Choosing a residential painting contractor can be a daunting task. There are many things to consider, and even with references, choosing your contractor can feel a little like playing Russian roulette. Are you going to have a contractor who shows up and does the work right the first time, or are you going to become another statistic-another unhappy customer with a bad or incomplete paint job. What can you do to protect yourself? Here are ten important things to consider when you are selecting a residential painter.
1. Begin your selection process by asking friends and relatives for recommendations. It is a good way to create an initial list of potential contractors. Always ask your friends and relatives about their experience with the contractor. Did the contractor show up when scheduled? Did the contractor hold to his or her estimate, and what was the quality of the work? Would they use the contractor again?
2. After you have an initial list of potential service providers, the next step is to do a little background investigation. Check out how long each contractor has been in business. If they are a new firm, can they provide you with references and a portfolio to demonstrate their work?
3. Ask if the painting contractor is licensed and insured. Check to make sure the contractor has both worker’s compensation and liability insurance. Don’t be afraid to ask for copies of insurance certificates.
4. Ask if the contractor employs full time painters or uses sub-contractors. Inquire how long painting employees have been with the firm and their experience with residential painting.
5. Inquire about the brand of paint and materials they use. If you want a specific brand of paint used on your job, make sure they are willing to use it, and ask if it would be covered under their regular warranty. Some contractors will only guarantee the brands of paint they purchase and use.
6. Request for contractors to provide you with to see a portfolio of their work. If that is not possible, ask to see one or more sites they are working on or have recently completed in your general geographic area. At the same time, request a list of references you can contact and speak to about the quality of the contractors’ work.
7. Ask contractors if they provide free estimates. Make sure they are willing to do a site visit before issuing the estimate. This is important for the accuracy of the estimate. Good painters will guarantee their actual costs not to exceed a certain percentage of the estimate.
8. Ask if the contractors provide a guarantee for the work they do and the period of the guarantee. Get a copy of the warranty, and clarify exactly what is covered under the guarantee.
9. Ask if the painting contractors take responsibility to move and protect all furniture and flooring. Have them explain what they do to protect your belongings, floors, and other areas that will not be painted such as tiled areas.
10. Make certain the painting contractor complies with all safety and environmental regulations including the disposal of paint and painting supplies.
Ask all potential contractors the same questions and compare the answers. First eliminate contractors who are not licensed or insured. Next, weed out those contractors whose work you cannot verify through references and/or a portfolio. The next step is to eliminate contractors who do not guarantee their work. Finally, eliminate contractors who will not provide an estimate and stick to it within specified parameters. If the actual job ends up costing double the estimate, then the estimate was no good, or you are being taken for a ride. Most reputable painting contractors are accurate in their estimates and will guarantee that actual costs will not exceed a certain percentage of the estimate. It is also important to make sure they do a site visit before giving you the estimate.
After you narrow your list down to one or two possible contractors, focus on references, quality of work and cost. From the estimates, you will get a good idea what a fair price is for your work. Generally, you can throw out the lowest and the highest bid. Average out all the other bids. If one of your contractor choices is significantly higher than the average or significantly lower than the average, be careful. Verify the quality of work with a site visit to a property he or she recently finished painting to see the quality level of the work yourself.
If you ask the right questions and do your due diligence in checking out the history and quality of your contractor, you should end up with a contractor you can trust who delivers the level of quality residential painting work you expect at a fair price.
The author, Leo Preston has been researching and writing articles for several years. Having just renovated several rooms in her home, she shared some of the things she learned about hiring a painting contractor.