Painting a house is creatively rewarding and it can save you money, but it is also time consuming, and it calls for hard physical work. While you are estimating the time and materials it will take to do the job right, ask yourself three questions.
Do I have the time? Remember that each day requires some setup and some cleanup, so a series of short days can add up to a long job in terms of total hours.
Do I have the stamina? Although the actual painting is not physically demanding work, other aspects of the job can be very demanding indeed. Moving large ladders, setting planks, or using a scraper for long hours all call for strength and endurance. If the access is difficult or the preparation is extensive, think twice about tackling the job yourself.
How much will I save by doing the job myself? You must calculate your time as being worth something.
Figuring out the costs of your painting job
Figuring the Costs To answer the last of these questions, you must first figure the cost of your own labor. Multiply the time estimates by minimum wage, remembering that the figures in the calculations are based on a professional painter’s speed. Also remember that you may need to hire some help for certain aspects of the job. Even getting friends to pitch in will cost you lunches and cold drinks.
To the cost of labor, add estimates for the cost of materials and the cost of buying or renting tools and equipment. Compare the result to professional estimates. If you choose to do the job yourself and ask friends or hire workers to help you, make sure that your home owner’s insurance will cover on-the-job injuries and property damage.
If you have the time, and the work is not more than you can comfortably handle, then all you have to decide is whether the satisfaction and the savings are worth the investment in time and effort.
Hiring a professional painter
In hiring a professional the first step is to find one. Or better, to find two or three. It is always best to ask several contractors to bid on a large project. Not only will their prices be different, but different contractors may place more emphasis on different aspects of the job. After reading this book, you should know what you want before you ask for bids, but the bidding process gives you an additional opportunity to refine the project. There are several places to get names of competent contractors. The best source is satisfied customers. Ask friends and neighbors with newly painted houses if they know the name of a good painter. Paint stores often provide the names of competent contractors who trade with them.
The store obviously has an interest in feeding potential clients to its best customers, but it also has its own reputation to protect. Stores are unlikely to refer clients to an incompetent or careless painter more than once.
Trade associations offer directories of their members. Membership requirements vary; some are very stringent, others less so. Check to see what criteria are used for membership and what criteria are used for referrals.
Specifying the painting job
When specifying the Job before you ask for bids, understand clearly what you want the contractor to do. The better you understand the job, the better you can describe it to all of the bidders. It is important that everyone bid on the exact same job. Contractors may point out problem areas that you did not see or prefer different approaches than you had envisioned. Be sure to figure these adjustments to the various estimates.
This article will help you to specify the job and to understand what the contractor is talking about. Preparation is particularly difficult to estimate. Price variations are usually a sign that the contractors have different approaches to this part of the job. Don’t be afraid to ask for a detailed commitment to a particular set of steps and standards. It is as much in the contractor’s interest as it is in yours to be very clear about your expectations. Exacting preparation takes time, and time costs money. Expect to pay for excellent preparation.
The same ideas apply in specifying materials. This article will help you to make an informed choice as to the general type of material you want for each part of the job. Each contractor will have his/her preferred brands.
Specify that appropriate materials of the highest quality be used. Difference in the cost of materials is only a small percentage of the total cost of the work. Arrange a mutually satisfactory schedule for both the work and the payments, and get it in writing, remembering this painting depends on the weather. If you need to have the work completed by a certain time, let the contractor know this when you request the bid.
Remember that the painters will be working around your home for a matter of days or weeks. Be sure to list any special requirements you want, Examples might include daily starting and quitting times (some neighborhoods have restrictions on work hours); whether the painters may play radios while they are working whether they may bring dogs to your house; final cleanup requirements; and methods for storing and disposing of paint.
Evaluating your contractor’s prior painting jobs performance
The quality of a contractor’s references is very important. If you have found a contractor by means other than personal contact, ask him or her for the names of two or three satisfied customers. Then inspect those houses, if possible, and ask those people what they think of the contractor. Be sure to get answers to the following questions:
Is the contractor licensed? Where painting contractors are regulated by state licensing boards, you have a ready set test that works in two ways. First, the contractor has had to demonstrate some competence to get the license; second, he or she must avoid gross incompetence, at the very least, to keep it. Different states hold contractors to different standards of performance and provide consumers with different means of redressing grievances.
Does the contractor guarantee the work? Contractors should guarantee their work within reason. That is a large caveat, Paint manufacturers guarantee their product for up to 20 years. That does not mean that all of the paint on the house will look like new for 20 years. Sun, rain, freezing, and thawing all take their toll. How long the paint lasts depends on how exacting the preparation was, how well the paint was applied, the quality and type of materials, and the kind of weather the house is exposed to. You have control over the preparation and the materials when you specify the job. You can influence the application by your choice of a contractor. There is nothing you can do to make a paint job at the seashore last as long as one done inland.
Must questions to ask a potential painting contractor
- Does the contractor have insurance? The contractor should carry liability Insurance appropriate to the job. From the buyer’s point of view it is a plus to know that if an apprentice drops a ladder through the roof of the BMW, the contractor will have it fixed without question. Liability insurance allows small contractors to offer their customers some of the security they would normally expect only from larger companies.
- Who will do the work? Ask the contractor who will actually do the work and who will supervise. Make sure that the supervisor will be someone who understands the trade at least as well as the person who sold you the job. Some companies sell many jobs and then bid them out in turn to other contractors, keeping a percentage as their fee. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should ask the company point-blank if this is how they operate. If it is, demand proof that their subcontract has the exact same specifications as your original contract.
- Does the contractor have a continuing interest in your satisfaction? In the end, your goal is to find someone who knows how to do what you need done, who wants to do it, and who will do it at a price you can afford. Beyond checking the contractor’s qualifications try to find someone you can work with comfortably. The bidding process defines the Job. If you communicate well at this stage, the whole job will be better for it.