Picking a Painting Contractor: How to spot a pro
Twice as many homeowners hire a contractor to repaint the exterior of their home as do it themselves. Finding an honest and reliable Painting Contractor is not as hard as it might seem. Here’s some advice:
Meet the contractor at your home or project for the initial meeting
The longer the contractor takes to assess the condition of your home the more realistic the estimate. Even an experienced painter will need more than a quick walk-around. Make sure to have all areas that are to be painted cleared and accessible. If you need repairs to the structure fix them before calling out a contractor for a bid. Or make sure to ask before you set the appointment if they have experience in making structural repairs as part of the preparation process. Ask about the size and experience of the crew.
Be clear about expectations
It’s not just the number of coats that are applied that determines quality and price. Preparation is key, but it’s also the area where contractor and consumer expectations go awry. If you want a surface that’s free of unevenness from prior paint jobs, you’ll need to say so, and be prepared to pay extra. But if you can live with some imperfections showing through, point out what level of prep is acceptable and what isn’t. Make sure you have a clear understanding about what materials and how those materials will be used to prepare the surface for paint. Michael Woskow painting uses elastomeric polymers which are the best way to add longevity to the life of the job and increase the value you get from the paint job.
Check references and work
Ask for references, call them, and go see the work. Examine jobs that were done several years ago to see how the painter’s work is holding up. A history of positive references is a good sign. Use recent projects to check the skill of a contractor’s current crew. And ask how surprises or problems were resolved. While this is a no brainer many folks do not take the time to do their homework. A few minutes here can save you hours of headaches and thousands of dollars.
Membership in a trade or local business group isn’t a guarantee of quality, but it shows a level of commitment and reliability. For licensing information in your state. Also check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), your state’s attorney general’s office, or a local consumer-affairs agency to learn whether the contractor has a history of unresolved complaints.
Always seek three written estimates. Each should include a breakdown of labor, material costs, the number of coats of primer and paint, the brand and model of materials, and a detailed description of the amount of surface preparation that will be done. If you do not know anything on the estimate just ask, a professional will be happy to help you understand the entire process.
Choose the product yourself
Your painter might try to talk you into a paint he prefers. It’s a good idea to check the ratings on paints from consumer reports and pick the paint that will provide you the best value. Make sure to ask this before you receive the estimate. In fact determining which paint you want before you pick up the phone to call the contractor is best. Ask them during the initial phone conversation if they will be able to use your brand. While some brands may offer a longer lasting paint job they are more difficult to use with the painting equipment. If the painter has used them and knows that this paint will cause equipment problems you can expect a bump in price for using a more difficult material. It’s not safe to assume that painter just wants to use their brand to increase profits. Experienced pros know material differences and how much harder one brand to the next is to work with. There are even differences in qualities within brands.
Check for lead
If your home was built before 1978, older coats of paint could contain lead. So extra precautions might be needed. Just ask each contractor. There are many ways to do this and could range in price depending on the way in which it is handled. Chipping paint is a sign you will need to do something well so no one is in danger of ingesting or breathing in lead based paints.
Get a complete contract
It should include all the contractor’s key information: name, address, office and cell- phone numbers, and license number, plus whatever details were in the estimate. Make sure it’s clear what is and is not included in the job. Avoid a large down payment but be reasonable the contractor will need to purchase paint, supplies and pay for labor before and during the process. Usually 50 percent down will work and 35 percent on the day the crew arrives. Withhold the final payment, typically 10 to 15 percent, until you are satisfied with the job. Get a copy of each painter’s liability and workers compensation insurance certificates. Otherwise, if someone gets hurt while on the job, you could be on the hook.
Ask for a guarantee
The painter should promise to correct any chipping, peeling, blistering, flaking, or excessive fading or chalking that occurs within two years after the job is done at no or little cost. If he tells you the paint itself has a warranty, remember that doesn’t include labor, which is a far more costly proposition than material.
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