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Getting estimates

If you are comparing estimates from multiple painters, it’s helpful to have a basic set of questions to ask in order to compare relative strengths and weaknesses. The prevailing wisdom of getting three estimates and choosing the one in the middle doesn’t always mean that you will be getting the best work at the best price. On more occasions than we can count over the past years, we’ve been asked to redo jobs that were contracted using this method. Our intention is to help you get it right the first time so that you are not paying twice as much for quality work.
During estimates for both interior and exterior painting projects, the painter should do a complete walk-through with you to understand the full scope of the project in order to provide you with an accurate written estimate. This is the time to bring up any known issues such as water leaks or dry rot that may need to be addressed before work begins. You will probably have questions specific to your situation, and at a minimum you should ask:
  • What Does the Estimate Cover?
  • What Kinds of Paint Do You Use?
  • What Kind of Preparation Do You Do?
  • Will You Need to Obtain Any Permits, and If So, Who Pays the Costs?
  • How Will You Be Choosing Your Paint Finish, Type and Color?
  • Who Will Be Working on Your Project?
Most painting contractors based their estimates on time and materials, so it is important that both you and the painter understand and agree on the full scope of the in order to minimize change orders once painting is underway. In this regard, the written estimate should clearly spell out all project details.
You will also want to find out about how the paint selection process is handled. How color and finish choices will be determined, what type of paint will be used and whether you will be able to see the paint on a wall or brush out board prior to the start of the project.
It’s also helpful to learn about what kind of preparation you can expect. In particular, you will want to find out what you will to need to handle in terms of moving items, etc., and what will be done by the painter. Finally, it is good to inquire about who will be working on your project. Is it just one person, a dedicated team or an undetermined mix of subcontractors.
If you feel like you are being rushed or your concerns are not being fully addressed during your initial meeting, this is probably a good indicator of things to come. It may seem like extra effort up front to find the right painter or painting company, but in the long run we think you’ll be glad you spent the necessary time to get the right fit for you and your project.

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