Friday, October 22, 2010

How to choose a Painting Contractor!

Some people spend more time doing research to choose television than they do to choose a contractor!

In the small town of Cedar City, like many Southern Utah towns, most of our work comes from referrals. Our satisfied customers are always happy to give out our name out to friends and family, and we appreciate that!

Southern Utah is also a desirable place to retire or build a second home, so we often get calls from people who have no local connections and found us by Googling "Utah Painters". Many of the people we meet are from the "big city" and have often been let down by unscrupulous contractors in the past. They are often surprised by the small town honesty and friendliness they encounter in our area. But I still encourage all homeowners to follow some basic steps when hiring a contractor.

1. Ask for referrals from family friends and neighbors. More than likely, you've been a guest at a home that's been recently painted by a professional contractor. If your first reaction to that paint job was favorable, be sure to ask the homeowner which contractor they used. 

If you don't have a referral from someone you know, there are plenty of contractors that regularly advertise in your local newspaper, flyers, or online at sites such as Facebook. Check your local paint store like Sherwin Williams and ask the manager for the name of a good painter.

It's generally a good idea to get an estimate for your project from 2-3 different contractors. You can set multiple appointments with prospective contractors for a particular day, or spread them out over the course of a few days in the same week. Generally, initial estimates are free.

2. Before you meet with a contractor, write down the details of the project you have in mind as well as a projected budget. Some things you can check before they come.

Are they licensed with the State?  Click here to the State Licensing Board to look up any contractor.

Are they insured? They will have to show you a copy of their Liability Insurance.

Are the employees covered under Workers Compensation? Click here to verify. If a worker is hurt on your property, you could be liable for medical bills!

What type of experience do they and/or their employees have? They should be able to show you samples of their work.

While price is always a factor, having skilled workers and a reputable company that has been in business for a minimum of 2-3 years should be high ranking factors as well in your final selection.

3. Was your home built before 1978? If so, your contractor must be EPA Certified. Click here for more info on Lead Paint.

4. When you meet, both decision makers should be available. As you and the contractor are take a look at your painting project, ask what type of preparation work they do. Painting is 90% preparation and 10% painting!

Ask for recommendations from the contractor for types of materials you can consider for your project. If you are wanting to do a more eco-friendly painting project, be sure to ask if the materials the contractor uses are low-VOC or zero-VOC paints, primers, etc. 

A well-versed and experienced professional contractor will know the latest trends in color, materials and techniques and can make suggestions that will best fit your particular project.

The Painting Contractor should provide you with a detailed, written scope of work outlining all the work proposed, a price and proof of qualifications. Some may also provide references from other customers, if not, don't be afraid to ask! On larger projects, some contractors may prefer to complete the proposal at their home or office and present it to you later, in person, or by fax/email. Some projects are simple enough that a contractor can complete the proposal on the spot and may have a contract ready as well.

5. Gather your notes as well as the contractors' estimates and compare experience, price, etc. It's important to compare "apples to apples", some contractors may use a cheaper paint or skip important prep.If you feel you're ready to make a final selection from the contractors you've interviewed, great! You're ready to contact them to begin the project. If you're still unsure, or don't feel like you've found what you are looking for, you may want to consider calling another contractor for an additional estimate.

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