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TOPIC: Monument Company Selection

Monument Company Selection 16 Nov 2011 14:22 #628

  • bradwbrock
  • bradwbrock's Avatar
Wow! There are so many monument companies! The FCA documentation has been great for helping me set up arrangements, thank you all!

Is there a "Top 10" list of monument companies? A Consumer Reports review? I have the contact at the cemetery and all those kinds of details. This is simply a question about how I should go about buying a headstone. There will not be a funeral home involved since I will be cremated out of state and we'll just be burying cremation ashes at that end.
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Re: Monument Company Selection 02 Dec 2011 17:06 #685

  • mver
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  • OFFLINE
  • Web-ster and Volunteer
Let me start by pleading ignorance of the specifics.

Then let me present the following thoughts:
  1. Monument companies are likely to have relatively small service areas, due to the costs of transport.
  2. Thus any "top ten" would not be national, but state or regional
  3. Checking locally I find one company offering service to 15 counties (out of 100 in NC)
  4. Using the web it is fairly easy to find monument company listings and from that call three or four: ask for price ranges of the sort of monument you have in mind and ask for references to 2 or 3 customers they have served in the last year. Call those references to ascertain level of satisfaction with, price, delivery on schedule and if they do it installation
  5. Call relevant cemeteries to ascertain similar answers, especially for installation if they require that it be done by their employees.

That might be a starting place, unless you know of persons who have used the cemeteries of interest, in which case, check with them.

M. R., Volunteer,
Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Triangle (NC).
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Re: Monument Company Selection 02 Dec 2011 20:21 #687

  • bradwbrock
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Thanks for your help. I'll try the local approach. I called a couple of places and interestingly they said a lot of the carving is done in China now for the more ornate stuff. The labor cost of skilled craftsmen overcomes shipping big heavy rocks back and forth. It seems counter-intuitive.
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Re: Monument Company Selection 04 Dec 2011 08:30 #692

  • Amanda
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I had to purchase a headstone a few years ago and like most funeral/cemetery product consumers went into it knowing almost nothing. Hopefully I can spare you some of my headaches by sharing what I learned:

1. If you're looking for a special design, search the designs of monument companies on the internet. Be sure the one you like meets your cemetery's guidelines. BUT...

2. WARNING: DO NOT PURCHASE YOUR HEADSTONE FROM AN INTERNET VENDOR (at least don't purchase from them unless they are close to where you live). If anything goes wrong with your stone, i.e. they made a mistake with your design or lettering, you want to be able to drive to meet them in person and have access to your local courts (hopefully not necessary).

3. Many monument companies will claim "their designs" can only legally be made by their company. My understanding is that unless their design involves original artwork and is copyrighted, you have the right to take a photo of your chosen monument to a local company to make for you. **Note: I am not a lawyer, so please seek professional legal advice if necessary concerning this topic.**

4. Make sure that when you've chosen the monument you want you have EXACT dimensions of the stone and its base and all features you want on the stone (e.g., size and spacing of lettering, letter font, distance of lettering or picture/etching from the stone's edge). This way when you're taking your design to prospective companies you will have an "apples to apples" comparison of prices and time to complete you monument. Also, if the company makes a mistake you have a stronger case (i.e., the lettering according to our signed contract was supposed to be 4" not 2"). Which leads to my next point...

5. Get everything in writing! Your contract should have all specific dimensions and letter sizing/fonts and details about special design features. Also to be included: price, when payments are due, the estimated time for the monument to be completed, AND importantly what warranty they offer on their headstones (i.e., 90 days or 1 year?).

6. Typically the deposit for a headstone is 50%, with the remaining 50% being paid at time of completion. If you find a company demanding 100% up front, run!

7. A good company should be able to refer you to local cemeteries for you to have a chance to inspect the work they've done (another benefit of going with a local company). If you personally are not able to do this, it might be a good idea to have a friend or family member do this for you.

Hopefully I didn't scare you with some of the things I mentioned, but I feel it's better to go into this with your eyes open to avoid potential pitfalls. I know this is not the Top 10 list you were asking for, but I hope it helps.

Amanda
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Re: Monument Company Selection 04 Dec 2011 09:46 #693

Amanda; great info, thanks. In addition, make sure any wording meets the cemetery's specs. Some, if not all, won't accept any suggestive or vulgar (in their opinion) wording. Sometimes certain graphics are not allowed. Like devils in Catholic cemeteries. Pay close attention to the size requirements. I designed one for Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden MA that my siblings and I could split the cost of to put on our dad's grave (died in 1972 VA marker only) nad Holy cross would not permit it because it was not LARGE enough. So, dad doesn't still have a stone and vandals we think have stolen the brass marker. But we live 1000 miles away and can't do much from here
John
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Re: Monument Company Selection 04 Dec 2011 09:48 #694

China; that's nonsense. They use laser guided carvers for the most part
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