HEADING TO HEATH: TAKING GRANITE FOR GRANTED – LESSON 1
Next time you walk into someone’s kitchen and see a slab of granite on their countertop, don’t just walk past it. Stop and admire it. Your host and hostess will most likely puff up like you’ve complimented them on a grandchild.
Just in case you’re ever foolish enough to want to build your own house (something we’ll NEVER do again) then let me give you a primer on selecting granite.
First Loves in the Slab Yard
Back in the early days of our build when we were still blissfully unaware of all the headaches ahead, our builder told us to go on over to the granite place and pick out a slab. They were a little premature. Since we had no place to store the pair of slabs we’d need, the trip was pretty much in vain. In fact, it left us with a misconceived assumption that later brought only heartache.
See, we went to the granite yard in September and they had what seemed like zillions of beautiful slabs. We ASSUMED they always had that many slabs – not like we asked or anything. It just seemed reasonable. They were in the marble and granite slab business, so why wouldn’t they always have lots of marble and granite slabs. We wrote “lapidus juniperious” and ‘carrera marble” in our notebooks and walked away.
The Price Game
We did learn one important thing on this first visit. For the most part, granite yards are not going to tell you a price. Their customer is your fabricator and the fabricator doesn’t want you to know what his mark-up is. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but none of the places our fabricator recommended were among the exceptions – and we inherited our fabricator from our contractor.
Instead of knowing actual prices, you play the price game. At Verona Marble Company they had price levels 1,2,3 and on up, but we were told level three or the Verona Value slabs were our best bet in our price range. Verona Value is truly a good deal if you can find what you want.
You know how show dogs have certain traits that make them winners. The traits don’t necessarily make them a better dog pet-wise, but they do make a big difference in the arena. Granite and marble are a lot like that. When a professional buyer is looking for, let’s say, lapidarius, there are certain traits they expect to see when they go to the mining areas.
Now, just like the show dogs, there might be a perfectly beautiful, perfectly desirable piece of granite available that isn’t quite up to lapidarius standards, but when a buyer from a major slab yard asks for lapidarius, no granite miner in his right mind is going to pull out the second rate stuff. I’m sure there are slab yards all over the place that make their living selling substandard slabs, but that’s why you want to be careful about who you buy from. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a mutt, but no one should sell you a mutt when the price tag belongs on a purebred.
Verona takes the middle ground. Much of what they have is the best of the best. They truly have beautiful slabs, but some of those beautiful slabs are mutts and if they are mutts, then you get a bargain. Other slab yards choose abc or some other scheme besides numerical grading, but the effects are the same. You wander around the slab yard guess-timating whether or not you are going to be able to afford what you are falling in love with.
A Chilly Second Visit
By late December it seemed as if we were getting close enough to countertop time that we’d better revisit the slab yard – only it was a virtually empty slab yard. No juniperious anything. The lapidus wasn’t exactly right, either. It was also very, very cold. See, Verona Marble starts getting their shipments in early spring and when we visited them in September their inventory was at a peak. The bad news is that they don’t get any shipments after that, so by December we were pretty much looking at leftovers. If we did happen to like a slab, it was an orphan – the only one of its kind and not big enough to cover our footage.
That’s when our education really began. Come back next week for Lesson Two in Taking Granite for Granted.