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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/youve-had-lots-of-suggestions-but-will-offer-a-20572137.aspx

Subject:  Re: Replacing Kitchen Countertops Date:  3/31/2004  5:38 PM
Author:  acharris34 Number:  48635 of 128472

You've had lots of suggestions but will offer a new one. We replaced our countertops with custom fabricated slab granite for less money than Formica, Silestone, Corian, et al. What we found was that if we were willing to act as the "General Contractor" a lot of money could be saved and the effort to do so was minimal. We chose granite because it is durable and VERY low maintenance which is contrary to the pitch from the Corian and Formica sales guys. Our total cost (stone + fabrication + installation) for 60 sq. ft/25 linear ft. of counter was $3200. TIP: only use granite in a kitchen.

Buying a new countertop is a lot like buying a stock. You need to do some homework.

First thing is to understand that Home Depot/Lowe's/etc. sub-contract the entire job to a stone countertop fabrication contractor and add their mark-up for handling the paperwork. Just like a stock broker, they do a good job, but you've got to pay for their effort. Save money by letting your fingers do the walking through the local yellow pages under Kitchen or Marble (in So Calif). You may need to look in the business yellow pages to find a granite/marble fabricator. Fabricators will ONLY fabricate and install the stonework and will not do cabinet replacement, plumbing, etc. If you need cabinets too, be your own General Contractor on this too. It too is easy but takes a little time.

Begin by visiting the Home Depot or other purveyor of stone countertops to see what species (don't know if species is correct term or not) of granites are readily available in your area. Make note of the species that you like, obtain samples if possible. Next visit purveyors of slabs of stone to narrow your choices. In So. Calif. a 5.5' x 10' slab of granite will run about $600 depending on species. Exotics can run a lot more. Next visit 3 - 5 stone fabricators and ask for estimates which may vary greatly. The more intricate the edge treatments the greater the labor and cost. Just get what you like as the results are cast in stone. And, last do not be afraid to negotiate for a better price just as you would for a share of stock in the XYZ Company.

I am not sure how, or if, I can receive notes thru this board facility so if you would like more details and TMF-like encouragement send me an email me at acharris34@aol.com. I'm not in the construction biz nor do I receive any benefit for sharing tips. Just glad to share what I have learned.

Good luck, Andrew
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