Buyers Beware! When Purchasing Natural Stone, Please Look Past the Stone.
When purchasing Marble or Granite Countertops, you should be aware that the natural stone countertop industry is split into two types of companies: those that import stone for sale to fabricators and those that actually fabricate and install the stone in your home.
Granite countertops are one of the smartest and most exciting choices a consumer can make provided a very important point is kept in perspective: purchasing natural stone Granite may be a commodity however; excellent customer service, great workmanship, meticulous quality installation and reliable timely project execution are not, these virtues are priceless. It’s fair to say that among the various types of natural stone, granite countertops are so popular in the US today that granite has become a commodity. Just like everything that is in high demand, there are important elements for consumers to carefully consider.
Keep in mind there’s not another kitchen exactly like yours.
Even if your best friend down the street has your floor plan; walls are never perfectly square flat, or plumb cabinet installations are always different, there are unique support or levelness issues and appliances, sinks, faucets, windowsills, extra (excessive) overhang, and raised bar configurations must be considered. Backsplash logistics must be planned, sinks and appliances have to be disconnected and re-connected not to mention you have your own unique budget considerations and timing needs and you need a knowledgeable, experienced and reliable provider that is committed to leading and supporting you through each step of your counter top project. This requires great integrity, honesty, precise clear communication, technical judgment, substantial expertise, project orchestration and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction.
Taking all of that into consideration, when you’re in the market to purchase natural stone granite or marble countertops, you’re not just buying stone, you’re buying the ability of a company to take the second hardest natural substance on earth and prepare a template, cut it, fabricate it and install it to within a minuscule tolerance on spec, on schedule and at a fair price. Kindly remember, you are also buying the company’s ability to lead you through an important series of choices and decisions that will make a huge difference in the finial quality of your project. You will see your new countertops every day for many years. They will serve as a daily reminder of the decision you are making now.
Here’s what to look for when purchasing natural stone:
- Does the company specialize in granite countertops for the home or are they just selling countertops to be made by someone else? This is a huge point. There is NO substitution for dealing directly with the folks who sell it, fabricate it and install it.
- Does the company have a showroom with a large selection of stones and knowledgeable sales people who impart product, design and process knowledge versus making you ask all the questions? You should ask for a process guide in writing.
- Does the company have a well-equipped manufacturing facility? Be wary of “fabricate-on-site” vendors. Although minor, on-site adjustments and finishing touches are usually necessary, precision work requires a well-equipped manufacturing facility, professional fabricators and installers. Also, be especially wary of vendors using “standardized, pre-cut pieces” of natural stone. Every project is unique and a “cookie cutter” approach will simply not compare to the beauty, reliability and finished quality of work that is tailored to your unique specifications.
- Does the company have full time employees that handle your planning, quotes, templates, slab layouts, cutting, fabrication and installation? That’s called “soup to nuts” or “turnkey” and eliminates finger pointing across a cadre of sub-contractors.
- Does the company have a dedicated scheduling department? Without one, how can they place the proper value on timeliness and honoring their commitments?
- Is the fabricator members of the Better Business Bureau and if so what is their accreditation level? Are they rated level A or A+?
- Are they members of the Marble Institute of America and if so what is their accreditation with them?
- Does this company have letters of recommendation that they can provide from their previous customers along with a customer reference list so you may call to verify their workmanship and professionalism?
- Do they take all major credit cards for payments? This protects you in case they do not perform.
Go to some of the local granite and marble importers or call them. Ask these importers which of the companies you have quotes from pay their bills on time consistently and have the best overall business ethics & reputations. That, in addition to contacting more than just a few customer references, will give you the best integrity check you can have.