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Consulting a monument builder & what to look for

Purchasing a memorial is a significant investment of time and money and should be undertaken with great thought and care. The Monument Builders of North America recommends careful and relaxed planning when purchasing a memorial. 


Whether 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 buy a monument from a funeral home or a cemetery. 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 rules regarding the size and type of memorial in certain cemetery areas, 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. Discuss your needs with the monument builder if you cannot visit a showroom. Most offer some home services. Monument builders will help you design a memorial and then complete everything 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 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 and check for any possible errors before the final work is completed on the stone.

Reasons to purchase a pre-need monument

Increasingly, people are purchasing their monuments before the need arrives. Planning ahead lets you select the style, size, and color you prefer. A personalized design, which you can help to create, can reflect your beliefs, values, or whatever is meaningful to you. What do you want to tell future generations about yourself and your family? This is your opportunity to make your legacy statement.


You can save money. Purchasing a monument before the need arises means 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 in the interests of all family members. This is one of those major purchases.

Choosing a monument, styles, cost & warranties

Cemetery memorials range from flat, beveled, or slant markers lying on the ground to elaborate, multi-piece upright monuments. Monuments where cemetery regulations allow include crosses, statues, and flower vases.


Most monuments are made from granite because of their durability, reasonable price, and 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 have different qualities, some of which may not be suitable for cemetery memorials. A reputable monument builder can show you fine quality granites and marble that will accept different styles of lettering and design work. Be sure to look at quality, finish, design, and 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. Unfortunately, pictures or brochures do not depict these significant differences.

Styles of Monuments

Upright monuments come in various styles, shapes, and sizes, providing a full range of creative and personalized works of art.


Slant and bevel markers are midway between flat markers and upright monuments. They come in single or double sizes and can be personalized with symbols or inscriptions.


You can personalize a flat marker, but the smaller area naturally restricts the design. In addition, because these markers lie flush with the ground, they often are hard to locate in the cemetery.


Monuments and Markers are priced according to size, the color of material used, design and installation cost, plus whatever applicable cemetery charges are involved.


Prices 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.


An extremely solid, concrete foundation is used below upright monuments to prevent monuments from tipping, shifting, or becoming unlevel.


Most monument builders will warranty their finished product against the material, artistry, and installation defects. Please consult with your monument builder about his warranty. If your builder doesn’t have one, let them know about MBNA’s Memorial Protection Program, which offers a program that covers a stone for ten years and pays up to $10,000.

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 of cemetery, you will never be able to place a traditional upright monument there. Those cemeteries may have an upright section, also. They may restrict 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 fees for the monument’s installation, 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, 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.

What do I do if I need to add another name to an existing memorial?

From time to time, families may decide they need to add something to an existing headstone. This can range from putting another deceased person’s name on the headstone if buried nearby or adding a quote or image.


We can make additions to existing headstones – in good condition – even if we did not provide the original headstone as long as they are in the OHIO service area.


To make an addition to a memorial more quickly, we need to know who created the original headstone.


‘If we made the headstone, we can often access our design files and promptly let you know if there is space on the memorial to complete the requested additions.


We will need a recent headstone photo if we cannot access the stone’s original design or you don’t know who made it. This photo lets us see whether there’s room for the design you requested.


Additionally, we will need to know the name of the cemetery where the stone is located, the location of the stone in the cemetery, and a picture and description of what you want to be added to the memorial.


Once we have this information, and after we’ve taken a rubbing of the stone, our designers get to work drawing a mock-up of the headstone with the additions. We do this so you know exactly what you’re getting with the addition, and we can work through any necessary changes before the stone is altered.


You will receive a cost estimate and a general timetable for completing your addition.

How are headstones and memorials designed?
You can learn all the ins-and-outs of our process by visiting our PROCESS page.