Naturally you want the best deal you can get for your natural stone project. But keep in mind that price is just one factor in the formula that will help you choose your fabricator. Depending on how far along you are in the decision-making process, you may have already noticed a pretty significant difference in quotes offered from one fabricator to another. How can the price vary so drastically? Here’s a bit of insight…
As you know, your fabricator is the one who will purchase your natural stone, then cut, shape and finish it to your exact specifications. They’ll get a quote from a stone wholesale supplier (like us here at Marble and Granite, Inc.) then provide you with a quote for your completed job. A good fabricator can answer questions and help you understand the details of your project, including…
What kind of material do you prefer?
How much maintenance are you willing to do? (This can help him recommend a finish as well as the kind of material to use, in general.)
What kind of edge treatment do you want?
How many slabs will you need?
How thick do you want your countertop to be?
These are just some of the decisions that a skilled fabricator will be able to help you navigate. The key word you should focus on when looking for a fabricator is “value.” Ask yourself, who is going to give you the best quality of service and craftsmanship for the price you agree to pay? And, keep in mind that “value” does not mean “cheapest.”
Naturally, a fabricator who has to finance overhead for his shop, liability and workers comp insurance, required licenses and certifications, and who offers a warranty on his work, is going to require a higher fee. But the higher price can be thought of as your own “insurance policy” for a job well done. Paying a bit more can help guarantee that the work will be done professionally and that any mishaps will be easily addressed and handled to your satisfaction.
Think of it this way…a rock-bottom price has to compromise something somewhere. Maybe it's the technical skill of the fabricator if he’s not licensed or certified. Or perhaps it's the fact that he doesn’t offer any sort of warranty on his work. Or it could even be that he has no insurance protection—in which case, guess who can be held liable if someone gets injured in your home on the job? Yep, you!
Of course, price is going to be a big factor in your decision-making. But it shouldn’t be the only consideration. Be sure the fabricator you decide to work with has the appropriate:
Certifications: Certification programs help ensure that work done by the fabricator is up to the industry’s technical standards. Going beyond mere “training,”, these programs provide a tangible way to measure a fabricator’s knowledge of a certain process or product. Certification programs may vary from product to product, so be sure to do a little homework once you’ve decided on a material. For example, Caesarstone offers a certification program. So if you’ve selected quartz for your project, confirm that your fabricator has the necessary certifications. These certification programs cost money for the fabricator, but most recognize the benefit in the long run.
Licenses: Licensing requirements and fees can vary from state to state, where the laws to protect property owners from incompetent or dishonest business owners are a bit different. The bottom line is that licensed fabricators meet the basic requirements, meaning that you won’t get stuck with a fly-by-night fabricator who may have less than ethical practices. Unlicensed fabricators can offer you a lower price on installation since they aren’t paying licensing fees, but that bargain comes with a risk. Be sure the fabricator you decide on has met local and national licensing requirements and qualifications.
Insurance: Just as important as licensing is insurance…just in case. Working with large stone slabs can be dangerous. If a fabricator has no liability or workers compensation insurance and he gets hurt on a job at your home, you could face financial responsibility, not to mention costly lawsuits. A fabricator’s insurance offers you peace of mind, knowing that you do not have to worry about covering damage costs should there be any mishaps. Just like your homeowners or auto insurance, this type of coverage requires fabricators to pay a yearly premium. Keep in mind a fabricator who works “on the side” will likely not offer (or foot the bill for) this protection.
Warranties: While you likely don’t anticipate any problems, and neither does your fabricator, it’s reassuring to be prepared for the worst. A warranty extended by a fabricator helps remove the homeowner’s stress during the entire process. It’s reassuring to know that your fabricator will stand behind their work, even after the job is done. A fabricator who offers a warranty may have a bit of a higher price tag, but again, this is part of your “insurance policy.” You know you’re going to be happy with the final results.
A few other things to think about include how “in demand” is the fabricator? How many jobs does he have lined up? Can he take on your project right away? If so, lucky you! Just confirm that it really is a stroke of good luck and not because the fabricator has no other business prospects. Find out how long the fabricator has been in business. And ask if you can talk with references and see actual samples of their work.
The materials may cost the same, but labor costs can vary drastically based on all of these factors. Remember, you can always find out how much the material will cost by checking prices at www.marbleandgranite.com. Then, you can compare the labor and installation prices among fabricators.
Remember that the fabricator is key to having a finished product that you love. Do your homework. Never just throw a dart at a page in a phone book to choose. Ask around and find a fabricator who has earned a glowing reputation for his work.
Need a recommendation? Check out Marble & Granite’s nation-wide Fabricator Network to find the right one for you. Additionally, the Marble Institute of America offers an Accreditation process. You can learn more at their website, including why it’s important to hire an MIA Accredited company as well as a nation-wide list of shops that have earned the certification.