The purchase and design of a family monument is a personal choice. It is important to keep in mind that almost any design is possible. For example, an upright monument can be in the shape of a single or double heart, a cross, or other available designs. Within the slant monument selection, you can choose from different styles of tops, as well as different styles of back and edges⎯a smooth (sawn) or rough (rock-pitched) back. If you have a sense of the type of monument, carvings, and lettering, a reputable monument dealer can provide you with a very accurate cost estimate.
The desired size of the monument should be determined by personal choice, the number of names to appear on the monument, and the size of the cemetery plot. In some instances, monument size may also be determined by the cemetery. Monument measurements generally refer to width, height, and thickness of the granite. These measurements can vary considerably. It is important that the monument be large enough to accommodate the names of the people it is meant to identify, yet not so large that it does not fit on the cemetery plot. As a benchmark, a monument which measures 2’6” or greater in width will allow ample room for lettering. This, however, should be discussed with a monument dealer. In addition, most monuments require a foundation (concrete base) which will be slightly larger than the monument and should be taken into consideration for overall size as compared to the cemetery plot.
The color of granite desired is equally as important a decision as the style of the monument. Most monuments are made of superior granite. However, be cautious when something appears too good to be true. There are inferior granites on the market. Some of the various colors available include Medium Barre Gray, Dark Barre Gray, North American Pink, Impala Black, Canadian Pink, Premium Mahogany, and Jet Black, just to name a few. The color of granite selected will play an important role in the overall cost of the monument selected. Generally, the more available the color, the less costly the monument. The different colors and costs should be discussed with a reputable monument dealer.
Lettering and Carvings
Personalization of a monument can be achieved by the carvings and lettering desired. As a general rule, if it can be sketched, it can be carved on the monument. The more complex the sketch, the higher the cost for the carving. Many monument companies have a stock supply of carvings from which individuals may select. They range from floral carvings to wildlife carvings to religious and fraternal carvings and can include a variety of outdoor scenes as well.
There are two basic styles of carvings available⎯a flat carving or a sculptured carving. A flat carving is etched into the monument and appears flat on the surface while a sculptured carving is deeper and appears three-dimensional. As a rule, sculptured carvings appear more prominent and add more beauty to the monument.
Generally, the price of the monument will include the basic at-need lettering of family and individual names, as well as dates of birth and death. If the stone is purchased prior to death, it would only include the dates of birth. The price you pay for the monument typically includes a four number (i.e., 1999) date as opposed to the full dates (i.e., Jan. 1, 1999). Full date inscriptions are available at a slightly higher, per letter charge. However, depending upon the monument selected, the full dates may also be included in the total price. Your monument dealer can discuss this prior to the purchase of the monument. Additional lettering is also available at an additional charge. For example, if you wish a monument for a husband and wife to have an inscription reading “Forever Together”, this would be placed on the monument in a position which would accent the monument. Generally, a short verse to be included on a monument is placed in a banner-type panel and is priced as a flat carving. Some individuals elect to have additional lettering on the back of the monument, i.e., “Our Children . . .” This additional lettering is priced at a per letter charge and can vary between monument dealers.
Once a monument has been set, additional lettering (i.e., dates of death for individuals who might have died since the monument was purchased) can be added as needed. This information can be provided to the funeral director or the monument company directly.
Generally, at the point when monument companies have several lettering requests to do in a specific area, they will coordinate these requests and go directly to the area to complete the required lettering. Monument dealers must wait until they have several requests in a particular area as it would be cost prohibitive to go to a specific cemetery each time stone lettering is requested. Your funeral director or monument representative can provide you with accurate costs associated with cemetery lettering.
Question: Are there other costs associated with the purchase of a monument?
Answer: In addition to the cost of the monument, there will undoubtedly be a charge associated with the foundation work or setting fee as required by the cemetery. A foundation is not to be confused with a monument base. The foundation is a level concrete pad upon which the monument is placed. Preparation at the gravesite includes digging deep enough to allow the finished foundation to be unaffected by frost. The foundation eliminates the tipping of the monument caused by settling and frost during the colder months. Foundation charges vary depending upon the requirements of the cemetery. A representative from the monument company can provide you with a more accurate estimate. In cemeteries where only flat grass markers are allowed, the cemetery may have a setting fee. This is a fee for preparing the gravesite to allow the grass marker to be flush with the ground. Like cemetery foundations, this charge can vary depending upon the size of the monument and the cemetery selected.
Question: What do I need to do once I have decided to order a monument and how long will it take for my monument to be completed?
Answer: During the initial stages of monument selection, information for lettering and carvings will be obtained from the family. This information is then provided directly to the monument company who will generate a paper sketch of how the finished monument will appear. Families are asked to carefully review this information and, if correct to the satisfaction of the family, provide their approval signature. Any changes should be made at that time. Once the monument has been lettered, changes are difficult and costly.
Completion of a monument depends upon a variety of factors, including the type of monument ordered, the time of year the order is placed, and cemetery requirements. to mention a few. Generally, stones which are ordered during the winter months can be completed and set by Memorial Day of the following year. However, this may not always be the case. Special monuments (shape, color, carvings, etc.) require additional time to complete and deliver. Similarly, if a monument order is received only weeks prior to Memorial Day, it is unlikely that the monument company will have time to satisfactorily complete the work by Memorial Day. Remember that this is a permanent memorialization and it could take several weeks to complete. The delay can be due to the fact that several other monuments are also in the process of completion or additional time is needed to obtain the stone from the quarry. Feel free to contact your monument dealer to inquire on the anticipated delivery date.
Question: Do I need to prepay for the entire monument when ordering?
Answer: Prepayment of a monument at the time of ordering can vary between monument companies. Some monument companies will require payment in full, while others may simply require a deposit prior to beginning the work with the balance due upon completion.