While Monday marked the start of spring here in Denver, it feels more like summer. These longer, warmer days have motivated many homeowners to start their spring home improvement lists. At the top of many lists? Painting projects.
If you have painting on your project on your list, you’ll want to read on for tips to help you hire a competent, professional painter.
Tip #1: Finding A Painter
Finding the right painter is a two step process: discovering them and vetting them.
The Discovery Process
This best place to start is with referrals from your friends and family. Ask them if they’ve used a painter they’d recommend. What did they like or dislike about their painter? Keep in mind that their criteria may be different than yours.
Don’t know anyone who can refer you directly to a few painters? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of ways to find them online. Google is one place to start, but there are other sites and apps which are geared specifically towards helping homeowners find the right painter. Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and Thumbtack are three that come to mind.
I prefer Thumbtack because of how the app works. It allows you to view the business profiles and see who has done the sort of work you need and it’s free to homeowners who are requesting projects. After your request has received 5 quotes, you can review them, contact the businesses you want to use and proceed from there.
The next piece of this process is vetting the painters that you’d like to work with. If you received a referral from a friend or family member, again, you’ll want to ask them specific questions about the painter like: Were they timely?, What was the quality of their work?, etc. If your friends or family, who you trust, had a great experience, that’s a good recommendation.
If you’ve found a painter online, you’ll need to get a bit more resourceful. Start with the business’s website. Many painting businesses will have testimonials from former clients posted on their website, Facebook page or blog. But, since they may only post the positive reviews, I wouldn’t stop there. Continue your due diligence by checking the different social platforms like Angie’s List or Thumbtack. Painters will have profiles you can view with reviews from former clients.
If you’ve done this research ahead of time, it will go a long way in helping your determine which one will work best for your needs.
Tip #2: Get An In-Home Estimate
Don’t trust a painter who tells you they can estimate a job accurately over the phone. They can’t. It’s good to have a painter come to your home to estimate the project for two reasons:
- You can meet them in person – if you are going to have a painter working in your home, you want to get a read on them and see how they communicate. If you feel uncomfortable with a person in your home, you probably don’t want to hire them.
- Agree upon the actual work you want done – this should include details like color choices, prep work required, where the furniture will be and how the pets or children will stay away from the ‘Wet Paint’. Then the painter can measure out the actual project.
After an in-home estimate you BOTH should have the same understanding of what is and is not included in the project. This will help the estimate to be more accurate and limit surprises down the road.
Tip #3: Get Multiple Estimates
It’s best to get multiple estimates – at least 3 so you have a good basis for comparison. You’ll want to make sure they all contain the same amount of prep, materials and scope of work along with all the proper documentation.
Getting multiple estimates will help in your decision about which service to choose. However, remember that your project isn’t always about the price, which brings me to tip #4.
Tip #4: “Cheapest” Doesn’t Mean “Best”
When you’re searching for painting contractors or choosing between multiple estimates, it is important to know what is important to you about the project.
Is it speed? When the project is done? The colors you choose? The price? Who you work with? When you are looking at different estimates, knowing what is important to you will help with your choice. And if price is not the most important thing, you will want to remember the cheapest offer is not always the best offer.
Tip #5: Require Proof of Insurance
This is a non-negotiable. The painter you hire must be insured. General liability insurance will cover damages resulting from the business activities of painting and the activities related to painting.
Knowing your painter is insured will give you peace of mind. If there are any painting accidents which result in damage to property or people, the general liability insurance will cover those damages. Without the insurance, you may have to end up paying for those damages yourself.
Most painters (or any other contractors for that matter) will have a copy of their Certificate of Liability Insurance on file to show you. And if you want real assurance, they can email their insurance agent with your name, address and email so the agent can send you a copy of the Certificate of Liability Insurance with you listed as the certificate holder.
With your own copy in hand you’ll know that the contractor is insured, taking care of your home as well as their business.
Tip #6: Get the Work in Writing
When you are hiring a painting contractor, you’ll want a contract with detailed notes about the project. Contracts are an extension of the estimate – it puts in writing what you verbally agreed upon. Here’s a list of what you will want to find on that contract:
- Contact Information: including yours, theirs and anyone else who is involved. This is so you know who the agreement is with.
- A Detailed Description of the Project: This should include all of the work you agreed on in order to complete the project which the contractor estimated.
- Timeline: this gives the dates for when the work is to be completed.
- Total Cost & Payment Schedule: Most painters won’t begin without a downpayment and the final payment should be made only after your final walk though (see #7) with the project completed to the terms of the contract.
Tip #7: Do A Final Walk-Thru
When hiring a painter, it’s always a good idea to schedule a walk-thru after the project is finished. You can (and should) include this in the contract. A walk-thru is a great opportunity for you and the painter to review the contract together and see all the completed work in person. Setting aside time for a walk-thru is a great way to bring closure to a project as well.
With these seven tips you should be well prepared to go out and hire a painter this spring to take on those projects you’ve been wanting to get to for a long time.
About the Author: Matthew Allard
Matthew Allard is the founder of Brush & Hammer Services LLC, a Denver based painting and carpentry business. One of the things that sets B&H apart from the competition is how they treat your home like they are working in a museum, not on a job site. You can learn more about B&H and how they can help transform your home at brushandhammer.co.