Why is granite pricing so mysterious?

bowyer123November 1, 2012

We are seriously looking for our granite slabs at this point in our build. Every stone yard we go to don't post prices of the slabs they have on display. They just want to know who our fabricator will be. They walk us around their indoor/outdoor facilities and let us tag slabs that we like and tell us to have our fabricator contact them. All we know is there is A, B, C, and D grades...D being the best, but they give zero indication of the cost.

What is the reason behind this? They won't sell slabs to individuals, they say they are 'wholesalers' and that the public can't buy the slabs themselves.

I understand a lot of the cost of the granite installation is the work laying it out, transporting, cutting and putting the edge on the stone. I just find it odd how secretive the whole process seems to be.

On top of the secrecy, our 'budget' allows for $40 per square foot. After sending the builder and granite fabricator he uses, our choices run $65 and $75 per square foot. That's an additional cost to us (over budget) of either $3200 or $4500 just for the granite. We apparently have 128 square feet of granite. I told the builder his that I thought his 'standard' granite is way too cheap, $40 per square foot just seems low, especially if nobody tells you the prices while you are out shopping for the stone. Now we have fallen in love with the $65-$75 stuff....I hate these expensive lessons we are learning along the way!

BTW, we are going with Delicatus Gold or New Colonial Cream.

What are your thoughts?

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I've dealt with a lot of stone suppliers but never one that didn't fabricate and install their stone. Apparently the supplier you are talking to sells the stone to a fabricator who in turn marks it up. You are there just to choose the type and color of the stone. When too many people take a cut the price is difficult to determine and it is always higher than you would expect.

Can you use a supplier/fabricator/installer?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Wholesalers of any variety rarely give retail customers prices. It's normal for the fabricator to give you the price. If you knew that your builder only allowed you $40 a square foot, then you should have only been looking at group A granites, not Group D or E. That particular portion of cost overrun lies squarely at your door.

The average kitchen has around 50 square feet of countertops. You need double and a half what the average kitchen needs. Average granite prices in my location run $60-$70 a square foot, including fabrication. That would be for a Group C, which would be right in the middle. However, even most Group A granites here wouldn't be $40 a square foot from a reputable fabricator. From a hack, maybe. Your builder is playing the lowball allowances game. There is probably a LOT of other stuff that you pick that will be over your allowances. It's how he gave you that lower cost bid in the first place rather than telling you up front that what you want will actually cost you 25-50% more.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 11:17PM
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I was at a stone yard this week and was given a price per slab when I asked. My issue was that the salesperson was down-selling me! You could probably fit my project on one large slab, so he was only showing me what he had in large slabs, which weren't the colors/movement I was looking for. He finally listened and showed me better choices. The extra slab was $1,300 and I wasn't going to buy something I didn't like to save a few dollars on the last few items of a year long project! Going to pay for my 2 Golden Crystal slabs tomorrow.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 12:21AM
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I hear ya! Our builder does $50/sq.ft for granite, but that doesn't help us at all when we are out looking at the hundreds of slabs of granite and no one will mention the actual price!

Our fabricator told us that they could get in a lot of trouble with the builders they work with if they mention the actual cost per sq. ft. She said a lot of them do up charges. Luckily our builder doesn't do much upcharging!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 12:22AM
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My experience with the pricing is the same - the slab yards were A,B,C,D etc. I just went to the fabricator and asked what each will cost in sqft.

So A will cost me $45, B $55 etc. She did mention that there was a range so it was more like B was $55 or $60.

Around here the fabricator determines the final price and if things fit well on a slab, you might get a better price or if there is more waste, then you have a higher price. These things can't be known by the wholesaler - and differ for each customer. I think that explains the mystery and it really is unique for granite....

Also $40 seems low but in some parts of the country, that may not be too bad. I think it is unfair to judge that number without context/geography etc.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 5:34AM
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I don't believe that you could get any group of granite installed for $40.00 a square foot in my area...I recently had quartz tops installed and Lowes was running a special at $45.00 a square foot and I jumped on it.....looks great!!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 8:39AM
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Here are a few photos of my quartz tops:

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:09AM
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In lots of areas quartz is more expensive than granite and Lowes is never the cheapest since they charge their subs a cost for the business.

We can get down to $30 around here.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:38AM
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Quartz usually is more expensive than granite here too but Lowes was running a special price on LG Hausys and no other venders could come close to their price with quartz or granite. Lowes may "charge" their subs a cost for the business but you can bet that many GC's will tack on 25-30% margin on the granite vendors too.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 10:01AM
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We started with our fabricator and went to places they told us to go to to look at slabs, they keep most of the builder grade stuff right there in the shop, but we wanted movement and color. They also keep remnants around and used those for our bathroom vanities throughout the house.

We knew the relative pricing of slabs around the warehouses, but never looked at the actual price (even though we were the GC on our build). We wanted what we wanted and we let the price sort itself out later.

We did upgrade from a bullnose edge in the kitchen to an Ogee for $10 a foot.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 10:47AM
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I found much of the cost of the materials is labor in terms of cutting, delivery and installation. The product itself was only $15-35per sqft. You can imagine mistakes aren't cheap. Our builder gave us the name of the fabricator but the stoneyard did give us some names of fabricators that were "quite talented" with leathered/honed finishes,... so they were aware of what we could afford. Don't think for a minute you will be happy only looking at only the affordable:) We looked at everything:) Good luck in your decision and you might want to ask about a mitered edge for a more expensive finished look without all the bulk of stone and price. I've seen these done successfully many times.

Here is a link that might be useful: mitered edge-apron

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 1:03AM
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Lots of great replies!

The frustrating part is like Live Wire Oak mentioned....we aren't happy with the A grade material. Our builder should have known our tastes and realized we would never be happy with the lowest grade stone out there. When we were getting bids, we overlooked this aspect, and the fact that our kitchen is U-shaped which adds square footage. $40 will get you granite, but nothing special.

We will bite the bullet and get what we want. I'll post pictures once it's installed!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Funny you mention this. I have been calling around about macaubus quartzite and got a quote from a person for $75 ft and that was a "discount". Called another place and got $60 ft. The $75 person emailed me to follow up and I told her the much cheaper price I found. Suddenly she could match it, but yet the $75 was supposed to be her doing-me-a-favor-price.

Moral of the story, KEEP SHOPPING. I plan to get this price even lower and call the many stone yards around here. Everything is negotiable.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 12:42PM
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Hi......let me see if I can help you with this as I am a granite fabricator.
1.) Granite wholesalers don't sell granite to the public, and fabricators aren't wholesalers. Not to mention one slab weighs as much as the average vehicle, can't rest it against your house.
2.) Wholesalers aren't being secretive. When you ask a painting contractor to paint your house, you're not paying per gallon of paint right? And when you go shopping at say, Macy's, you don't ask the salesperson what Levi's is charging them. The price per square foot should not be your concern. The bottom line or total price should be.
3.) Anyone who told me $40/SF, I would not walk away.....I would run. Workmanship is what you should be looking for, and are they insured, do they do their own work or sub it out. Something to think about.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 3:15PM
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"Our builder should have known our tastes and realized we would never be happy with the lowest grade stone out there"

What makes you say this, has he worked with you before? There isn't a quality difference between A and D slabs, it's more about relative rarity of the stone and personal preference.

This is a good time to check all of your allowances, though, and determine which ones you want to upgrade versus not.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:13PM
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