You will probably see the biggest price range in the color choice.
Typically, the colors are in "Levels". Around here, Level I colors are
around $48/sq. ft. from a stone subcontractor (no Home Depot installs).
Level II is around $52/sq. ft. and Level III is $55/sq. ft.
As a builder, I rarely install anything other than level I. There are
plenty of beautiful colors in this price range, so I see no reason to spend
more money. A special note - Each supplier determines what colors fall into
their price categories. There are a few colors that I use that are Level II
and one of my suppliers, but Level I at another.
Another thing I have seen is a change in the thickness. Granite is
typically 3cm for kitchens. Some companies are now selling 2cm for kitchens
for lower cost. Since granite can break, I see little justification for the
minimal savings of 2cm material. Special Note - Watch out for 2cm
installation with a "built up" 3cm front edge.
You will also see varying charges for the "extras" The $100 per foot
contractor you mention probably doesn't charge for polished sink cutouts or
cooktop cutouts or for premium edging. The contractors advertising the
lower price per foot may tack on $100 per cutout + polishing and as much as
$10 or more per linear foot for the front edge detail.
The last difference, and in my opinion the most important, is how the stone
is cut and polished. Many shops use manual labor and hand tools to cut
their slabs, polish the surface, and create the edges. The company I use
has a million dollar piece of equipment with robotic precision that cuts,
polishes, edges, & drills the slab. I have found that I get cleaner lines,
better seams, and fewer seams from this company.
The bathrooms could be installed with 2cm material if you chose. They don't
take the beating that a kitchen countertop does. However, what I have found
is that you can negotiate a better price for vanities from "remnants" that
the supplier will have on their yard. I usually get these installed for
around $35 per sq. ft. Special Note - the sink can affect the cost. A
polished cutout for an undermount sink will probably add at least $100 per
bowl. Due to the small quantity, you probably will be better off biting the
bullet and installing all the stone together.
The cost of the template is no more than a couple of hundred
dollars...unless its done wrong. You don't want that kind of
responsibility. Let the stone company make their template and be
responsible for the proper shape of the top.
If you bring the bowed wall to the attention of the templater, I would think
that he could make the template fit so the stone would follow the wall, bow
and all. However, there will still be a gap between the granite and the
wall that is typically covered by the backsplash. If you already have a
backsplash, you might have to consider how you plan to cover the new crack.
That should provide you with enough information to get the ball rolling on
Finally, I have reached the stage in my kitchen remodeling where I am
ready to install granite countertops. I see different dealers
advertising different prices which range from about $49/sqft till more
then $100/sqft. What's the difference between them except color? What
should I be looking at when choosing a granite and installer? Together
with kitchen I also want to install granite vanity top in two baths.
The bath vanity top is around 5-6 sqft while in the kitchen it is
almost 60 sqft. I do not have budget right now to do both kitchen and
bath. I wonder if I do only one or two bath now or later will this
increase the price considerably? Is the price advertised usually based
on full kitchen or it does not matter? Also can I save money by doing
template myself? Last question. One of backsplash tiled wall in the
kitchen is not straight, it bows with approximately ¾ " per 8'.
Can it be a problem since the countertop must follow the bowed wall?