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Question DetailsAsked on 6/27/2017

Would like to get list of contractors in Westchester NY area for cutting windown opening in brick wall in a bldg.

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Masonry would be the normal Search the List category for this - because his expertise in brick work is likely the best at preserving the brick integrity through the process. Commonly, a structural metal frame is put around the opening to reinforce the brick, grouted and bolted into the brick if solid brick construction, or into the structure of the wall if just a brick facade.

The actual cutting might be done by him if a normal size hole, if for a very large window he might subcontract with a concrete cutting company with vertical surface cutting equipment for the actual cuts. Ditto if the cutting includes removal of any foundation (like for a below-ground or ground-level doorway) or concrete wall.

Of course, it is always wise to be sure that utility runs and rebar location in the walls be located first - most commonly by electronic tracer unit (radio frequency signals sent through the ground wires or the metal piping, and traced in the wall with a handheld receiver - much same methodology as in-ground lines are located.

Depending on the structure height, loadings, design, etc in larger openings over maybe 4 feet or so in dimension commonly) he may have to first do some reinforcing of the brick, or piece-by-piece remove brick and replace it with a crown arch over the opening and sometimes with reinforced brick or concrete around the sides and sometimes even bottom to pre-strengthen the brick well before actually making the window rough opening cut. Sometimes the steel reinforcing is put in in two steps - inserted into slots cut to make the rough opening but only half way through the wall and welded at the corners, then cuts made and support inserted from the other side, then selective removal of brick to weld those two together at the in-wall edges and to do the anchors into the wall and rebar placement if needed, then removal of th enclosed brick to form the window or door opening.

These type steps are especially common in higher brick buildings or older or deteriorated mortar ones like pre-1950's oir so brownstones and such which may have zero steel reinforcing in the brick wall - more modern walls you can commonly do larger openings without pre-reinforcing them, especially for more normal sized doors and windows less than 3 or so feet wide. Also, if you are looking for a certain square footage for light entry or such and are not overlay particular on window shape, in some cases arch-topped windows can make it an easier go (to match needed top-of-opening brick reinforcing), and going taller with the window rather than wider to get desired openign area is generally better in brick walls (though it can increase the utility interference issue in many cases).

Obviously, if you have some flexibility regarding window or door location to avoid utilities or minimize rebar cutting the more likely you are to avoid expensive rerouts. And if you know in advance that you have such utilities needing rerouting, then perhaps a Generall Contractor would be your best contractor type, with him getting the masonry contractor as a sub for the brickwork.

I have worked jobs on old buildings where the area surrounding the proposed opening had to be full-depth pointed (mortar replaced) before the opening was made, just to make the wall strong enough to handle the piecemeal excavation and reinforcement of the perimeter area.

Obviously, ask your contractor (or bidders) how they intend to locate embedded utilities and rebar and to maintain the integrity of the wall during the opening up, and how they intend to reinforce the rough opening, as part of your selection process - you do not want someone to just show up with a abrasive cutting wheel saw and start cutting a rectangle in your wall without prep and consideration of the consequences.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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