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Buying a memorial tombstone can be a daunting task

Buying a memorial tombstone can be a daunting task. This gesture of showing love and respect can be an emotional and stressful exercise. Some questions that you face is where do I buy, is the supplier reputable, how safe is my money, what material should I look for and how do I know it is good material?

Buying a memorial tombstone can be a daunting task. This gesture of showing love and respect can be an emotional and stressful exercise. Some questions that you face is where do I buy, is the supplier reputable, how safe is my money, what material should I look for and how do I know it is good material?

These Hints and Tips below are intended to help you through the process

  • When choosing a memorial bear in mind that prices are usually for the headstone and base only. Kerbing, ledgers/slabs, chips, installation, wording and transport are charged separately. Be clear in what you require when requesting a quote.
  • Use suppliers that are established in the industry who have a proven track record and guarantee their material and workmanship. Visit their business premises if possible.
  • There are varying qualities of granite and marble. Make sure your material is free from excessive veining and other imperfections. Once again visit the supplier if possible and choose your material.
  • Natural stone is solid and mined from a mountain. It has a natural matt sheen when polished with intrusions of other colours. There is no natural stone with high gloss finishes in bright red, green or gold – these are probably artificial.
  • Rustenburg granite is the most popular material used. Due to it being mined in bulk in South Africa makes it the most affordable tombstone material. It is a black granite with grey specks. There are other colours like African Red, Rosa Tier, Capricorn and Marble but these are more exclusive rarer materials and thus cost more.
  • Catalogue photos of tombstones are normally front on. The thickness is not apparent. Your quote/order should clearly state the thickness of the material used eg. Headstone 8cm Rustenburg Granite. Quotes are often beaten but with thinner material unbeknown to the customer who actually does not save.
  • Sometimes budgets do not allow for full grave installations. When deciding to put up only a headstone and base, with the view of upgrading the grave at a later stage, you should consider the additional transport, removal and reinstallation costs (later).
  • Please inform your sales person if you are putting up a tombstone the day of the funeral. Ask for concrete lintels as they provide additional reinforcing and compensates for a grave that has not settled. If the funeral finished late then additional costs are involved for generators and lights for the installation team.
  • Do not install the tombstone yourself if you have not successfully done it before. You run the risk of damaging and/or installing the tombstone incorrectly. In that event the remedial work is costly. Rather leave it to experienced specialists. Also only registered tombstone manufacturers are allowed to install tombstones in municipal cemeteries.
  • Maintain the grave of your loved one: basic pruning around the grave and washing of the tombstone components will keep it in good order and delay the need for refurbishments which can be expensive.
  • Due to the customized nature of memorials, it is an accepted norm for service providers to ask for full payment in advance.
  • When paying do an EFT or a direct deposit into the suppliers bank account. You will thus have multiple proofs of payment: deposit slip, your bank statement and the receipt from the supplier. Make sure the payment is properly referenced.
  • Understand the company’s lay-bye policy. Be aware of price increases and penalties for non-payment within the lay-bye period.
  • Ask yourself: “Can I afford to buy cheap?” If the price of the stone is unbelievably cheaper, beware, there is usually ‘a snake in the grass’/bhasobha inyoka etshanini.