Finding a contractor to call your own isn’t always easy. You may be tempted to slip your digits to any eligible painting company. You might become enamored with some fine brushwork featured in the pages of a design magazine or at a swoon-worthy show home. And then, there’s the old-fashioned way of letting your friends set you up with a referral.
While these are perfectly fine methods of meeting someone special to romance your renovation, the decision to bring a painting contractor home is still a big step. We suggest following these tips for getting better acquainted before you’re ready to be exclusive:
“This question is for Bachelor #1, #2 AND #3…” Interview at least three contractors with attractive business profiles. Set up a meeting in your home so that they can get an assessment of the job needing to be done. While they do a walk-through, you’ll be able to ask them questions like:
- How long have you been in business?
- Who will do the work in my home? (It may not be the owner, so find out how big the company’s crew is and how experienced they are.)
- What type of paint do you use and will it be included in your estimate?
- How long do you expect this job will take?
- Can you verify your insurance coverage (liability and injury), licensing and safe workplace practices? Ask to see proof.
- What are your other credentials or association memberships?
“Hey, I enjoy long walks on the beach, too!” It’s important that you and your paint contractor get along so that you can have open lines of communication throughout the project, especially if issues arise. At your first meeting, you should have a solid indication of how well you can work together or if your personalities will clash. Hiring a contractor is never a case of opposites attract!
“It’s not you, it’s me.” State your expectations upfront so that there are no misunderstandings. Determine the amount of preparation work (covering furniture, floors and other non-paintable areas, removing electrical plates, smoothing out wall imperfections, etc.), number of primer and colour coats as well as the quality of materials. You should also discuss hours (What time will they show up? How late will they work?) and their commitment to cleaning up, both daily and at the end of the project.
“So, how do you REALLY feel about your ex?” Don’t tiptoe around the subject of past client relationships – be bold and ask for references from some recent clients. You might even request to speak with a client from a few years ago to see how well their former paint jobs have held up! Ask the references if the contractor showed up on time, was tidy and respectful, how long it took to complete the job compared to expectations, and if their final invoice was in line with the original quote.
“Let me count the ways.” A contractor’s written estimate is usually based on previous experience with similar jobs. They rely on a formula that factors in the square footage of walls and ceilings, the amount of preparation time required and the cost of materials. How do you know if it’s a fair estimate? Basically, if it’s in line with the quotes you’ll receive from other competing contractors. (Bonus tip: if they want all of their money upfront instead of upon completion, it’s a definite red flag.)
“Will you still love me tomorrow?” Before you give out the key to painting the fantasy suite, read the fine print of the contract, which should not only spell out the conditions and requirements of the job, it should provide a guarantee of what happens after it’s done.
Are you and your paint contractor MFEO (Made for Each Other)? After going through this “dating checklist” we certainly hope so, but if not – there’s plenty of good contractors in the sea. Keep looking and within no time, you’ll find yourself head over heels in love with the paint job of your dreams.
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