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Not All Countertops Estimates are Equal

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The following is a true story.

"Your estimate looks great and I know your company would do a good job, but your price is just too high. I’ve got another estimate and I think we’re going to use them.”

I asked, "How far are we apart?”

"About $4,000.00,” he said.

I was stunned, "Please don’t get me wrong but that doesn’t make sense. No one can fabricate and install those tops that cheap.”

"Well,” he said, "I understand how you feel but I have a written estimate.” All I could do was wish him well and assure him of our commitment to his satisfaction. With that I watched the customer walk out the door.

I ran into that customer about nine months later in the plumbing department of our local big box store. We talked about the projects we were working on and I asked him how he liked his new countertops. He groaned and said, "You told me they couldn’t do it for the price they quoted. You were right. Their final price ended up being $150.00 less than your estimate. Every time I turned around I was being charged for things, they claimed weren’t covered in their original estimate. Now, they’re fixing things they didn’t install right. I’ve never had such a frustrating experience in my life.”

I told him that I was sorry for the poor experience. He said, "You’ve got nothing to be sorry about. You warned me. I wish we’d let you do the work.”

There’s wisdom in the saying, "If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.” How can you protect yourself from countertop estimates that are to-good-to-be-true? Number one, do your homework. Take time to thoroughly research the material you want to use for your new countertops. Different types of materials have different installation requirements. They also come in different slab sizes that affect things like the location and placement of seams.

Check out stone suppliers’ and manufacturers’ websites for colors and pattern options as well as technical information about their products that can affect your installation. A great resource is available from the Marble Institute of America’s, A Homeowner’s Guide to Natural Stone Countertop Installation, (http://www.marble-institute.com/default/assets/File/consumers/homeownersconsumer_countertop.pdf).

Contact your local Home Builder’s Association and ask them for a list of recommended countertop fabricators. Talk to friends and neighbors who have had new countertops installed. Once you’ve compiled your list of fabricators take the time to tour their facilities. Ask questions. How long have they been in business? How many projects have they successfully completed? Are they licensed and insured? Will they provide a list of customer references? Have the workers who will come to your home passed a criminal background check and a regular drug screen? If you have existing countertops, do they have to be removed prior to templating? What is the expected lead time from template to installation?

We all know how important price is. But you need to make certain you know what that quoted price actually includes. If you don’t understand a line item or a charge don’t be afraid to ask. Some companies will add sales tax to your install price, Solid Surface Designs does not. Some companies will add credit card fees up to 3.8 percent, we don’t. One last piece of advice, before making a payment find out if there any  non-refundable fees you might incur if for any reason you choose to cancel your project.

In 1993 Solid Surface Designs, Inc., began business as a factory certified fabricator-installer for DuPont Corian. Since then we have grown to become the region's largest fabricator and installer of Granite, Quartz and Solid Surface countertops. If you any questions about countertop design and installation give us a call at (417) 258-2787 or email your questions to: keith@ssdionline.com.