Unfortunately, painting contractor horror stories are all too common and familiar. A painter visits a home or small business and convinces the owner of their skill, experience and reliability, often using a fake website or pictures taken from the internet. Then when the work’s scheduled to begin, someone the home/business owner has never met shows up and does terrible work, or the client pays for premium paint, and the painter uses the cheapest brand, or the painter takes the deposit and disappears.
While even if a situation like those above happens only once, it’s too many times, ‘contractors’ like this are the minority. With a little research and diligence, you’ll be able to find a painting or other contractors you can trust who will deliver results that will blow you away. According to Ecopainting, following the steps below can help you do just that.
Ask Friends of Friends
As you visit friends and family or reach out to people on social media, you might get recommendations and referrals from first or second-hand sources. See if it’s possible for you to visit the site and take a look for yourself, as you may have different tastes.
If you’re happy with the work, it’s still important to meet with a few painters before making a final decision. Also, be sure to ask your friend or acquaintance the questions in the Reference Check section below.
Google searches are the most popular way for clients to find almost every type of service provider out there. The reasons for this are simple, it’s easy, and convenient and there is a good amount of information available to help you quickly narrow down your search.
Here are a few things to consider when searching for painting contractors online:
- When reading reviews, remember that some reviews can be fake. Look for reviews with specifics and details. Also, pay attention to how the business owner responds to negative reviews.
- When visiting a contractor’s site, look at how established it is. Does it have several pages? Is there a blog? How far back does it go?
- Look for a bio page and for information on whether they have their own team of painters, i.e., they do not use subcontractors.
- Compare the address on the website to the one on Google.
- Check out their social media pages and look for how much engagement they get and how long their pages have been active.
- Look up the painting company’s on review aggregating sites dedicated to home improvement professionals.
- You can also search the painting contractor’s business name on the Ontario Business Registry, which may provide you with the date the business was registered and their city of operations.
- Search the the Better Business Bureau’s site to see if anyone has filed a complaint against them.
Another important consideration is if the painting contractors are insured and follow workplace safety guidelines.
Interview and Get Estimates From At least Three Contractors
Getting a few estimates and meeting with the contractors will give you a better idea of the type of painting company you prefer to work with.
Interviewing Potential Contractors
Here are a few questions you can ask each of the painting contractors when they visit your home or business:
- Who will be working on the project? Do you use subcontractors? Who is my point of contact?
- What is your process, system for painting?
- What kind of prep work do you do? Do you clean the walls first?
- Are you licensed and insured? Can you provide me with copies?
- What brand and type of paint will you use?
- How many coats of paint are included in your estimate?
- What are your rates?
- Can you provide me with references from similar recent projects?
While interviewing painting contractors, pay attention to their body language and whether or not they ask you questions about your project and if they’re genuinely interested in your goals and vision.
Comparing Invoices – What to Look for
The first thing to look for are the costs for materials and labour. Are they relarively the same? Scrutinize any estimates that are unusually high or low and don’t be afraid to ask the contractor why their prices are that high/low.
After that, pay attention to the following sections.
Business Name and Address
Confirm that the contact information, and address match the information on their website, Google, business card, trucks, advertising, etc.
The Description of Services
Look for how much detail is used to describe the work to be completed. Does it include set-up and tear-down? Does the estimate show a step-by-step progression of the work to completion and include timeframes? Does it include your instructions and all the work you discussed? Do the payment installments match the timeline?
Ensure that the painting contractor’s estimate contains the exact brand name and paint type and that the quantity is as discussed.
Terms and Conditions Regarding the Estimate and Work Done
Sometimes contractor estimates include a disclaimer or expiry date as prices for building materials can fluctuate between when you get the estimate and when you hire them and they buy the materials. That being said, the fees on a contract for service can not be more than 10% higher than the estimate fee quote if the estimate is included in the contract.
Also look for any sections regarding unforeseen risks like bad weather, existing damages or injuries. Weather may delay an exterior project or water damage that needs to be addressed immediately may be discovered after the work begins. You need to know how they handle these situations and how it can affect the work and timelines.
Speak to Former Clients for References
After you’ve received at least three estimates and contact information of fomer clients for each painting company, politely reach out to each for a quick conversation. Here are some questions to ask references when it comes to painters and contractors in general:
- Was you painting project completed on time?
- Did the project go over budget?
- Was the staff pleasant and professional?
- How happy are you with their work?
- Would you hire this painting contractor again?
By this time, you should feel confident in at least one of the contractors, however, don’t rush into a contract if you’re still unsure.