Before Hiring a Painting Company, Make Sure You Ask These 10 Questions
There are a lot of people who say they are professional painters (virtually everyone says they know how to paint), and for the average homeowner, the task of finding the right team for the job can seem a bit daunting. How do you choose a painting contractor? Where do their price quotes come from, and why can they range so widely for the same work?
How do you know they’re going to do a good job? And is the work going to be high-quality, to last through the years?
Before you commit to a company for your next home renovation, you can use these criteria to make sure they’re a trustworthy team that’s going to do good work for a fair price:
1. How experienced are they?
Look for a company that has more than five years of industry experience. That’s really when the learning curve starts to smooth out, and you can be sure that the team has a solid base of knowledge and technical expertise to get the job done right.
In addition, it might be worth your time to seek out full-time painters, rather than jack-of-all-trades handymen. There’s no shortage of self-employed do-it-yourselfers out there who can paint your living room for a song, but if painting isn’t their full-time, bread-and-butter occupation, the final product is far from certain.
After five years, they’ll probably have built a reputation in the community, as well, so you can ask around and see if they’re known to be fair and hard-working.
2. Do they use sub-contractors?
Good painting companies don’t outsource work to subcontractors — they handle all aspects of the renovation themselves. It’s really the only way the company can have ownership over the quality of their team’s work and maintain a high standard of customer service.
When you’re working with subcontractors, you’re just not going to have the same level of accountability.
Your questions for painting contractors should include: Is the company representative who visited your home and gave you the estimate one of the painters? Have you spoken with the people who will actually be performing the work? Whenever possible, make sure the people you’re hiring have a personal stake in the outcome and are willing to stand behind their own work, rather than farming it out to third parties.
3. Do they offer a warranty and are they insured?
Checking to see if the company offers a warranty on their work and offers liability insurance is another way to tell if they’re accountable. If a paint failure occurs during your warranty coverage, the painters will cover the materials and labor to repair it.
What happens when the job doesn’t go as expected? Will the company offer 100% work satisfaction? Ask them if they have workman’s compensation and if they are licensed.
Additionally, hiring insured laborers is an absolute must. Everybody knows accidents can happen, and the last thing you want is for an injury to take place, for which blame — and liability — is uncertain. If you’re inviting workers into your home, make sure they’re fully and properly insured. On the list of questions to ask your painting contractor, insurance should be toward the top.
4. Have they received accolades for quality business practices?
If the company has really established themselves as hard workers with a commitment to community service, you can look up their history of public recognition and find out how they’ve contributed to the field. Angie’s List and your local Chamber of Commerce are great places to get started.
Other web forums like Google Places Reviews can give you a democratic perspective on how the company has performed over the years.
5. Can they provide references and reviews?
Sometimes you can get a better picture of a company’s workmanship and customer service by speaking with one of your friends or neighbors. A local company will undoubtedly have built a reputation over the years, for better or worse, so when in doubt just ask around.
Don’t be shy about asking the company to hear a few customer testimonials, as well. If they take pride in their work, they should be more than happy to oblige! Check out their website for any choice sound bites or endorsements they’ve received. In addition, look into their social networks of choice to see how their work has been received by the general public.
6. Do they have photos from previous jobs?
It’s true: A picture is worth a thousand words — especially when you’re talking about paint. It can give you a glimpse of how clean they’re going to keep the job site when they’re at your house, how effective their final results are and how much experience they really have.
Tread carefully if you’re dealing with an individual or company that hasn’t documented their work throughout the years. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have something to hide, but you do want to find a professional who proudly and enthusiastically stands behind their work.
7. Do they keep a clean work site?
Photos can definitely help to answer this question, and the cleanliness of the work site is going to make a huge impact on the experience you have once they’re working in your home.
You don’t want someone who’s going to do a quick, sloppy job. It’ll be chaotic during the renovation and likely leave you with a lower-quality result in the long run.
8. What kind of paint do they use?
A good painting company isn’t going to cut corners on materials. If you’re wondering why the quote you’ve gotten is lower than you expected, ask them what brand they use and how many coats of paint are included as well. The last thing you want is to (unknowingly) pay for an inferior product that will look less than perfect when the job is complete.
Getting an accurate quote for quality materials will actually save you money in the long run, because you won’t have to re-do the job when you’re dissatisfied with the poor coverage and durability of a cheaper paint.
9. How much prep is included in the estimate?
Like paint-quality, preparation is one place where a less scrupulous painting company might try to cut corners and offer a cheap quote that doesn’t include sufficient prep. The construction style of your walls and outdoor surfaces may affect the quote.
For example, if you have cracking lath-and-plaster walls, they may need additional up-front preparation for a smooth, professional result. Be sure to ask the right questions and make sure you are going to receive adequate prep. Up to eighty percent of a great job is preparation time.
10. Are they involved in the community?
What else should you ask your painting contractor? How about what their level of civic engagement is?
The capstone to a great renovation experience is knowing that you’ve partnered with a company as invested in your community as you are. Whether it’s sponsoring the local youth leagues, practicing environmentally safe painting practices, or donating leftover supplies to Habitat for Humanity, partnering with a local company that’s really involved in the neighborhood is a choice you can feel good about.
You’ll know that the dollars you spend on your renovation are likely to recirculate into the local economy and help the area continue to thrive.