Choosing the Right Contractor

Once you have decided to contract with someone to do a particular painting and decorating project, how do you go about selecting the right company? Do you make your selection on price, size of company, years in business, or other criteria?

To locate the names of reputable contractors, there are many sources of information. Some of these sources are friends, relatives, architects and design professionals, and local "quality- oriented" paint supply stores. However, these sources can only give you limited general information. In order to make an educated decision, you need some specific information about any person or firm you are considering hiring.

Always verify the contractor is licensed and insured.

Quality contracting firms will be only too happy to provide you with copies of their certificates of insurance. They should provide bonding information (if the job is large enough to require such) and documentation of safety training and compliance programs. Not all states and municipalities require licensing however business registration with your state and municipality is generally a minimum requirement.

Written Contracts are a Must

Reputable contractors will encourage the use of a written contract. This contract should clearly explain the scope of the work to be performed. It should also cover such items as surfaces to be painted, methods and extent of surface preparation, time schedules for the project, and payment procedures. Knowing the total scope of the work enables you to carefully evaluate the different bids you may receive with the proper information and keep them on a level playing field. The contract serves to protect both you and the contractor.

Invest Time in Verifying References

Obtain a list of references from the prospective contractor. This list should include the contact person, address, and telephone number of the previous client. Follow up on this list with a phone call. Remember, the contractor will not give you a bad reference. Therefore, ask references if they know of any other work this contractor has performed. Be sure to ask whether the contractor and employees treated you professionally and with respect. The references you are interested in should be projects similar in size and scope to yours. Also, some of the projects should be at least a few years old. This will help you gauge the performance of the construction and materials used. If possible, try to see the work that was done.

Discuss any guarantee or warranty programs the contractor may offer. Ask about the manufacturer's warranty on the products to be used on your project. Remember you are looking for long-term durability from the paint job. The use of high quality products is as important as the selection and performance of the contractor. Verifying references will provide a return on your project investment.

In Closing

Good contractors are very eager for your business. They are also very proud of their craftsmanship. Once you have made your selection, step back and give the professional room to execute the project. You have both done your homework, so give the professional the opportunity to meet and exceed your expectations. Remember, as with anything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you want high quality and reliable service, be willing to pay the price that comes with it.

Here's to your successful painting projects.

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