Last fall, a Residential Masonry Contractors Association certified member, R&S Masonry LLC, was called by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), Spokane. BIAW was working with ABC television on an “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” project in Kirkland, Wash.

The mason contractor was asked if it would volunteer to do the stone work, which included an inside fireplace face, outside stack, and veneer. The company was excited about the idea, not only for the “Hollywood comes to town” aspect, but being able to help a family have a safe environment and new beginning.

The job required 1300 sq ft of Bucks County Ledge Stone installed over a weekend. Mutual Materials of Redmond provided the masonry pavers, stone, and mud used for the job.

The Chapin family was informed about its new home on Wednesday and the demolition started on Thursday. The television people expected to have the whole job completed by the following Tuesday. However, workers encountered asbestos late Thursday night, which put the job almost a day behind. Trades people also were fighting the Washington State's most famous element, RAIN!

R&S quickly assembled a team for its part of this project. The contractor called on Wolf Proof Masonry and Miller Masonry to round up their crews and join the effort. The masons were unable to start Saturday morning as planned, so waited, and waited, and finally about 3:00 p.m., received a call telling them they could start first thing Sunday morning. Now the pressure was on since the schedule was running behind.

The masonry crews checked in at a local mall, and were finally able to find out where this hush-hush site was located. At the jobsite, the crews were asked several times to do other tasks besides those originally requested, but stayed on track.

While the outside chimney stack was being built above, masons were laying stone below. With hundreds of people and so much to get done, the site was chaos. The rain didn't let up, but the volunteers never stopped pouring in to help do what they could for the Chapin family.

ABC seldom misses its makeover deadline, but this time was an exception. Painters were fighting the rain, and ground workers were trudging through mud. However, all the tradesmen kept a great attitude and strived to do what they could, as quickly as possible.

The masonry portion was finished within two days, with friends and family supporting this awesome opportunity. It was pure satisfaction to watch the Chap-ins almost collapse when they pulled the bus away to reveal the new home that was built in only eight days. It was wonderful seeing people volunteering their lunch breaks and days off for such a great community effort.

All in all, R&S Masonry found the work to be a very rewarding experience, and one the masons will never forget.

R&S Masonry Partners' Mike Shaw is a fourth generation mason and Steve Rhyner has been in the masonry field for 15 years. R&S has been in business six years and a certified member of RMCA for two years.