This is the back side of the same wall that will be backfilled. It is an absolute nightmare. The back of the wall should be solid, and it also needs to stop water from getting into the interior of the wall. As you can see, these are just stones piled haphazzardly on top of one another with some cement slapped in here and there. When they get to the cap, they threw some mortar in there to get it straight and level. Water will get into this wall, and when it freezes in the winter it will expand and slowly but surely break it apart. Stones will fall out, cracks will form, and with a wall that is 3 or 4 feet high, it will fall over from the pressure.
If you look at the corner, you can see how the small cap stone sits on top of a vertically set stone, which is itself sitting on top of a stone which is pitched downward. One needs only to understand the laws of gravity to see that these stones will just fall out of the wall.
Again, this is the same wall. If you look in the center of the image where the boulder is, you see that it is just a pile of rocks. There is no mortar between the stones, and you could fit your entire arm in between the stones. This is a joke. This wall will fall down purely from the pressure against the back of it, and will need to be rebuilt. By trying to save 10 or 20% in the beginning it will end up costing double in the end.
I know that everyone has their own personal taste and style. To some people this may look beautiful. Setting that aside, the fact is that half of these stones will soon fall right out of this wall because it is so poorly built. No personal offense meant to whomever built this wall, or the owner of the property. The homeowner who hired this contractor got a "great deal". These people saved a couple thousand dollars but got absolutely ripped off. I could have matched this work for half of their price. This is terrible work. The people who built this have no idea what they are doing. They are completely unqualified..
VALUE: COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES
Over the years I have had a chance to see many projects that I bid on, but someone else was hired to complete, purely because they offered a lower price for the work to be done. This is understandable and I don't blame anyone for trying to get a better price for a product or service. Some will try to negotiate, stating that they got another price from another contractor and their price was 10% or 20% or 30% less than mine. However, it is important to not only compare prices but the quality of the product or the work being done. You may be able to buy a cake at the grocery store for $10.00, but the same size cake from a specialty bakery may be 2 or 3 times as much. Is the cake at the specialty store a rip off? Maybe, but it could just be that it's just that much better than the cake at the grocery store. When I go shopping for appliances and see a refrigerator for $1,000 and another for $2,000, the more expensive one looks a lot nicer, and will offer more features than the other. It's the same with masonry, carpentry, refrigerators, automobiles and just about everything else. Just because they are both refrigerators doesn't mean they are the same. What if I had the opportunity to spend 20% more and get a 100% better refrigerator? That would be an unbelievable value.
More Bad Masonry
I know that anyone can have a bad day, but this just shows that someone didn't care. This is what you get when a contractor is building a house and wants to hire the person with the lowest price. The mason knows that this house will be sold to someone he'll never meet, and there is only a one year gaurantee on work done on a new house. This set of brick steps on a brand new house lasted only a couple of years. This is what I found when I took up the loose stair tread. You can see the oval shaped blobs of dried mortar. The areas around the ovals are just air spaces. This area needs to be solid mortar. For an extra $3.00 in mortar and less than 2 minutes in labor, this set of steps may have lasted 20 years instead of 2. Because there was an overhang being supported by the steps, a carpenter needed to be called in to jack up the roof to allow for the masonry to be fixed. This ended up costing the homeowner thousands between masonry and carpentry.