Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why does the brick industry care about a community’s design standards?

A. The Colorado Brick Council believes that strong development standards generally result in thoughtfully designed, high-quality development for a community. This kind of development in turn attracts more of the same. The end result is that both the community and the clay brick industry benefit.

Q. What tools do local governments have to control the quality of building materials used in construction?

A. Masonry planning policies can take many forms, depending on governmental structure and specific community needs and desires. The most popular types include:

  • Zoning Ordinances that specify a certain percentage of brick or masonry for a variety of land uses. These ordinances are the most effective and clear method for mandating a masonry planning policy – creating an even playing field for builders and developers.
  • Overlay Districts that mandate the use of masonry in a defined area of a community such as corridors and downtown districts.
  • Corridor Guidelines that govern the appearance of land development along specified corridors.
  • Planned Unit Developments that mandate the aesthetics and durability of masonry for smaller-scale development within a larger community.
  • Form-Based Codes that primarily specify the physical form of buildings and streets and are increasingly used to mandate architectural standards and the use of high quality materials, like masonry
  • Use-Based Codes which eliminate low-quality, disposable construction methods specific to uses such as multi-family construction, hotels, big box retail, or self-storage facilities.Incentives such as density bonuses in subdivisions and tax abatement that favor high quality, long lasting development resulting from the use of brick and masonry.

Q. Won’t having specific regulations reduce a community’s flexibility when approving new construction?

A. Adopting masonry planning policies into ordinance sets the standard for the quality of building materials your community desires. Since there is a variety of masonry products that come in endless combinations of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures; design professionals have the flexibility to create within their clients desires while still ensuring the community gets a building that will withstand the test of time. Having specific regulations adopted into your local ordinance is necessary for two reasons. The first is to enable the type of urban form your community desires. Secondly, regulations prevent the type of construction that is not beneficial for your community. Without being able to cite specific codes, a community lacks the legal ability to deny a proposed project that doesn’t meet the design integrity your community seeks.

Q. Won’t these types of policies discourage businesses from locating in our community?

A. No. These policies actually encourage quality development and greater investment. Business owners may rest assured that their investment will remain protected from the threat of substandard construction and urban blight on adjacent properties. There are many factors that businesses use in the site selection process and communities have the right to control the quality of development.

Q. If my community asks for your assistance, are you going to help us or just try to sell us brick?

A. While we believe that design guidelines and standards are generally ineffective unless they address building materials, we tailor our advice to fit the unique issues and economic and political realities of your community. We’ve found that once citizens begin to analyze what they really want from development in their community, brick usually becomes part of the conversation organically. We believe in our product and will definitely promote the community-wide benefits of local policies that call for its use.

Q. Who provides your services?

A. The Colorado Brick Council has a full time Community Planning Consultant, who is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), assisting Colorado communities in achieving their design goals. Our Planning Consultant has experience in local government, specifically the development review process, and is keenly aware of the opportunities and challenges local governments face when enacting policy solutions that regulate development.

Q. What is considered masonry material?

A. Conventional masonry materials include: clay brick, concrete block, natural and cut stone, and traditional cementitious stucco that is applied over a concrete masonry base. “Masonry” is defined by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) as “The type of construction made up of masonry units laid with mortar, grout or other methods of joining.” The mere presence of cement in a building material does not make it masonry or concrete. Take fiber cement board for example: In the ASTM table of Contents, Section 4 “Construction”, “Masonry” and “Fiber Reinforced Cement Products” are listed separately. Fiber cement board is not considered a masonry product, but a siding. It is installed by nailing to wood framing, much like vinyl, aluminum, and other siding products. Additionally, External Insulation and Finish System or EIFS is synthetic stucco and is not a masonry product. It has none of the advantages of true masonry, such as: near zero maintenance, high durability and impact resistance, noise reduction for the interior, lower insurance costs, and low environmental impact.

Q. Doesn’t masonry greatly increase the cost of a business?

A. No. Commercial construction demands quality; masonry performs. The cost increase, which may range from 5-15 percent, depending on many variables, isn’t a significant issue to most businesses with plans to build. The term “Brick and Mortar” is part of our vocabulary for a reason. That reason is that bricks and mortar are synonymous with quality, performance, attractiveness and permanence. Businesses strive to communicate these qualities to their customers.

Q. Is brick really worth the cost increase?

A. Definitely! Businesses open and businesses close every day. While no one wants to think of the consequences of a business ceasing its operations, the truth is, most storefronts out-live the original business occupying the commercial space. Eventually, that structure will be adapted to another tenant. The city that recognizes this fact and plans for the inevitable will be the city with attractive, high-quality storefronts and vibrant businesses. Customers frequent a business because it serves their needs. So too, masonry is the choice for most businesses, because it serves their needs.

Q. Are bricks produced locally and are qualified masons available in Colorado?

A. Several major brick manufacturers are located in Colorado, specifically the Denver metro area. Not only are bricks manufactured locally; shale, the raw material that bricks are made of, is mined here too. Local manufacturers are able to keep up with the demand for brick in the region while providing countless jobs for local economies. Additionally, while masons may be hard to find in some regions of the US, Colorado has an adequate masonry work-force.