I guess it goes without saying that stone is my favorite building material. Stone is not only durable, practical and beautiful but it's also incredibly versatile. Stone can be used to build bridges, houses, walls and fireplaces, often without the use of mortar. Stone can be carved or stacked to create sculpture or fitted together to construct mosaics. In the hands of a true craftsman stone becomes malleable and can be and do anything.
Stone can also be a great problem solver. Take water damage for instance, water is incredibly powerful and can cause damage to a home or property that is very expensive to fix. Clients often ask if I can use stone to help with water issues and the answer is usually yes! When a job is in the design stages, water flow is the the first thing that I address. I look at downspouts, the slope of the lot and the grade at the foundation to start. I approach fixing the problem first then I address the best installation techniques for the job and then the design aesthetics. I always push for creative or interesting design features.
A frequent problem is water that flows towards a house or water that stands after it has rained. Building codes require that the area around the house have "negative grade", in other words the soil should slope away from the structure. This can be tricky if the house sits on a property that has a natural slope that drains towards the house. A stone wall or series of retaining walls can divert or slow down water flow significantly, not to mention add beautiful accents for landscaping. A stone patio will shed water away from the immediate area and adds usable space for entertaining. Walls and patios together can create an "outdoor room" that is both functional and beautiful and also adds property value.
Sometimes a client will ask that an area that experiences water erosion be addressed. A "dry creek bed is often the solution. I've built streams with tightly fitted pebbles that sweep across the property with snaking curves to direct the water. If significant slope is present I might build a dry creek built to mimic a mountain steam complete with boulders and dry waterfalls. I try to use an installation technique and a design that "fits" the problem and the over all look of the project.
Solving problems can be as fun and creative as building any other stone structure. I love the challenge of making a task that might on the surface seem totally function into something interesting and beautiful.