The Stanton Cast Stone product range is a steadily growing area of our business, but a leap from our traditional structural building product side. It is a product that complements our current range, and something we proudly talk about at trade shows and conferences.
I caught up with the cast stone estimating team Seamus Moore and Alex Richards about their roles, and their involvement with Stressline and Stanton Cast Stone.
Seamus is a founding member of the cast stone estimating team and has over 21 years under his belt with Stressline achieved through two stints. His work on flooring estimating also means that his project experience and expertise make him a particularly vital part in project estimation.
Alex, whilst without the same mileage as Seamus, is a very popular member of the wider team. He has worked his way up from a junior estimator position under the tutelage of Seamus, and the pair makes a formidable team.
Cast stone is notoriously labour intensive, from an administration point of view as well as in production. The role of the estimator is more than just quoting. They have the challenging task of assessing mould costs, material rates, haulage rates and making critical design decisions. Obtaining the most cost-effective solution for clients is of critical importance, and something both Seamus and Alex work hard to achieve.
What are the biggest projects you have worked on?
SM: Order-wise, the biggest projects are the ones we have done for Taylor Wimpey; Eastleigh, Coity and Stradley Parc, and Sandford Farm. In terms of project value, we often quote for £20,000 projects but as phases keep getting added, we are asked to provide more cast stone, so quote values continue to rise.
AR: The project that is most fresh in my memory is South Sebastopol Taylor Wimpey site. It is still in phase one and remains an ongoing project, but includes a large number of plots from two bedroom houses to multi-plot apartment blocks.
What was your favourite project to work on and why?
“This project included a wide range of bespoke units from complete bay sets to window surrounds and quoins. This stands out for me because it was living spaces for retired army veterans, who also got involved in the build process.”Alex Richards, Cast Stone Estimator
SM: I enjoy projects that have a unique factor to them. The Taylor Wimpey site at Cowbridge had five bespoke door surrounds to design. We also produced a huge bolted structural beam for a private builder in north London. That job was a huge challenge, but very satisfying when we saw the products in situ.
AR: One of my favourite projects was a build at Henley-on-Thames. The project required a large quantity of stonework and has its fair share of ‘bespoke’, client specific requirements. These included a portico and window surrounds set to a moulded profile.
For me, from the outset this was a great job to work on, it was also a good opportunity for me to put to use a wide-ranging product knowledge and experience gained in the years previous.
Another project I enjoyed working on was a series of apartments in Weston Super Mare. This included a wide range of bespoke units from complete bay sets to window surrounds and quoins. This stands out for me because it was living spaces for retired army veterans, who also got involved in the build process.
What are the most common questions you get asked by clients?
SM: There are three. 1. “What is your current lead time?” Obviously, because of the nature of the manual work involved it fluctuates, so we are very transparent with clients at the time of preparing a project quote. 2. “Are your units structural?” Our cast stone products are not structural, but with our matching service, we can construct cast stone to be used along with our steel lintel products. 3. “Can you offer different colours?” We have four colours – Portland, Bath, Cotswold and York. A colour sample box is available to those who request it.
AR: Yes, I agree they are probably the most common things we get asked. We also are asked, “What do we need in order to provide a quotation?” Preferably a set of architectural drawings to work from, this enables us to provide a more accurate quote but failing that – a full set of drawings – structural openings, dimensions and wall construction details all help.
“You don’t seem to have this in your brochure” is something else that comes up regularly. Our brochure has a lot of standard products, and we have moulds already set up, but a lot of work is bespoke, and if it isn’t in the brochure, we are still able to provide a quotation.
What are the most common products you quote on and why?
AR: Yes standard cills and non-structural lintels, in general, would be the obvious answers, because all builds have structural openings.
What are the most common or most significant errors you see with cast stone on site?
SM: joints that are pointed up with a different colour mortar to the stone – this stands out like a sore thumb. Also when revisions are being made to drawings, without those revisions being made clear to us, or being sent through mid-production process.
AR: Time-management; not allowing enough time for the stone to be delivered and late orders. Stone is not an off-the-shelf product. A site issue is leaving stone unprotected or open to damage on site. Whilst our stone is vapour cured and of good quality and strength, we recommend taking extra care when handling and storing it on site. We also offer clients installation tips, which can help.
What do you think the future holds for cast stone?
SM: Bright! It is an area of growth for us, and so with a few minor tweaks to our internal processes, we can take it to the next level.
AR: The future is exciting for us. Increasingly we hear positive feedback from clients about quality product and attention to detail. We there also seems to be an increasing trend for architects to experiment with cast stone. I think this is down to the wide range of design options, so all in all very positive.