So you are ready to move forward with your painting project and you have decided to start looking for a professional house painter to do the work. The question is where to look and how to weed out the flakes from the professionals, the high bids from the low bids, the real references from the family references and what’s truly needed for a quality job as opposed to fluff items that cost more money but provides no additional benefit to you.
Starting the search
There are several ways to begin your search for a professional house painter.
- The Internet has become the most common way people look or search for services and products. Most people use search engines such as Google or Yahoo to look for a house painter, plumber, electrician or handyman to provide an estimate. But these search engines don’t tell the whole story and don’t distinguish between a reputable, trustworthy, professional service provider versus someone who is just trying to make a quick buck and leave you with a project that is now going to cost you more to have fixed. Don’t give up hope there are other online resources that will help narrow the field and weed out the shysters. Some of my favorites include Yelp, Google Places, Kudzu and Angie’s List. Keep in mind that not all reputable house painters are listed on these sites just as not all dishonest house painters will not be mentioned, but these sites are a good barometer of how the ones that are listed will treat you and the kind of work you can expect if you hire them. Most reputable house painters will encourage their customers to post their experience on-line so other potential customers will feel comfortable using their services
- Word of mouth. Getting a reference from friends or neighbors is always one of the reliable ways for choosing a house painter. It is also one of the most cost-effective ways for a painter to generate new business so it is always in his / her best interest to deliver quality work at a reasonable price with a willingness to stand behind their work and a track record of doing so.
- The Better Business Bureau is another valuable resource to determine if your painter is going to live up to your expectations. House painters that are belong to the BBB must agree to resolve customer complaints or issues, have all of the proper insurance requirements and conduct their business in a professional manner in accordance with the BBB guidelines. In addition to making this commitment to the BBB, each business is rated with a letter grade based on complaints, their time in business and the size of their company. An A+ rating is a company with no unresolved complaints or issues and has been in business for at least 7 years. An A rating is a company with no unresolved complaints with less than 7 years. Keep in mind that companies do get complaints and some are from customers that have unrealistic expectations or are constantly filing complaints for the attention. As long as the company has resolved the issue in the eyes of the BBB, you should have no concerns. In most cases a reputable company will have resolved a customer complaint well before it reaches the BBB.
- References: My mom say’s I’m a good painter is not really a good reference unless you know the mom. Do your homework. After all, you don’t really expect a painter to give you bad references do you? A good rule of thumb is to ask for a complete list of customers dating back as far as possible and to do your own random calling or drive by. We always give our customers a complete list of previous customers. Our rule is we don’t know who you are going to call or what or previous customer is going to say, but if we have done our job right than we will earn your business and if we haven’t then we don’t deserve it.
- Money: Deposits are sometimes requested by painters to pay for materials. The rule to follow here is never give more than 10% of the contract – estimate and limit it to $1,000.00. Depending on the size of the job progress payments or draws may be requested by the painter. These payments should be part of any contract and should be based on work performed and inspected. Never pay ahead of schedule or make a final payment until the work is complete and you are fully satisfied. Try to avoid paying cash if possible. Our policy is any work under $20,000.00 does not require a deposit and payment is due upon completion.
- The estimate: Every painter has a method to their madness and therefore every estimate should be different. Now you may be asking yourself how different? Well that all depends on how many bids you are getting, the size of the company you calling, the type of insurance the company carries and the amount of overhead the painters has. If you are calling painters that are a one man show with low overhead and low insurance cost your estimates should be consistent in pricing. The trade-off to hiring a painter that works alone is the time he will spend at your home disrupting your life. If you are getting estimates from painters with crews that will put multiple men on the project then again your pricing should be consistent and within a few hundred dollars of one another. The trade-off here is slightly higher pricing due to overhead but with less time disrupting your schedule. If you mix these two types of businesses together for estimating purposes than expect irregular pricing.
Other estimate considerations should include the scope of work. Each estimate should include similar language as to what is included and what is excluded. Types of material should also be discussed and included in any estimate. Again, compare your quotes to verify that each painter is using similar products. Warranty information, how long does the painter plan on standing behind their work? What does the warranty include? Verify customers that have used the warranty. Warranties beyond 5 years should be considered more marketing than reality. Finally, the high, middle, low question. Some bids may be high for a reason which may include the fact that the painter is busy and doesn’t need the work but should you choose him he will fit you in. Or he may be higher because the quality of work that is delivered is worth the extra cost. This is where additional homework on your part will be required to determine what the actual case may be. The lowest bid should be examined carefully, remember the golden rule “You get what you pay for”.
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