10 Key Questions to Ask Your Painting Contractor
The way a home looks says a great deal about the person living in that home, and most homeowners wish to make a good impression. One way to achieve that is by giving a home a new paint job. Even more than that, the curb appeal of a home, that is, the first impression someone has of a home when simply driving by, can affect a home’s value and how quickly a home sells once it is put on the market.
In addition to all of that, a good paint job also helps to protect a home from the potential ravages of weather, protecting and preserving wood and other materials. For all of these reasons and others, it is important for a homeowner to choose not just a painting contractor who will do an acceptable job of painting a home, but one who will do a masterful job.
One of the keys to finding a good contractor and to getting the best paint job possible is to hire locally, and to ask the right questions. Find a contractor who is dependent on a local reputation, one who cannot afford to have his or her reputation tarnished by doing a poor job. A good bet when it comes to finding the best contractor possible if the home is located in the Northeast is to contact United Home Experts; they will provide the homeowner with the answer to each of the following 10 questions and more without hesitation.
So what is the first of the painting contractor questions a homeowner needs to ask a prospective painter?
1. Do you have a list of customers who would be willing to verify the quality of your work?
Any painting contractor worth his lacquer should be able to supply a list of homes that he or she has recently painted and allow potential customers to speak with homeowners who have had first-hand experience working with the contractor. Be slightly skeptical if only a very small number of homeowners are available to speak with, as they could be the contractor’s next door neighbor, sister-in-law or other “ringers.”
2. Do you cover all of your employees with Workman’s Compensation Insurance?
If a worker is hurt while on a customer’s property, the homeowner could be held financial liable if the contractor does not have sufficient insurance to cover each and every worker. Ask a contractor if he or she has worker’s compensation; ask to see a copy of both the contractor’s General Liability coverage as well as their Workman’s Compensation policy.
3. How will my house be prepped for painting?
This is an important question and it is just as important that a contract provides a detailed answer and not offer vague generalities. Have the contractor put the entire process of preparation in writing and make certain that he or she dates and signs it. Holes and bad spots in walls must be repaired. All surfaces to be painted must be scraped and/or sanded to remove as much of the old paint as possible. Ask how many people will be part of the preparation process. For homeowners who are unaware of it, preparation is equally as important as the painting process itself.
4. What grade of paint will be used?
Unless the homeowner requests a “contractor’s grade” of paint be used in order to save a few dollars, the homeowner should demand that a premium-grade paint is applied. The reason is that the cheaper grades of paint will often cause a bleed-through after only a short time and simply will not stand up to normal wear and tear nearly as long as a premium grade of paint will. Also, put in writing ahead of time how many coats of paint will be applied.
5. How many painters will be on the job and how long will the job take?
Occasionally a contractor will imply that several painters will be on the job in order to get the job finished quickly. However, far fewer people may show up to do the actual painting and the job can then take twice as long as the homeowner had been led to believe. This is common. There is no guarantee that even a written contract stipulating the number of people to be assigned to the job and the amount of time required to finish the job will solve all of a homeowner’s problems, but such a written guarantee can give the homeowner at least some leverage. It is not unreasonable for a contractor to add a clause to the effect of “weather permitting” when bidding an outdoor job.
6. How much will the job cost?
Do not be fooled into believing that a low price is the only, or even the first, consideration when choosing a painting contractor. A low price does not guarantee a good job. A contractor may be hesitant to stipulate an exact cost, but the contractor still should provide the homeowner with a good-faith estimate. There are two primary reasons a contractor may be reluctant to provide a hard and fast bottom-line for the job. One is that the contractor does not control price increases in the cost of supplies. It is possible for the price of paint to increase before the job is completed. A more common reason, however, is that homeowners frequently change their mind about certain aspects of the job halfway through.
The homeowner wants this small thing added or that color changed and is then incensed when the price for completing the job changes. Homeowners must be aware that if they change the terms of a contract then the price of the job may also change. Important note: painting contractors should never ask for more than half the cost of a job up front the remainder should be held by the homeowner until the job has been completed according to the terms of the agreement made between the homeowner and the contractor.
7. Is the contractor licensed?
Every genuine painting contractor, such as those at United Home Experts, has a license issued by the state that guarantees that they meet certain basic qualifications. A license also means that the contractor has something to lose should he or she not perform according to the terms of a written contract. Certain basic standards must be met even if those standards are not stipulated in writing, giving the homeowner considerable leverage when dealing with a fully licensed contractor.
8. Does the work come with a warranty?
A paint job using premium-grade paint should last somewhere around ten years, depending on the weather conditions in the homeowner’s area. In any event, a painting contractor should offer a guarantee with the job and the ways in which the guarantee will be honored should be spelled out. A vague guarantee is meaningless; get the terms in writing.
9. What will be cleaned up after the job is finished?
It may seem obvious to the homeowner that the contractor will remove any old wood, trim, empty paint buckets, worn out drop cloths or other detritus associated with painting, but unless this is stipulated in writing, the contractor may not remove everything once the job is complete. Having everything in writing, with your contractor, makes certain that every small detail is going to be taken care of.
10. Will there be someone to answer phone calls to answer any questions?
It is very common for questions to be quickly answered before a contract is signed, but then people who can answer questions have a way of mysteriously vanishing once a job is started. Not only should the contractor guarantee that questions will be answered in a timely fashion after the job is started, but the referrals that the contractor provided should also be asked how good the contractor’s communication is once the contract has been signed.
Finding the right painting contractor is not easy, and the decision should not be made on cost alone. One way to ensure a good experience is to contact a company like United Home Experts, which has years and years of experience and is a solid part of the community with a great deal to lose if they do not do an excellent job in the time they promised and at the price agreed to.