons and the local Bricklayers union would have a sharp opinion here.)

It may be that they are looking to reduce or discourage the use of split faced concrete block, which has proven to be problematic in our climate. There are things you and the association need to be doing to maintain the masonry if your building is modern brick construction. Modern Brick is largely water permeable, which allows the absorption of water. With the freeze thaw cycles we experience, the brick tends to take in water, which freezes, expands, and well, makes the brick explode. Old brick was made with high quantities of clay which does not absorb water. The clay brick repelled water and hence did not suffer from the same problem. Split face complicates the problem because of the texture of the brick. The rough surface causes driven snow and rain to adhere better to the face, which when combined with a freeze thaw causes problems. Further complications are caused by poor installation, especially in relation to the cotton wicks which should be inserted every few courses and over lintels. These wicks draw water out of the brick and protect them from excess moisture which can complicate during a freeze thaw or maybe even trap moisture against the backside of the drywall and insulation. This can lead to mold and other water problems. Sealing, pointing and rewicking is necessary every few years to make sure the brick stays as dry as possible.

As far as a value of $0 goes, I would say this is likely hyperbole. Talk to a Realtor about value to determine where you are today if you are considering selling.

Best of Luck
Wayne Beals
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