5 Costly Misconceptions About Stone Benchtop Installation
These misconceptions about getting your benchtop installed have been responsible for more kitchen and bathroom disasters than you can imagine. By being an informed consumer, you can avoid the costly mistakes others have made.
Misconception #1: Installing stone benchtops is relatively straightforward
Not if you do the job properly, it isn't! People are amazed when they see what goes into a quality installation job.
For instance, many consumers think their cabinet maker and builder are the only people who need to do design work. Sadly, most stonemason's agree! Here's the problem with that . . .
If your walls, floor, ceiling and cabinets were all perfectly square, the stonemason could indeed simply cut the benchtop based on the cabinet makers template. However, even though your kitchen or bathroom looks square, I promise you it's not! So when a stonemason just works with a template it looks like they have installed your benchtop on an angle.
At KAY Stone, we employ a qualified surveyor (he used to make maps) to do a complete three dimensional plan of your kitchen or bathroom. He measures exactly what angle everything is out by in every dimension. We then design the benchtop to compensate for everything not being square.
(Note: We can, of course, only work with what we have got. It is not always possible to entirely compensate in extreme circumstances. These are the times to be glad you got quality stonemason because if not no compensation is used at all the problem goes from 'just noticeable' to 'horrible'!)
The above is just one example of the highly skilled work required of stonemasons.
Misconception #2: As long as a qualified stonemason does the job, it will be done well
You are certainly less likely to get your job outright butchered if you use a qualified stonemason (that is, someone with a Certificate III in Stonemasonry – Monumental / Installation). Having said that, I know plenty of Stonemasons holding this certificate who I wouldn't want installing my kitchen benchtop.
Consider this: someone could do an apprenticeship working mainly with concrete, then hold himself up a 'qualified' Stonemason to work on your kitchen or bathroom.
Also, while it is great to see the trade growing in Australia, it is still a long way off European countries with a history of stonemasonry going back thousands of years. In Turkey, where my family is from, to become a qualified Stonemason requires you to take a tough entrance exam, study for 5 years, then receive 3 years supervised practice. Part of my mission in writing this booklet is to help bring Australian industry standards up to that level.
Misconception #3: If a stonemason has several years of experience, he must be good
If a stonemason reaches the 'magic' 10-year mark, in the bathroom and kitchen industry, you're off to a good start. He must be doing something right to survive that long.
But don't just assume everything is going to be OK just because the installer claims "10 years experience!" Even assuming it is 10 years relevant experience, many Stonemasons really have 1 year of experience repeated 10 times!
Just because a Stonemason has "been around" for a number of years does not mean they have always done a good job. Sadly, the shortage of quality Stonemasons is so severe, and consumer awareness so low, that substandard work is often tolerated.
Misconception #4: A big fancy kitchen and bathroom design company will provide quality installation
For the price some of these places charge, you'd hope so! Unfortunately, high price does not always mean high quality. Some of these companies are expensive because they take on huge overheads to rent well located showrooms, hire sales reps, and run expensive advertising campaigns. When it comes to actually doing the work, however, these companies often subcontract it out to whoever is available.
Misconception #5: Going with a low price saves you money
Think about this . . . If you get three quotes and go with the lowest one, you've just given the job to the bloke who came up with the CHEAPEST way to get your project done!
You may be thinking, "If all other things are equal, going with a low price is the best value."
Absolutely, 100% Yes! If all other things are equal. When buying a new car, for instance, it makes sense to check out a few different dealers and get the best price. Why not? You're getting the same car from any of the dealers.
But in the kitchen and bathroom business things are almost never, ever equal. There are all kinds of things that can be left out of a job to lower the price. Poor quality stone (even damaged with invisible hairline fractures) can be used. Labour can be skimped on so you get an ugly, poor quality finish. Any price is too high if you don't get the job done properly.
Please understand, not all Stonemasons set out to do a poor quality job. Often a stonemason has every intention of doing the job properly, but later discovers he can't afford to do your job properly or feels pressured to cut corners.
The bottom line: NEVER use price alone as the determining factor. Many other things should be taken into account as well. Get the best value job . . . not just a low price.
PLEASE NOTE: I don't want you think a great job needs to cost you a fortune. Many people who know the stone trade are surprised (even sceptical!) about how affordable our quotes are. While no expense is spared when it comes to doing the job properly, we at KAY Stone are fanatical about keeping our other overheads low. . .
We don't have a huge showroom in an expensive location, we don't have a team of sales reps, we don't run expensive advertising campaigns. You are only paying for products and services that have a direct impact on the quality of your job.
This is why we do not negotiate on price. However, if a job is not affordable for you we will honestly and openly show you what can be taken out of the job to reduce the price.