Unfortunately, you can’t rely on every painting contractor to give you the best results, with many companies that have staff that’s unlicensed, unqualified, and inexperienced. These companies can still experience success because many homeowners are focused more on saving money than receiving good services, causing them to hire inadequate painters.
Here are some questions you should ask to separate the reliable painting contractors from the bad ones.
1. Are you insured?
Generally, painting contractors should have two types of insurance. The first is comprehensive business liability, which keeps your property protected from damage, with a million dollar limit at a minimum. The other is workmen’s compensation, which protects both workers and customers from liability while they work on your property.
If a company carries neither of these, stay away.
2. Do you perform criminal background checks?
Asking this can help determine if you can trust the contractors visiting your property. In many cases, employees of hired contractors have committed burglary, or have even injured or killed homeowners in rare instances. In a majority of these cases, it was discovered that the employee had a criminal background that the employer neglected to check for, resulting in the offense. Ask about the hiring policy to determine if the company is actively performing background checks on new employees.
3. Are the workers subcontractors or employees?
Many painting contractors will leave work up to subcontractors instead of hired employees because of reduced labor costs. Subcontractors are normally paid a flat fee, and the contractor can also avoid paying for employee benefits and social security taxes this way. However, you’ll be more at risk with a subcontractor compared to a hired employee.
For instance, contractors may look for the most inexpensive subcontractors to help them make more money, but this could translate into poor quality work. Contractors may also not know the people on the crew, which increases the likelihood that they neglected to perform background checks. Using subcontractors also indicates that the contractor doesn’t have workmen’s compensation insurance.
4. What types of painting materials do you use?
The quality of the overall painting project will depend largely on the types of materials used. Quality of materials such as coatings and stains can vary greatly, and certain applications will require the use of specialized coatings. Other materials such as caulk can also have an impact on the lifespan of the home’s exterior.
5. Are you going to be personally involved in the project, or will someone else manage it?
In some cases you might meet with an estimator or owner before the project starts, but they won’t actually perform the work, instead leaving it to others. This is fine as long as they have comprehensive project management that includes planning, execution, and follow-up. Good project management will include a clear plan prior to beginning the painting process, solid execution, and follow-up to determine if any changes need to be made for satisfaction.
If you ask these questions when looking for a painting contractor, you’ll be able to better determine which ones are reliable and which to avoid.