We’re building how many?! boulder retaining walls? Since we are building into the back of the mountain we need a strong set of retaining walls – 4 ft deep in places to secure a good hold and avoid future erosion (ie: a mud bath in our back yard). Steve & Wayne built the wall behind the carriage house deck in just three days and did a super job! It took 3 months for Nick & his crew to finish the next 5 walls.
Retaining walls are not created equal. We researched the area looking at various stone masons’ work and when we happened upon Nick Waycaster out of Marion, NC we knew we had found our man. He is an artist, as well as a stone mason. He & his crew, Ken, Pablo & Cisco are a joy to work with. Gentle, kind, jovial, responsible and excellent at what they do. All our neighbors have individually shared how much they love our retaining walls – not something you normally rave about in the overall business of building a house. But here people have – there is a noticeable difference with Nick’s work. Perfectionist that he is, he’s been known to tear out a big section of wall if it just doesn’t feel right with the flow he is trying to create. Stone comes alive in his hands and his crew has acquired his skills as well.
How did we meet Nick you ask?
Great story……During the summer Steve &I realized we needed to start deciding on which stones we would use in our Maple Forest Cottage. We were going to use simulated stone until we learned we were near one of the stone capitals of the Nation. Wayne told us to head out to Rte 221 in Marion where there is a strip of masonry businesses all selling their wares & skills. We chose to go on a Sunday to just peruse the area 1st.
While looking at wire cages of stones determining what we liked, a white truck pulled in the yard and from the window of the truck a young man asked if he could help us. “Just looking today,” we both quickly replied. He stopped the truck and came over to chat. He ended up asking us if we’d like to see some of his work – happens he is a stone mason & we were at his grandfather’s stone yard! His cousins and other Waycaster relatives have stone yards scattered down the same road: quite a family business we obviously surmised.
Anyway, we followed him a few miles to his friend’s house that, itself, has quite a story. Following a meandering meadow we come across a wonderful barn that looks like it came right out of the 19th century, although remarkably well-preserved ( We learned that his friend had built it just recently). And there it was – The Wall.
We got out of our vehicles, walked past the roosters & hens in the side barn and came to gaze at the most beautiful stone wall we’d ever seen. He went on to explain the dry stack system and the types of stones he quarries. I’m jotting notes down in my little note pad as fast as I can. “I’m not the cheapest around, but I’m the best,” he quips. He then says, “I want to show you the wall on the other side of the barn.” As we walk through the amazing structure he shares that he was called away during construction and asked a stone mason buddy of his to complete the 2nd part of the wall we’re about to see. Let me tell you – he is as natural a salesman as any I’ve come across. There before our eyes was a wall in the same design with the same type of stone, but looking totally different. We could see the unevenness of the individual stones and it just didn’t “flow” like the other one did. Instead of a piece of art it looked like a, well, just a stone wall. Nick smiled and shared, “he did a good job, but it’s not my work.” SOLD! When retaining wall time came, we had our man.
Nick Waycaster and crew will be back when we are building the main house. There are two more retaining walls on each end of the walk-out basement.
And then the two fireplaces, the stone entry steps, the porch base columns…….It will be a marvel when it’s all completed. (And I’ll still be working to help pay for it all!).