Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can be an exciting project, choosing new appliances or fixtures, paint colors, and, of course, countertops. With granite and other natural stone countertops growing in popularity, you want to be sure that the granite fabricator you choose will be the best option for you and your family. Marble Concepts offers these tips for locating good marble fabricators.
Look at Local Contractors
The first step in choosing a granite fabricator is to look at those available in your local area. If you have friends or family who has recently installed stone counters, talk to them about the company they used to see what their experience was like. You can also talk to local stone warehouses who may be able to recommend a fabricator. There are many options online to learn more about fabricators as well, such as Angie’s List or Yelp. Use an online search engine to search for granite installers and fabricators or you can even go old school and use the Yellow Pages. Be sure to look at reviews but don’t automatically choose a fabricator because all the reviews are positive. It is a good place to start, but you still want to ask around to get unsolicited reviews as well.
Interview Various Fabricators
Once you have a list of granite fabricators, you want to make a few phone calls. The first thing you want to know is how easy they are to contact. Did someone answer promptly and politely? If you have to leave a message, how quickly did they call you back? Describe the type of project you are working on, whether it is a kitchen, bath, or other room where you want to install granite.
Questions You Want to Ask and Answers to Look For
These are some of the questions you will want to ask and the answers you should look for when you make that first call:
- How long have they been in the business of installing granite?
You want to choose a granite fabricator with experience. Many granite fabricators have decades of experience with granite, quartz, marble, and other types of stone. You can also ask about how they were trained and how much training they have received.
- How soon would they be able to start your project?
It can take several weeks before a fabricator is able to get started on your project, depending on the time of year. If the company tells you they can get started tomorrow, it may not be a good sign.
- Are they licensed, insured, and bonded?
You want to choose a company that is licensed, insured, and bonded. This protects you if one of the workers is injured in your home or if they cause damage while installing your countertops.
- Are they certified by the manufacturer to install the product?
This question relates more to engineered stone products. Companies like Caesarstone and Silestone have a certification program that they require for a fabricator to install their products.
- Can they provide you with references other than those on their website?
Any good company will provide you with information on customers from past jobs. Be sure that you actually contact a few of those references in order to get a feel for how the fabricator will fit your needs.
- Do they have an online gallery or portfolio of past jobs?
Most stone fabricators have a portfolio of past work available for you to review. Some may have a portfolio or gallery online while others may have a book available in their showroom. This allows you to see jobs that may be similar to yours.
- Can you visit the location?
Reputable fabricators often have a shop or showroom where you can see the actual slabs they will use in your project. If the company has a location you can visit, you should do so as you may be able to choose the actual slabs used in your project. You want to choose a fabricator that will help you choose the right slabs and avoid those with defects or issues. Some companies have samples and then they choose the slab for you.
- Do you fabricate and install?
The majority of companies who deal with natural stone do both, but you will want to verify this is true. You will want to know if they contract the installation to another company or they do it themselves.
- Do you offer education on sealing, cleaning, and maintenance?
Although you can find all this information easily online or from those who already have stone countertops, if the fabricator offers you this information, it is a sign they want you to enjoy your counters for many years to come and that they are knowledgeable about the care of your counters.
Schedule an Appointment
Once you have interviewed several granite fabricators, narrow down your choice to two or three. You then want to make an appointment with each company to come to your home and look at the actual project. There is nothing wrong with scheduling them all on the same day to make the best use of your time but that is not absolutely necessary. When they come to the appointment, ask them to bring proof of their license, bond, and insurance as well as three to five references you can contact.
At the Appointment
The fabricator should take measurements and talk to you about the colors you are considering and provide you with options for countertop edges. They will also talk to you about your sinks, cooktops, where seams may be located, and the color options you have. It is possible to take your own measurements and sketch out what you want in order to go to the showroom, but most fabricators will still want to come to take their own measurements and get an idea of the scope of the project.
Get Itemized Estimates
Once the measurements are taken, the fabricator has seen the project and you have chosen the countertops, you should receive estimates. You don’t want to see a total price but an itemized estimate with all of the costs broken down for you. The estimate should include costs for:
- Costs to remove old countertops
- Edge style
- Materials for installation
- Number of cutouts
- Sealing (if necessary)
- Templates (a blueprint of your countertops)
- Trip charges
If the fabricator is going to hook up faucets, sinks, or cooktops, that price may be included as well although these are normally installed by a plumber or electrician. Using an itemized estimate lets you do a more thorough comparison. One fabricator may include a basic edge while another charges for any type of edge. Another may not charge to remove the countertop but charge extra for any additional materials they need.
Call References and Verify Documents
Once you have decided on an estimate, call the references you were provided. One of the most important questions to ask is whether they would hire the fabricator again. Don’t take up too much of their time and let them provide most of the information. Verify the amount of the bond and ask if there have been claims against the insurance. It is possible that the insurance company will not tell you about claims, but at least you can verify that the insurance is valid. Check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints. Even if there are complaints, remember that no business can satisfy 100 percent of their customers. You should be concerned if there are more complaints than positive comments, however.
Once you are satisfied that you have chosen the perfect fabricator for you, get a written contract and your project should be underway. At Marble Concepts, we pride ourselves on giving customers the stonework that is perfect for them. We look forward to helping you with your natural stone needs. Give us a call today or fill out the easy online form to learn more.