I have been a painting contractor for 26 years and in that time I have heard more than one unique reason why customer choose a cheaper painter. On the other hand, I have also had many calls from regretful homeowners who realize they made a huge error. Several wish they had simply paid more for quality contractors. Still others are sorry they did not check out a contractor before deciding to hire them.
What I have noticed in my years as a painting contractor is that many homeowners simply do not know how to assess the abilities of painting contractors. Most will look for the cheapest bid not realizing that they will probably not get their money’s worth. The truth is a cheap contractor can often cost you more money in the long run.
Labor and materials are at such a high price that the painting contractor’s profits are already slim. Therefore, a cheap contractor is offering slashed prices for a reason. That reason is generally poor service or value.
Use the following 10 conditions to check out Marietta contractors before you hire them.
- Ask around and find out how long the contractor has been working locally. It is common to see instability in this field. Too many painting contractors will blow into town and do shoddy work for a few years, then they begin to feel the wrath of homeowner who is not satisfied with their work and they pack it up and move to the next city. If the contractor you are considering has, at least 10 years in your area this is a good indication of stability, not to mention quality.
- How are the painters on your contractors crew paid? When I began my painting business in 1982, I originally paid my crew by the hour. For about 7 years, I was less than happy with performance so I chose to change to a percentage based pay system. Quality of the painters work went up significantly and the projects were getting completer in half the time. Instantly my painters had a better mindset once they knew they would be paid on percentage. Their interests were now directly tied to the quality and timeliness of the job. Outstanding performance led to less double checking at the end of a project and a better bottom line for everyone involved.
- While you need to ask this question of your contractor, it is only a suggested method of business. There are a good number of painters that have a wonderful work ethic and are paid by the hour. After my success, I determined I would never again pay a painter by the hour. I can now give my customers a higher quality of service and most of it is due to paying my painters on percentage.
- What kind of contract is your contractor offering you to sign? Is it laid out well and specific about what the contractor will be responsible for? This will tell you immediately what you can expect from the crew. Contractors who are organized will most of the time instill this in their crew and on the job. Disorganization is something an organized person just cannot tolerate in people or work sites.
- Are you dealing with a contractor who is asking for a deposit before they begin? Even though some projects can be quite intensive, the average painting contractor job will not be more than $8000. For jobs like this, I highly recommend you do not pay a deposit. Your painting contractor should have no problems financing the project he is considering. If he does that is an indication that the contractor is not financially stable. When a contractor is waiting to be paid, you are likely to have his full attention to detail and an assurance that your happiness is the number one goal. Over the years, I have heard many stories from homeowners who paid a deposit and then watched as the contractor left with only a day or two worth of work being done, never to be found again.
- Since the first day you contacted the contractor how well has he communicated with you? Has he quickly answered all of your questions or concerns? Quality professional contractors value good communication. The importance a contractor puts on communication will give you another clue to his core values. While your project is being completed, you will want to work with someone who communicates effectively.
- Does the contractor carry worker’s comp insurance? Check into this as many companies carry some form of liability insurance but this is not a replacement for worker’s compensation. A simple liability plan will not cover a worker should they be injured on the job. You should consider how well the contractor is insuring his painters against injury. Many contractors have labor that is off the books, in other words the painter is paid cash money with no paper trail. In cases like this, there is no employment history an insurance company can follow or pay out on in case of injury. Situations like this could put you in serious financial jeopardy. Answers to these questions give you a look into more of the core values that rule certain Marietta painting contractors. Check with the company’s insurance company to verify their level of coverage.
- Check the contractor’s prior job references. You know that all the references will be what they feel are the best, however you can still learn a lot from them. You can get a feel for how well they cleaned up, communicated, timeliness of the project and more importantly how the finished product looked. Bear in mind though that people each have opinions on what quality is and you should not base your decision on references alone.
- Watch out for the aggressive painting contractors who are volume oriented. Their entire goal is to turn out as many finished houses as possible in a short amount of time to earn fast money. The quality of their work will not be driven by any kind of core values. You and your home will suffer at the hands of this type of contractor.
- Be sure that your contractor is perfectly clear on there being a walk through with the head crew member and yourself to look for areas that need tidied up or repaired. This must take place before you write any checks for the project. This protects both you and the contractor from issues later. This walk through insures that you are happy with the work and helps to minimize or eliminate warranty issues for the painting contractor, saving the company both time and money. This is the best approach for wrapping up a project and seasoned contractors who are concerned about customer service are aware of this.
- You may have already thought of the following items as they are a bit more obvious: well written and detailed warranty, how many crews do they have, can you verify business age, complaints that remain unsettled with the Better Business Bureau and a business license are all very important.
Keep quality as your first priority. Qualify your painting contractor before you hire them, you will be so glad you did. You will have less to worry about while the work is ongoing and end up with a beautiful home with paint that will last longer.
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