Let’s face it, granite countertops are incredibly expensive. When it’s all said and done, you’re looking at spending upwards of $70-$100 per square foot. That’s clearly way out of reach for many—if not most of us “average” consumers. But what many people don’t know is that labor expenses embody a healthy portion of the cost of having granite installed. Therefore, if you can find ways to get the material for a decent price, you can save a whole lot of money by installing granite countertops yourself. And yes, there are ways to get granite rather cheaply, including the way I posted in this article. Some DIY’ers will even fabricate (cut and polish) their own material, but that would require a substantial amount of time and effort on your behalf. You’re probably better off getting the granite fabricated prior to taking delivery, or purchasing prefabricated pieces that meet your requirements.

Now, I wrote in an earlier post that DIY projects are almost always more work than you think they’re going to be, and installing granite countertops is clearly no exception to the rule. However, the general consensus is that installing granite is one of those incredibly difficult jobs that should only be left to the pro’s. That’s simply not true. I can attest from having installed my own granite countertops (with some help) that it’s really no more difficult than the majority of other DIY projects—but it is extremely heavy. In fact, I found that the most challenging aspect of installing granite countertops was the sheer heft of the material. This stuff can weigh up to 25 pounds per square foot, so transporting and moving the material around safely becomes the glaring obstacle. As long as you have a few friends with good strong backs, you should be fine. Aside from that—assuming that the pieces of granite are fabricated correctly, and the cabinets are properly installed and leveled—it’s a relatively straightforward procedure. Here are what I found to be the 5 most important points to successfully installing granite countertops.

  1. Double and triple check your measurements before having the pieces of granite fabricated. Have a “second set of eyes” redo the measurements to verify their accuracy. There is no going back if the material is cut wrong… period.
  2. Get help. You really can’t install granite countertops without sufficient help—and by that I mean a few strong helpers. Moreover, make certain that you and your helpers can collectively handle the pieces you’ll be attempting to move. We ran into problems with one very oddly shaped 700 pound piece of granite for the peninsula in our kitchen—and we had 4 very strong individuals.
  3. BE CAREFUL! Although granite is one of the hardest natural materials known to man, it’s also quite fragile. It can easily fracture or break if mishandled, so try to be as delicate as possible when transporting or moving the material. Pre-plan your walking paths and make sure there are no tripping hazards. Also try to figure out how you’re going to maneuver the granite pieces before actually moving them. Realizing that you need to spin a huge slab of granite around after you’ve already been carrying it for a couple of minutes is not fun—especially with all kinds of obstacles in the way, and nowhere to set it down. That’s something we had to go and learn the hard way.
  4. Make sure that the cabinets are properly leveled. If they’re not, it can really throw a monkey wrench into the equation. If you can’t manage to level the cabinets, you’ll have to do the best you can with shims.
  5. Make sure the cabinets—as well as the house, can handle the weight of the granite. Depending on the thickness of your granite and the cabinets you’re installing it on, you may need to add some additional reinforcements to your cabinetry. The same goes for the house; is the floor prepared to withstand the load of thousands of pounds of granite? Probably… but it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

Other than those things, you should obviously research as much as you can about installing granite countertops. There’s an endless supply of information pertaining to the topic floating around online. But don’t over-complicate it. As I said, the most challenging part for us was actually moving the material around—it’s just heavy, fragile, and awkward. Ultimately, if you have the pieces of granite in their final resting place atop properly leveled cabinets, it’s not the insurmountable feat that some would have you believe. In fact, there isn’t all that much to it. After it’s in place, you pretty much just need to learn how to glue the countertops to their respective cabinets, as well as how to inconspicuously seam the pieces together. However, if you happen run into leveling issues, you’re likely going to be doing some fiddling around with shims… but that’s a story for another day. Truth be told, I’m having a much more difficult time growing grass in my yard than I did installing granite countertops in my kitchen and bathrooms.

Aside from that, if you’d like to know more about how to get granite countertops locally for unbelievably low prices, or how to build or remodel your house and save tens-of-thousands of dollars in the process, check out the book that I wrote here.

I always find it rather humorous when I see instructions for DIY projects broken down into a few “easy breezy” steps. No mess, no sore backs, no slivers in your fingers or dust in your eyes. Nope, just smooth sailing. HA! Whether it be a few pretty pictures in a book, or someone on TV remodeling their bathroom in an hour, it rarely depicts reality with regard to real-life DIY work.

The truth is, it’s almost NEVER “easy”, and almost ALWAYS entails more time and work than you thought it would. Even if your taking on something as simple as painting, don’t make the all-to-common mistake of assuming that you’re just gonna go buy some paint and slap it on the walls—it just doesn’t work that way. If you go into your project keeping in mind that there’s a good chance that it will be more difficult, take longer, and be more expensive than you think, then you won’t be disappointed when it actually is.

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If you can manage to dig them up, you’ll find that most places online offering granite countertops for low prices are usually selling the thinner 2cm material—not the more sought-after 3cm granite. However, this place seems to be selling 3cm granite at ridiculously low prices—even when including the shipping costs. Keep in mind that other than what’s listed on their website, I know as much as you do about this place, so do your research. If you want to know how you can get 3cm granite locally for even less than that (like I did), check out the book that I wrote here.

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Whether you’re building or remodeling a house, the very first thing you’ll need to do is establish some sort of a budget. Determining exactly how much money you have—or are otherwise willing to spend before beginning your project is absolutely essential. It’s way too easy to just dive in head first and assume that you’ve “got it covered”. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated: Figure out how much you have to spend, then break down the costs involved with your project. Clearly, the bigger the project—the more work you’ll have to put into your budget plan.

If you do your homework, you’ll find that there’s typically more involved than you originally anticipated—meaning more expensive. Remember to include the little things such as nails, screws, fasteners, glue, tool rentals, etc. These are the types of things that people tend to skip, but it all adds up, and you may come to find that you have to make some compromises to remain within the confines of your budget plan. And therein lies the reason for a budget being absolutely essential, because running out of money could be a recipe for disaster.

First post… it’s pretty late so I’m not going to get into too much here. I will say however that I’ll be updating this page frequently with some great tips, and many different ways that you can save massive amounts of money during your construction projects. There was a giant void on the Web for a consistent, standalone resource dedicated to this type of information when I needed it most, so I went ahead and created the ‘Bargain Busting Building Blog’. It’s no frills, but the information will be top-notch… that I will promise.

Clearly it’s going to take some time for me to load this page up with the massive amount of valuable content that I have for you guys, but I did write an awesome book on the subject that you can purchase here. Yes, I did say purchase. Why? Because it took me a tremendous amount of time and effort to write it, and the information it contains recently saved me several tens-of-thousands of dollars while building my own house. However, if you just want to keep following the blog, that’s great too! Make no mistake about it, whether your going to build your own house, have a house built, remodel your kitchen, or just look for a standalone appliance… you CAN save tons of money and this WILL BE the place to come before you begin! See you soon!

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