A DIY Casket Now is Available

An image from Ramsey Creek Preserve.

An image from Ramsey Creek Preserve.

Do current casket prices make you wish that you could live forever? Or, does it make you want to look for another solution to the inevitable death and burial? One man, after learning that a relative’s funeral cost $12,900, decided to go another route and offer people a choice. His casket kits can be assembled with a screwdriver and glue and cost only $250.

Merritt Eggleston of Rock Hill, South Carolina, was lauded by John Gullickson, owner of Insurance Services of the Carolinas and a licensed funeral planner. He stated that Eggleston’s business is perfect for the current economy. Eggleston’s caskets can shave $2,000 to $5,000 off the cost of most caskets, and they seem easy to build.

Eggleston operates as P&M Contracting, and his caskets are not fancy. They consist of wood planks, and you can buy them before you need them and can be stored under a bed or in an attic until needed. This practice might take some change, as most people don’t purchase a casket until it’s needed, and loved ones usually purchase caskets through funeral homes. But Eggleston is limited in what he can do, because he has no means to mass-produce the caskets, and he’s not zoned to sell them at his home, meaning any sales have to happen at another location. Shipping out of state also poses a problem, as he cannot afford to build his business that quickly.

Eggleston also finds a niche in green burials, and there are only four cemeteries in the Carolinas that are certified by the Green Burial Council; the only one in South Carolina is located in Westminster. Ramsey Creek Preserve was formed to harness the funeral industry for land protection and restoration, to fund non-profits, education, the arts and scientific research, and to provide a less expensive and more meaningful burial option. This preserve was the first green cemetery within the U.S.

But, Eggleston admits that he knows little about marketing and operating this new business (he previously was a construction superintendent). If you are interested in a casket kit, you can contact your local funeral director and ask for one. They cannot refuse your request, and you can add the cost of shipping to that kit. Even with shipping, the cost would be far less than a ‘fancy’ casket.

Your funeral directory, however, may discover that finding Eggleston is difficult – he plans to sell his caskets at a Fort Mill flea market and is setting up a booth in the Trader Marc’s building on Saturdays beginning August 22. But, he also is planning a Web site, so hopefully you’ll have an easier go at these casket kits soon.

A word of warning as well – make sure that you’re located near a “green” cemetery, otherwise your funeral plans may be thwarted. Many cemeteries require vaults and even sealed caskets, and your wooden casket kit may not be welcome. Check with the Web site for the Green Burial Council to learn more about green burial options in your neighborhood.

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