Only the finest homes grace The Peninsula, a resort-like, private golf community on Lake Norman, near Charlotte, N.C. A well-known Charlotte contractor, Griffin Masonry, is responsible for several of these homes, and many other high-profile residences in the area.
Griffin takes pride in providing turnkey service, which can include anything from consulting on building plans to managing all aspects of a job's concrete and masonry work. For the Feit residence in The Peninsula, Griffin handled it all. Its concrete crew poured the walls for the home's walk-out basement, while Griffin's masons were responsible for building the rest of the 13,782-sq-ft home.
As construction got underway, Griffin's masonry supervisor, Jimmy Christian, and masonry foreman, Jason Stegall, helped the general contractor fine-tune the home's design. In Christian's words, “Our job is to make the homeowner's dreams come true.” They began by selecting the perfect materials and colors: Vienna-colored brick with Sandstone mortar. Griffin used curved ogee rowlock brick for sills, returns, and walls around the sides and back of the house, to match the ornate limestone pieces in the front.
Knowing the owners wanted to make the most of their lakeside view, Griffin's team redesigned free-standing archways leading from the home's basement to the backyard. It raised the corners and reduced the rise of the arches to create a larger opening, and added steel ties as reinforcement. A sound design was key, since the arches provide structural support to the home's back terrace.
The masons also showed their decorative flair, working with Dan Goetz from Arcadia Homes to turn a simple brick retaining wall into a stunning outdoor living space. The wall supports a sloping terrain that leads from the back of the house to the lake. It is connected to the home by a brick staircase, and frames a 380-sq-ft brick patio. A large chimney serves as the focal point, with a decorative panel that is mirrored by a small firebox the masons created beneath the staircase.
The skill and stamina of Griffin's three masons, two laborers, and one apprentice were put to the test during the 11 months they worked on Showcase the Feit home. They quickly realized space was a concern on the jobsite. Due to close property lines and a 50-ft lake setback, the left side and back of the house were inaccessible to heavy equipment. Once the masons' equipment was set up, they were left with just enough room for a wheelbarrow to get through, which meant all the brick had to be brought in manually.
But it took precision, as well as hard work, to make the owners' vision a reality. To ensure the colored mortar's consistency over the life of the job, the mixing process was carefully managed. “When you're mixing colored mortar onsite over a long period of time, you have to follow the instructions exactly to get the job as close to perfect as possible,” says Christian. Griffin's team used a custom-built sandbox attached to the mortar mixer to measure precisely one cu ft of sand. That way, no matter who was doing the mixing or when, the color came out the same.
The team showed the same attention to detail on the home's decorative front. Since they were using a dark mortar, the masons had to take extra care in working around the limestone accent pieces. The limestone was laid in, not adhered, so as they placed brick on top, they carefully kept mortar from dripping onto the limestone. “That kind of work doesn't come second nature,” admits Christian. “It takes time and patience.” Thanks to the masons' efforts, the owners can enjoy a truly grand entrance.