Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to Qualify A Painting Contractor

Hiring A Painting Contractor? Read This First. 

There will always be the customer that is going to choose a painting contractor solely based on price. Who ever painting company is the cheapest will get the job. This type of thinking leaves a lot of open ends with your next paint job. Will they show up? When will they finish? What if something goes wrong? What if they damage my property? Instead of wishing that you had paid a little bit more for the next guy why not qualify your next painting contractor before considering the job solely based on price. This is a challenging experience because home owners don't have the right tools to validate the contractors experience.

Really when you think about it your contractor is applying for a temporary job with you. The interaction you have between your painter and you should be one that reflects a job interview. The main goal should be to ask as many questions as possible. Whoever company that shows up to perform your bid should be professional and educate you about a field you know nothing about. Because ultimately they are going to be performing a job for you. Its important to take some time to qualify your contractor because once the job starts it challenging for any home owner to tell the painter to stop if they are doing a sub par job. This article should help you to better select your next painter.

Below you can find a list of characteristics of a qualified painting contractor:

  1. Insurance. This is the most important of all of the characteristics of finding a painting contractor. With out insurance you are 100% liable for any damages that may happen to your property. Insurance is not limited to liability only. Workers compensation needs to be in place to insure that if an employee injures himself on your property you will not be liable. If they don't have proof of insurance don't hire them. 
  2. Communication. If you are unable to explain or even speak on the same level of your contractor this is a huge red flag. Your painting contractor is going to be taking thousands of your dollars and should be in constant communication with you about the status of your job. Hiring a contractor that is easy to communicate with will put your mind at ease as they will explain why they are performing each step. Also ask who will be managing the job after the contract is signed. You will need to communicate with someone during the painting process.  Its also important to know what surfaces of your house are freshly painted. You don't want to lean against your front door and get covered with paint. 
  3. Expertise of field. You should not be able to stump your contractor with any paint related question. At the very least they should be able to find an answer for you in a timely manner. By asking in depth questions like, "What dried film thickness is necessary for the paint warranty to be valid?" This is a question that only a handful of contractors can even touch. One way that we show our expertise is with this site. Anything that is useful paint related topic goes onto this site. Does your contractor do the same? 
  4. Reputation with various organizations. The BBB, Angies List, and similar organizations are all good candidates for a reputation check up. You can also call local paint stores and ask them what they thought of their work. You can also figure out if that contractor is well known in his field or if he is just wanting your money up front so he can skip town. If the paint stores speak highly of him then you should feel more confident. 
  5. References. Always call or check the company out to the best of your ability. You will want to call a couple of references to check up on the companies track record. The references that you will receive are all going to say good things about the jobs they purchased. The contractor is not going to give you a list of ten of the most screwed up jobs they have ever done. Because of this it is important to call around your personal network to try to find out if anyone has hired this contractor. Other sources include: Google, Angies List, BBB, and so on. 
  6. Years in business. This is a loaded gun type of quality. Experience is a double edged sword because too much experience and the contractor is going to be set in their ways about different procedures and paints available.  However not enough experience and the contractor has all the ambition in the world just not any expertise to back it up. If you are lucky enough to find a contractor that has lots of experience try to figure out if they are still passionate about their line of work. 
  7. Employees accountability. Many painting contractors that show up to give you the sales speech and the quote will probably not be on the job site 100% of the time after the initial meeting. This should not raise concern with you as long as there is a job superintendent their to foresee the work. You need to ask a question like, "How will your company ensure that quality work is being performed? Will you or a superintendent be there on site everyday to ensure that my house taken care of?" It is important that their is a manager on site to hold the employees accountable to achieve the highest quality of painting. Other wise most employees (this is true of any company) will try to rush through the job to finish early and go home. As much as painters love to paint remember this is still a job and everyone has bad days at there job which can reflect in their work. Its best to have a site manager in place to verify quality along the process not just at the end of the job. 
  8. Written or typed contract. This is a huge topic not to take lightly. There should be several questions you need to think about when evaluating your contractor. Does the contract state an end and beginning date? Does the contract specify which brand and type of paint? Does the contract specify which color the house is being painted? How many coats are going to be applied to the substrate? Are they power washing with just water or using a chemical to help cut through the oil? Will this chemical be safe with your pets? Will the painting contractor be using your water? Will they be entering your house to use the bathroom? Do you offer a warranty? 
  9. Deposits. In the past recent years the economy has had a little bit of a down turn. This has made several contractors start to ask for deposits. If you are hiring a reputable contractor a deposit should not be used to show his financial security. Most construction companies, in today's uncertain market, are tying to minimize some of their exposure to risk. This should not be viewed as a negative characteristic as this industry is very labor intensive and the contractor is going to want to cover some of the material costs. Its far easier for a contractor to ask for a deposit up front than to take a non paying customer to court. Remember the contractor is actually trying to select you as a customer just as much as you are trying to select him. 
  10. Touch ups and clean ups.  Cleaning up a job site is obvious. No painting contractor or any other contractor for that matter should ever leave a job site in a mess. Things like masking paper, tape, and plastic can be embarrassing if the wind tosses it into your neighbors trees. Touch ups are a necessary part of the job. A touch up to paint a tricky tight spot is acceptable. What is not acceptable is a touch up to fix a hacked up paint job. If the contractor couldn't "cut" a straight line to begin with there is no chance of them having the expertise to fix it the second time. This is an example of poor work and not a touch up. 
These were the top ten things to consider when painting your home. If you think you have any other criteria that could be helpful please feel free to comment below. Any valid criteria will be added to the list. 


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