Handcrafted Pine Caskets starting at $795.00
I have been getting more requests for my caskets from all areas of the U.S. With the price of crating a casket and shipping, it can cost you up to $500.00 extra. If you are looking for a simple handmade casket, and are from outside the Utah/southern Idaho, Wyoming area, please check out this link from the National Funeral Consumer Alliance website. It has the addresses and web sites of over 100 small casket makers in most areas of the country. If there is not one in your area, contact your local Funeral Consumer Alliance. They will have information about casket artisans in their area.
Now a few thoughts before you read my blog:
I make caskets, and would like to sell you one if that is what you want. But I also want you to be informed about the choices you need to make when it comes to a funeral. I also want you to know that I am a proud member of the Funeral Consumers Alliance. But they do not receive any money or consideration from me, and I from them. Everything on this page I am responsible for and not the Funeral Consumers Alliance. The information and web links I have gathered here is from different news sources and some from the Funeral Consumers Alliance. I have this information here for you to decide what you want or do not want to pay for when it comes to a funeral.
A funeral home cannot refuse or charge you more for services because you bought a casket from another casket manufacture to
Note: I recommend short term storage,(example: Hospice patients) of a pine casket, but not long term storage. If they are not stored correctly the wood can dry out and develop cracks . The other problem can be moisture if the casket is stored in an area that is not ventilated properly. If the casket is stored correctly it can last along time. I have a casket that I have stored for over 6 years now for a family member, and it looks like new. You would never dream of storing your fine dining room table in a shed or next to a hot tub. A wooden casket is the same. It needs to be in a controlled temperature environment.
The caskets shown on this page are all 78 inches long by 22inches wide by 14 inches deep, inside dimensions. And is sized for the average person, (which according to one funeral director is 90-95% of those who have died, because illness and disease reduces body size) And will fit into a standard vault 29-1/2" wide by 86" long burial liner or vault if needed by the cemetery. It is done in strong laminated pine and has reinforced hand carved pine handles resembling wood branches. Each casket has very little metal in it. The hinges and locks are made of wood, and the finish is a natural finish, not the automotive type coatings on mass produced caskets. This style of casket has been stress tested to 400 lbs. So if a funeral director tells you that he will not be responsible if the bottom falls out (this sales scare tactic happened to a newly widowed customer) don't believe it. The price is a reasonable $795 to $895 plus tax.
"You build a cradle for someone who is coming into the world, why not build one for someone who is leaving it"
So I do take great care in each casket I make, because it is a cradle for your loved one.
The casket above was a special custom casket I made for a customer. It was made from solid poplar hardwood and stained to look like walnut. The customer saved over $1000.00 from what the funeral home was selling this casket model for.
A custom color cloth and wood cross.
A casket made for a scouting person.
A close up of the scouting emblem.
Below are web sites to get information about funerals, funeral homes and your rights as a consumer.
The following link has information on the latest sting operation the Federal Trade Commission did on some randomly chosen funeral homes across the nation to see if they are obeying the law. I will let you be the judge.
Some of you reading this might think that I am too hard on funeral directors. They do a good, needed service for the community. Being a mortician is not a easy 9 to 5 job. They are always on call to go pick up the deceased... no matter the time of day or weather. And then depending on the condition of the deceased... get them ready for viewing of friends and family. They also have to deal with the emotions of family(s) who are dealing with death, and people who try to avoid paying an honest price for their services. But... on the other hand being in this business... I know what some funeral homes have done now, and in the past to take advantage of grieving people.
This is one business where you the consumer are at a disadvantage. The vast majority of people do not talk about death or planing for the day they will die. Most people who go to the funeral home have to deal with all the decisions regarding a pending funeral are also dealing with the emotions of the death or pending death of a loved one. The funeral director on the other hand has usually years of experience dealing with a grieving customer. And depending on how ethical the funeral home is, can suggest items or services that will improve the profit line of the funeral home. At the expense of your wallet.
So when the day comes that you need to plan or do a funeral, remember... funeral directors ARE businessmen, they are NOT clergy (a bishop or priest). They are in business to sell you their services and/or products. If ALL funeral directors were ethical, you would not be reading this web page, and I and others across the U.S. would not be selling reasonably priced caskets. Our modern day funeral ($20.7 billion a year) industry offers,or pushes services and products that are not needed, or can be afforded by a lot of Americans.
One of the greatest myths perpetuated by some in the funeral industry is:
" How much you spend on a funeral shows how much you loved your deceased loved one"
A funeral usually is the 3rd most expensive item that you will pay for in your life. The price of a funeral by burial (average $8,000) in our state of Utah can be over $11,000. But it can be under $4,500or less if you know how. This blog site has information and links to state and national organizations that will help you make informed choices and help save you money in the process.
Do not feel guilty if you cannot afford a funeral with all the extra items that everyone else buys. I have been to many funerals and the most meaningful ones were not the most expensive.
1. Pre-plan your funeral. Don't pre-pay. Decide what items you want for a funeral. Organize it and put it in writing and put the money away in credit union or bank (P.O.D.) Payable On Death account. If that is not the case, and you are needing the services of a funeral home now then start with #2.
If the funeral home tells you a service is required by law, ask them to show you in writing which law requires it. A verbal statement does not mean anything. Also with some funeral homes the advertized prices on their services can be less if you ask. I personally know of someone who works in hospice care and she negotiates lower prices with local funeral homes. Just remember funeral homes have the right to a reasonable profit. And if you want other extra services you will need to pay for them.
5.Caskets: In this area I have a business interest, because I make caskets...so If you decide to use a casket from someone else, ether me, another casket maker or yourself to save money, most funeral homes will not charge you more for their services. There are a lot of good funeral homes who do not have a problem with a customer making or supplying their own casket. They welcome them. But their are a few who do, and they add a illegal surcharge up to $700 extra to your funeral cost if you do not use their caskets. If you were a funeral customer and you had limited funds, and you decided to buy from someone besides the funeral home, or build a casket to save money... You are forced to pay extra. So if the funeral home you are thinking of using does this. Take your funeral dollars to another funeral home. There are plenty of ethical funeral homes in the Northern Utah area who do not do this.
6. Embalming: This is a money making item. If you decide to use embalming, you will more likely spend more money $$$ on other related funeral items. The U.S. and Canada are the only two country's that push the use of embalming No state law requires embalming. All funeral homes are required to have refrigeration. If you have a direct burial, cremation or closed casket service you do not need embalming. You can also have a private viewing without this service. You can even have a public viewing without embalming if you want, but most funeral homes will try to talk you out of it. If you want to find out about the so called need for embalming, talk to someone who has done a home funeral. They use other methods to allow the viewing the deceased that does not involve embalming.
If you look at the prices carefully for each of the areas these funeral homes are located, you will notice that the funeral costs are very close. Most funeral homes operate by not lowering their costs to bring in more customers, but will keep costs very close to each other so they will maximize their profits.
But things are changing. There are new independent funeral homes that have started up and their costs are less. They operate their business without the normal large funeral home that has multiple viewing rooms for services. They have set up in commercial or industrial areas. And instead of you going to the funeral home, they bring the funeral and or viewing to your local church, civic center, or home. Their costs are less than the normal funeral home.
8 in the Salt Lake City Area 34% of total
11 in the Utah county and Utah east area 52% of total
10 in Southern Utah area 61% of total
If you call them as a consumer for prices they have to give them to you over the phone.
A casket or coffin(a casket is 4 sides a coffin is 6 sided) is designed to just hold the remains of a body. And how that is done can be inexpensive or very expensive. The casket has to fit inside a burial vault(see note #1 below) with 1/2 inch of space between the widest outside dimension of the casket and the inside dimensions of the vault. So a casket size of 28 inches wide by 88 inches long outside measurements will fit into a burial vault that is 29 inches wide by 89 inches long. The extra 1/2 inch on each side is needed to remove the ropes that lower the casket into the burial vault.
This is one cost that you cannot get out (unless the cemetery does not require one) of because a vault or burial liner is required by most cemetery's. The only way you can save money on this item if it is required by the cemetery is to use the most inexpensive burial vault or liner that is offered. Do not believe that the sealed vault is better than a simple vault. (See the quote from a cemetery director below) In some areas of Utah some funeral directors will not do business with burial vault company's if they sell direct to the public. If this is happening to you, check with the cemetery you are using to see if they sell burial vaults to the public. Also some of the new plastic vaults that are being used can save you some money. They will work just as well as the concrete vaults and they are lightweight and can be moved by 2 people. Unlike the concrete vaults that need to be put in the ground with a crane.
Along the Wasatch front in Utah there is only one cemetery that I know of that does not require a burial vault, and that is Pleasant Green Cemetery in the Salt Lake Valley. Which could save you at least $800
The materials to make caskets are metals (steel, brass, copper, stainless steel) wood (softwood pine, domestic hardwoods, and expensive imported hardwoods) and fabric(usually a body shroud). You might be surprised to learn that some of the so called hardwood caskets are built with a inner plywood core with a thin hardwood veneer on the outside, on most of the casket.
A casket sealer is a rubber or neoprene gasket that is placed into the lid of the casket/burial vault to supposedly help keep out water, dirt or insects. from getting into the casket interior. This gasket costs less than $10.00 but can cost you up to $800.00 extra depending on where you live. All funeral homes offer sealer caskets and vaults for a much higher cost, compared to the caskets and vaults that do not have a sealer or gasket. Yet the consumer buys into this thinking that their deceased family member will be protected forever in a sealed casket. If you look at a funeral home price list at the bottom or on the same page as the casket and burial vault prices, there is a disclaimer on any warranties of the vaults and caskets. Yet they will add words like high impact, and heavy duty sealer to make you think it is a superior product, while stating that a less costly burial liner is non- protective to get you to purchase a more expensive product. Save yourself some money and use a regular casket and a grave liner or vault.
Here is a quote from a Utah cemetery manager about burial vaults.
"If you do opt to purchase a vault, DO NOT PURCHASE A SEALER VAULT!!
Sealer vaults are sold as weather proof encasement's that will preserve the body indefinitely. This is not true. Trust us! We have watched many of them go into the ground, and have vast experience in the ultimate results.
A sealer vault will fail in one of two important ways. The first common way that they fail is that the seal will do exactly what it is designed to do. It will hold, which keeps moisture from getting into the vault. Unfortunately this seal works both ways. In addition to keeping moisture out, it will also keep the moisture from the body in. As a result, the body cannot dry out. Instead it will putrefy and turn into liquid. Far more often though, the seal fails. The seal is nothing more than a bit of weather striping put around the vault lid a few minutes before the vault company puts the lid in place. This cheap stripping folds easily, or becomes caught up as the machinery places the vault lid on. In these cases, the vaults fill up with rain water, leaving your loved one completely immersed. A normal (non-sealer) vault has holes drilled in the bottom to allow rain water to drain out."
A burial vault is a box with a lid that is made from fiberglass, concrete, plastic, or metal that the casket is placed into before being put in the ground it prevents the ground above the vault from filling into the casket area. Have you been to a old cemetery and seen the headstones leaning? That's what a vault is for. A burial liner is similar, but usually only prevents the soil above from filling around
the casket. The use of burial vaults and liners is determined by the local cemetery owners. If it is a private for profit owned cemetery regulations will be stricter and costlier. A city, county owned or non-profit privately owned cemetery will usually be a less expensive alternative.
Pre need funeral contracts:
Which are basically life insurance or annuity contracts. There's not enough room here to give you all the details,(and abuses) but basically a contract between the consumer and a funeral home to provide funeral services for a future date. You can pay for a pre- need all at once or for a set monthly or yearly payment. It depends on the funeral home you use. I have talked with a few pre-need sales people for information. And they say the money is put into a separate insurance company, (some in state and some out of state) that goes into a fund that will get interest off low risk stocks or bonds. This interest should cover the rising cost of future funeral.
So if you buy a funeral pre need for $10,000, and it will cost you $15,000 by the time you die, your pre need should cover all funeral costs. Also if you died before paying if full your funeral after a certain amount of time you are covered. When I asked the pre need sales person about how they cover their losses when people die but have not paid in full on their pre needs, they said that customers who do not have pre-need funeral plans wind up paying more because the losses are built into the funeral home prices.
You should also be aware of some insurance clauses.
1. If you decide to cancel or stop paying the contract or cannot pay the month payment,(example, loss of job) you can loose up to 25% of the funeral plan.
2. You will not get full benefits from the pre-need until you have payed into it for a few years or more depending on your age, and health status.
3. Your really need to read the pre-need contract carefully. They can be written to exclude, deny, or pay reduced benefits for any number of reasons.
Here is an actual example of a husband and wife couple who bought a pre-need policy:
2 each $7000 funeral plans. Total $14,000, monthly payment $230. Number of years 10. Total cost $27,600. Had they put the money in a bank or credit union they would have had $14,000 in only 5 years, and saved $13,600. Plus leaving the money in an FDIC insured account would have given them interest that could be used to offset the rising cost of a funeral.
A better way to do it (and save money) is to put money in a P.O.D (Payable On Death) account with your bank or credit union (which is insured) with the name of the person on the account who will be overseeing your funeral. The money in this type of account can only be used for a funeral. Pre-need funeral plans across the country have been abused to the tune of 450 to 600 million dollars. There is very little federal or state control on these funeral plans. Check these links out. Or Google underfunded funeral plans
Here is a article from money expert Dave Ramsey, who say's that prepay funeral plans are not a smart idea.
Utah pre-need summary by AARP
Funeral Hearse cost saving ideas.
Funeral home A(these are actual Utah Funeral home prices) has a price of $5,860.00 for total itemized services for a funeral, but if you buy a casket from them the cost will only be $5,295.00... a savings of $565.00. Well then we add the funeral home casket ($2,500.00 average Utah casket price) you need to buy to get the discount. A total of $7795.00.
One more item you should know is that the funeral market is getting flooded by cheaper caskets imported into this country. Just Google Chinese caskets.When looking at caskets at the funeral home ask where was the casket made. If the funeral home you are using has imported Chinese caskets, do you save on your funeral costs... or not? That imported casket wholesales for around $325, and cost you on average $1295. My caskets are made right here in Utah using American pine wood.
The least expensive funeral options
I have been asked "What's the least expensive funeral option?" many times. And that depends on how much you are willing to do yourself. But basically they are:
What I have done for family members funerals is to do a direct burial then have a memorial service at our church. Basically a reversal of the normal funeral service. The difference was the cost, which was about $4500.00 including the cemetery costs.
I have been asked. Why make caskets out of pine? I can make a casket out of any wood species, but I prefer pine. I like to sort through, and use pine wood that has knots, defects, small splits, fungus stains and other defects to use in certain decorative areas on my caskets. I think it's a symbolic thing. I like to think that the so called defects in the wood actually become something beautiful once they are sanded and finished. It's sort of like people, we judge them on the outside, when in fact their true beauty is on the inside. So a person even though he or she had faults is still beautiful... we just have to look to find their true inner beauty.
Traditional or conventional funeral service.
What is the difference??
When a funeral home uses the word tradition, for a funeral service, what comes to your mind? Well I guess funerals have always been done this way, you might say. For thousands of years families have taken care of their dead. Up until the early part of the last century, if there was a death. The family would prepare the deceased. Someone in the local area would build a casket. A few men from the local church would dig the grave. And everyone would come from around the area to the home where the deceased lived, to pay there respects. That was a traditional funeral. What our funeral industry does today is a conventional funeral. The two are totally different.