So you’ve decided it’s time for a fresh coat of paint. Of course, you want it done correctly and at a fair price. For many people, it’s tempting to take-on the project themselves. Although this is certainly possible, larger jobs demand the expertise of a professional. In these situations, an honest and experienced painting contractor is quite valuable. However, how do you go about finding a contractor that will do the job right and for a reasonable price?
In the end, homeowners are looking for an honest and qualified contractor that can produce quality work, stay on-schedule, and stick to the agreed terms of their contract. Surprisingly, finding such a contractor can be a challenge. Likewise, disagreements surrounding contract terms, time-tables, and payments can lead to general dissatisfaction and even lengthy legal battles.
It’s normal for homeowners to have questions and reservations when seeking a qualified Atlanta painting contractor. Importantly however, these questions should be addressed before writing/signing any written agreements. For unsuspecting or uncertain homeowners looking to hire a quality painting contractor, here are a few tips courtesy of Joe Miller, a principal with Arizona Painting Company.
5 Tips for Folks Looking to Hire a Painting Contractor
Know the Numbers
Understand the difference between price and value. While higher estimates normally indicate better work, many contractors charge exorbitant prices for sub-par jobs (and with paint jobs—especially interior projects—cheap work shows). In all fairness, how can customers know the quality of a contractor before they perform the job? Here, customer reviews and trusted-tips can be invaluable. It’s typically advised to contact multiple contractors and receive each of their estimates in-writing. Once you have a collection of estimates, you can compare them side-by-side. There’s really no “consensus” structure for what’s included in the estimate; however, every bid should have information regarding materials used and preparation practices. It’s also important to note that some professionals choose to use higher-grade paint, while others rely on less expensive contractor-grade materials. These materials—as well as their prices—should be included in the bid.
There’s Power in Good-References
As a potential client, you should have an idea of your contractor’s reputation before signing any sort of written agreement. But as we discussed earlier, how can you know the quality of a potential contractor until he begins the job? The answer is to seek advice from friends, family, or neighbors (word-of-mouth is among the best referral source for contractors). Alternatively, it’s wise to ask prospective contractors for the names and phone numbers of three satisfied customers. Contractors should not be offended by this request. Lastly, reviews and references online may also be helpful. However, since most painting contractors are smaller local businesses, finding online review may be difficult.
Communication is Key
Clear communication throughout the entire process is paramount. Miller explains, “We can’t emphasize enough for people to ask questions. We want to know if something doesn’t work for you. Most times, situations can be corrected very quickly”.
Obviously it’s important to have a clear and complete understanding of the contract terms, however good communication is necessary all-throughout the process—from the signing of the agreement, until the job is finished. Be open to the contractor’s suggestions and share any concerns as they arise. A good working-relationship with the contractor helps avoid some of the potential problems or misunderstandings between homeowners and contract teams.
Never Underestimate Prep-Time
For homeowners, it’s easy to think that the painting contractor’s only job is to paint. In reality, at least 35 to 40 percent of a professional-quality paint job is invested in preparation. Importantly, prep-time is precisely where less-qualified contractors cut-corners to save on time, and thus minimize their estimate amounts. Homeowners may find this attractive, as less time means cheaper total cost. However improperly cleaned walls or inadequate masking will only magnify homeowner frustrations. Remember, when it comes to painting, cheap work shows. According to Miller, it’s always smart to ask the contractor what preparation steps will be taken before the actual painting begins.
Understand the warranty
Without a doubt, every paint job should have a warranty. In-fact, a contractor that doesn’t offer a warranty on their work should be discarded from consideration. It’s crucial to read and understand the entirety of the warranty and all of its exceptions. Again, cheap work is obvious and blemishes like chipping, peeling, or fading should be covered by the contractor. Miller encourages people not to hesitate to ask about the specific circumstances where the warranty would—or perhaps wouldn’t—cover the damages. “A good paint pro shouldn’t be offended by questions, but instead be impressed by an informed consumer,” he concludes.
The Main Take-Away
So what’s the bottom line here? While the task of finding a quality painting contractor may be daunting, there are ways to ease the burden. Asking a contractor for references from previous jobs is among the best ways to garner a true understanding of their quality. Likewise, make sure you know the numbers and terms before signing any written agreements.
Perhaps above all, seek transparency and don’t hesitate to ask questions. A contract without any hard-numbers should be a red flag. Contractors—especially those that are experienced in the trade—should have an idea of the price of materials, as well as a tentative time frame, and prospective total estimate. Miller concludes, “So many guys will try to gloss over things on an estimate. You really should demand as much detail as possible”.