What comes first, the fabricator or material?

Molly PhillipsDecember 5, 2012

Moving from cabinetry to countertops in my kitchen design....

We are our own GC's and I'm at a standstill on how to proceed finding a fabricator and countertop. We live in a small town and locally (outside of Lowe's), the only quotes I've gotten have been from cabinet guys throwing in a random price along with their cabinet quotes. We aren't using any of them to do the cabinets.

I found one fabricator about 30 minutes away (another small town). They use materials out of Atlanta (about 2 hours from us) and gave me a list of places I can go find the material I like, then they price it out for me. I'm not even sure I want to use them yet so I don't want to waste my time searching Atlanta stone places, only to get a quote way out of my budget. They had some reasonable ballparks (Level 1 granite would be around $40 sq/ft, so equal to Lowe's) but I plan to upgrade at least one level, maybe two, and I don't know how much they'll go up.

So how do you find stone without a fabricator when you're in a small town with limited choices? If I drive to Atlanta, I'm not sure who will install what I choose, outside of this one store. I'm not really sure how to shop around.

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Some tile shops handle granite work (both in-house and using third-party stone yards) - call those in your area. Ask your neighbors for references of their contractors, then call the contractors to ask for their references for granite installation and stone yards. Get online and search - call contractors in your area and ask them questions. If you can drive to Atlanta, I'm sure you can find both stone yards and fabricators between your town and there. You may find companies that have their own stone yard and do fabrication as well.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 3:53PM
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I am a fabricator. It's best if you can pick the fabricator 1st for the following reasons:

1. not all slab suppliers are equal. the fabricator will steer you to the supplier(s) that consistently have good quality stone. some suppliers have crap.

2. if the slab supplier is a long drive away it's important that the personnel at the slab warehouse point out to you features in the stone like cracks, fissures, fill, and surface irregularities that you would probably overlook but could make you very unhappy when you notice them in your recently installed expensive countertops. (don't ask me how I know this)

We accompany our customers to the slab place almost 100% of the time so we can show them BEFORE they pick the stone.

3. a good fabricator will prepare a "ballpark" quote and then quickly give you a revised price based on a particular stone. If they're good you'll be able to call them while you are at the stone place and get a price for a particualr stone in about 5 minutes. Alternatively, they can price several "levels" for you and in most cases you'll know within a couple of hundred dollars what a given price level of stone will be.

overall the stone is a critically important part of a countertop project and there are a lot of variables to consider. the slab supplier wants to sell stone and typically doesn't provide the coaching and information you need to make an informed decision. (unfortunately, a lot of fabricators don't either.)

for a simple example: the physical properties of some stones prohibit certain edge profiles. the personnel at the slab warehouse know nothing of this. A good fabricator will know.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:20PM
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