How to buy a monument, headstone or marker & what to look for in a monument retailer.
Purchasing a memorial is a major investment of time and money and should be undertaken with great thought and care. The Southern Monument Builders Assn. recommends careful and relaxed planning when purchasing a memorial.
Whether you are making immediate or pre-need arrangements for a funeral or purchasing cemetery property, you should know that you and your family ARE NOT obligated to purchase a monument from a funeral home or a cemetery. Unfortunately, many cemeteries, especially those that are corporately owned, routinely employ high-pressure sales tactics in an effort to intimidate and scare customers into buying from them. In fact, a good argument can be made to delay the purchase of a memorial, the one visual and lasting tribute, until other matters are complete.
Your local monument builder is a reliable source of information regarding the various regulations of the cemeteries in your area. Since cemeteries have regulations regarding the size and type of memorial in certain areas of the cemetery, it is wise to consult with a monument builder before you purchase your cemetery property.
Visit a permanent showroom to see the different styles of monuments or markers. If you are unable to visit a showroom, discuss your needs with the monument builder. Most offer some type of home services. Monument builders will help you design a memorial and then complete all that is required to produce the memorial from inscription to installation. Other products such as bronze remembrance lamps, bronze vases, floral attachments, religious items and even reproduction photos are available to incorporate into your tribute.
Your wishes and a monument builder's suggestions will combine to help you decide on the appropriate text, floral, epitaphs and meaningful symbols for your memorial. Most monument builders will prepare drawings and rubbings or have you review a completed stencil to help you visualize the finished memorial as well as to check for any possible errors before the final work is completed on the stone.
Reasons to Purchase a Monument Before Need
Increasingly, people are choosing to purchase their own monument before the need arrives. By planning ahead, you can select the style, size and color you prefer. A personalized design, which you can help to create, can reflect your beliefs, values or what ever is meaningful to you. What do you want to tell future generations about yourself and your family? This is your opportunity to make your personal statement for history.
You can save money. Purchasing a monument before the need arises means that you are utilizing today's dollars. Like everything else, it will cost less now than in years to come.
It is less traumatic and emotional to purchase a memorial in advance. You have the opportunity to discuss the purchase with all the family members. Most major purchases are completed with the interests of all members of the family. This is one of those major purchases.
Choosing a Monument, Styles, Cost & Warranties
Cemetery memorials range from flat, beveled or slant markers that lie on the ground to elaborate, multi-piece upright monuments. Where cemetery regulations allow, monuments may also include crosses, statues and flower vases.
Most monuments are made from granite because of its durability, its reasonable price and its availability in a wide range of colors, including gray, black, red, pink, brown, green, and blue. Marble is available in white and gray. Bronze is often used for flat markers and for embellishments to monuments.
Granite and marble comes in different qualities, some of which may not be suitable for cemetery memorials. A reputable monument builder will be able to show you fine quality granites and marble that will accept different styles of lettering and design work. Be sure to look at quality, finish and design, as well as size, if you are comparing prices.
Your monument builder should have an extensive display of monuments. This allows you to see a variety of colors, shapes, and lettering styles that are available. Pictures or brochures do not depict these important differences.
Styles of Monuments
Upright monuments come in a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes, providing a full range of creative and personalized works of art.
Slant and bevel markers are midway in height between flat markers and upright monuments. They come in single or double in size and can be personalized with symbols or inscriptions.
Flat markers can be personalized, but the design is naturally restricted by the smaller area. Because they lie flush with the ground, they often are hard to locate in the cemetery.
Monuments and Markers are priced according to size, color of material used, design and installation cost, plus whatever applicable cemetery charges are involved. Prices can range from under $1,000 for flat markers and simple upright monuments to $10,000 and higher for more elaborate monuments. On the high end of the spectrum, large and impressive walk-in mausoleums can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is a very solid, concrete foundation used below upright monuments so there is very little problem with monuments tipping, shifting, or becoming unlevel.
Most monument builders will warranty their finished product against defects in material, workmanship, and installation. Consult with your monument builder about his warranty.
Things You Should Know About Cemeteries
Cemeteries have different rules and regulations regarding monuments and markers. Before you buy a cemetery lot, ask what kind of monuments and markers are allowed. A monument builder is a good source of information on cemetery policies in your community. Some cemeteries, often called memorial parks, only allow flat markers. If your lot is in this type cemetery, you will never be able to place a traditional upright monument there. Those cemeteries may have an upright section, also. They may impose restrictions on the size, which could severely limit your choice. When you purchase a cemetery lot, be sure to know if traditional upright monuments are allowed and if there are limitations on location and size.
Many cemeteries charge a variety of fees for installation of the monument, perpetual care, maintenance, and other add-on services. Some cemeteries will tell a customer that they are the only ones who can install a monument, that installation costs are part of the lot price or that since your family member is buried in our cemetery that you have to purchase your monument from them. This is ILLEGAL. Ask questions before you buy a cemetery plot and be sure you receive satisfactory answers.