Painting spaces with fixed elements, like bathrooms, is time-consuming. Ask your potential contractor for a time estimate for painting a bathroom with a toilet, sink, bathtub, and cabinets and a big room with no furniture in it. If he says the latter will take longer, don't hire him.
We agree that the best way to get exactly what you want is to do the work yourself, but there are several reasons why this may not always be possible. Hence, hiring a painting contractor is a good idea. Here are some tips that will help you pick the right one.
Ask People You Know
You're bound to know someone who's had a painting job done in the recent past. Your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues; someone will surely be able to give you names. If this doesn't help, you can even contact your local home improvement store. They usually have referrals that might help you find the right contractor.
Ask for Estimates
Once you have a few contact details, it's time to compare and zero in on the right professional for your painting needs. Begin by asking for a cost estimate of the job. A professional contractor will be most willing to offer you a free estimate of what it's going to cost you. If he doesn't, take this as a sign and check him off your list.
Compare the estimates that you get from different contractors. If they're in the same range, you can pick one from them. However, if you see a big difference, do not hesitate to inquire about why it is so.
Ask a Lot of Questions
Once you see your list narrowing down, it's time to get down to business. Ask as many questions as you can about the actual work and the business. Do a little homework yourself, and be clear about what you want, so you can explain it to the prospective contractor.
Some questions that you can benefit from asking are listed here.
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you a part of a national or local painter's association?
- Does the fee include charges for jobs apart from painting, like sanding, caulking, taping windows, etc., or are those separately billed?
- If hired, how many people will be required to do the job?
- Do you have a license (some states require licenses) and insurance?
- Do you do the work yourself or sub-contract it?
- How much time will the work take?
- Is there a warranty period for the painting job?
Judge His Professionalism
Every contractor can say that he's experienced and will do a fantastic job at a much lower rate. But how will you sift the fakes from the truly professional ones? Here are a bunch of things you can look out for when you interview a prospective contractor to ascertain if he is really as good as he says he is.
› Does he answer questions professionally, yet in a manner that you can understand? Some contractors may adopt the policy of if you can't convince them, confuse them. Is he using too much jargon and not explaining what it all means?
› Does he just seem busy or is he really busy? Good contractors generally are busy, but will not make a show about it. They know a business deal when they see it. So, they will offer you everything they can, but if you still wish to go another way, they won't pressure you.
A not-so-good one will make a big deal about him always being busy without any real evidence of it. This can be verified with customer references.
› Does he suggest ways in which you can save money, or is he just after the big bucks? Any contractor is in the business to make money, that's a given. But does yours tell you about different methods, products, and techniques that can be used in order to reduce the overall cost? Or does he do the exact opposite?
For instance, does he offer to use an inexpensive paint to lower the fee? Cheap paint requires more coats for a perfect finish. This takes more time, and hence, a higher fee. So, you need to be the judge of whether what he proposes has any weight or not.
› Is he flexible with timings? Is he OK with coming and working at your convenience? Or is he rigid about it? A good contractor will be rigid about timings only when there is a technical reason like the time lag in between coats of paint or something of the kind. You're most likely to have discussed the estimated time for the work at the start.
This will give both of you an idea of how to plan the schedule. So, he shouldn't have a problem with flexible timings as long as it does not interfere with the technical aspects of the job.
› Does he offer to return for touch-ups? A professional contractor will give the client a period of about a week or ten days to appraise the painting job and call him for any missed spots, any areas that need retouching or cleaning, etc.
› Does he have a website? If yes, have a look and check for customer testimonials. If not, then ask for references of previous clients. No contractor who's good at his work will have a problem in providing you with a list of references.
After you've gone through this elaborate process with each of your potential contractors and have finally hired one, there are still things that you need to watch out for. Make sure you read the contract carefully. Decide upon the method and time of payment prior to signing the contract.
Make sure that he doesn't overshoot the budget you have agreed upon by adding unnecessary items and jobs without your permission. Keep a note and track of what was to be done and what gets done.
Also, ask him to provide details of the products that will be used so that you can verify their costs and quality, and also check if anyone in your home is allergic to any of them. Any contractor who satisfies all the positive criteria mentioned above will be a good choice. Make an informed decision, and you won't be disappointed.